If I said, ‘so much has changed,’ it would not begin to explain all that I feel on the eve of this New Year. It is far more true to say, ‘so much truth has been revealed.’
Also true is the fact that, at its core, my story remained completely unchanged; I am still a survivor of child abuse that led to a psychotic breakdown five and a half years ago. I still have Bipolar Disorder as a result of the abuse – although here I am lucky; my Bipolar is atypical, and my psychiatrist has taken me off all meds, including Abilify. The thought of not taking an anti-psychotic was terrifying at first, but I agreed to give it a try; it’s been more than six weeks now and I am fine. No depression. No mania. No signs of PTSD, and no anxiety. I have Lithium, Depakote and Wellbutrin in my medicine cabinet, and my psychiatrist’s number is programmed into my phone, but I’m becoming more and more certain these things will remain merely precautionary.
Therapy wise, I’ve learned my triggers and how to disarm them; I won’t be cavalier and say, ‘the past can’t hurt me now,’ but I will say, confidently, ‘the past no longer has the power to derail my life.’
‘so much truth has been revealed …’
Ed’s coming back into my life has given me the opportunity to understand things in ways I didn’t before; to remove him from the whole and hold him accountable only for the mistakes he made – and separate from Pat, he is merely a man who made mistakes; he had no idea what she was doing to my sister and I while he was at work …
My wife has said in recent days, ‘this all feels like a movie, I had no idea people like Pat could be real.’ I know exactly how she feels. Pat is very good at presenting a different face for different people, and very few understand exactly what she is capable of; her manipulations know no bounds, no decency or morality. And now, many years later, she believes her own lies – they have become her truth.
My mother did a number on me, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what she did to my father; she cost him his children and grandchildren. Yes, he made mistakes – did things he should not have done, but her exploitation of his mistakes – cold, calculating and cunning was far more damaging to me than were the mistakes themselves. She wanted me to hate my father – she didn’t succeed; I don’t hate anyone, not even her, but I did turn away and close the door … I wouldn’t even hear him out; that’s on me, but it was certainly part of her design.
When I was little, not sure how old exactly but I know I wasn’t in Kindergarten yet, I would ride my tricycle on the sidewalk outside our house. One day, I decided to ride it to the store. This particular store was about a mile away, maybe a little more, and it was on a very, very busy street with fast moving traffic. A policeman saw me – at this point more than half way to my destination, and brought me home where he proceeded to chew my mother’s ass for not supervising me properly; I remember this incident like it was yesterday – he even told her that, ‘next time, I could be bringing him home in a box.’ I had no idea what that meant at the time, or even why the kindly policeman was yelling at my mother, but she passed it all off like she’d done nothing wrong. I was, of course, severely dealt with when he left. I never told daddy …
and all the times she would leave me – abandon me – to punish me; at home, at the grocery store … we never told daddy; she made sure daddy would never find out what SHE had done by making me fear daddy to the depth of my soul.
And when Ed was accused of sexual misconduct, Pat seized the opportunity to insist my sister had repressed memories of Ed molesting her as a child … then of course, as the story goes, Pat herself repressed these memories for a time; although I’m not sure when that could have happened, I heard about it all daily for years!
The best gift she ever gave me was that she is a living, breathing example of what hate does to people …
what hating my father and blaming him for all of her unhappiness did to her is unfathomable in my mind, life and heart.
I cannot hate, refuse to hate …
So much of what she did seems unbelievable, even to me and I lived it – know its truth in every fiber of my being. I don’t blame people if they question my story, in fact I get it; how can a mother, any mother, do what she did to her children?
What she is still doing …
I knew when I began this blog there would be those who might use my history of mental illness to suggest my memories are inaccurate, or distorted; I even knew Pat would likely use this tactic … it’s her style to be sure. It was a risk I was willing to take to end the silence that was making me complicit in her lies.
For the record:
I left Pat’s house because she asked me to choose between Rhonda and her – I chose Rhonda, the best choice I have ever made.
I stayed away from Pat because I quickly realized how much happier I was without her in my life.
If our relationship had been steeped in a healthy mother/child bond, we’d have gotten past the rift that caused our estrangement.
It is all that simple …
miraculously, no one has defended Pat … and only Pat has suggested my memory might be less than reliable.
But it took a willingness to look at my father, to consider him separately from Pat – from her disturbed nature and troubled life, to really understand what happened to me as a child … to end that gnawing feeling that real comprehension was always just out of my reach.
Ed did this admirably – not by denigrating my mother, but by quietly and patiently letting me know who he really is. He did it by revealing himself – he doesn’t hate, and he doesn’t blame anyone else for his actions or mistakes. I can, and do, respect that.
We never leave The Past behind completely, It’s always there – always part of us. But if we’re very lucky and determined, we discover Its truth — and what follows is a way to make sense of it all …
and then we can pick up the pieces, and even those we left along the way, and go on with our journey.
Happy New Year; may it hold peace, love, acceptance and the promise of a joy filled tomorrow – a promise only knowing the truth can bring.