Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chapter 16

My sister has turned 16. 
She has failed 2 grades in school and is in the same class as me. No one so far has detected or cared that she is losing her hearing by the day. She didn't fail due to stupidity but failed because she couldn't hear in class.
Think Barbara or Bob,  her own father cared? No.
They had a way to use that fault to their own advantage.

Barb and Bob took her aside and explained to her as only they could....

"You're dumb. Stupid.
You have been failed twice. Your younger sister is moving ahead of you in school and you are failing. 
Quit school and get a job and you can save face. You don't need school. You can pay your way around here and give us your checks."

So, at 16 years old and with only a 9th grade education, my sister quit school and got a job as a Nurse's Aid in a nursing home. She was told to give her pay checks to Bob and Barb for rent.
How to keep her from telling her new employers of her abuse?
Barbara got a job there as well to keep a close eye on her. My sister was always the quiet, shy one and would never speak out anyway.
Besides, her abuse has all but stopped. 
She was now a cash cow for them.

My beatings carried on and got more brutal and intense. One particular one seemed to make life turn a corner. Bob was getting more and more excited by them and I could tell. Wiggle and squirm as I did, I could feel his arousal in inflicting pain. 
I was not his daughter and we both knew it. Rape or sexual abuse from him could be excusable in his twisted mind. 
It wouldn't be incest. 

This session ended badly.
Bob had turned the belt buckle around and was now using the buckle to inflict the most damage. Each blow broke the skin wide open.
 I was bloody and bruised. My face, chest, back and legs resembled raw ground beef. My buttocks were bleeding and raw. Barbara took great pleasure in seeing these bloody reminders of my pain and ran to get salt to rub into them. The pain was so intense. The burning and bruises lasted  over 3 weeks and I missed more school. I could barley walk.
School was my sanctuary. My safe haven. I was missing from school more and more.

When I did return to school, someone noticed my bruises.  How I looked. How I walked. 

I was called into the school nurse's office.
She asked me questions that I wanted so bad to answer. I wanted to open my mouth and never shut up! 
Of course, I lied. Who would believe me?
No one. 
Barbara could manipulate anyone.  
She could tell them anything and they would most likely believer her.

Besides, If I told the truth and no one believed me, school, the one thing, the one place I loved would be taken from me. 
I lived for school. School needed to be protected in my life more than my beatings needed to be exposed. 
At least my young mind saw it that way. 
So, I lied.
I know that they knew I was lying.

There was something in the works. 
Most normal families tell their kids what the plans are in the household.
Not Bob. Not Barbara.

I had no idea why, but we were going to auction every weekend. 
Selling pieces of furniture, clothes, dishes, my beloved books in the attic. Auctioning  off everything. All of their belongings. Only the necessities remained.
To this day I don't know the impetus for the move but that's what was happening.
We were moving!

No idea. No one cared about me enough to tell me.

In the dark of an early spring evening, we packed up what was left of our lives into a beaten up old camper and left like thieves in the night.

I was thrilled!

Where were we going?
Anywhere was going to be better than here, right?

Bob and Barbara in the cab of the pick-up truck. Their three kids, my sister and I all cramped into the over-stuffed camper in the back with all of the belongings that we hadn't sold packed in.

It was like parole to me.
Out of the tiny window of the camper I watched the landscape go by.

Palm Trees!
I could smell the sweet smells of orange blossoms and see the deep green of the grass as we headed further south. This was all new to me. 
An adventure!

Barbara came to the tiny door of the camper and pulled me out by my hair and told me to go upfront and keep Bob awake. 
She needed a nap, she told me as she shoved me forward on the side of the road. Traffic whizzing by on the busy interstate.
I climb into the cab and to sit next to Bob as he takes the loaded down truck out of Park and we are back on the road.
"King of the Road" was playing on the truck radio.

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.

I loved looking out the window and seeing the new sights, lights and even the passing cars had a fascination for me. 
Everyone going somewhere. Everyone with lives. Doing things. Going places.
The sights hypnotize me and I fall asleep with my head pressed against the glass of the passenger window.

I awake with a start. Bob has his hand on my leg. I felt his fingers digging into the flesh of my upper thigh. Rough and searching.
His glasses reflecting the lights of oncoming traffic. I slink as far against the door as I can go. I wanted to melt into the glass of the window and disappear. 
Alone with Bob...

"I understand you're a woman now. You started your period, " He says. 
His voice sounding so unctuous.
I sense real fear here alone with this man.
His thick fingers are trying to massage my leg as he keeps glancing at me.  One hand on the steering wheel, the other trying to grope higher up my leg.
He has been getting bolder in his moves as the days have passed. My stomach lurches at his touch.
I open my mouth to protest, to scream but instead vomit gushes all over the inside of the truck cab.
Big chunks of bread and cheese that I had eaten just  hours before in the safety of the back of the camper come spewing out of my mouth.  Vile and smelling rotten. 
Just like this monster's touch.
Puke and soured milk smells invade the cab but I don't care. Splatters of vomit dripping off the dash of the cab and pool onto the floor.

His hand is no longer on me. I want to open the truck door and escape.
Bob punches me in side of my head as he slows the truck down and pulls to the side of the interstate.
"Clean this mess up and get the hell out of here, you piece of shit! God, you make me sick."
I scamper as fast as I can and climb into the back of the truck camper panting and desperate. I curl myself up in a fetal position and just want to disappear forever.


The rest of the trip, anytime I would have to come within close proximity to Bob, I would clutch at my stomach and pretend to be close to hurling. I would roll my eyes and act like a crazed and injured animal.  
It worked for a while. He looked at me with sheer disgust. My troubles ahead of me were not going to be beatings. I had something far more dangerous to avoid...

It took us a week but we arrived.

We had moved to Florida!

If you or someone you know or suspect is being abused call:
You are not alone. There is always HELP.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chapter 15

All of the time I had lived with Bob and Barb, I had been told my father was Bob's mortal enemy... Marvin Dixon.
Marvin Dixon was an Army buddy of Bob's  when they were stationed in Panama.
They now despised each other.
I was told every time I was beaten.
"You're Marvin's daughter. He is scum. 
You are  scum. I hate you.
I hate him. Now bend over and drop your pants because I'm going to beat you until you will wish you had never born," He would say it again and again and as he would unbuckle his belt his rage would build. 

My new way of getting beatings from Bob was to fight it like an animal. His dentures would be across the room, his glasses broken.
He would be exhausted by the end of it and I would be bloody but triumphant.  Being small and underweight was to my advantage.
I could writhe and wiggle and move and squirm. I could escape any hold this giant of a man had me in just a few deft moves.
I was small but quick. He was big but slow.
His blows would miss the mark more now that I fight back. When they did hit their mark, they were bloody and brutal but I felt I was doing SOMETHING. 
My fight was in me. 
My sister would beg me not to fight him because the blows landed on my face and chest and back of my legs but fighting kept me from crumbling inside.  He was beating my body but not my mind. 
There was a part inside me that I vowed he would never touch.
I fought.  I would not go easy.

One particular day I will never as long as I live forget, Barbara brought me some really cute clothes. She had them laid out on my bed.
A pale blue and cream plaid wool skirt, a white crisp blouse and a  soft baby blue fuzzy cardigan sweater. 
A nice pair of black and white oxford shoes and ruffled white socks.
I was told to scrub my face and put the clothes on and wait in my room upstairs.
I was so excited about the clothes. I loved the softness of the fabrics and the smell of new clothes to this day makes me happy.
I put the clothes on and felt like a Princess. This was how my friends at school dressed everyday!
I felt so mod and even though there was no mirror in the upstairs room, I knew these clothes were perfect!
I sat on my cot and waited.
I didn't mind. I loved feeling so dressed up and pretty.
Barbara comes upstairs and jerks me off the bed by my arm.
"You had better be on your best behavior tonight, do you hear me? Now get your ass downstairs and remember, I am watching you."

She reaches out to pinch my underarm as I pass to go downstairs but I quickly dodge her and move away to scurry down the stairs.  I feel her right behind me. 
I can hear her breathing hard as she tries to keep up and follow me down the steps. It is out of excitement for what's coming next or because she's angry she couldn't inflict her pain?

What is this about?

I go into the living room and there is a man there sitting on the couch across the room from Bob.
Barbara pushes me  forward so I am standing right in front of this stranger.
The man rises as I come closer.

"This is Lana."

He reaches out and takes my hand. I feel a sense of dread at his touch and pull away. 
He scares me. 
He motions me to sit next to him. I sit on the very edge, so careful not to wrinkle my new clothes and my gut telling me something is not right here.
Who is he?
What does he want?
This man gives me the creeps. 
When he looks at me, talks to me, touches me, I cringe inside.

Barbara comes back into the room and announces to the room that it's time to eat.
I am told to sit by this man who I finally figure out is Marvin Dixon!
I don't feel anything. This man is my father?

Barbara puts the food on the table and has fixed my plate already. 
It smells so good. Steak and potatoes!
When she sets the plate in front of me I see that it is a plate of fat and gristle. A pool of grease.

Dinner is over and the adults all go into the living room while I clean up the table, do the dishes. I had just popped a stolen piece of food into my mouth as Barbara sees me.

I hear Bob and the man talking in the next room with raised voices but I don't know what they are saying.
The man leaves. This man.... My father?
The word seems foreign to me. 
I am still confused by this visit and it will all come clear later but for now I am clueless what just happened. What did this mean?
Was that man really my father? I hope not! He had slimy sneaky black eyes and made me very uncomfortable. 

Of course, I was beaten for taking the bite of food. Do I care anymore? No.
I have a beautiful outfit to wear to school tomorrow.  The beatings are the norm. 
New clothes are not.

Barbara comes upstairs and takes my new treasured skirt, sweater, blouse and shoes away. As she gets to the door to go downstairs, she turns and with an evil grin tells me, 
"These are going to the trash to be burned. You are a failure.  You don't deserve them. I'm going to burn them so you will never get to them or wear them. Besides, you don't need a reminder of your precious dad, now do you?" 
She cackles as she locks the door and leaves. I can hear her still laughing as she goes down the staircase.....

Did I really just meet my father?
Why did I not feel happy about it?
Somehow I had imagined the mysterious Marvin Dixon as a hero. A tall man that would rush in and rescue me and take my sister too because his heart was so good and so kind. Marvin Dixon would be so gentle and caring and tell Barbara and Bob how angry he was that they treated my sister and I so poorly.  
Marvin Dixon...
If Marvin Dixon was truly my father, I didn't see it or feel it. Instead, Marvin Dixon made me feel very uncomfortable and sick to my stomach.
If Marvin Dixon was my father, I didn't like him. My gut told me not liking him was probably a good thing.....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chapter 14

As I write this, I'm so sleepy/tired. 
Tired because as writing this story of Barbara and Bob and their less than human behavior, I don't sleep like I always have. I am one that has never had trouble sleeping as an adult. I can and do sleep like a rock. 
When I was a kid and living there, I had night terrors and would sleep walk and talk.  Interrupted by fear sleep every night.
Wake up screaming.

Night terrors are so debilitating.  For one, the terror stays with you the entire next day, and two, while they are happening, it feels as if you are on the brink of hell and about to die or go completely insane!

These last few weeks, I have been waking up in terror, crying and thinking I need to find something. What?
My husband so gently tries to ask me in my sleep-terror shell of sleep. 
I sit on the edge of the bed and mutter "I can't find it. I have to find it. Where is it?"

"What is it honey? What's wrong? 
What it is that you are seeking? "

I haven't got a clue.  But desperate to find it.
Perhaps my childhood? Love? Freedom?
Once fully awake, I dread going back to the brink of that fear so I sit quiet in the darkness.
Heart pounding. Worried. Tense.

Today, I went with 4 of my nearest and dearest friends on the 45 minute drive from the safety of my loving home to the 
"Old House" of Barbara and Bob.

We laughed and talked and had such fun on the drive there but I swear I was afraid the sun would go behind the clouds and the Earth open up as we pulled into the horseshoe drive- way. 

We all got out of the car. Girl-like giggling gave way to hushed silence as we stare at the worn out looking property.
 Such a pretty sunny day. I am thankful for that.
 Five grown women afraid of ghosts of the past? We form a human chain all holding hands and gaze at the house.

It seemed so small now where as a kid it seemed so large and looming.
It seemed so unthreatening with the kids' toys and tree swing in the yard. Late model cars parked in the driveway.

My friend Gretchen wanted to knock on the door and see the inside rooms. I was willing but no one else would allow it saying we would all probably end up chopped to pieces in a deep-freeze.  Never to be found.
Too many scary movies?

My friends saw the broke-down look of the place. 
I saw the front  yard where Bob swung the oar and caused my sister her hearing.
I saw the roof I used to hang my butt off of to relieve myself.
I saw the haunting window of my old room/prison.
I saw the barren corn fields I tried to make my escape in. My stupidity at stepping out to the road so fresh in my mind. 
One last glimpse of the roof I had jumped off of to escape.  
It doesn't seem so high to me now. I feel I could sail off that roof and fly away today....
We got back in the car and the drive home was so serene and quiet.

Life is like that. You go thru your troubles and it seems like it will consume you. Time goes by and you find you survive it. 
You have a choice.
Let the past and all it's horrors eat you alive or buck up and learn from it. 

People often ask me "How do you stay so positive after all of the horrors of Barbara and Bob?"
I would let them WIN if I allowed them one more second of my life!
Hell no!
They robbed my brother sister and I of far too much to give them one fraction of one thing more.
All of my adult life, I use them.

I use them as a guide.
What would Barb and Bob do?
Then I do the polar opposite.
They have no power anymore. They don't exist on this Earth anymore. They have no space in my heart anymore.
They took my innocence and my childhood but they will never take the joys of life from me.
I love the smell of flowers and the sweet laughter of a child. I love the sunrise and the delicious smells of a chef in the kitchen. I love each day of my life and appreciate those that love ME.
You see, I AM not a whore or a slut or a pig.
I am worth something! 

I like who I am.

The next few chapters will assuredly cause more sleepless nights but then...
Then, I find my way. Find my voice. 
Find Joy. Find Determination!
 Find Love.
                  Find Peace.