Discovering my Family was Different

abuseI remember the day I discovered my family was not like every other family on the block; I was 15 years old.  We had moved around quite a bit when I was younger, by the time I was in the tenth grade I had already lived in five states and had attended my fifteenth school, so to say I had been around the block was an understatement.

My experience with close friends was limited; I had a sort of “love ‘em and leave ‘em” attitude when it came to friendships; why bother getting close to somebody when we would probably be moving in the next few months anyway.  However, by the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was told we were going to “settle down here at least until you kids get out of school.”  Where had I heard that song before?

So, I had a rocky start; my cavalier attitude and propensity for dating other girls’ boyfriends made me an unwelcome and unpopular choice of a friend among my school mates in my new high school.  As the months wore on and I realized we really were staying, my prospects for friends seemed to diminish; until one day, the new girl came from California.

She was different, sort of quirky; she wore cowboy boots, but had a haircut like one of the guys from Duran Duran.  We hit it off instantly; she was the new kid, and so was I.  Where she was shy and somewhat nervous around boys, I was outgoing and could talk to anybody about anything.  She kept me grounded when I was manic and had crazy ideas, like stealing her dad’s Corvette to cruise the strip; and I pulled her out of her shell.

Soon, we spent every weekend together; either she spent the night at my house, or I spent the night at her house.  We watched MTV until the early morning hours, then we would get up and make “Egg McBreads” our version of the Egg McMuffin; egg, cheese, and bacon, on a piece of bread.

She was part of my family and I was part of hers; I had never felt anything like it.  I thought I knew everything about her, and she about me.

One weekend, she was with my family as we spent the day in the foothills of a historic mining town just driving around looking at old mines.  My parents were drinking as they usually did.  They started to banter; they banter turned to fighting; nothing unusual.

By the time we got home it was a full-blown police intervention weekend.  It was about time, it had been a few weeks.

My father had been antagonizing my mother; well, everybody actually, by poking her with his cane.  She was aggravated and asked him to stop.  He would not.  By the time we got home it had escalated to the extent that when he walked into the house she walked up behind him and crashed him over the head with a rock.

He never saw what was coming.

He staggered to the side somewhat, but continued into the duplex, his head bleeding profusely.  By now, my brother-in-law, both sisters, brother, my friend, and me had gathered on the front lawn and were yelling at them to stop.

My mother followed him inside and the fight continued down the hall as evidenced later on by the trail of blood on the walls.  My father walked along a bar of antique glasses and with one fell swoop, wiped them off, crashing them to the floor, breaking them to bits.  This enraged my mother, she took a stick that had been holding up a plant and began beating him across the back.

I do not know who hit whom next or the exact chain of events, but there was quite a bit of blood all over the walls and the household contents were in disarray and destroyed.  I ran in to use the phone to call the police, but the phone had been ripped from the wall.

So, I ran down the street looking for somebody; luckily, we lived in a bad neighborhood and a policeman was driving down the street a few blocks away.  I was able to flag him down and get him to come over to our home.  Upon questioning the family, everyone except for me claimed my father had started the melee.

True, his antagonistic attitude had begun the arguing, but if my mother had just let him walk into the house and go to sleep, it would have ended.  In my eyes, she had started it by cracking him on the head with the rock.  I was outvoted, and my father was arrested and taken to jail.

Of course, back in those days he would only be held for as long as it would take to “sleep it off” and he would be released.  It would not have mattered anyway, as my mother would move earth and sea to bail him out anyway.  The whole matter was an exercise in futility.

We all got back into my sister’s Bronco and headed to Burger King; we ordered our food, and sat down to eat.  It was then that I noticed how stunned my friend looked, she had been so quiet.  My brother-in-law broke the silence as he dipped a fry into the ketchup, “Hey, doesn’t this look like Dad’s blood when mom cracked his skull?”  He was simply trying to lighten the mood, we all accepted it.

My friend stood up, in the middle of Burger King and screamed, “What is wrong with you people? Are you all nuts? What just happened?  You are sick!”  Then she just sat back down in the booth and started crying hysterically.  It was my turn to look at her, stunned.

Later, when we left the restaurant, my mom said, “Okay, I need somebody to volunteer to sleep at the house,” she went on to explain, “When your dad gets out of jail, he is going to be mad and I don’t want him to come home and destroy the place.  I can’t come home until he calms down. You can have a gun.”

I volunteered my friend and me to spend the night; we slept in the living room amongst the broken glass, shadows cast over the bloody walls.  As we sat there, I shoved the gun under my pillow and said, “I don’t get it, your parents must have fought.  They’re divorced.  Isn’t it like this for everybody?”

She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “No, not everybody lives like this.”

That was the first time I knew.

13 thoughts on “Discovering my Family was Different

  1. Wow.
    I give you a lot of credit for where you came from. I too, traveled a lot. My dad worked for Mattel toys. I am not sure why that causes us to have to travel so much but we lived in Missouri and Illinoise and I remember by the time I was in Junior High, I too had gone to five school and was dubbed the “New kid” which as you know is just not the greatest title when you are under ten!
    YOU have the most amazing skills to paint a picture with your words…I see you as traveling with your stories. Please don’t settle for being flat!
    YOU are soooo 3 dimensional to me… I wanna burst! 😉

    • Yes, “the new kid” is a moniker I would just as soon forget…

      Odd, who would have thought toys would have you moving so much… maybe he was undercover for Santa 🙂

      Thank you for thinking I occasionally have some affect; I know I must have been a real girl at one point in my life, I just cannot seem to find her. When I look in the mirror, she does not look back.

      Always,
      Me

  2. I feel like the new kid here, more so now that I have browsed at your other sites. On your Gravitar description you misspell a link. Submissive is spelled incorrectly as “submisasive”.

    Your family was different in being more extreme. Mostly you don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. I only remember one scene of violence and I don’t know how it started but my mother was always “passionate,” meaning I think she had overwhelming moods which I cannot categorize. I remember seeing her pull out a heavy wooden drawer from a dresser and charge across their bedroom as she charged my father with it like a battering ram. I did not see if she succeeded with it but I do know my father punched her in the mouth and then I was sent to the neighbor’s house to get help and I was to say that mom slipped and fell down some stairs. They didn’t know I had seen through a partially open door some of what happened. I lied to the neighbor and things settled down. That is the only violent scene I can remember between my parents.

    More personal was a period of a couple weeks where my mother threatened to kill me. I mean she would be in a rage, red faced, vein dancing on the side of her neck, butcher knife held above her head, claiming that she was going to kill me in my sleep. I was nine years old. I feel calm about it now and I felt calm about it then. I remember looking at her in her rage and standing there with an attitude of being unimpressed. While this sent on before going to bed — I had the entire upstairs — I would casually set up traps where I set up a web of rope attached to a bunch of toys so that if she snuck up the stairs with her big knife she would walk into the web and a bunch of noisy toys would come cascading down on her. I figured the noise would wake me and also alert my dad. I’ve never told this to anyone before and I’m 55 and a half years old now. Setting the trap was like a fun project for me, like being all creative and like a spy. Somehow I knew she was not going to hurt or kill me, I just did.

    So shit happens. To some degree I didn’t know I should have been scarred by that, I didn’t know I was supposed to be scared, I didn’t know I was supposed to tell anyone. Instead I constructed an elaborate trap.

    That all sounds so cold. I have been hurt by things. I have been scared plenty of times. Maybe mom was pissed because she couldn’t get to me.

    So thanks for sharing. Thanks for causing me to spill some of my own stuff. Hopefully we grow healthier together. I sense your situation was much worse than mine.

    • Sir,
      Thank you for pointing out the typo… odd that I somehow did not want you to go to the other sites. I cannot explain why, other than to say we have developed a rapport… and, I did not want you to think less of me. I am not ashamed of my life; but others may not understand. When I have grown to respect or admire someone, as I have you over this short period of time; I would not want them to think poorly of me… so, confession over, not much I can do about that now, for I have been exposed.

      As you have not understood you “should” have been scarred or scared about events in your life, I have studied every minute detail of mine… pouring over them in therapy, in dreams, in my marriages, and now in my writing. All the while, looking for answers that simply do not present themselves.

      I was once told by a husband, “You’re over 18, deal with it.” I could not make him understand that turning 18 was not a magic age when things made sense, or when we were handed a passport to an adult life of joy and fulfillment. He came from a home with two supportive parents who nurtured and loved him; they were both working professionals who were there when their children needed them. Even as adults, they were there; they backed off when necessary, but jumped in the minute their kids asked for assistance… a life completely foreign to me.

      Thank you for walking this twisted path with me, Sir.

      Always,
      Me

  3. I did feel like I was trespassing, perhaps like going through your medicine cabinet or underwear drawer, even though you do link to them publicly. I think no less of you and after a cursory glance I will keep my focus only here. The other things do not hold my interest. I care about The Flat Girl and what is to become of her.

    Do understand that the events I conveyed are isolated and do not represent the general character of my childhood (I think I’m going to edit that and post it on my own blog, it used up my blogging energy). My mother was overall an excellent mother and my father was emotionally detached. I suspect he felt he wanted other things than the family and job he had and he was full of regrets over never having gone to college and never having pursued any sort of dream he might have had. So many people fit into that sort of category, stuck in a life they don’t want and stick to it because of some misguided sense of duty or helplessness.

    You are “dealing with it” now in the most direct and remarkable way possible. Serendipity seems to be the theme of my life. The right job comes along when I need one, my wife appeared when at age 40 I finally felt the need to have a life partner. And now you, someone to walk with and talk about many interesting and confusing things. I don’t think it is important what the goal is or the destination. It is the walk and who you share it with that matters. Serendipity.

    • Sir,
      Again, your words are comforting… never judgmental, accusatory, or harsh. Like an old friend, welcoming and caring; a safe harbor in an otherwise often sea of emotionally charged chaotic mind.

      For that, I thank you.

      Serendipitous, indeed.

      Always,
      Me

  4. Leorah, (can I call you that?), I too have read the words and experienced you through your other sites. You have nothing to worry about, regarding your concern that people may feel less of you. Honestly, it only adds to the depth of your incredible soul. You have a gift. From where I sit, you have an ability to draw people in, and in a very interesting and compelling voice tell your story in a way that – those of us who have never experienced anything like it – can relate to. That’s a gift! I’m glad to have found your blog.
    Chuck

    • Chuck,
      You certainly may.

      As you may have noted; my writing style varies depending on the site due to respect for my position and respect for others (as well as a respect for the English language, and to keep the confusion to a minimum). Additionally, I only call you “Chuck” instead of Sir because you have made such a request.

      Thank you so much for trying to understand me, and for visiting my tiny little corner of the world; it is greatly appreciated. I know it is complex…

      Always,
      leorah

  5. I hug that young girl and love her as best I can.

    I remember the time my stepmom stabbed my dad in the hand with a fork while at the dinner table because he was watching the nightly news and ignoring her (and they were stone cold sober) I grabbed the four little ones. We stayed outside until everything in the house grew quiet and I felt it was safe to go back in out of the line of fire.

    The next morning, they were lovey dovey and Dad had a hickey. What a crazy world.

    Authenticity- you have it in spades.

    Kim

    • Isn’t that the way it goes? The cycle of abuse…

      My parents had the same cycle; my mom used to get gifts, major shopping trips, etc. All the while, she would be sporting black eyes, bruises and the other symbols of an abused wife.

      Thank you so much for visiting and for sharing your story. I hug you back ~HUGS~

      Always,
      Me

  6. There is something about your writing that has me really captivated. I really can’t put my finger on it but you have me really hooked on your life story. When I read your writing, I feel like I was experiencing it with you. Good job. I plan to read a lot more.

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