Edmonton, the place of my birth, full circle yet again. It is odd to me, but I recall the summer and spring months the most vividly. Perhaps that is because that seemed to be when the most sexual abuse happened. Perhaps it is because in the winter months my mother went into hibernation so to speak. You have to realize that due to her pill use she slept an exorbitant amount of hours in any 24 hour cycle. I am talking any were from 12 hours, to 16, or 18 hours. There were times she did not even bother to get up, Why should she, her eight year old daughter was doing the tasks meant for a mother.
I would vacuum, do the dishes and put in the laundry. Does this seem impossible? No, it is not, it wasn’t right for me to be put in this position, but there are thousands of children put in positions of being surrogate parents to their siblings. I remember watching a sesame street show and it showed how to make banok, over a camp fire. I learned how to make it in the oven, and it became the children’s and my main staple over the years when food was scarce. Which was more often, than not.
Mom always seemed to make sure we had lard, baking powder, flour, macaroni, in the cupboard. Those were the things I could make easily. Thinking back it horrifies me to think of how easily I could have scalded myself! Surely God’s hand guided mine during those years!! Thank you Thank you Dear Lord for your Mercy! Mom was rarely seen, unless she was drinking, or on a rampage. Neither was a good thing. Sleep was her escape though, and she was to pass this coping behaviour on to me.
Tyra loved my banok, it was baked Banok not fried I did not know how to fry it,perhaps a blessing! I tried my very best to care for them and myself but it was so difficult, I was not a mother, nor would I ever be. I do cherish these memories though, as they were as close to motherhood that I would ever attain.
I would always clean up after my mothers parties, putting all the empties back in their box or the bottles under the sink. Emptying all the over full ashtrays, and soaking them to get them sparking again. Washing all the glass wear and any other cutlery and plates that may have been used. I would empty the Garbage in the big bin just outside of our bottom floor apartment. I would wipe down all the spilled liquor of the furniture, tables and floor. I would wash the kitchen floor. Lastly I would vacuum, since it was so loud I didn’t want to wake the children unnecessarily. They were still so young so needed their sleep. I did not feel, behave, or talk like a child. I was a precocious child. However, this is reasonable, in light of how I was being, treated, or should I say mistreated
If and when my mother got up there would be no sign of the mayhem she and her buddies caused during the night. You know some how, I knew even then that I was saving my mother from being shamed. Maybe because I was ashamed of the state of our home when I woke up after she had a party. I think I was trying to protect her by cleaning up her mess before she had to see it. I also, desperately wanted her approval..I never did receive it, no matter how hard I tried. I wanted her to love me and tell me she loved me, so I would try even harder. I would buy her little presents, and candy with money that was given to me. I would buy her orange crush when she was hung over.
It eventually got to the point were she would even send me with her money to pick up her prescription drugs and smokes. At that time a child could buy their parents smokes if they had a note. I even started grocery shopping, she would make a list, put the money in my pocket and off I would go. If I had trouble with the note I would ask for help. I do believe the pharmacist knew something was wrong because he would always let me pick a candy, like a chocolate bar or something. I always picked the gum. That dam gum caused us girls so much trouble when we would fall asleep with it in our mouths. It would get all over our hair! That didn’t stop me from picking the gum. or sharing it though hehe. By the way peanut butter will remove gum from hair, I learned that fast.
I was a quick learner, so I was reading way beyond what was normal for a child. the only books we had were the books mom read. I read Valley of the Dolls and the Happy hooker before the age of ten. Also, harlequin romance novels, she had box’s of those. I would read one or two books a night, it became my escape, I loved it!!! I remember reading those books hoping for a love like that when I grew up. I also got my hand on a copy of little women, I think Jo was my favourite.
However this proclivity for reading and comprehending what I was reading would not help me in school. Having been diagnosed with complicated PTSD as an adult, I am sure that I was already suffering from PTSD as a child.
My Mother met these people, I will refrain from using their names for various reasons. The most forefront for me though is to protect the family of the man who abused me. it was no fault of theirs, and I hold no ill will to them at all. in fact quite the opposite I sympathize with them. I am not sure if they were new acquaintances or old friends. I was only eight so I was not privy to my Mothers circle, just when it met some need she had would I be paraded before her friends.
As my sister told before about falling out of a tree , well that did not stop her from climbing trees lol. She loved to climb trees! these people had a small fenced in back yard, with a High white fence. There was a big gnarled tree in the corner of the yard, it practically took up the whole space of the yard, the yard being so small. I remember chairs and other things out in the back too but not clear enough to describe.
The man that was going to harm me at a later time, came out in the back yard with me and my sister. I was watching Tyra like a hawk, I could not keep her from climbing, but I certainly would try to save her if she fell! I recall this man picking up a long thin stick and poking it towards my sister. He said” up the poop shoot.” while poking it towards her bum. I do not know what the look was on my face but, when he looked at me he stopped and turned his attention towards me. I told my little sister “come now, into the house.” she had no idea what just transpired, but something in my voice must have warned her we were in danger because this little girl with a mind of her own, climbed down, and followed with out complaint. I did tell my mother what happened and she shushed me and told me to be quiet and not spread tales.
We left and went home as normal. However a few days later a man I did not know and the man that hurt me showed up at my moms apartment. she looked so happy to see them. That Man I didn’t know, but came to know later on, I owe a debt of gratitude for saving me. I will never forget him or the feeling of validation I received that night.
There was an amazing indoor swimming pool in our complex of apartments,, and what a joy when mom would take us swimming. I do not think it was the swimming so much , but just spending quality “normal” time with her. After the day was coming to a close we headed back to the house and the two men were well into their cups. Meaning there were quite intoxicated. Mom sent us girls to bed, and joined the men in he drinking.
Trigger. Warning, sexual abuse incident coming up next, please take care.
What a joyous day I had! I was so played out I fell into my bed in my wet swimsuit and a smile on my face. It was Dark, and very quiet, what woke me! Why is my bathing suit pulled down? A sharp pain, I remember that pain!! What was happening! I laid stiff, unable to breath, hoping that it would stop and the man behind me would go away. I could hear him breathing I was so upset! Why! Why again why! I took a chance and disobeyed my mother by crying out for help! I was disobeying her by making a scene, we were not supposed to cause a scene!
I really did not expect her to come, and I was right she didn’t the other man with the kind eyes and raven black hair came! I recall his literally hauling that awful man out of my bed by the scruff, I followed, and seen the Raven haired man start beating on the abusive man, while my mom screamed at him to stop!! I recall that man yelling at my mom “Call the police, or I will kill this bastard!” I remember him saying that as clear as if I was standing right there right now. I remember your name my hero , and I pray life was good to you. You were the only one who ever tried to save me.
My mother Glared at me, she had the most frightening look, when people talk about their mothers look, they never seen my mothers insane look. I really do believe she had to have been some what insane to do what she did, with no remorse shown. She said to me to “go to bed…Now!”Now I think back on it what mother does that?! Her child has just been sexually abused and you simply send her back to bed?! I have a hard time wrapping my adult brain around that!
The police were called and the man was charged. My mom could not hide the fact that her child was harmed, because there was a witness, albeit, a very angry witness to the crime.I remember the nice police Lady gently waking me up. She had on her uniform and her hair was done up in a style like a bun of some sort. She had golden blonde hair, and smooth pale skin. The funny thing I can not remember the color of her eyes. perhaps, I was to scared and ashamed to meet her eyes. However, I do remember glancing into them and they were so kind. it seems to me they were like a pale blue. However, I can not be positive, it just seems that is what my memory is showing me.
This did go to the courts, and the man was charged with sexual abuse of a child, among other things. He was institutionalize, and according to my mother underwent shock therapy treatment. I do not know if my mom told me this to make me feel bad about calling out for help or to make me feel bad for the man. Either way it did make me feel bad, and made me wish I had not called out….
For those on this Journey with my sister and I. We commend you for your courage, this is by no means an easy journey. However, I want to assure you that I am a happy Adult, I love people although I can only be around close friends and do not do well with strangers. I struggle, but I live and am content to continue this journey with you all my new friends. Your, sharing time with me is healing, and I thank you for that.
“A child’s voice that goes unheard is a tragedy; A child’s voice heard but unheeded is a travesty… ” 2019 Tammy: LOVE to You all =)
Tammy, holding youngest sister and Tyra standing next to Tammy.