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.

Guest post on Soul Destruction blog by Ruth Jacobs

I’m so very honored to have been asked by Ruth Jacobs who is a strong voice in the fight to dispel the “happy hooker” myth and get the story out there about what it’s really like to sell your body and with it, your soul.

I really went out on a limb with this one. If you have the intestinal fortitude to see why, click the link http://souldestructionblog.wordpress.com/voices-of-prostitution-survivors

Barter sex

My sex life began with a bang (no pun intended) on April 22,1970.  I was a sixteen year old virgin.  I will tell the story of that rape on my new blog, the one I keep threatening to start, any time now.  I’m working the kinks out of it.

After that, I ran away from my artsy-fartsy home on the east coast, ran all the way to California to be a hippie, and promptly got raped again, in a big white metal bed at the home of a friend and her family. Guy walked right through the door, climbed on top of me: “Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.” Where DO they learn that pick-up line?  I left the next day, thingy chances on Highway One heading south to Santa Monica, where my friend had a friend who said she knew of a place I could crash. Only that didn’t work out the way it was supposed to.

After a few days of abject homelessness, too scared to sit down anywhere, too scared to go to sleep on the side of the road for fear I’d get raped again, I was offered a great deal: I could sleep on a cot in a crowded garage where a rock band practised, provided that I would sleep with the band members.

At that point it seemed like the best possible arrangement, since I would have a guaranteed place to sleep, and the people I would be having sex with were a known quantity and not just random people grabbing me off the street or coming in my window when I was asleep.

One kind of sweet thing was that the bass player took a shine to me and asked all the others to stay away, after they had each had a turn or two.  So I “belonged” to Spacey Tracey.

There wasn’t a bathroom in the garage so I used the yard.  The lady who lived in the house left her back door open for a while, so I would sneak in there when she was at work and use the bathroom, take a quick shower (I got to stinking pretty bad with all that sex and no shower).  Also I had no food and no money.  The cot in the garage was the barter deal. Tracey didn’t seem to notice or care that I was getting pretty gaunt.

On one trip through the dark kitchen of the lady’s house on my way to the bathroom I noticed that there was a bowl of those pastel poufy after dinner mints on the kitchen counter.  I grabbed a handful and stuffed them in my pocket.  That whole day I sucked on them very slowly, feeling them dissolve on my tongue, feeling the surge of sugar into my blood, a tiny flicker of energy enlivening my flesh.  My mind was dead, though.  Gone.

Once I discovered the mints I made sure to grab a handful every day.  That was all  I had to eat.  The band tried to get me to drink some Boone’s Farm Apple Wine one night.  It barely hit my stomach before coming up again.  Didn’t make much mess, though:  nothing in there.

Well, the lady finally wised up that I was helping myself to her bathroom and mints.  One day the back door was locked.  I told Tracey, sadly, that I would have to move on, or starve to death.  I was terrified at the prospect of leaving, because every night for a couple of hours I had Tracey’s body to cling to, and that was my whole world.  Yet I was truly starving, and had to find a saner situation where there might be both shelter AND food in the offing.

What’s interesting to me in retrospect is that I never asked Tracey for food.  I felt too ashamed and worthless to ask for anything more than what was offered: a place out of the rain, reefer when offered, the companionship, such as it was, of the band, and the barter arrangement with Tracey.

Later, when Tracey found out I was pregnant, he offered me money to help with the abortion.  I tried to reassure him by telling him it wasn’t his, but his face fell apart and I realized that maybe he had loved me, a little.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Don’t touch that dial, folks….

In my last post I told-all about April 22 and its loathesome significance for me.  Thanks to the support and encouragement of many of you, my dear readers, I have decided to take the plunge and start a new, separate blog as a platform for writing the story of my years as a teenage runaway, homeless child, sex object to predators, survivor of serial rape and survival prostitution, abortion, and witness to countless acts of violence.  Gee, do you think I might have PTSD?

The new blog platform will need to be under nomme De plume, as the stories are intimately bound with my family, who are still deeply entrenched in their own fairy tales about what happened, and I don’t want to get into that right now.  I just want to write the story and thereby accomplish step number one:  break the silence.

The jury is still or on the blog title.   When I  get that figured out I will cross post the first post from the new Blog on here.  I will continue to post my bipolar stuff on here, and move my teenage saga to its own safe place.

As always, I am happy to hear your suggestions, so suggest away!

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved