My mother was a sociopathic, abusive person.
I am sure that there were other issues, and I am still working through what they could have been. But the bottom line is this – she did not love me. She never showed in any way that I was other than a nuisance at best and a burden at worst. I was told I was fat, ugly, useless, that no man would ever want me, that I was good for nothing but cleaning and caring for my much younger brothers.
She was marginally better to my brothers, but then, men were her drug of choice. I had more “daddies”, “uncles”, and sketchy men to be afraid of than I can count on my fingers and toes. There were the usual drunks, bums, and other women’s husbands. There was also the ex-con that she spent her time hiding because the police really were enthusiastic about making him not such an ex-con. One of my outstanding memories of childhood was being made to lie to a giant, scary man in a uniform with a gun in his hand while this particular “daddy” hid in the attic crawlspace just above our heads.
The man with the badge and the gun was way less terrifying than what would happen if they found “daddy” because of what I said or did.
From the age of eight until the day I got on a Greyhound bus alone at 15, I lived mostly in shacks in Appalachia with no indoor plumbing. I went to more schools than I can remember clearly. I was taken to counselors’ offices and questioned and offered baths and clothes and Kotex. I was put in remedial classes because they assumed because I was dirty and barely spoke that I was also unable to read and write.
During those years, I raised my three younger brothers. I fed and diapered and disciplined and tried to teach them things they needed to know. I ran to neighbor houses for help when my middle brother got his arm caught in the wringer washer and the time my youngest brother needed 22 stitches in his head. I pulled the footlong tape worm from my brother’s body when he was three, and I pulled the buckets of water up out of the well in the backyard. This was no Coal Miner’s Daughter life. It was my reality.
When I was thirteen, my grandmother let me live with her for the eighth grade. I went to the same school that entire year, got to regularly shower, and made a couple of friends. I also began to see that there was better for people if they worked hard. At the end of the school year, I had to go back to Kentucky because my mother had no one to watch my brothers. But I had already had a glimpse and I was no longer a child, but an adolescent with enough rebellion and determination to fight.
And fight I did. If I learned nothing else from my mother, I learned to survive.
But through the coming years, the hardest battle was with my own mind. I battle to this day. It is a war I will probably never win, but as long as I can fight, I am moving toward better.
So many of us have stories like this. Trauma and barely healed wounds and deeply carved scars. It doesn’t matter if you suffered them in a trailer or in a palace. Pain is pain. Grief is grief. Blood is blood.
It doesn’t make you weak or crazy or unable to life a life. I managed to sustain a career, build a home, and raise two children. I live in a house I never dreamed I would have, and I wear clothes I never dreamed I would possess. I am safe. I am blessed. I have people who love me, and people I call friends.
None of it matters when it comes to the me you can’t see.
I am sharing these thoughts and this video trailer in the hope and prayer than someone may read, and watch, and it will help them get better. That is the hope and vision for every day I wake up. Just to get better.