cartoon cow writing at a desk

The Change, The Shift, The Day (1.27.18)

My mother made me go in to wake my dad up for the day. It was late morning, 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., and I was in my nightgown which indicates that it was the weekend. My parents always had a conflict about this “thing.” I don’t know what “it” was. My older brother by 16 months Doug escaped this task and it was placed onto me. (Adult Debbie’s thoughts: Maybe this thing was that my mom was a morning person and my dad was a night owl. Maybe it was that my father was sleeping in because he was depressed. Maybe it was that my mom wanted us to go to church as a family and it always felt like dad was trying to avoid going to church.) I followed directions like a good girl, an obedient child.

Even though it was bright and sunny outside, the room was dark, because the shades were pulled down. I said something to the effect of “It’s time to wake up Dad.” My dad reached out and pulled me into the bed and under the covers. I felt terrified, because this didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like my father. I don’t remember the specific order of events, however in my mind alarms were going off everywhere and I could here the robot from the TV show Lost in Space repeating “Danger! Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!” with his arms flailing around his rotund silver body. My dad then said, “This is another way that people love each other.” He also told me to not tell Mom. What?!? If I can’t tell mom about what he is doing to me, then this must be really bad. (Adult Debbie talking: imagine the confusion and conflict that these messages create.) He touched my tiny little breasts and then put his hand and fingers on my vulva trying to get to my clitoris. To my knowledge, our family didn’t have a name for our private parts. All I wanted to do was to kick and scream and get away from this monster who was supposed to be my dad. I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember how long it happened. I don’t remember leaving the room. I don’t remember crying and having a melt down. Nothing. I do know these experiences continued to happen and that I don’t have much memory about 3rd grade. I have strong memories of my life from age 3 forward, yet 3rd grade is sketchy. Therefore I know that the abuse began during that time and it seems to be around Christmas based on the nightgown that I was wearing.

What the hell did I do after that first experience? How could I not look shell-shocked, shaken up, traumatized? Did I go to my room and cry? Did I get sick and throw up? I have no fucking idea. Where was my mother in this picture? If it was time for daddy to wake up, where was she? What was she doing? Why did she need me to wake him up? Why send in a child to manage a conflict in your relationship with your husband? My mother continued to use me to wake my father up on the weekends which put me in harm’s way repeatedly.

I was an obedient child, because somewhere in my younger years, my parents instilled a deep fear to not challenge them. After I became a mother, my parents and I were assembling the Little Tikes log cabin for my oldest daughter Ashlee’s 3rd Birthday. I said, “I don’t ever remember having temper tantrums. Why didn’t I?” I was asking this question because my 3 year old daughter was becoming more challenging. My dad was sitting in a chair. He looked somewhat proud, adjusted his belt like Barney Fife when he was feeling confident, sat up taller and said, “Well, I…” and then he shrunk back down into his seat and stopped mid-sentence. And then he said, “When we would hit you, you would stand and look even more determined and refused to cry.” No more information. Okay. So they were trying to break a strong willful child’s spirit. Probably the same way that their parents tried to discipline them. Needless to say, I toed the line when my parents asked me to do something during my childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood. I was never allowed to rebel. I was kept under control and overpowered with fear and intimidation.

So how did I cope with all of this trauma and stress as a young child? Did I suck it all in? Did I shove it deep down inside of my big toe hoping it would stay hidden there? In time, I will write about the ages and stages of my abuse. One article at a time.