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My sister and I dealt with my mother in completely different ways. I manipulated to get my way, and she internalized everything. As tensions grew worse with no outlet my sister’s health started to decline. The stress would make her break out in hives all over her body. And even though we told our mom what was wrong, and what we needed from her- she wouldn’t listen. It had to be our fault or that something was wrong with us.
This is the eleventh post in this series, to start from the beginning, please click here.
Disclaimer: I wrote this in 2013 to share my testimony with the world in the hopes of helping other children faced with abuse. Most times, you will be the only person to advocate for a child that cannot stand up for themselves. Children in abusive situations are taught to conceal every aspect of abuse, so if you by chance are able to see something, it may be the only opportunity for rescue a child has. Please take the appropriate steps to report child abuse. I have since rewritten and updated these posts to make them more understandable and up to my current writing standards.
Growing up with a thief of joy
As we became teenagers it was hard not to notice everything everyone else was able to do. We were always home. We couldn’t go to birthday parties or friend’s houses. Or even outside except on rare occasions.
Friends would knock on our door asking if we could come out and we had to beg our mom for hours until it got dark and her maybe would turn into a no.
She loved stringing us along as if she would change her mind. Looking back, it must have brought her some sort of joy knowing our hopes were so far up and she would bring them crashing down.
One year on the first day of spring break, before my mom got home my sister and I went outside. We were right in front of our apartment and threw a football back and forth to each other. My mom got home early from work, caught us outside and grounded us for the rest of the week just so we wouldn’t ask to go anywhere.
She wanted us to be trapped. If she saw joy in anything she made sure to eliminate it from our lives. We were there to clean up after her, not have a life or have fun.
She was never the problem
My mom was convinced that my sister was depressed and so she took her to the doctor and put her on antidepressants when she was fifteen. Even though she told my mom she didn’t want to take them, the doctor said she legally didn’t have a choice until she was sixteen. The pills didn’t help my sister because they didn’t change our living situation.
When her sixteenth birthday came, she stopped taking them immediately and went through withdrawals.
My mom was still convinced that there was something still wrong with her, so she thought that she needed counseling. She found a counselor and my sister started taking sessions.
When the counselor realized what was going on, I was asked to join the sessions to confirm what my sister was saying. And then came the day that it was time for my mom to join us.
The counselor started asking her questions. “Why do you keep them locked up in the house? Why do you treat them like little slaves?”
My mom put on one of her many faces, denied everything and said things would get better, that we could hang out with friends, go outside and live normal lives.
She pacified the counselor until the end of the session.
We never went back.
That day, as we were leaving, my mom decided to play a mean trick on me. I’m guessing she was angry with what happened in the session and I was always an easy target for her. As I opened the car door she started driving away, laughing and acting like she was going to leave me there.
I started running, trying to hop into the car while the door was open. But instead, she stopped the car abruptly so I ran and hit the door hard.
She didn’t do things like this often. But I’m guessing the circumstances made her act above and beyond her evil self.
And tensions just grew worse
My mother used to force us to go with her to visit her husband in jail because she didn’t want us to have any freedom in our house without her ruling over it. But some weekends, she chose to go alone.
Back then, we didn’t have cell phones so we would leave our apartment and walk to my sister’s best friend’s house across town. Making sure to come back by the time our mom would be home. Any chance we had to break free we took. It didn’t seem like consequences could be worse than what we were already going through.
My sister didn’t know how to deal with what was going on so she started skipping school, drinking and smoking cigarettes.
Every day I would come home from school and do my sister’s chores for her so she wouldn’t get caught by our mom because she would be so drunk she had to lay down in bed.
It seemed like things got worse every day. My sister didn’t want to handle what was happening.
When she finally had enough and she ran away to her best friend’s house. She wrote a letter to my mom telling her that she just needed a break. She couldn’t take living at our house anymore.
The letter said she would be back in a couple days. But my mom wasn’t having it, she called the police and made sure they brought my sister back home.
Then there was just me
When I was in the ninth grade and my sister was a junior in high school my mom came home and started her usual routine of yelling at us.
In the middle of it, my sister announced that she had just decided that she was going to go live with my dad.
It was the middle of the week, she called him and he bought a ticket for her to fly out that weekend.
I was devastated.
My sister was my rock and we always got through everything together, now I was going to be left all alone to deal with my mom.
My world was crumbling, but I didn’t have the courage to go with her.
It was one of the hardest goodbyes that I’ve ever had to say but I knew that it would be best for my sister.
My shell of survival
When my sister left, my manipulation grew worse. I had a best friend and knew that if my mom was friend’s with her mom I could maybe hang out there more.
Her mom seemed to guilt mine into letting me come over.
I figured out that if I could get an adult involved with my mother somehow, then only they could convince her to let me see daylight. My mother’s excuses for never letting me leave the house weren’t logical. So when asked by another adult she would always change her tune.
She knew what she was doing was wrong, but she didn’t want to be held accountable for it.
With my sister gone, Kathleen would come over to our house more and more. I was never allowed to go to her house so it seemed like she just moved into mine.
Kathleen had a way with my mother. Since my mom wanted my friends to be her friends, she played the part. Which made my mom love having her around. She wanted her there for her benefit, so it was a win for me because I actually got to spend time with a friend.
But that didn’t stop my mom from showing her true colors. Once my mom was comfortable enough around Kathleen, she would treat me the same way. Yelling and screaming at me in front of Kathleen didn’t matter to her.
By this time, knowing my mother’s schedule my rebellion got worse. My mother wouldn’t get home from work for a couple hours after I was home from school. So I would sneak people into our apartment. Usually to smoke weed or to just hang out.
At night, when Kathleen would spend the night we started sneaking out of the house and hanging out with friends that could pick us up in their cars and we would get high with them.
Or if we couldn’t have anyone pick us up we would steal my other best friend’s dad’s car and just drive around.
Everything seemed to be going fine, I had an outlet from being trapped in the house all day by sneaking out, and my mom had no clue what I was doing.
When she would get home from work I would be high and she never could tell the difference.
There was a night when we had snuck out and stole my friend’s dad’s car but he woke up and called the police.
When we arrived back with the car I got arrested but they took me home.
I made up a lie and told my mom that I had a nightmare that Bruce got out of jail and tried to kill me and so my best friend drove over to my house to pick me up and we just sat in the car talking.
She believed me like all the other lies I told her, so I didn’t get in trouble.
I was barely ever in trouble because I knew how to lie and manipulate so well.
I got amazing grades in school and never got into trouble while there as if to convince my mom that I was a good child.
Even though my mom would go to see her husband in jail on the weekends, and talk to him on the phone, they still wrote countless letters back and for to each other.
I became curious.
So since I already knew how to get into my mom’s locked room I found where she was storing the letters from him, and I looked on her computer to see the letters she wrote.
And I started reading them.
I noticed how much my mom would talk about me. She called me almost every name in the book and would talk about how annoying Kathleen and I were. How much she couldn’t stand to be around me.
How she could always hear us giggling from my room and how sick of it she was.
The way she wrote about me, she could have made anyone who didn’t know me hate me in a second.
It made me realize how my mom really felt about me.
And then I started reading the letters that he would send back to her in response.
It was obvious she was making him hate me.
And in two of the letters, he had threatened to “have me taken care of” and kill me. I was scared. He said he knew someone that could “take care” of me. This wasn’t something that I could just take lightely.
I took those letters and gave them to Kathleen’s mom just in case anything ever happened to me. She told me, like she always had, that if I ever decided to, I could come and live with them.
The first time I ran
The summer of ninth grade I took Carolyn up on her offer. I had had enough.
My mom was in the middle of screaming at me and I told her I was leaving. She proceeded to tell me I wasn’t going anywhere.
She tried to trap me in my room. When I tried to leave, she pushed me up against my futon bed, held my wrists against the back of the bed and screamed so violently she was spitting all over me.
I was so angry, I wanted to punch her. The hate in me for her was so full and yet I bit my tongue and held back. When she let go we both ran for the front door and she beat me to it.
She wouldn’t let me leave.
I gave up for the day and waited until the next day when she was at work, I packed a bag and moved in with Carolyn. It was one of the best weeks of my teenage life.
I got to go outside, and to a park that wasn’t inside my apartment complex.
For years, my mom kept us trapped. I don’t remember even going to the mall except to buy Christmas presents maybe once or twice. We never went anywhere or did anything as a family unless it was at my uncle’s house or my grandmother’s.
But this week I was free. It was a feeling I can’t even describe. Free from feeling like I was always in trouble. And free from the pressure of having to clean up after her.
But soon enough I was back in hell. It only lasted about a week before she called the police and made me come back home. I had to go back to being the little slave my mother always wanted in a daughter.
Would you share this post? I’m writing this series in hopes to help someone. You never know who’s suffering, whether that is an adult who is trying to live in the aftermath of abuse or a child that someone can help, they just need a push to do it.
Next Post: My Testimony | From Surviving Relentless Abuse to a Blissful Life | Part Twelve (will be available 8/22/2018)
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