When I was living with my parents as a teenager, my life was marred with unbelievable misery. Living was sheer agony. I wanted to die, many times.
The stepmother resented my slender frame and happy go lucky attitude. It had been like that for as long as I could remember. It was very clear that I wasn't considered her 'real' daughter. The stepmother's demeanor was static with bitter and self-involved envy. In fact, I am grateful that she is nothing like me - as you know I am the most open and loving person in the whole world.
However, as children will do, I kept wanting to please her and convince her into feeling like she could be my new mother. I know have to accept that no matter what I wanted, she just didn't love me.
I was a stupid child, not worth love 'right now'.
That was ok. I will wait.
I waited and waited and waited. But it never came....
High school was a welcome escape from the Madhouse. Whenever Dad wasn't home, which was most of the time, Mum would be almost unbearable. Being sexually abused as a child had a detrimental impact on my self-esteem. When it came to dating boys, I felt like they would never even see me until I was prettier. They wouldn't want to touch me until I had cooler clothes. Wouldn't want to hold my dirty hands before I could shave my legs. I knew all about sex and dick. I knew what oral sex was by grade five. This changes a childhood.
I felt sexually broken and spent. I was experienced in sex - not love. I was experienced in being used - not appreciated.
I wanted to be kissed by someone - yet I was so afraid. I trembled with fear.
I thought my vagina would be stretched and everyone would know. I wanted my first time to be my choice - not my brother.
Please - why did it have to be him ? It was meant to be special. Nothing was anymore, even if I wanted it to be.
After we lost the childhood home, dad packed up the station wagon and we hauled our trash to a place called Rockhampton, Queensland. This was an desperate attempt to save their marriage. Nothing to do with us kids. We had to leave lifelong friends and our home and everything we had.
It was a country town, the kind which is safe to walk home from school or leave the front door open. We knew nobody. The Stepmother never made any friends up there, which resulted in her controlling my life even more. I still don't know why they even uprooted us, but then again my parents are fucking idiots sometimes.
I remember my first day of Grade Nine - the stepmother had refused to hem my skirt so it was long and bent our of shape. It scooped down past my knobbly knees and she also forbade me to wear a bra or shave my legs or armpits. I had cheap shoes and we could never afford anything with a label or anything even fashionable.
Her rules were very strict and consequences were dire if she found out that I was trying to outsmart her. Severe punishments would be dreamt up if I even tried to wear makeup or earrings. It was not anything moral - it was just a way for her to control my sexuality. It was the way she never explained why. I asked her why I couldn't be a girl like all the others. "Because I said so." That's all I ever got. Then more screamings and then fists.
I was not allowed to have a boyfriend and I have never gone to a school disco. (never)
I missed a lot of special events as punishment and I was never driven to school, I always walked. I didn't mind. I wasn't allowed to go to any friend's houses after school or bring my boyfriend home. She would listen to all my phonecalls, open all my mail and read my diary. Keep in mind that this was right up until mid high school. I quite liked my old school and in spite of my odd apprearance, I always managed to make friends easily. I've always preferred to have a close best friend and nuture a wonderful friendship than be in a larger group of girls.
I met my first real friend, Georgina, in my speech and drama class - and she changed my life. She was amazing. She had raven hair that fumbled over her shoulders. I would watch her in English as she bit into a apple. I loved the way her white school blouse seemed to sigh over her lace bra. She wore musk perfume oil, she painted dolphins, read animal liberation and was a strict vegetarian.
I was fascinated by her and I confess I will always be. We clicked instantly and enjoyed an intense friendship. She knew I was being emotionally abused at home. The stepmother never liked my friends and any source of happiness that I could find was forbidden. However, it just made us closer. I finally started to laugh again and stop being so frightened of being a child. We played in the grass and smoked herbal smokes. She was instrumental in finding my first boyfriend. After the abuse - she was everything. I treasured her so much and when she left, things changed forever.
I loved the time we spent together, painting murals on her walls, eating chips and gravy while we cut class, singing Pearl Jam on the backseat of the bus. The town was ours to destroy and we crowned our youth with laughter. In order to escape my homelife, I would have to make up many elaborate lies and then hide over at Georgina's house for the weekend. Parties were forbidden (as I would only want to have sex with everyone apparently) and so was anyone sleeping over. (it was too risky for them to see Dad drunk)
Georgina's mum was a counselor and you could often find me sitting around her loungeroom and I spoke of my secrets, hot tears spilling down my face. I wanted her to be my mum so much. She let me talk about things. She hugged me and I felt something good.
I would watch Georgina look back and forth, from my face of pain to her mother's face etched with concern. We wanted to save each other - didn't matter that we were just friends - we were like sisters. I love her for that.
However, I was terrified of The Stepmother finding out that I had told anyone about how she treated me - they would ask me to leave and I would get frightened of bringing the wrath onto these nice people. Mum already had called the police on them before. It was a great second home for me and I didn't want to lose it.
Then I met a boy. Everything changed forever (yet again)
Hey - that's being a teenager for you. It is an amazing journey - I hope you made it out ok..
The first time a boy looks into you, not through you. The way you look down and you realize - your holding someone's hand !
You grip it as though your heart could explode through your chest. It's all hands and mouth and me me me and it's wonderful and heartbreaking in the same dance move. Everything is brilliant and crazy, some kind of beautiful you have never felt. You are free and you are falling in love in the meantime.
The afternoon sun shines on our silhouettes, as he leans in for the goodbye kiss , his bicycle brushing between the both of us.
But you don't even notice, for in that moment it's all tongue and strange, unfamilar fire. It's more than a dream at very last, yet you finally ask yourself - is it love? Then, you change forever. You are no longer a child. You grow, again.
Please don't go. I would always say to him. I remember him so well.
"But you will see me tomorrow baby" he said, pressing his lips into my frown.
Will I ? Maybe you will change your mind and decide I am not for you. That I am too hard, that I snap at you. That I have issues , that it is all too hard.
That you don't want someone that has so much pain in her life.
Maybe you will leave too. Just hold me for one more moment.
Let me feel something is mine - if just for today....
In the bottom of the bag I find your notes and your drawings - you are a talented artist and I remember the feeling of your eyes on my body as you etched my breasts upon the canvas. The way you traced I love you on my thigh for the very first time. The way..just the way..we were. First love..only one. There's only ever one. When I felt you inside me for the first time. We were so in love and you brought candles and my favorite chocolate. It was...everything. It was my first time with anyone that I loved. It was you.
When you slid inside me, I cried. As the first face I saw was him. Not you.
I saw my abuser.
It was already ruined, but we tried to finish. We had the best times , just touching at first. Then you worshipped me and I bloomed for you. It was all for you.
Trust..Love... I was dancing in your eyes and I twirled with hopes of what would be. Your kiss, the shape of your chest..I remember it all. I remember it even now.
When you made love to me the second time - it was better.
Then we both cried - sweet precious love. So important.
Where are you now? What would we say now? If you knew.
If you knew it all. Did you know I was headed for danger?
Will you be surprised? Will you maybe tell me - it was all a dream?
I remember feeling that maybe you could be the one?
When I was with Jason , everything seemed bright. It was like I had caught up with everyone else again. I could hardly believe this could be true, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I felt like I was worth something for the first time in my life and it felt marvellous. All of my life I seemed to have the worst luck, in that everyone I love seems to disappear.
I went into my first relationship very nervous and afraid. But it was wonderful.
Whispers of love during sex, so special that I cry but I am happy. Georgina, Jason and I were inseparable. I tried to hide the fact I had a boyfriend from The Stepmother or she would ground me for three months at a time. This happened twice and it broke my heart as she never relented and I hated home more than anywhere.
I decided I wanted to leave home. Georgina's mother suggested that I live with them. I cried in her arms all night, I still remember my face imprint on her tweetybird nightie. I was nervous inside, The Stepmother was bigger than me and she would often throw me around the house, no matter how much I pleaded with her to try and love me. We started to plan to build up my courage, I was just about to turn 16.
It didn't matter if I could build the courage to walk away - I knew she would make it her business to find me and drag me back home. Then, when everyone turned away from the sheer frustration, I would face her wrath and hatred alone.
When I would walk home with Jason, she would cruise the streets looking for me to make sure I wasn't spending any time with him. I was a nervous wreck. I lived in total unrational fear of this woman, which affected many relationships.
I wish I could feel about her how I know she is. I know she is weak, but it is like she has hardwired me from a very early age to always cower in her cruelty. I hate it. Make it stop.
I beg of you. But you can't can you? You can't. Only me. Only her.
It was the disgust she expressed whenever she spoke about my life or my appearance that was the hardest to understand. I am the most loving person and all I wanted was to be a normal child. When my birth Mother left me - I felt stained forever - maybe I was just not worth the trouble. Was I that easy to walk away from. It broke my little tiny heart.
Then I struggled to understand the incest - why me? Did he hate me and my father that much? And then having to live with both the Stepmother and the Abuser until I was just about to turn sweet sixteen.
She blamed me for Dad's drinking and accused me of trying to seduce my father. I wrote her letters explaining that I was desperately unhappy and wanting to just die. She laughed and told me I was a pathetic drama queen. She never understood me and never will. She will never read this blog and if she does she will never confront me. She knows it's all true, it's only me that wishes it wasn't.
I tried to talk to Dad in those moments of moonlight darkness. I knew he could see rivers of tears glistening on my cheeks , I know he felt my shudders of sadness when he hugged me goodnight. But he just looked at me with these vacant eyes, glazed with rum and not say a single word. No apologies. Nothing. He would taste the tears that ran down my face, rubbing them away with his thumb, almost like he couldn't bear to watch them fall. He spent most of the school nights and weekends down at the pub and often came home drunk, bursting into our bedrooms and making us clean the dishes at three in the morning.
My parents would push each other around and sometimes they would fight all night. When dad was on a "binge", The Stepmother would pack my brother and sister and a few suitcases into the back into our station wagon. Of course, she would leave me behind. I was not considered hers.
I wasn't important enough to take. I sat on the driveway and cried as she pulled away with my brother and sister looking through the back window. Eventually, daddy would come home and find me there and he just looked so old in that moment.
The house would be empty with strange stillness, so Dad and I went down to the pub. I would have a raspberry lemonade and we would talk about just anything - I would confess that I had a boyfriend and we would laugh and begin to relax. I love my dad, in spite of myself. I love the fact that one day - we might be comfortable with each other.
We would drive home together from our special dinner, laughing all the way - then stop dead as we saw that she had returned. The station wagon was back in the driveway. Dad would suddenly go all quiet and then everything would go back to how it was. I would not speak to him again for about seven months and when we did - it was different.
In the end he just avoided us kids and buried it all in the bottle, and it hurt me a lot.
The Stepmother needed us kids to feel she had a purpose, so I knew it would have to be me that would escape. I told Dad that me fleeing home was on the horizon. He laughed it off and tweaked my nose, but I caught a glimpse of panic behind those eyes - he knew our days were numbered. I cried every night, silent sobbing. I have never felt so intensely sad and alone. The Stepmother would slap my face and call me idiot and I would get so mad I would want to kill her - so many times I snapped and then just cried and cried and cried. Although it felt good to go crazy - it made me very tired. I wanted peace. I wanted something better than what my parents could give. I had to take a chance.
They fucking failed me - my childhood was terrible and I would never get it back. But what about the rest of my life? If I would give her my joy - she would take it. It was all she ever wanted to do. I started to get angry. The panic gave way and I knew I would have to get out of the house. It was either that or be fucked up more than I was. It was a call to action.
I was not going to let my adulthood go the same way. It was now my life and unlike my childhood - I was now in charge.
I started to scream with excitement into my pillow. Freedom! After years of abuse and emotional manipulation, I would be able to smile again and not have to explain why. I could finally not feel guilty about being loved by people.
I would stop being accused of flirting with my Father.
So I started to make my plan to escape, risking everything I had, which at 15 was not much. I didn't know how to cook or clean or how I would live. I just knew I had to run. It's all my heart had been saying to me. I was dying on the inside, my soul lost and struggling with it all.
It wasn't that much so I figured I had nothing to loose.
But I lost Dad - and I miss him. He always blames himself.
Maybe one day - he will save me from the sadness that was my childhood and help me understand - but for now, I will just grieve that I lost him.
I remember the morning of the escape, they way the new dawn broke and made slices of peachy light across my face. I had no idea that I was about to change my life forever. It was the day I stopped being a victim.
To Be Continued