I am still an American, I am different than you! I am still an American even though I vote blue, I am still an American but you don’t Care you use my differences that is not fair. I am still an American but you don’t see there are not as many differences between you and me. I want the same things that I know you do to live in peace and still vote blue. I am an American but I am not heard, I am not alone in the things I need but no one cares to let me be heard. I am an American just like you but you ignore me because I vote blue!
So here I am sitting in my office trying to get ready for a fund raiser coming up and my mind plays back on the years of missing out on my family. It has been a very long time since all of us have been together under the same roof for anything other than a funeral. I remember his funeral it was a long as day to be sure.
I was still dealing with the effects of my childhood abuse when he died at my dads house, I knew that I had to forgive him for the past but it was no easy task that one especially when the one person who has always been my hero and the rock in which I leaned on. Even though he had no clue about the past until this time, my dad was the last to know (except for his mom and sister and brother I never told them) and his response I would discover later had a much more devastating effect on me than I had thought it would.
You see my dad did not believe that the molestation had happened and when he confronted me it was to tell me that ” I don’t believe it” and that was OK, because I know what happened. Sadly I lost a little something with my dad over this one. You see as hard as it was he wanted me to do something that while I was not comfortable doing it, I did it for him, something that in hind sight I wish I had not done.
I told my one cousin, who told my dad and my dad asked me to tell her that I lied. It was not something that I would have done under any other circumstances but she had just lost her brother and I didn’t want to leave her with that image of him as a monster because I loved her and that was not fair to her. But it destroyed a little of my trust that I had with my dad because even though I know what happened and I can describe what I wore the first time, he still did not believe me and then asked me to do something that hurt me to my core.
So here I am I tell my cousin that it was a lie she believes this because she needs too and that is the beginning of a journey that I would embark upon alone because truthfully who was gonna help me my parents who I love are both a mess one believes it never happened and the other doesn’t wanna talk about anything that might be upsetting to her world view.
You see there is a deeper darker secret than my little blurb in the family tree, and that is that it has been happening for generations in our family and yet no one thought to stop it. I wont name names but one of my uncles abused numerous members of the family including my mother who was also abused by her biological father after he kidnapped her and my Aunt and took them to Texas for a year. But those are not my stories to tell, so I will leave them at this place but it appears there is a long line of abuse in my family that goes back farther than I realized.
Getting back to my childhood, I changed after time, where I was an outspoken vibrant little girl, I became withdrawn and quiet. Painfully shy and deep within myself, I had my world changed and it would continue to evolve, its funny I can remember the first time like yesterday, but what followed over the five years until it ended when I was ten is fuzzy at best and fleeting most of the time. I was not so much a lonely child I had friends and I had plenty of love and I would eventually come out of my shell again. But I would be about 12 years old when that happened.
As I explained David was one of my favorite cousins, and not to make excusses for what he did, the abuse only occurred when he was drunk and high, which was most of the time. It makes you wonder what could cause a 17 year old to become an alcoholic at such a young age? I often wonder, but those answers I probably wont ever get cause fo r the most part anyone with those answers are either dead or living in the land of denial.
Anyways, David would not be a permanent part of my life he would drift in and out for many years. There were times I dreaded going home because he would be there and other times not so much excitement bu t glad to see him. In general he was not a terrible person, but he was not a wonderful person either, from my perspective I think he was a very troubled person who probably had some really bad shit happen to him.
So much of our lives are spent living in regret, I am no different I have regrets that I will always carry in my life. However, I know that the time I wasted can not be gotten back and that I must move forward. In the future as like now I try not to live with regrets that will haunt me like my past does.
As I grew up things were not always easy but we were always loved. As I said before much of my changes began when I was five, in direct relation with the arrival of one of my favorite cousins David, he moved in with us when I was five, David for what ever reasons ( I will never really know) had a lot of issues he was an alcoholic at 17 and kept getting into trouble and my Aunt sent him to live with us because he respected and looked up to my dad. Anyways, some of the memories of this time are dark and tainted and painful, because as my favorite cousin there was a huge betrayal of my trust.
I remember it so clearly the first time it happened, my parents had decided to go out and they left David in charge of me and my sister, we were already in our pajamas, they were made from that poly-nylon kind of fabric thin but kind of itchy too, they were pastel colors yellow, green, blue and pink, we had matching pajama’s. We were playing in the bedroom with our dolls and David was watching t.v. in the living room. I remember my sister was pulling her doll out of my hands and David called me into the living room. We both went like always where I went she went, she was my best friend then as she is now.
He told her to go back in the bedroom and had me climb up on his lap, he had his privates out and asked me to kiss it for him. This would be my first experience with oral sex, I am not sure why this memory is so clear and vivid in my mind when all the others are so murky. This is where things get difficult, it is still very hard even after all these years to tell it again even here on this blog, I have talked about it many times but with the memories of those times so clear in my head it can bring me to tears and be difficult in the retelling of it all. There are memories that continue to flash in and out that are not clear and that I can not always grasp onto. Things that flutter through my mind memories that I can not seem to grasp onto but real no less I can always tell when they are bad because I start getting sick to my stomach and want to cry.
Anyways, this was my earliest memory of being molested, and where changes in my life would become drastic and set me on the path with a lot of mental health issues that would nearly destroy me more than once. These changes began to show in the form of withdrawal from who I was to a quiet shy kid who spent way to much time inside her own head for a five year old. This would not be the end of it and had put me on the path with a train wreck in my life. At this point I became so withdrawn that I would become the likely target of bullies and all kinds of other foulness that would happen over the course of the next five years.
I think that is enough of this for today, I dont think I can write it all in one day, just getting through this day one has been very difficult. Even after all these years and all the therapy and growing up that I have done it is still a wound that does not always heal. I know that people out there go through this and many get so lost in the pain that they can’t find there way out but there is a way out you just have to ask. So I will leave you with this and I am going to go read something that will remove these memories again for the day, Do not ever blame yourself for what others did, you are not to blame you are the victim, but you have to take your power back, you have to stop letting the pain of your past beat you down into what ever darkness you are living in, counseling helps and talking helps, find your safe place and let it out!
Isn’t it funny the things we remember from our childhood and the things that our memory removes? I can remember taking a trip with my parents and my sister when I was 3 and she was 1, I remember bits and pieces of this trip, going to Ohio, where my dad was born. I remember meeting my Great-Grandfather Anthony Mantolete and my Great Uncle Daniel, I remember the huge plate of spaghetti and meatballs he gave me to eat. I remember my cousin who had down syndrome playing dolls with me and I remember the smell of fresh peach wine. But I dont remember my birthday except for pictures that I have seen.
The memory is a funny thing I guess retaining somethings and forgetting others. I have vivid memories of a woman I never actually knew standing next to my crib making baby sounds to me and patting my bottom when I was nothing more than an infant. Was it real? I believe it was even though it happened probably when I was way to young to know my Great-Grandmother Elora Mathews was the woman who stood by my crib she died three months after I was born. Yet I still have memory of her standing next to my crib patting my bottom her voice soft as she soothed me.
I guess I discuss memory because memory becomes an important part of what I am seeking to do with the telling of this journey. You see often what we remember and what we want to remember are two different things. Like I want to remember when my parents would laugh and act silly and loved each other, but I also remember the times when they did not. Anyways, as memory goes I have a lot of wonderful childhood memories, most of them with my family and extended family they always seemed to make my life so much richer and even though some of them are gone now I miss those times and wish my sons had gotten to experience the wonder of our family that I did when I was a child.
A few years ago I lost my beloved grandmother my dads mom, she was the last of my grandparents to pass and I still cry because as much as I loved them all seeing her go meant the end of so many memories that I wish I could hang on too, like riding on the back of my dads motorcycle to Superior to visit her and my Grandpa just for the day, telling her that I had laryngitis so I could have soup for lunch and my papa sitting me on his lap opening his desk draw and giving me candy he kept there. My grandparents on both sides were amazing people, vastly different in respect to life styles and personalities and yet they always made us feel so much love when we were with them. My sister and I were the only grand-kids on my dad’s side( again another story for another day) but this meant we were very spoiled by our grandma and grandpa Mantolete and our Aunt Bonnie.
On my mom’s side my grandparents were wonderful rough country cowboy folks who drank and cursed and rode horses and loved just as fiercely. My grandma Lillian and grandpa Dan were so much a part of my life during my younger years we spend more time at their house than we did at home. They were both loving and amazing grandparents, we shared them with our cousins which was at times difficult because some where always there and they did not always have time for us. But we loved them just as fiercely as they loved us and we did a lot with them things like branding cattle and making purses out of the ears of the calves ( gross I know) but it was fun and it was always an adventure.
So that was my beginning, its funny sometimes songs just remind me as I hear a song, some little thing that I may have forgotten or sweep me back to a wonderful place in my past. Anyways and so forward we go. With all the love of those who have gone before me and all those who are here to hold on to me. I just hope I can do it justice!
Where do I begin? I was born in Mesa, Arizona on January 10,1970 the day before my Great-Grandfather’s birthday. My parents were very young my dad was just 22 and my mom would turn 20 just 8 days after my birth. When I was still and infant my parents moved to my moms home town of Globe, Arizona. This is where I would grow up, our house on McKenny Street was small with a wonderful yard and wonderful neighbors. by the time I was two I had a little sister and a dog named Junior. It was a fairly normal existence, my dad worked at the local copper mine as a welder and my mom stayed at home with us, always making sure we were well cared for and had all that we needed. It was wonderful growing up in a small town, especially this one, all of our family was there, we had Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents and plenty of cousins to play with. It was NORMAL…. not idealistic by any means but it was normal with all the normal of small town America.
Some of my fondest memories could be found in the asphalt and dirt, the trees and the rocks, the empty lot and swimming pool across the street. If we got into trouble it was pretty certain that we would probably get a swat on the behind for being bad, but my parents did not abuse us it was discipline, despite the whole spanking teaches violence, that is not true, and I often wonder if these so called psychologist who would suggest that it does had any clue the damage not spanking does. Anyways enough soap box babble. So we went through the early stages of our life fairly normal little girls with loving parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Things for me started to change at the age of five, there were many factors that fell into place that shaped the outcome of my childhood but those things we will discuss in a later installment of my journey. I just pray that one day I will be able to help someone who I love like my own brother with the demons that I dont think he realizes we both share. Anyways as I neared the age of five and things were by all accounts pretty normal I was a playful and rambunctious kid who protected her sister and was always up for fun.
They summer I turned 5 one of my favorite cousins would come to live with us. It would not be until later that I would learn he was demon filled as well and that he too would have to deal with demons that he did not. Anyways, getting ready to start kindergarten and being the big sister I was excited. I remember my first days of school were so much fun, my teacher, I remember her still she was beautiful, with long brown hair, we had a small play ground outside our classrooms just for the kindergartners.
I remember one day I was in the sand box and a boy named Ronnie and his friend Danny decided to be mean to me and through sand on my dress. I was really upset because it was my favorite dress my mom had made it for me. but Ms. D my teacher took me inside brushed me off dried my tears and said ” It will be o.k., they are just boys!” ( yes boys will be boys in those days lol). my favorite part of those days was walking to and from school, since it was the 70’s there was very little fear especially in our small neighborhood everyone knew everyone and they always watched out for each others kids. But I also had my four legged body guard Junior a brindle Boxer who would walk me to and from school everyday.
There is much about the past that seems to be an enigma even to me the one who lived it. Living with a disease is never easy but most assuredly it is not easy when it is mental illness, growing up there were a lot of indicators that I would eventually have depression and that I would eventually have to deal with it on a daily basis. What I did not realize was the impact that it would have on my life and the decisions I would make along the road to becoming the adult I am now.
The reality that I have this dreaded disease something that as I understand now is quit common and can be hereditary began to show itself in the formative years and shyness and quiet retreat, as I got older it showed in other ways, drug use and promiscuous behavior. Self-destructive behaviors were normal for me. It began though in the early years, having suffered at the hands of a family member, sexual abuse that would continue to define my life and lead me to more and more reckless behavior.
Looking at it now I know it for what it is, but it would be many years before I would come to terms with the things that caused trauma in my life. And many more years before I would be well enough to discuss it openly with so many people who have found themselves in the same dark place. In my family it was normal, I do not believe that there are many family members at least in my generation who did not suffer some kind of abuse during those years of growing up.
We all carry the scars from that time and now must learn to define our lives as something other than broken abused children. It is for me cathartic that I was able to deal with and find peace with the ugliness of the past that we grew up in, suffering at the hands of our own family members. So I had to ask myself where and when did it begin? Who allowed this hideous past to continue trickling down into every generation that followed? How many more lives have to be shattered before they realize that by keeping silent they are destroying lives?
All good questions yes? but one problem there are no answers, so what am I supposed to do? At least these were the things that I asked myself while I was going through the healing process. As my mamma always said ” Pick yourself up and dust yourself off” yes but somethings are not so easy to get away from and this is one of those things. How do I live day to day with the after math of sexual abuse by someone I loved?
Getting right with myself was the first step in making it through the quagmire of lies and secrets that have kept my family in silence for many years. For me, the fear died when I was 21 all that was left was rage, and depression and a need to destroy the very person that I should have been healing and protecting, Myself.
This is my journey, along with some poetry and other things I will use this space to begin a trip through my journey in the hope that some where along the way I might help someone in need so that they know that like me, they are not to blame for the things that happened to them and that there is hope at the end of that darkness.