Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5th, 2012

Finally, I am resigned to do the best I can to honor a promise to blog with blogger (share with so many sites that I had been invited to do so over the years, hopefully). I have been a perfectionist most all of my life You may not always see that here, but I will do my best. It is not usually the best thing to tell your story, but in this instance, I believe it is necessary. Many parents, young adults, and possibly others will venture to this tablet and I want to show them how to create a life for themselves, even if you do it alone all on your own, basically from the beginning of your time. I was once told by a very older respected psychologist whom I saw after my son died, only once - as he let me go on and on with the perils in my lifetime that were beginning to catch up with me after this 2nd worst shock of my life.

My half-hour appointment had stretched to an hour and a half, and I reminded him that his secretary (in this office that housed 4 psychiatrists, and 3 psychologists), had called twice now to remind him his patients that were waiting and now the times were running behind. This almost 70 year-old wise man finally said to me, "Kitty, I have my personal priorities in order." He went on, "In all of my days working and listening to the troubles of people, I know honor when I see it." He added, "The odds of you pulling out of this family and not only surviving it, but excelling in absolutely everything you put your mind to, including personal success as a mother, a medical career, and an ongoing passion for creating business for yourself and others, are 30,000,000:1." He asked, "It would be my honor to shake your hand." We stood and I began to cry once again with happy tears, he came around the side of his huge desk, and held his hand out to me. I said, "Thank you, thank you." He said, "It was my pleasure." "I wish you the best in the rest of your life, never give up." It was truly an honor that I felt, as I left knowing that I sought help and found a man who had heard thousands of stories, but had never heard one like mine. I have never given up. But, I will never forget what trials took me to this point of needing a second opinion of how to reach harder than I had ever reached in my life to survive intact.

If I didn't know how to do something, I found a book and sat in a small space and applied it to learning the knowledge needed to completing a task. I have been dyslexic with ADD, and a huge shot of PTSS since a baby. I have always had trouble retaining knowledge that had to be learned by only reading. My hands on necessity kept me from ever forgetting that I just achieved another personal goal.

Unfortunately, most schools don't look for learning problems for years. Colors were easy of course. The ABC song help tremendously to remember my ABC's. I liked learning this way. I often wonder if the fact that my father was told in my 1st grade, that I needed glasses; I couldn't see the blackboard, or samples on the wall. "No kid of mine is going to wear glasses!" Nobody questioned the wrath of my father's commands or loud mean statements. Each year the same message came home with me, scaring me to even show it to him; nor, could I show it to my mother. He knew it. She knew it. I was 6 and knew he might hit me if he saw it; my mother hid it, as she did my report cards.

When the 6 weeks between report cards went by, my brother 2 yrs older, and I, had to show them to my father; my brother had the same learning problems in school initially, however he didn't need glasses. So maybe, for me, that was just an added despair to my embarrassment when asked a question by the teacher or had to hand in an assignment that I thought I had done good on, but always came back with a very low grade. When my father saw those bad grades, my mother had to call him wherever he was living (he never lived at home full-time), he would drop by, and for the days leading up to this day, were for my brother and I, nothing less than severe terror. We knew what had happened to us each and every report card, even though the check marks were only for "Cannot comprehend what is read", or "Does not retain written information". If my father saw ANY check marks (of which they were always referring to subjects as those listed above), he would tell my mother he would be there "for dinner". We knew that meant 6:00 p.m. My God, we were so afraid of him. When we set watch at the lip of the front window corner and eventually saw his car, we knew it was time to get on the couch and fold our hands in our lap; as those were always the rules - even if we didn't know for sure he was coming home - be on the couch with our hands folded in our laps. We were so terribly little with no protection from my mother. She too was fearful of this man, her husband.

He didn't say much when he walked in. We had to smile or get that other look, "Slapped off our face!". He couldn't wait for dinner, he yelled at us to get up to our room (cape cod type home with one big long room upstairs, slanted ceiling from middle, but enough room to put two twin beds, with a storage closet and a smaller closet. No dinner for us. We waited for him. Sometimes we were told to take off all of our clothes while we waited. We cried and sobbed quietly so he couldn't hear us for fear more anger would be because he couldn't finish his dinner "in peace". He would climb the stairs in his heavy wing-tipped shoes, and the horror would begin. He would always start on my brother first, hitting, punching, kicking and yelling horrible words at him while he ran around the room urinating all over the walls. I was surely in shock, as I knew I was next. But, somehow, my pain is not what I remember, only my brother's pain and the pity I could feel at such an early age for him. It never went away, as my father was a force of nature that lived in his mafia-like self-made world and found his power by this control and sadistic manner of inducing fear that would last a lifetime. I would have killed the bastard if I knew what I knew by the time I was 13.

I have terrible, terrible memories of those days; he would beat my mother black and blue and pour her beer all over her head, if he came home unexpectedly and found her in her usual state of a beer or vodka induced numbness. She never tried to save my brother or me due to her own fear. So she didn't try. She still loved the man when she died at 84, and at 91 he took his 3rd wife. I would have killed the bastard if I knew what I knew by the time I was 12..

I didn't get glasses until the 7th Grade, and was not allowed to have them on, or anywhere in his sight or he would slam them - my head in the way or not. I saw the leaves on a tree for the first time from a few feet away. When my father dropped by, usually Tues, Thurs, and Sunday, it was full of quiet drama, physical, emotional, and constant drama and confusion for us as young kids.

When I was six, my mother had a new baby, each three-years after that, she had another baby creating three more little girls to this family. My mom would become pregnant, and my father would be gone until time for delivery. He didn't like her when she was pregnant. When it was time for delivery, he would sometimes come home for the week to babysit us, but mother had to have a babysitter lined up just in case he didn't come home in the evening. Usually it was the babysitter who would leave during her week's stay, when she would see my father's wrath to my brother and I. His swing to our face and head, was like the swing of a golf club. I had seen that swing on a "good" Sunday when he asked just me, to go to church with him and off to the Country Club. Every week in those early years, we all breathed a sense of relief, knowing we would have a few days of "normal" childhood while mom waited for her baby to be born and dad stayed away except for report card time.

At 6, my mother had the first little sister. When she came home from the hospital, I had picked a load of Posies and placed them into something big and had them on a table in the living room. It was May. My brother and I had been beaten so badly badly the week she was gone (the elderly babysitter, had gone home early and did not come back!). My brother had a swollen lip and a half-shut eye. I just knew his pain even though I had suffered my own. I thought when mom came home, my life as the person responsible for everything, would revert back to her. She and the new baby came in a taxi, dad was playing golf. He came home shortly after her arrival. She placed this live little doll on the couch, found my dad, and they truly had one of the worse fights I remember. When I saw the little bundle abandoned on the couch, at 6 yrs of age I knew I should do something, but I didn't know what. My mother walked out the door and drove away. Dad didn't come near the room where we were. I had been standing by the front picture window where my Posies, watching my mother drive away, never kissing or hugging me (finally safe feeling?), and never having looked at her Posies. This was the saddest day of my young life. I sobbed harder than any time to come in my early life - not during the beatings, not during all the disappointments, not during the terror of the unknown. I never cried for my mother again. I walked over to the tiny blanket as it was starting to make noise. My "dad" was NEVER going to hurt this baby; this baby was now MINE. I very quietly found the bottles that mom had bought before leaving for the hospital. I poured whole milk into the bottle, mopped up the spillage, and hurried to calm this little burst of new life for me to love and treasure. I never had a doll, a teddy bear, a favorite blanket, or a habit of sucking my thumb. It simply was not allowed. From that day on, the habits continued with "dad" and his altered home life, and my mother sank into a great alcoholic depression, and she ignored the three of us now; it never changed. She sat quietly and existed. She had good days, but most in every week were not good days. She didn't keep up with the laundry. She used cloth diapers, and I used a towel when she was out of them and out of sorts. She never bathed us, washed my hair, or taught us to brush our teeth, and I had to wear the same dress often to a prominent elementary Catholic school. The embarrassment had quieted me into not talking or being able to talk to peers at school. It was just a place to feel safe for a few hours in a day. I never felt like making close friends at school, but sometimes played with a couple of neighborhood kids, as long as they didn't play dolls.

By the time my "dad" made 5 kids, he moved us to a larger home. He only stayed long enough to make a baby, and bring my mom home as usual. We still never knew when he would drop by for 15 minutes, a day, or two. "My" second baby was born when I was 9. I was expected to cook a dinner for dad, brother, sister (4 people) while mom was in the hospital that week. Yes, we had a babysitter during the day while we went to school and dad looked for a new dream job, or played golf. She also left early. Dad didn't like anyone in our home. I was told to make dinner. Keep in mind, I was only 9. I had seen mom make fried hamburgers, gravy, and potatoes. I did my best (forget the gravy!!). Dad ate whatever I took to him while he laid on the couch. I changed diapers and I took 100% care of my little sister.

When mom came home with the next precious little bundle, a second sister, she saw the devastation and the loss of the babysitter who was supposed to stay another week to help her. But, she was gone and would not come back. Mom started bleeding; it was everywhere. She was hemorrhaging but we didn't know what that meant. I ran next door and they called an ambulance for her. She had to return to the hospital for another week. So now I had two babies to take care of, in addition to my ever-becoming complex and now mean brother  plus "dad" at 6 o'clock p.m. I was now 11. Dinner was supposed to be cooking by the time he walked in the door. Damn, I learned life fast. At 11 years of age, our final baby was born. Things were becoming complicated for me. I will say that it just might be a blessing that all of the kids, no matter what age, went to bed where they fell; never a bath, never a hair brush, no bed time, no stories, no kisses on the forehead. It took a while for me to learn a mother's intuition.

What a story coming from these fingers today. I have never written them down. As an adult, I kept a personal journal for over 25+ years, written to God, as the greatest blessings these two sick people gave me, were first, life, second, my brother and sisters, and most importantly to me, a Catholic (Christian) education. I understood those rules. There were only 10 of them. I understood them, as they were explained early and recited every school day. I could abide by them. They gave me some security. Safety was always a problem. Security is a learned behavior; and I learned by 11, never to depend on anyone but myself to move forward in my ambitions of wanting to learn new things, to take care of my three little sisters, and to not look back. And I did and still try to move on and do what I know how to do best. There is so much more to this young story but for now, I will just say that I have been the owner of five businesses after I had had a career of almost 20 years at an 800 bed hospital. I was invited to join my team of six pathologists who wanted to send me to medical school, all expenses paid; return and work with them or any field of my choice. My family became the people at that hospital. I had three sons, and I walked away from a horrible life to fulfill my own dreams and passions that had been in my heart for many years. My sisters continued to come to me with questions and problems as they grew into young women. We all four married our childhood sweethearts eventually.

R.I.P. Mom and Dad


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