I never thought I would write publicly about my experience with abuse as a child and teenager. The memories are just too painful, too embarrassing and I’m not quite sure who will want to read something so depressing anyway. I’m sure it will be therapeutic for me to let my words roll. I also feel it’s important to document my family history. Stuff that I had repressed for years! I opened a file folder of horrific memories for the first time; it felt like a tractor full of nightmares was dumped in front of me; or a train full of evilness ran over me and the abuses I suffered became crystal clear.
It’s tragic to think how the actions of one or two people in your life can shape your spirits and life going forward. It made me strong, fragile and independent all wrapped up in one. Throughout my life I have asked myself time after time, “How can one man have so much hate for his wife and daughter? “ What happened to him to create so much bitterness? I know his addiction to alcohol could have added to his anger; but there had to be something else. I know his parents weren’t abusive. I witnessed my father show love to two beings in the world, my daughter Jillian and my cat Tara. He had his co-workers and friends fooled about being a great father and husband. He was very sick.
As a young girl, I hated dinner time. It was extremely stressful. First of all, it meant that my father was coming home; either smelling like liquor or wine at 5:00 each day. Let me set the dinner table for you. This was my chore, to set the table each night; which I did! I placed the plates, glassware and silverware on the clear, plastic table cloth that protected the Irish, lace table cloth. The room was always super cold because that’s what my father wanted it to be; even though everyone was freezing. On the buffet cabinet sat a Bose radio which had great speakers; it was always tuned onto some conservative crazy talk show and it was always on the loudest volume it could be. Listening to the republican discussions on the radio day after day is probably why I became a democrat at a young age and an independent later on in life. While sitting at the head of the table my father would sit there and drink his wine and comb his Nazi-like mustache; gross. I would always comment on how he looked as if he wanted to look like Hitler. He would praise Hitler. We always ate in the dining room; my father always sat at the head of the table. I wasn’t allowed to speak at the dinner table. If I spoke, I was sent to my room without eating. I spent many nights hungry and in my room. While eating, I would cry because I had to listen to Rush Limbaugh or some crazed redneck on the stereo.
My mother would always cook wonderful dinners; but, before she served the dinner, my father’s salad plate had to be chilled, as well as his wine glass in the freezer, his plate had to be warmed for his dinner plate and if it wasn’t the perfect temperature, my father would toss it away or some times throw it on the floor. It would depend on how much he drank at and after work. I begged my father not to listen to his politics during dinner. So, his solution which was to get a tape of carnival music a played it as loud as could be during dinner for about a month. It was creepy and cruel. He asked me if I preferred that music to his talk show? Thinking about it today, I can’t believe he actually went to a music store to purchase the carnival music. He was deranged!!!
My parents kept a regular schedule. After dinner, I would clear the dinner table and load the dish washer, while my mom cleaned the kitchen; my father took a nap in their room for about 2 hours. I always wished that he would stay in his room all night; no such luck. We had 2 TV’s in the house; one colored in the living room and 1 black and white in my parent’s room. So, my mom and I watched the news together and maybe a gameshow; before my father would take over the colored TV for the evening or he passed out. He would always watch World at War shows, history shows and documentries; shows a young girl would surely want to watch! He would force me to watch these shows. The only time I was allowed to watch something I would have enjoyed was at my grandparent’s house on Sunday evening. My grandparents and I would watch Mutual of Omaha and The Disney Show; I lived for this.
Every Tuesday night, my mother would go to play BINGO with her friends; She lived for Tuesdays. I feared this night, every week! This was the night that my father and brother would torment me!!! They would lock me in the dark basement for an hour or two, my brother would hold me down as my father shocked with a device called a violet-ray and/or they would take the heads off my dolls. One night, they thought it would be funny to boil my dolls heads in a big pot and told me that’s the only way they could get the heads back on before my mother returned back home. I remember crying hysterically as they laughed about boiling my dolls heads. As my father and brother sat at the dinner room table trying to get my doll’s head back on my doll, they would threaten me if I told my mother! I wanted to tell her so badly; however, I knew it was her only night to escape her abuse. Plus, I didn’t want them to abuse me anymore.
When I was in Junior High School and became interested in boys, my father made it clear that I wasn’t allowed to date anyone accept boys who were Irish or Germany. It was very clear that I couldn’t date Italian, Jewish, Greek, or Black boys. He was extremely racist; I wasn’t. Of course, the first boyfriend I had was Italian. When I was in Jr. High School I also started enjoying music. When and if my father heard my stereo in my room and he thought the band was a different race, he demanded that I turn the music off (example is Michael Jackson). It was the same with concerts. He had to approve everything.
My parents entertained every Friday night, holiday’s and any other reason to celebrate. Drinking and eating flowed. Family, friends and neighbors visited on a regular basis. They played poker, drank excessively, ate and laughed. My mother’s best friend and husband were over every Friday night. They were such special friends, that my brother and I called them aunt and uncle. When I was in high school they stopped visited? I didn’t know why; when I asked my mother, she told me my aunt was mad at her and she didn’t understand why; I always assumed it was because of my father. Every time I asked about, my mother would become distraught, this was her best friend. I missed my aunt horribly; but I didn’t try reach out because I wanted to support and be loyal to my mother. This crushed me because my aunt and uncle were such positive lights in my life; they also tried to protect me. They were so loving, caring and gave me such hope for my future. I didn’t receive any positive reinforcements in my home, ever! I later learned my aunt and uncle moved to Cadyville, NY to raise his prize-winning chickens/roosters. I lost touch.
Once becoming a senior in High School, I wanted to go to college; however, my father denied me the financial help I needed. My mother didn’t have much say over any financial decisions. I wasn’t savvy enough to investigate student loans at that time. He claimed that college was a waste of time and money; that I needed to get a real job. I dreamed of being a counselor and helping people. I did have a good job as a book keeper at a local lumber yard. So, I moved out of my childhood home when I was 18. Finally, I was free from him! The guilt for leaving my mother behind was great.