It doesn’t start with me though does it? Both my parents were abused/neglected – My mom suffered incest, sexual and physical abuse…My dad was the last of 8 in a poverty stricken household…He was the “forgotten” child, left to his own often nefarious devices.
My parents met in high school and after one abortion, decided to have me. Then there was another abortion, then they had my sister, two years my younger. Somewhere within my infancy I began to be molested. I can’t remember by who – but signs point to an uncle (the same that molested my mom) who is now serving time in California for the sexual abuse of dozens of kids where he worked as a camp counselor.
My dad was in the oil industry, like everyone else in Houston, and he traveled quite a bit. It was during one of these out of the country travels that my mom tried to kill herself. I don’t remember it. In fact, I’ve forgotten that it happened – over and over again – even as an adult. Anyway, I was 5 and my sister was 3. We were the only ones in the apartment with her. I believe a neighbor came and checked on her and found us, and called my dad.
She was admitted to a psych hospital, and I didn’t hear from her again until I called her when I was 12.
My step mom moved in before my mom was out of the hospital. (My mom now recounts leaving the hospital to go to her apartment and finding another woman’s belongings in her bedroom… I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her!) And also, an illustration of the type of man my father was… I think now, in retrospect, he is likely borderline? or narcissitic.
My step mom was abusive physically and verbally. She was an alcoholic and likely other diagnoses as well… She was only abusive to me – and outwardly a funny and outgoing, even pretty woman… I suppose that’s where much of my invalidation came in. No one knew of the abuse. Even my sister turned a blind eye toward it…though she also became mute for many years… My guess is that my step mom was jealous of me – my dad always gave me special attention, even at her expense…
I started running away when I was 13, started acting out at home and in school. Then I lost my virginity to rape when I was 15 on my very first date ever by a boy on the football team. He was driving me home from dinner with his parents… He turned into a monster. In the parking lot of an elementary school.
My dad was a times abusive, though not as much as my step-mom. That weekend my dad pinned me down, face forward over my knees, my hands pinned under his knee on my back…I heard something inside me break. It was almost an audible snap! And I no longer had any trust that home was safe for me.
The next morning I emptied my books from my backpack and filled it with clothes. I would not go back home, no matter what. I went to school, I tried to make arrangements with friends regarding where I could stay… My step mom must have gotten suspicious because she tried to get me out early from school. She saw me trying to make a run for the bathroom…a confrontation ensued. She called my biological mom.
My sister and I moved in with our mom and my step dad (who I loved dearly). It was only for a short time, but I didn’t know it then. I remember having a complete breakdown. I cried for maybe weeks straight. I felt…safe…. I also felt a strange sensation – and this is hazy in my memory – but it is as if I was deciding what to keep and what not to keep, what parts of me I wanted and what parts I didn’t… I’ve also attributed that moment in time as to when I lost my memory.
I was 15 at this time. I started seeing Danny, the bad boy from across the tracks. I was sneaking out at night to see him… Shortly after we moved in, my step dad left my mom. My mom tearfully told my sister and me that we could no longer live with her. My sister went back to my dad’s and I became homeless.
At 16 I found out I was pregnant. I was still homeless, staying in abandoned houses, bathrooms by pools at apartment complexes, Danny’s friends house and Danny’s house (unbeknownst to the respective parents). I was still in school – that’s how I was able to eat…
At one point, there was an incident involving drugs and guns at Danny’s house. A girl was shot. After that his mom decided that they would all move back to her family in Mobile, AL. I felt like my only protector, and the only person that cared about me left. I was alone. It was me and my unborn daughter…
Danny arranged for me to stay at his friend Bill’s house. Bill’s mom was an alcoholic and would rage frequently. I remember Bill barracading her from getting to me as she raged that I was a whore, etc… It was a bad time. I was sick constantly from being pregnant. And I didn’t know what to do…I had no job, no car, no home, no family (my dad and family had moved to South Texas by this time), no doctor, no insurance… I had a pamphlet on abortion from the Planned Parenthood clinic that pregnancy tested me… but the thought made me sick. I was having nightmares….
My friend Sophie at that time may have been the only person that knew of my circumstances. I tried to appear bright and happy at school, fooling everyone (so I thought). I had lost many friends when I reached out for help regarding the abuse…to be fair, they were kids and didn’t know what to do…Sophie, who was struggling with mental illness, was alone in sticking by my side. She knew that I was having nightmares, she knew I felt hopeless and helpless and like I had no options when it came to this abortion…
So then a miracle happened – she was flipping through the tv channels one evening and saw a friend of her family’s! She turned it back – it was a women her parents knew well on Montell Williams (back when he had a talk show, before he was hawking bad credit loans). Anyway, she was talking about her experiences with open adoption. Sophie called me excited that this might be the way out I was hoping for! I called the friend, who referred me to her best friend, Joann.
Joann and I talked for hours and hours. She was the person I wanted to be when I had kids. She was smart, successful, confident… and also kind and compassionate. I never had any doubts. I wanted her to raise my daughter. We met at Fuddrucker’s soon after that first conversation. I met her husband, David. He was funny and as nervous as I was. I immediately felt safe and trusted them.
To me, the adoption was about saving my daughter when I couldn’t save myself. She was the best of me – the only good part I felt I had left.
The open adoption did a few things: I got a social worker who looked in on me. Joann and David paid for me to move back in with my mom, they paid half the bills, gave me a food and hygiene allowance. (At 16, it was as if they adopted me too, lol) It was a lonely bleak time. My mom took off for weeks at a time, I felt isoloated, always alone. I prayed the screaming in my head wouldn’t do damage to the baby in my womb.
Danny came down for the birth of Elizabeth. His mother (again, likely borderline or some other personality disorder) had convinced him I was “having the baby to trap him.” I’d laugh but it still isn’t funny, even after all the years. We made love once or twice, but mostly we fought bitterly.
Elizabeth was perfect. She was sweet. An angel baby. I got to hold her in the hospital. I got to visit with her a bit. And then I gave her to Joann, so she could have a mom that I couldn’t be. It broke my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible. I remember coming to – I’d been wandering the halls of the hospital sobbing, and a kind nurse led me back to my room. I was hollow. I was empty.
I don’t remember much of the last of high school. I visited Elizabeth as often as I could. She was my one joy…she was the one thing that I could look at and know I must not be all bad, because look – I made a perfect baby and created a family! A healthy, loving family! I met and started dating a nice guy, Jared. He was funny and nice and…safe. And he loved me. Secretly I still longed for Danny. I figured that first loves maybe never die. I wished on countless eye lashes for him to come back to me.
At one point, when I was maybe 20? My wish came true. Jared had moved to Dallas to start his first “real” job in the financial industry. I was still in Houston waiting for him to get set up before I would move there to join him. It was a big step in our relationship and I knew it meant marriage. Then I ran into Danny. I was going with a friend to his mom’s wedding and he was in town. We stopped by. I remember Danny seemed to still be in love with me. He said things I wished him to say – don’t leave for Dallas, I still love you, be with me. But he was also high. Self preservation kicked in… I turned toward living with a dull heart.
And thus I began my life. Fast forward a few years, we own 7 homes – rentals and flips – we are both gainfully employed in the financial industry, make well over 6 figures, have 2 kids…life was grand…
Except I was suffocating. I accepted his reality to the THE reality because I didn’t have any type of normal to compare it to … but I had no idea who I was, or why I was so so unhappy. I was bipolar, but was diagnosed with depression. Likely it was the medications that triggered my big mania.
I started having inappropriate relationships with guys at work. I reveled in the attention. I purposely milked my high sex drive, maintaining my high, my mania…
The one thing that was working out was Elizabeth. She was growing up to be a wonderful child, then young lady…She was not only someone I loved, but was someone I liked, immensely. We visited once per year on Memorial Day weekend…
But Jared and I couldn’t maintain. I asked for a separation, then divorce. We tried to make it work with counseling…I went to therapy…nothing helped. I loved him…like a brother.
And then Danny appeared again. We had contact through the years – an email here, letter there – mostly in the guise of keeping him up to date regarding Elizabeth… His appearance in my life was a shock wave. It changed everything.
I regret that I cheated on Jared with Danny. I wish I had ended things with Jared then moved on to have a relationship with Danny. But I understand and forgive myself – I felt he was my soul mate. You see, not only were we high school sweet hearts, but we were lovers during a time when everything else in our worlds were falling apart. We were the one person in each others lives that believed in the other… I had written my very neurology around him! He was inescapable, irresistible to me.
That was…5 years ago. Since then I have grown so, so much! He and I were a “high conflict” couple. Our relationship was stormy fights, passionate love, jealousy, havoc. The whole time I was reaching out trying to learn, trying to figure out why the chaos! I found Eckert Tolle, I rediscovered mindfulness, meditation…Our lives started to settle…but would suddenly end up inexplicably chaotic again and again, no matter how hard we tried! I had by this time witnessed Danny’s rages, his paranoia, his phobias…not to mention my own emotional ups and downs. I knew there was something going on… When I discovered Borderline Personality Disorder, it was like the heavens parted and angels trumpeted. Oh! No Freaking Wonder!
I joined support groups, read everything I could get my hands on – including High Conflict Couples and Walking on Eggshells. And we’ve been incorporating DBT into our lives. And the last 9 months have been the most peaceful 9 months we have ever had.
And over the last few years, I have rediscovered who I am. What my strengths are, where my heart is. I’ve grown incredibly from where I was…only 5 years ago…
So, yeah…I like me, now that I know me.