The way that the shadows played under the door, I could see that my favorite tree was gracefully dancing in the wind. The sunlight shot like a laser beam into the closet. “Hey, let’s play shadow puppets.” I whispered to my little brother. “Okay,” he said.
This time, his lips only turned a small shade of blue. My brother faced his head towards me and I made myself look into his eyes, holding my own grief so I could contain his. I remember looking at my mother and wondering if this time was it, would she kill him? She would always stop -before she would suffocate him.
Mom had bad days. Her children were the face of every single person that day that had hurt her, that had let her down, a family member, an argument with my Dad. My brother and I never knew when our turn was going to be for mom to release her anger. I always wondered when it would begin. Would we be able to have the comfort of the closet, would we be able to see the closet this time around? That was always my hope. Mom would always begin with me. I would lay down on the sofa and she would put a pillow over my face. She would then sit on top of me and she proceeded to suffocate me. I always turned my head to the wall facing away because I knew that my little brother was there in the hallway. I never wanted him to see my face. I never wanted him to see the fear and sometimes even the hope – that maybe I would die.
I remember times I would stop breathing and a comfort would come over me, it was this silence but there was also a comfort and when that comfort would come, all of a sudden my mother would get off of me and I would have to stand in the hallway as my little brother would walk past me with tears in his eyes. That was one thing about my brothers and I; if we cried, we would never make noise, tears would just come from our eyes and that’s how we learned how to cry – we learned to cry by making no noise – we knew as children that if there was ever a noise to escape us, the stakes were higher.
When the abuse would be over mom would make my brother and I go sit inside of the closet in the same room that the couch was. She would lock the closet door. Maybe she was afraid we would tell on her. I wondered if my brother was experiencing the same comfort that I had when I would see him begin to lose consciousness – that comforting peace when his lips would turn a different color. I wondered if maybe he would be able to leave this life and be safe away from her.
For the first few times, my brother and I would cry a little bit in the closet, but then, I wanted to make it a happier environment for him. I thought of some games that we liked to play and having just the light from underneath the door, it was enough light to be able to play shadow puppets. We never knew how much time had passed by. I would try and tell the time by the way that the shadows of the sun off of the leaves changed their position on the rug. I was learning about the sun in science and I had learned that during certain times of the day, the sun moves. There were a few times when we would meet dusk as Mom would unlock the closet door. Mom wouldn’t talk to us for a day after and my brother and I never once discussed it. Perhaps because we had so much time in the closet that we didn’t really have to speak and to speak would be an acknowledgment of each others reality.
Years of abuse would happen before the above incidents and after the above incidents.
Being the only female out of four brothers, looking back, I was naturally inclined to be a mother like protector over my brothers. From a young age, cooking, cleaning, taking care of my brothers when my mom was not able to, became important to me. I wanted them to have some kind of normalcy, the normalcy I would see at my friends house when the mom and the daughter would be playing with the baby in the kitchen, when the brother and the sister were being silly and fighting, when the mom and the dad would just hug the kids because. Our parents weren’t able to give us what they didn’t have themselves. My dad was an alcoholic and my mother had major depression, severe Bipolarism, and severe PTSD . We were all living daily, playing Russian roulette with each other, knowing that my mother and my dad were the ones that held the guns and we never knew when the barrel would face us.
Being able to maintain a clean home, a cooked meal, laundry that was folded and an ear for them to listen to became my goal. I knew how to keep a clean home, cook, keep up with my studies and try to function the best that I possibly could. I learned how to live life without feeling. I learned that as long as I could make everyone around me happy, I would have peace, and that was a terribly disoriented survival method that I learned when I was a child. If I could just please my mom, maybe she would not hold the dinner away from my brothers and I that I made. If I could just make my dad happy, maybe he would not stay out at the bar and he would come home and be with us so maybe mom would be happier.
My brothers and I never spoke about the abuse in our family to each other.
I knew the way that she was treating us was not right, and at the same time, I knew that she had to be ill in her mind to do what it is that she was doing to us and so I decided to protect her, instead of turning her in – and in protecting her over time, I was able to get my brothers away from my mother.
The earliest childhood memory that I have of protecting my mother would be when I was six. I remember seeing her rocking back and forth with her arms wrapped around her legs. I stopped as I was walking into her bedroom and looked at her from the side of the closet that our towels were in. I looked at her small face, mom was always tiny, she suffered from Anorexia Nervosa since she was brutally raped at the age of thirteen by her adopted mothers boyfriend (her perpetrator served 40+ years in prison as he was drunk and left mom on the side of the highway naked and killed her dog. She sustained a very serious head injury that would end up leaving her having a major seizure disorder her entire life.)
A jogger found mom naked on the side of the road. She gave birth to her son in a home for Catholic School girls in the Boston area (mom attended all Catholic schools as a child up until her freshman year as the school only went up to the eighth grade.) The child would be given up for adoption. Mom thought she was keeping her baby. She was given a paper to sign one day back in the early 60’s and unbeknownst to her, she signed over her baby to a couple that was awaiting a newborn. This would go on to play a major role in her PTSD.
Not many people ever understood my love for mom. Many said I was sick for taking care of her and walking away was my best choice. When I was six years old and I saw mom that day rocking back and forth, not understanding and mom not telling me about the rape until I was in my late teens, in that moment, I knew there was something wrong with her. My being just knew. I would go onto view mom doing this rocking back and forth thing several times which I came to understand was a result of her PTSD. Mom had a hard life. She would go onto have several major crisis in her life. But for me, for me, I couldn’t just walk away. I knew my entire life that she was mentally ill, but I also knew her past. I could not walk away from her. She was my mother. The mother who God chose for me.
When mom would finally end up hospitalized with no chance of her ever coming back home, I pleaded with God to just let me please be released from the responsibility of taking care of her. The abuse, even as an adult, was too much. “God, please, I would do anything for You, but please, not this, not seeing her dying, I had to see her suffer her entire life. Please release me from this.”, was my prayer, my plea. I knew she was bad this time. I also knew I would be the only person to help her in the family. I can’t blame my family for walking away. Mom was vicious.
“I will never make you do this My daughter,” was God’s Answer to me, “but My daughter, I want all My Children back Home with me.”
In that moment, nothing else mattered to me. To know my Lord would cry, would be sad, I couldn’t do it. “Okay God, You and I have been through some stuff, huh?” was my response to God, “Okay, send me extra Angels God. I love her too. I will fight for Your daughter, thank You for always fighting for me and never giving up on me. Let’s do this.”
My life, my everything is for God. My love for Jesus, Our Lady, the Saints, the Angels, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, my life is a walking sacrifice for Yahweh.