Monday, May 21, 2007

My Story - Setting the Stage (part 2)

For part 1 - see my 5/8/07 post here

The Apartment
When I left off we were living in the apartment. It was the middle of the summer and I was going to start 6th grade soon. My Sister and I visited with Dad Tuesday and Thursday evenings and alternating weekends. It was a lot of back and forth. Mom was working full-time and Toilet worked odd hours driving a public transportation bus. So Sister and I were home alone a lot. To explore our new neighborhood.

I started school and hated it. I had gone to school with people I knew my entire life and now I was in a new place. We were in a townhome/apartment in a decent section of town. However, it seemed like everyone else had more money than my family. I didn't wear the right clothes, shop at the right places or anything. I developed faster than most girls. The guys stared at my chest and laughed. The girls ignored me. In every class, there are those 4-5 kids who are the outcasts. The ones who band all together and hang out only because no one else with join them. I was one of "those kids" in 6th grade. I had horrible, terrible acne. I was picked on terribly for that. Mom decided a new hairstyle would be good so she permed my hair. I looked like Little orphan annie - not a flattering style. To top it all off, I required glasses that year. Talk about nerd.

My Dad started dating on occasion. He also joined a camping organization for single parents. We would camp 1 weekend a month April - October. It was pretty cool and I met a lot of great friends. It also allowed for a lot of freedom. Dad pretty much sat by the campfire and drank himself into oblivion. Sister and I had free rein to do as we pleased. All the kids there were products of broken homes and divorced parents. So we commiserated together. Dad would alternate between going hours without caring where we were or what we were doing, and hounding us to "keep in touch" and "check in." We never could tell what was expected. Soon I learned to ask to sleep at my friend's campfire. Three of us girls would sleep on lawn chairs around the fire at her site. Once her mom fell asleep, as evidenced by the LOUD snoring, we would sneak off and explore. We'd meet up with some of the guys and just giggle. That was back when I wasn't too sure what guys were all about and they were still a big mystery.

I knew where babies come from. Mom had read me that book. In 6th grade you also get the "what is happening to your body" lecture. Mom had told me the basics too. But no one explained what really happens - the emotional side. The hormonal feelings that go along with it. I could go from happy to weeping in mere minutes. Mom and I alternated between best friends and worst enemies. She used me as a sounding board and a go-between for her and my Dad. Dad was really upset that Mom moved in with Toilet and he was angry and always complaining about that too. So all Sister and I heard were negative things about the other parent.

It was weird having this "stranger" live with us. And sleep in my mother's room. It presented all sorts of conflicts. I felt weird walking around in my pajamas anymore. My dad was...well my dad and it was okay with him. But Toilet - he wasn't my dad. Getting up and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night posed problems - did I have to put on shorts, or could I go in just my long Tshirt and underwear?

Things were awkward with Mom too. I have a distinct memory of wanting to shave my legs. I begged and she finally relented - but only after I tried it myself first. Note - never "push" the razor down your bare, dry leg. Ouch. So mom told me to draw bathwater and she would show me. She was beet red and so embarrassed which made me embarrassed. So she showed me how to shave with soap and water. We never did get to use shaving cream in our house - or good razors either. That was wasteful. I remember sitting in the tub - bareazzed naked and mom beet red and asking her, "Ah how far do you shave up?" and her stuttering response about "some men liking women to shave higher than others." What the heck? I wasn't shaving my legs for some "man" - I was doing it for me.

Toilet slowly began exerting his authority. There was a dishwasher in the apartment but we had to wash dishes by hand. That continued on until we moved. If one dish was dirty, we had to re-wash the entire load. He had this "thing" about washing dishes. I didn't so much mind washing dishes - we had always been taught to do chores and help out. I just hated him standing over us, gleefully waiting for us to make a mistake. He got so much enjoyment out of tormenting us and swiping his hand across the counter and raking the entire stack back in the sink. He would laugh - cackle really. This evil sound. Even the thought of it sends shivers down my spine. Mom just said nothing.

At first Dad told us that Toilet was not to discipline us and that we did not have to listen to him. Later, Dad told us that Toilet was an adult and we had to treat him with respect - as we did with all adults. I'm not sure when the conversations took place exactly, but I remember it being confusing.

Toilet alternated between wanting to be your best friend and wanting to be The Authority Figure. With the dishes, he was Authority. When it came to giving out gum or treats, he was Friend. Sister and I battled with him lots. When he would try to tell us what to do, we'd yell at him. I remember Dad telling us that in the property division, Mom got to keep the TV and VCR because she had us. So Sister and I thought they were ours. When we'd get mad at Toilet, we'd tell him that he couldn't watch them - they were ours. Then he'd say, well you can't watch them either because I pay the electric bill. You'd have thought we were all 5 year olds the way we fought. Mom did nothing.

Mom changed a whole lot after the divorce. She had been somewhat conservative, listened to "oldies" music and didn't curse that I heard. When Toilet moved in, she started listening to all country music, wearing tank tops and short shorts, and cursing. Toilet cursed up a storm. Sister and I picked up on it and nothing was said - as long as we didn't curse at them, we could pretty much say what we wanted.

Mom has always been very large chested. When I developed so early, I was terrified I'd grow as big as her. Toilet made comments to her all the time. Mom always called them "boobs." He called them "titties" Yuck. Mom dressed more skimpily now and I was so embarrassed to have her around my friends. Course I didn't have many, so it worked out okay.

In the apartment, I started becoming the "little mom." Mom was working all the time and I had to do more. Get lunches packed. Get self up in morning. Get Sister a snack and watch her after school. For the first time, Mom didn't check my homework or sit down with me while I worked on it. She never asked if I had any either. I remember forgetting about a school poetry project and staying up all night working on it. Mom went to bed.

It seemed as though Mom became a whole new person. I wasn't sure who she was anymore. One day, Toilet and Mom went out. Sister and I decided to go through Mom's dresser. I have no idea why. We found pornographic magazines that we went through. I had never, to my knowledge anyway, seen a totally naked grown man. Sister and I were dumbfounded. We also found toys. A...ah..."battery operated boyfriend". It was very real looking. I wasn't sure it wasn't real - but I couldn't figure out how that was possible. I was shocked. I couldn't figure why on earth anyone would have one of those or what on earth you would do with it. Anyway, we thought we put everything back. But later after they came home, there were raised voices from their room. Mom yelled at me for going through her stuff. Apparently we had left the drawer somewhat open. Mom said absolutely nothing about what had been in the drawer. Or maybe she asked what I saw and I said, "nothing." (one of those fuzzy memory moments). Toilet caught me in the hall and snidely said, "Did you learn anything" with that leering (GAG) grin. I decided to be a smartazz and remarked, "yeah, I didn't know men had hair between their legs, like girls." He totally shut up and just smiled. That smile haunts me. I think that was the turning point. The point at which he began to look at me differently. The point at which I became something "not so innocent" in his eyes. I've always wondered what would have happened if I hadn't made such a smart-alec remark. A remark he liked.........


Tina said...

I don't think Toilet's actions would have been any different if you hadn't made that remark. I am sure this is a guilt you carry with you - the "What if" comment that runs in your head. It is akin to me asking "What if I had prayed more for my babies to stay with me?" Nothing would have stopped my miscarriages - just as nothing would have stopped him from sexually abusing you.

It is clear your mother had no self-esteem - she had to change her being to keep this new man in her life. If she didn't, she would have feared he would leave. Amazing what some people will do to keep someone...

Lynn said...

I agree with Tina. If you hadn't said that, he would have latched on to something -- anything -- else. This is HIS fault, not yours. He is indeed, a toilet. Notice the lower-case "t". This 'thing' does not deserve proper noun status when being referred to. What a pig.

Jewellybeano said...

I agree, your remarks did not bring on your abuse. It was all him.