Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Defining Moments 13-20

How long can a moment last? I wasn’t yet 13 when I transitioned from elementary school to Jr. high school. The next two years would have seemed completely unremarkable to most. Even I don’t remember much about those years. But they were far from unremarkable.

I had spent so many years being ostracized and tormented by my peers that I had come to know it as an integral part of my life. As I walked through the halls of that jr. high school, however, I found a solace - a welcomed reprieve. I was no longer the most despised among the mass. I was completely invisible. I walked through the halls, unnoticed, untouched, unseen. It was a wonderful experience. I was at peace. I was happy. I even made a couple of friends.

I was 14 when my step-dad finally divorced my mother. He was re-married in three months. He had found a new family that was happy to see him when he walked in the door. They showered hugs and kisses on him daily. He told me this like he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t like that. As if he wasn’t there for the previous 13 years of my life, and didn’t know how I could have come to be so reserved and emotionally undemonstrative.

My mother decided to give me some social freedom. I started roller-skating and started a friendship that I truly valued. I also developed the worst crush on the guy at the roller rink. He was older, and so graceful on the floor. He had long black hair and a beautiful face. I’ll never forget the first time he asked me to skate with him! His name was Damian.

I immediately told my mother about this god-like creature and she had to come and see him for herself. It wasn’t long after that she decided to have him for herself. He wasn’t loaded with immense morality, and thought it would be cool to have sex with an older woman. So that’s what she was to him. I don’t really know what he was to her, but she told me what he was to me. He was 21, and off limits. I was 15 then, jailbait, and she forbade from seeing him. That being said, did I have any problems with her seeing him? She actually asked me that. What could I say? I wish I could have said, “fuck you slut bitch!” instead I said no, she could have him.

So, while my mother was off romping with my first big crush, I bestowed my virginity onto the boy next door. I don’t even remember his name, but I do remember the event. I liked that experience for so many reasons. I enjoyed it and enjoyed him a couple more times by the time Damian was finished with my mother. Then I enjoyed him. He wasn’t as enjoyable as the neighbor boy, but, he was older, and much better looking. It was an on and off relationship that continued for several years.

Damian wasn’t the only guy my mom wanted to take from me, he was just the first. I was sweet 16, jailbait, competing with a 32 year old easy lay - aka mom. Sexual promiscuity wasn’t they only wonderful gift she gave me. She also handed me my first beer. Then, she exposed me to the wonderful world of drugs - handed me my first bowl of pot.

And so I spun out of control. I had so many sexual partners I can’t even remember them all. Most of them were direct results of a drug-clouded and hopeless, murky mind. People say the boys were all just using me, and they probably were. I was using them, as well. They made me feel important and wanted, even if it was for just a few hours. To this day I still find it remarkable that I lived through it all.

Especially since I almost didn’t. When I was 17½ I was drunk, high, and crazy mad about being rejected by a guy I thought liked me. I went home with another guy that I didn’t know. I drank so much that I passed out in his bed, and didn’t wake up until 7:00 the next morning. I knew my mom was home from work by then and that she was going to kill me. She almost did, too. She met me at the door with a broom stick, and proceeded to beat me with it.

The next morning I went to work with cuts, lumps and bruises all over my face and body. They asked what had happened and I told them I had stayed out all night and got in trouble. They all just looked at me and said nothing more. I don’t really know what they were thinking, at the time, though, I assumed the worst. I deserved it. The whole morning was just a fog. The guy who supervised me just left me alone all day, and I sat and cried and tried to come to terms with the hopeless mess that was my life.

I was sitting on a curb when the answer came to me. I couldn’t continue to live like this, I couldn’t continue to steal the air that I breathed. I had no value, no worth, no purpose, so I would have no life. I made a plan to walk to the bridge and jump. I walked through it in my mind. I thought of the people in my life. Only my grandma and grandpa would really care, but they would get over it. My life was so insipid that surely my death would go mostly unnoticed. The thought of not even being missed broke my heart into little pieces.

I sat watching my tears hit the ground when it finally occurred to me that I was 17½ years old. In 6 months I would be 18 and would be free from my mother. I vowed that I would never let anyone hit me again. I vowed that I would prove that children could turn out good even without being hit. I chose not to die that day. I continued to survive.
You know something funny? It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that I realized what she did to me was abuse. I was doing laundry one Saturday evening, reading a magazine that someone had left. It was an article about child abuse. I thought I was going to read about broken bones and cigarette burns. What I learned, however, is that if you hit a child, and there is still a mark 20 minutes later, that is abuse. How many times did she hit me and not leave a mark? How many fat lips did she give me, how many welts on my butt? I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe it! My step dad was right, she was abusing me. I must have cried for a week!

My mother and I were not speaking at that time. We had a big blow-out in Boise one night that ended in a drunken brawl. So she wasn’t one of the persons I thought about the on morning I thought I was going to die. I thought about my brothers, and my grandma and grandpa. It was their love that I clung to as I was being raped.
I used to leave the tv (MTV channel) on all night when I lived alone. I remember waking up just to watch Eddie VanHalen play Jump! I used to know what was playing the morning of June 11 when I woke up out of a deep sleep, but that knowledge is gone now. It was still dark and I remember being confused and a little alarmed. I looked toward the tv in the living room. I saw a shadow dart out of the doorway, and then back into view. Before I knew what was going on, he was on top of me, pinning me down. I started screaming, so he put his hand over my mouth and threatened to kill me if I didn’t shut up. He said he had a knife, and I could smell alcohol on his breath.

I struggled with him for what felt like forever. He tried to choke me, but I remembered my little brother telling me that you could get out of a choke hold by bending back their little finger. It works! I got out of at least 4 choke holds by bending back his little finger. I kept trying to get out from under him, but I was in my water bed and was absolutely unable to gain any physical leverage against him. I remember biting his forearm as hard as I could, which of course made him more angry. He grabbed my pillow and tried to suffocate me with it. It was then that I gave up and told him I would stop fighting him. I laid limp while he pulled off my underwear and began to rape me.

When he was finished, he threatened to come back and kill me if I called the police, and took the phone on the way out. I laid on my bed for a while, terrified that he was still there. I don’t know how long, but I finally got up, closed the door and made sure it was locked. I went back to my bedroom, in shock, and decided I should get ready for work.

I picked up my brush and stood in front of my mirror. I didn’t recognize the girl in the reflection. It was at that moment that I broke down emotionally. I sobbed uncontrollably, while I tried to brush the rats out of my hair. I finally realized that I had to call the police. I went to the house in front of mine and got help from the neighbors. The policeman who drove me to the hospital kept looking at me and asking me if I was ok. I kept assuring him I was.

My first request was to call my mother to have her pick up the dogs so they would be safe. I told her I had been raped, and her reply was “who was it, Cheri?” she kept asking it over and over like I was lying about it or something. I visited a rape counselor who told me I shouldn’t feel guilty. I wasn’t feeling guilty, I knew I had done nothing wrong. I thought she was trying to tell me I had, so I didn’t go back.

They never found the guy who did it. I didn’t look at his face - if I had I’m sure I wouldn’t be here to describe him now. My mother tried to take care of me for a couple of months, but that didn’t last, of course. I haven’t lived alone since then, and I haven’t left the tv on all night since. There isn’t anything I could tell my 19 year old self that I didn’t already know then. I did survive.

What is really sad about that incident? It won’t even make the cut. I can only choose 10 defining moments, and that didn’t define me. But it definitely left a scar and affected some of the decisions I would make in the future.

And that’s the sum of events that took me to adulthood. I used to apologize all the time for some of it. I don't now. I was doing what I had to do to survive. Survive. I don't know why I have survived. There must be a reason, I must have a purpose. I hope to find that purpose before it's too late. The clock never stops ticking, and I never stop hurting.

1 comment:

  1. Why did you survive, Cheri? To tell the story and give me hope. If you could survive this, then I have hope that my former step-daughter can survive what she will go through while she lives with her mother. I won't compare the two situations, but it gives me hope that she can make it, too.

    You're a brave woman, not only to share this, but to simply have survived it.
    And, yes, I look forward to the completion. I hope that getting it out helps. I know it helps me.