The King and Queen of Denial

Today started out like any Wednesday, taking care of my 89-year-old father so my 87-year-old mother could get out of the house for the afternoon.

Dad was a little “off” today: he wasn’t happy with his omelette for lunch.  He would rather have had one more piece of toast but preferred to grumble about it rather than ask for it.  I didn’t mind.  After all, he’s 89 and very disabled, in pain all the time, and it amazes me that he manages to get through most of his days in mild-to-moderately good spirits.

Mom came in from shopping, bringing the mail that she picked up at the post office.  There was a package from LL Bean for me.  She wanted to see what was in it; I demurred, because the gift for her upcoming birthday was in it.  She got demanding and insistent.  There was a bit of a tussle until I finally remembered that there was something in that package for me, too, and I cagily extracted it.  That satisfied her.

I looked at my mail; nothing but “begging letters.”  I have specific charities I give to regularly, so I threw them all in the recycle bin.

The conversation turned to politics, and somehow got onto someone whose past as a prostitute had recently been revealed.

Mom reacted acidly.  How could anyone sink so low?  What in the world would cause anyone to do THAT?  She’d rather die.

“I did that,” I said quietly.

“YOU DID NOT!” She shouted, staring at me blinking out of her little birdy eyes as if I was the world’s biggest liar.

“Come OFF IT” shouted my father, several decibels softer than he would have in his prime, but doing the best he could muster.

“You were never a prostitute,” stated my mother matter-of-factly.

“Unfortunately, I was, when I ran away.”

“Then you deserved what you got!  You’re lucky you didn’t pick up some disease!  Maybe you DID pick up some disease,” she said thoughtfully.  “Why in the world did you do that?”

“I did it because I was cold and hungry, I needed food and shelter and safety from the streets.”

“You never told us that.  You never told us anything.  You just left us all of a sudden.  You robbed us of raising you!  You robbed us of our only child!”

I robbed them of their only child.  That was all they could think of.  They didn’t ask me why I ran away to California, or why, when they flew me back East for a family event, I ran back to California as soon as it was over.  Even if they had asked me then, I wouldn’t have told them.

I was scheduled for an abortion. I needed to get back to California.

It’s been forty-four years since I bought that one-way ticket to San Francisco.  Forty-four years since the bullying at school, my mother’s frequent unpredictable rages, and the vicious rape that took my virginity rolled up into critical mass.  I knew I had to either kill myself or get out of there.  I chose the latter.

I hit the streets in California broke, disoriented, and from my perspective now, unbelievably vulnerable.  Nowhere to stay, nothing to eat.  The weather was cold that spring, and I was dressed for California sunshine, not cold fog.

The first night I stayed with a friend I had met at a summer camp.  Her parents had a party that very night, and I went to bed early, exhausted from the trip.  The bedroom door opened and closed, and suddenly a man’s body was on top of mine.  A voice hissed in my ear, “Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.”

It was the same thing my first rapist had hissed.  That first time.

Many more rapes, and finally it dawned on me that I could get food and places to stay and maybe a little money to buy a new toothbrush.  Nothing big-time: I didn’t even know what I was doing.  Just surviving, that’s all.

Why didn’t I give up and go home?

Because the streets and the rapes and the johns were better than the screaming and the “silent treatment” and the rapist there who watched me like a hawk, trying to get me to “be nice” to his friends in exchange for some Panama Red….and the school principal who regularly lectured me on the fact that I was a weirdo and would never amount to anything.  At least this bad scene was MY bad scene.  I chose it over being a one-girl shooting range at “home.”

“Home is where the heart is.”  There was only one heart, and it was beating in my chest.  Now, as then.

“You deprived us of raising you!  You robbed us of our only child!”

And yet…and yet what?  You only thought of yourselves?  You still, forty-four years later, think only of yourselves and not why I ran away, let alone what happened to me out there?

“You deserved whatever you got.  You chose it.  You deprived us of our only child!”

God help us.

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  1. I wish you had the nerve to tell her (them) that statement: “Because it was better than . . ” So many times we have to choose the “better thans” in this life in order to survive. I don’t really want anyone to go to hell, because I know (my belief) that hell is the permanent separation from God. I cannot imagine anything worse. At the same time (which is why I love the fact that my main mental/emotional illness is called “bipolar” since I’ve often seen two sides of a lot of things) I hope there’s special places in hell for certain types of people — people who deliberately choose to do or not do certain things that loving, caring, sensitive, sympathetic, empathetic people would do or would not do.

    I know why you didn’t, of course. I can’t help but think of an old song that says, ” . . . they never listened. They’re not listening still. Perhaps they never will . . . “

    • Thanks….I just got an irate email from my mother regarding “our conversation” in which she accuses me of accusing her of “putting me out,” and how they never laid any guilt trip on me (yeah right). Oh boy, things are going to be really fun around here now….

  2. oh, i am so so so sorry for you having to go through all that, unrelentingly, for so long. the fact that you survived after all that, became successful even, is fantastically amazing. it is so so hard to move upward through society, and the fact that you did so, shows how strong a person you are, how determined and how independent.

    not only am i sorry for you to have gone through so much trauma, but i am really sorry that your parents, especially your mother, still refuse to see what a beautiful person is right there in front of them, still helping them, even when they refuse to see the real you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words **tears** I am feeling even more homeless now. I have spent my whole life trying to make it up to them, and to myself, and only getting blame in return. Now I’ve tried to share a little bit of what happened to me, and I feel like I’ve fallen into a shark tank. God help me.

  3. Wow, I don’t even know what to say. I’m so sorry you went through all that and are still dealing with so much……thinking of you.

  4. Thanks, Janet. I appreciate the good energy….

  5. bpnana

     /  December 11, 2013

    I think one of the things I like most about our blogging community is that we all have the chance to reveal our deepest hurts, disappointments, and secrets and receive compassion and empathy. It really helps, especially when family doesn’t have a clue!. Thanks for being brave and sharing!

  6. My heart and soul are crying for that young woman, girl, really, who endured so much (and yet so little in the way of love and understanding) that she felt she had to run away across the country. And for the girl who was raped repeatedly leading her to make a decision for herself that continued to hurt her emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually. As you say, it was YOUR decision, and you were SURVIVING and I respect that and you. You are such a survivor of so many things…my admiration bursts forth out of my crying heart and soul. You are one strong woman, Laura. And I know that we strong women do lots of crying, sobbing, pleading, praying, etc in our own secret spaces. I applaud you for your courage in sharing with us so that we may learn and grow ourselves and have the opportunity today to say to you “we love you and support you”. I do, certainly. Peace to your heart, my friend. Sara

  7. I am so terribly sorry for all you had to endure Laura. There are not enough words to describe the anguish as I read this, particularly the final betrayal. I wish I could say there is a better, brighter life now, but we know that your parents have a slanted view of their world. All I can say is I’m so very sorry this happened, is happening. I pray that all will be well….soon…All my love and prayers, Susan x

    • Thanks, Susan. I met with my therapist today and she feels that my mother definitely suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder…the only problem with that, is that Narcissists think that they are the only people who suffer, and that everyone else causes THEM to suffer. So there’s no way to win. I’d love to go No Contact with her, but I don’t want to abandon my dad to her, and I want to spend time with him before he goes, so….I just have to keep my guard up and don’t let her “in.” Sad but true. Thank you so much for your love and prayers, Susan. They mean a lot to me ❤

  8. If they don’t care to the point that they think you deserve what you got, how come they were bothered by being deprived of their “only” child? You’d think if they cared about that child they would care what happened to you?

    Anyway, all these years later, you show you are the better person, just like I showed my dad. It is stupid to think that it cost me my career and my future just to prove a point, but then again to feel like you earned your detachment from a horrible parent is sometimes worth it, and nothing broken takes forever to fix.

    • You’d think, wouldn’t you? But no, then they’d have to take some responsibility and admit that they were part of the problem. And narcissists cannot do that. So I have to let it go, let them go back into their fantasy world. And I have to pull myself together and go on.

      I am so sorry that you lost so much, but you show yourself to be a strong and wise person. I know you’re going to pick up the pieces and be successful. You’re right, “nothing broken takes forever to fix”. And we are stronger in the broken places, once the glue dries!

  9. I am so sorry. Parents sometimes refuse to see hurt because they are afraid it means that they messed up. But that is no excuse.

    • Thank you! You’re absolutely right. I messed up seriously with my son, and had to do a lot of repair work to reach mutual forgiveness and get him back on his feet. He did his share of work, too, big time. It takes mutual openness, honesty, compassion, and respect to have a healthy relationship of any kind, especially between parents and children.

  10. That’s truly horrendous – I have no idea what to say – there are some wise heads above this. I wasn’t expecting the anguish to hit from so many places in one post. I’m truly sorry.

    • Well, my friend, I am truly appreciative of your kind words and support. I’m really between a rock and a hard place here. There have to be some silver linings somewhere. Or, as the mystics of my religion, in common with my Hindu guru, would put it–“you’re burning off karma so your next life will be easier.” And I’m like, Bring it on, get it over already, I’m stretched to my limit, my soul is fatigued with fighting to merely exist. I do find comfort and solace in your support, so thank you.

  11. Midwestern Plant Girl

     /  December 13, 2013

    I don’t know how you had the strength to survive out there, but that strength is what made you the survivor you are today. My jaw is still hanging open as to what to say… But I can say is that you have a friend in me and I care!

    • Thank you soooo much! It means a lot to me. I hope we get to go romping over the dunes one day! The thing is, once I was there, I didn’t have a lot of choices. In fact, I had two: to go back, which was out of the question, or to survive, whatever that meant at the moment. Remember, I am on the autistic spectrum as well as being bipolar, so when I set my mind to do something it gets done, even if it happens to be dangerous and foolish in the minds of some. Looking back, I do wish my mind had been more mature. I might not have gotten into some of the horrendous scrapes that I did. On the other hand, the blissful oblivion brought on by dissociation made things a lot easier. I’ll think about it tomorrow–at Tara….

  12. Reblogga detta på akenygrenblog.


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