part eighteen

I began writing this *series* (although I didn’t know it was going to be a series) as a way to process my thoughts and feelings about my upbringing; my religion during that time and my family. It is only recently occurring to me that my life – childhood, young adulthood, now – my thoughts, my feelings, my everything has been affected by *programming* (for lack of a better word). I know we are all subject to programming as we grow however I also know some programming is positive; some is not. I think, perhaps, the word *training* may be more useful to me. Yes, I like that better. The connotation is not so negative to my thinking.

Anyway, *training* has much to do with where we end up; where I ended up. I was trained that good things did not happen to me. I was trained to believe that I had to live up to an unrealistic expectation and that I could never do it. There are so many things I was trained to do and believe. This writing is my attempt to get it all out of my head and put it somewhere else; anywhere else. To get rid of it so to speak. I bundled up several parts of this series and sent them to my therapist just to get rid of them. I felt as if this gy-HUGE-ic weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Seriously.

For those of you following along, my therapist and I had ummm…issues…recently. It took several sessions to come close to figuring it out and I’d be more than happy to tell you the story however, for the moment, I’ve got other writing to do. So, if you stick around, perhaps the story will appear. Just not right now. 😉 And on we go…

During my time flat on my back, the house went to hell in a handbasket. Dinner didn’t get made in a timely manner, dishes backed up, laundry wasn’t done and on and on and on. I hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant so nobody I knew had a clue I could have used some help. R would come home from work and be furious because of the disarray. It was pretty bad however his behavior was worse. He didn’t want to help and now that we were having a baby, it didn’t seem to matter to him if that baby survived or if I was ok. *sigh*

He was probably scared and worried and all that but at the time (and even now) I just think he was terrible. He visited the therapist around this time and was explaining to her all my issues and how things were going at our house. I made it for a visit to her that had been scheduled for awhile and we were chatting about what was happening etc. She commented on something R had told her and I must have gotten a funny look on my face or something because she said “What?” I just looked at her and said “Did he also tell you, I’m pregnant and have been bleeding?”

Of course he hadn’t. (Who couldn’t see that one coming?)

By the time I was 13 weeks or so, we figured the little peanut had decided the accommodations were acceptable and set about telling our families. I chose not to tell anyone in the congregation however. Of course, the evidence was impossible to hide after awhile and when word began to circulate, I was the recipient of both congrats and disdainful comments. The friends I mentioned, Bryant & Charlotte, (mostly Charlotte) were not happy for some reason. I still have no clue why. That said, she began to sow discontent everywhere she went regarding the little peanut and our decision to have another baby. It was odd to me then and now. But, I had other concerns.

A good friend had lost her baby several months earlier. She was almost 6 months pregnant at the time and the placenta had literally ripped from the uterine wall and she hemorrhaged terribly. She was almost dead before the paramedics arrived at her home. The baby died before they could get her out and my friend was in the hospital for more than a month on the edge of death due to severe blood loss. It was a terrifying time and as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she refused blood transfusions. My friend survived and made it home however I didn’t want to tell her about my baby. I did though. It would have been worse for her to hear it from someone else. We worked through it although she and her husband never did have another baby. I think she was terrified of what could happen.

There were several other young women in the congregation who were pregnant at the same time I was. Every single one of them ended up losing their babies after their sixth month of pregnancy. I was so scared. I remember sitting in daughter #2’s bedroom, staring into her crib as she slept, and praying and crying and praying some more. Daughter #3 was born on 10/23/92, weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz. Before I’d even pushed her all the way out, I looked down into her eyes and through my mind went the thought “There you are!” and I was in love. I was also convinced that every time I put her down to sleep, she wouldn’t wake up.

Weird eh? I’ve thought that too. I have no clue why I expected that however I’d guess it had something to do with thinking I shouldn’t have been having another baby and Armageddon coming and yada yada yada.

I ended up battling post-partum depression again. Not as bad as with daughter #1 but it did scare me. One day while I was nursing the baby, I was rocking her, watching t.v. and crying. I don’t remember what I was watching but I do remember deciding that I was done crying. I was going to do something ‘useful’ with my life and go back to school. Just like that, I decided. I knew that would be discouraged by the congregation and for the first time in my life, I didn’t care. I figured if I was already displeasing god and everybody, I might as well do it while doing something I wanted to do because the result would be the same no matter what. I called, interviewed and began school in February when my baby was almost 4 months old. And immediately came down with pneumonia.

I know, I know…weird again. It was terrible. I almost never have an actual fever. My temp went to 101 degrees. That’s it. However, after looking at my lung x-rays, the doctor told me I had exactly 12 hours to improve or it was the hospital I’d be visiting. Then he gave me two humongous shots in my ass and sent me home for a bit. Thank god I improved. But it was a long road. I continued with school though. My parents had already told my husband he should never have allowed me to go back to school and I’m sure alot of other things however I was determined.

The next thing I remember is May 3, 2003. My then 3 year old, daughter #2 came running into the house one day squealing at the top of her lungs “Mommy, Mommy! Look what I got! Matthew gave me gum for letting him poke me with his pee!”

I remember grabbing her so she’d quit jumping around in excitement over the gum and look at me. She must have realized something was wrong because she immediately froze. I didn’t notice until much later how much I was shaking. I told her she hadn’t done anything wrong and I needed her to explain exactly what happened before she got the gum. She did in her best three year old way. She told me that Matthew had gum and she wanted some. She asked for a piece and he said “Pull down your pants and I’ll give you some.” She did. She had no reason to be afraid. No one ever hurt her. She was a little innocent child. He was 9. Then she told me that Matthew said he was going to pull his pants down too before he gave her the gum. Then she pointed to her little baby bottom and said “He put his pee right here and then he gave me the gum. Look Mommy, see what I can do with this gum?”

I hugged my girl and walked outside. Shaking. R was looking at a car with the neighbor and I went over to him and said “Do you have any idea what just happened out here?” He looked at me, nodded, shooshed me and said he was dealing with it right now. I said “You’d better or I will.” and stomped back into the house. I did not want to freak out my daughter but I was a wreck. I tried to keep things as normal as possible and play and do whatever it was I usually did. R came in a bit later and said “His dad thinks it’s no big deal.”

I called the pediatrician and explained what happened and what my girlie had said. We got an appointment to take her in for an exam the next morning. The nurse told me it was a requirement to report this stuff to the police and I said ‘Ok.’ She told me that their office would file the report after our visit the next day. The exam was traumatic to say the least. The doctor was fabulous however. My girl was ok physically. Not long after we arrived back home, a sweet police officer called me. We talked a bit and he explained what happened next. He would be interviewing our neighbors although because Matthew wasn’t old enough for prosecution, they would be examining his environment to learn what was happening to him. The reasoning was that something was being done to Matthew otherwise how would he know to do that. The officer was so helpful and kind. He left his number with me along with the numbers of some counselors and support groups and told me he’d be in touch but I was to call if I needed anything at all.

Just writing this brings the weepies. I wonder what would have happened to me as a small child if someone had been that kind and caring about my situation. I had no memory of my childhood at this time. I didn’t tell anyone in the congregation what happened to my daughter. I wonder why. I didn’t realize it until sometime last year, but this incident with my beautiful child was the trigger for the chain of events that began then and continues for me even now 14 years later.

to be continued

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Isn’t it amazing what you will do for your child that you would never summon the courage for on your own behalf? I’m sorry D#2 had such an experience, but given that she was mostly unharmed, I’m a little bit glad that something, somehow occurred to give you the motivation to change the circumstances. Next time we have sodas and coffee, I’ll tell you what I learned to do that I’d been needing to do my whole life, but never could until my daughter needed me to do it. Hug!

    Reply

  2. For further information on child abuse and Jehovah’s Witnesses you might wish to review the website http://www.silentlambs.org there are over 1,000 stories of abuse posted there along with helpful links.

    silentlambs

    Reply

  3. {{{{{{{{Traci}}}}}}}}

    I know how it feels to have something happen with your child. And have it start an avalanche. And to be pretty much smothered by that avalanche.

    {{{{{{{{Traci}}}}}}}}

    Reply

  4. On programming, brainwashing, training… etc. Despite all the control over your beliefsystem, your interactions, the gossip and self-surveillance, internalization, threat of expulsion and judgment, fear of displeasing god, etc. you were still able to sense the things to share and not to share with others. You were still able to decide some things for yourself. You had survived enough, and navigated through enough difficult terrain that you simply knew better than to make them your only source of comfort, friendship, even beliefs. You had learned to prioritize, to put things in context and in perspective. And I think it’s that kind of wisdom, gained by practical experience, that has helped you. Not to mention your kids’ faces – and they relied on you to be there for them. At a certain point, I think you kind of decided that you couldn’t really go forward if you had to pretend that reality wasn’t reality. Sending hugsz.

    Reply

  5. Hey! Whatchoo doing? I miss you!! Write some more, pleeeeeeeeease?? Hugs!

    Reply

  6. Oh, Traci, that is gut-wrenching. You were very level-headed about it. I can understand why you didn’t tell anyone in your church about it, though. Church groups can be very funny about stuff like that. Outwardly, they would have had sympathy for you, but inwardly they might have treated you as if you were walking around with the scarlet letter. Even though it was not your fault at all, a lot of people who are “very religious” tend to look down on others who have had an unfortunate experience happen to them or a family member. I don’t know why that is, but I have seen it happen.

    I think it’s great that you sent your writing to your therapist. That had to be cathartic!

    You take care, you. (You have a question waiting for you over at my blog.)

    Reply

  7. Wow, I just caught up. I am continuously amazed at your bravery.

    Reply

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