Mother…

I’ve shared in a previous post, that my mother and I never bonded. We have an unusual relationship. Similar to two people who went through a war together, both tremendously hurt by said war, both have so much to say to each other but, one keeps avoiding the other.

My husband and I were having an emotional discussion stemming from a family member’s attempt to sexually abuse me when he told me that I hate my mother. I grew furious, how dare he!! I wanted to end the conversation immediately because, he had no right telling me such truths. Only I didn’t know how true his statement was, for I have been covering up so much my entire life. My husband is always trying to figure out ways for me to “deal with” the abuse and stop allowing it to control me. I have been controlled by abuse and betrayal all my life. I must admit though, that I am that friend who will counsel and advise others on how to take control of their lives and not let their abusers win. I will suggest the best self help books and quote Wolfgang von Goethe’s best lines to someone going through rough times. However, when it comes to myself, I find every reason and excuse why the same advice will not work for me. It has been killing me, literally. I have missed out on spending time with my family, I’ve missed out on friendships and I have missed out on living life. I have cause it to make me ugly, unhappy, fat, hateful, hurt and angry. One thing it have not yet caused me to be is pretentious.

I blame all the above on my mother. Had she played her role from the day I entered this world, my life would be better. My mother’s story is that I am a product of rape and that has been her reason for not loving me as a child. That was her reason for dropping me off to just about anyone to raise. All my childhood memories involve living at someone else’s home from time to time; like a nomad, I had no stability; I had no home. When I was five, mom moved to a new parish, got married and inherited a daughter from her husband’s previous relationship. I was never accepted by this family and neither was my mother. As much as she tried to pretend everything was peachy, I knew better. I was physically abused my step-father and sexually abused by his nephew before I was ten years old. I never told anyone when it happened because I knew they’d not believe me. My mother would have told me to keep quiet about it just to save her marriage. So I kept the secret to myself until years later when my younger sister came out and told us that the same nephew has been sexually abusing her from the age of 10 to 14. Everyone believed her and was sympathetic but, treated my news like it wasn’t relevant and I deserved it. I believe it hurt me more because I probably could’ve prevented my sister’s abuse had I told someone. I will not get into details on this post as I am trying to highlight reason why my mother and I are like strangers.

After learning all that nephew had done to her daughters my mother, months later asked me to drive her to a hospital so she could visit my abuser. She saw nothing wrong with it and used her famous Christianity quote about forgiving other as God forgives us. Like a fool I took her there, visited and told my abuser that we’d be back to see him and that we’re praying for a quick recovery. I knew what I just did was sick but, I was trying to save a non-existing relationship between my mother and I. This is just one of the hurts from the war that my mother and I have been through, we know the scars are there. I have made numerous attempts to discuss these events, how affected I am that my mother is still friends with my abusers and my mothers refuses to talk about and admit she’s wrong. She always brings up how we must leave things in that past and forgive.

One summer holiday my mother sent me to visit with her relatives in a different parish. This was a holiday ritual for me because I was raised by everyone, I had to return on holidays and spend a night here and a night there to show that I still appreciate them caring for me when I was a child. I visited with my mother’s uncle who was about fifty at the time. I wasn’t spending the night with him because he had limited space to accommodate me. I spend an entire day with him, his wife and my cousins. Upon leaving that evening he walked with me to the side of his house and asked me to sit on his knee. I was about 12 and thought nothing of it, I have never had an unusual or uncomfortable encounter with him before. I sat on his knees and he proceeded to ask me if I know what a secret is- I answered yes because I have been keeping secrets my entire life. He then said he’s going to do something and it’s only between us. I still wasn’t queasy at this point, I had no reason to be. He lifted my blouse and placed my undeveloped breast in his mouth, it was my right breast, I will never forget for even today, I become uncomfortable when anyone touches it in an attempt to pleasure me. I became numb when he did that, I searched for strength to get off his knees and run but felt paralyzed from shame and shock. He never went further that my breast, I think that was his way to test the water. I left his home that day confused and blamed myself. I knew for certain I would never go to his home alone again but, I also knew I had to keep that secret for no one would believe me. Decades later that same uncle of my mom was rumored to have sexually abused his daughter and another little girl in a church he attends. I figured it was the opportune time to tell my mother what he did to me. At first she appeared shocked and stated that she wish I told her before. Said had she known she would have ceased all communication with him and not visit with him. Fast forward two years and mother visits with him every chance she gets, he’s supposedly dying form AIDS and cancer now, she sends his wife money to help with his Doctors fee, packs a box with diapers and ointments for him. Recently mother and I were having a conversation about something my grandmother did that was upsetting. Mother became angry and started crying. I asked her why she’s never reacted that way towards the people who abused me and caused me hurt. She said she prayed and God is taking care of them.

I have become so far removed from everything that has to do with Christianity and religion because people use it for the wrong reasons. I also often wonder where God was when I was being abused, why didn’t he save me. Why has he still not intervened.

Who is a friend

Many of us have knowingly held on to unhealthy friendships based simply on the fact that “we’ve known each other since we were five.” We’ve spent hours going over conversations and events in our head, trying to make sense of why someone would say or do certain things to cause us hurt. We’ve remained silent when our voice was necessary because we were sparing feelings. We’ve made ourselves available for people at their convenience. We’ve given up our space and trust for people we thought were deserving of it. We’ve placed dreams on the back burner to make way for someone else’s because we were being a supportive friend. We’ve basically neglected ourselves in the process of maintaining a friendship not worth being in.

Friends are people who come into our lives at the right time and never leave. Friendships shouldn’t be one-sided. If you Are always the one giving, always the one reaching out, always the one encouraging- then certainly that friendship is toxic and you need to get out.

I’ve always been one to hold on to friendships based on how long I’ve known the person. I’m always the one making efforts to keep the communication active. I’d avoid all and any grey areas; I kept no sectrets from those I considered my true friends; their family bacame mine, I’d make myself available for any important events in their lives. I was always my friends biggest cheerleaders. Then it dawned on me that  while I was freely giving bits and pieces of me to maintain friendships, I lost my way and purpose. I neglected the people who’ve been my greatest supporters from the start. I started to realize that most people only kept our lines open because they could benefit from me one way or another.

At first it was difficult accepting the reality. I’d still make excuses to stay in touch. I’d still invite myself into their space because I was used to being dependent on them being in my life.

It took me wanting assistance with a final paper to realize just how much I was worth to people I thought I couldn’t cope without. I’d fallen behind on a 15 page paper due as a final for my class. I asked a friend who had recently received a masters degree in the same subject area for her old papers. I wanted to use hers as a guideline for my paper. I probably would’ve paraphrased some of her work, too. She promised she’d email me all her papers before the end of the day. Midnight came, no email; tomorrow came no email; two days turned to three and I shyly called to ask if all is well and if she had somehow forgotten. Her response to me, in the most aggressive tone was: “honestly, I don’t think of you. I forget about you as soon as we get off the phone. I didn’t send it.” I was baffled but, sort of brushed it off as some new found sarcasm. There was silence on the phone for about 55 seconds until I told her it’s okay, I’ll figure this out. That was our last conversation. It was in that nick of time I realized, that I was not even worth a thought to this girl who I’d given my favorite dress to. I’ve given up my bed and slept on the floor so she could be comfortable. I’ve stopped speaking with people on her behalf. I’ve lied to my family for her. Lied to her man for her, and then some. However, I wasn’t a mere thought to her at I time I thought I needed her most.

 

THE END. 

What’s a family?

In my primary school’s Social Studies class the definition of family was, “a group of people with similar blood type living under one roof, supporting each other physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.”

I was at least 10 years old when I was taught that definition and it stayed with me for years. I was never raised to challenge authority or to question people or things. I was only expected to obey anyone older than me, regardless of what they say or do. Any resistance would be met with a beating, therefore I believed everything I was told. My mother was weak. We never bonded because she was never there. Not physically, not mentally, not financially, not emotionally. I cannot find any images of mom and I in my memory. I can recall events that occurred from the age of three and mom is nowhere there. I never questioned it nor did I find it strange because there was never a lack of love in my life. I was raised by five uncles and grandpa, being the only niece and grandchild it was always a game of tug-of-war for me. I was born and raised in hardship: I can recall my daily meals being either a choice of water sweetened with sugar; breadfruit with salt; eggs with salt and, water, water was always available. Grandpa was the only one with a job, my mom being the oldest of eight and with a child, was said to have gone to a different parish to find work, that was the story that floated over my peanut brain growing up. My uncles were between 10 and 15 at the time of my birth. As expected the youngest had to stop going to school to care for me. There were no daycare centers or hiring a babysitter, as I said earlier, we were dirt poor. Of the five uncles, Fritz was my favorite. Not only because he was the youngest who had to play the role of uncle, dad and baby sitter. But because he was the beginning of love. I can vividly recall being sick with jaundice because I was malnourished. Uncle would wake at the crack of dawn, get me dressed, feed me and sing “Jesus Loves Me” until the sun came up. He’d take my clothes off and walk with me, face to the sun for hours and, without a frown or complaint. I can still feel the  sun’s heat lingering on my skin. I can still see his eyes smiling and face beaming with pride as he walked his niece with hopes of curing me. Uncle was my first love. Even today at 32 I look for qualities of him in every male that crosses my path. People give me looks of mystification whenever I tell them that I’m looking for my uncles qualities in any guy. One even told me he found my fascination with uncle’s qualities concerning and disgusting. See, everyone has their definition of perfect, of love, of family. My definition is what my uncle showed me as a child: unconditional, timeless, everlasting feeling of belonging. It’s a feeling we shared from sitting on cold concrete floors listening to his stories of challenges he faced as a child. The feeling and ability to be fearless, to be myself, make mistakes and know I’d alway be forgiven. He was all I knew, he was LOVE, he was FAMILY, he was the breath that kept me alive. He was peace, he was joy, he was laughter. …

I was barely 15 when he was murdered. For years I lost all feelings of trust and love. I lost the only person who was family. I questioned wether God exists or is a myth. For my uncle was the closest to perfect you’d ever get. Literally, he’d never hurt a fly. I wondered what sane God would allow someone to enter his home and pelt bullets through his pure heart. For years I would self destruct. It was my method for ignoring the pain of not having him around. For years I emulated everything he hated. I blamed him for being in the right place at the wrong time. I prayed to be dead for I knew I’d never find a love of family like he showed me.

Im better now, much better. I used everything I learned from uncle to help me through my mourning. I see him in my actions and decisions daily. I keep a photograph of him front and center of my eyes. I tell my children of this exceptional earthly being their mommy had. They don’t quite understand yet,  it I ensure they feel the love that flows through me, from him.

Continue to sleep in perpetual peace, uncle. Even after my last breath, I’ll love you .

The first time

If you asked the people closest to me about my first time, they’d tell you it happened when I was 17, with a man my parents went to college with. They’d have the proudest look on their clueless faces while telling the story I sold them and, as expected, you’d become a believer, too. The truth is, my first time is nothing close to the story I told. I tell people about that particular event because I wish that’s how my first time went. The older I became, the more I realized, that first time with the man my parents went to college with is how a first time should be: both parties mature enough to know there are no boundaries, no fear, no second guessing. Just raw; out of body, out of mind and out of this world love making.

The event is etched in my memory bank like my first tattoo; a daily reminder of immaturity.

I was 13 and the year was 1998. My mom had migrated to America and left my little sister and I in the care of her husband. They’ve been married since I was five and had only one child together. He had a daughter from a previous relationship, too. All together we were a family of five. Life was never peachy for me. I was literally the black Cinderella and my first time happened with who I thought was my Prince sent to rescue me. I can’t tell you how old he was at the time but, I can tell you he was late 20s and a friend of the family. He was a typical guy;Burly rock-hard body, dark brown sun kissed skin. His piercing black eyes were freakishly huge accompanied by balding hair and bearded face. His aroma was the same every time, a soft mix of mint and honey. The man was soft-spoken. Every word from his moist lips were reassuring, it is one the reasons I was drawn to him. For in all the chaos going on around me, his subtle voice would always calm and caress every cell in my body.

I know the question of my age compared to his has most likely crossed a few minds. You’re probably thinking of pedophilia Or maybe thinking I was a promiscuous teen. All of which is probably right. However, at that time I had no clue what we were about to do was against the law. See, those type of things weren’t discussed in my home, or in my family for that matter. Their only concerns were that as girls, we learn in school and not get pregnant. Now that I’ve given some background into my childhood, I’ll get back to the topic of this post.

The sex was nothing like they describe in the “Shades of Grey” series. Nor was it anything like the horrendous sex scenes form “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” It was a combination of lust and fear exploding on off white sheets on a steaming hot day in Jamaica. I had told brown skin I was a virgin during our many lengthy conversations. I know he didn’t believe me because the norm for a girl my age at that particular time and space was to already have been overly sexually active. Looking back, it’s clearer each day that sex with underage girls were a norm. It’s even worse if that man had some money or the means to make money. Mothers didn’t care about their daughters having sex a an awfully young age; they cared about getting money to do whatever took precedence over their little girls mental and emotional wellbeing.

I knew we’d do it that day. Not because he forced or begged me to do it that day but, because I had planned everything out in my little head. I’d made certain it was a day my stepdad would work miles away from home. I’d made certain it was a time when all my friends were off the road. I’d made certain no relatives or close family friend see me get in and out the car. I planned it and told him how it should be done. It worked, he picked me up and pulled straight into his garage that closed behind us. We entered in his home and, for the first time throughout our entire time of courting I became a spineless being. I felt my body disappear into the concrete under me. I remember hearing muffles of words he spoke, I remember the soft breeze hitting the trees and ricocheting off the windows. I remember giving myself the pep talk: “you can do it. Tomorrow this time it’ll all be over and you’ll be smiling.” I remember him gently touching my shoulders and asking if I was okay and if I needed water. I told him no, and that I’m just nervous. He gave me the look of uncertainty. It was as if he suddenly realized I was not lying about being a virgin. He told me I shouldn’t worry and that we didn’t have to do anything and, it was at that moment all things I knew as fear left my body. It was those words on that time and space I needed to reassure me of the many reasons why I was standing in that room: that this man was my savior and the only way I thought to please him was to give him the only valuable I had. The only thing I thought men craved. The only thing those Mills and Boon characters defined as being the reason for all the commotion in the world. …my virginity.

My clothes were coming off while he sat on the edge of the bed staring with a bewildered look on his face. Even when I sat next to him he didn’t move, instantly. It was as if he was trying to convince himself that he deserved to be in that room with me. I told him that I didn’t know what to do next. He was silent, and silent, and a little more silent and I felt ashamed. I began to wonder if it was a trick and my stepdad was going to jump out of the closet and beat me to near death. I sat, waited, wanted to get my clothes, burst the doors down and run home without stopping. I couldn’t move, it was no pinger fear and lust, I was now crippled with fear and embarrassment. I remember thinking how mature I thought I’d be after having sex, and how that will have to be delayed. I wondered if he too was a virgin and we both don’t know what to do.

We sat for about 35 minutes in silence and staring into oblivion. I started feeling cold and softly lifted the edge of the sheet to cover myself. That’s when he spoke, he asked if was cold and if I was okay. I replied saying, “yes. I am. You?” Then he held the back of my neck I said, “I’m sorry” and started kissing me. With my eyes wide open and every emotion running through me, I decided to let go like I had planned. He kissed me, ran his hands over every inch of my my pristine body while I laid there anticipating the next move. He climb on top of me and with the lightness of his touch, spread my legs. I was timid and bursting into sweat. He stated in my eyes and asked if I wanted him to stop. At this point I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I told him to keep going, that I want him to do it. His hands moved from my face to my lips, from my lips to my firm breasts, then landed them home. Home, to where most men’s troubles disappear and some begin. Home to where I hopes, once connected would take us into a different realm. Surpassing all things normal and become an out of this world experience. But it wasn’t that, not so extreme nor limited. Just an inexperienced girl and a guy who treated her like she’d break with every touch. We tried every lubricant in the house, from Vaseline to coconut oil. From saliva to lotion. When he finally inserted his penis, and it wasn’t anywhere near fully inside me- I felt every layer of my skin rip open. My body has a reputation of failing me and it did, again. I was only breathing and I heard only my inhales and exhales. I felt my pores open up, I felt and heard the sweat coming through my pores. My eyes were fixed on his face. It was as if he’d found an oasis after days in the Sahara and I felt proud. Proud that I was the cause of that look of accomplishment. Proud of the blood stained sheets and tingling in my vagina. Proud that I had something in common with the girls at school. Proud that I was truly nobody’s little girl.