Preface: I tell each person I ever taught Emotional Detox Education, to cleanse themselves in the truth. I tell them to wash their hands at the end of class to symbolize purging what comes from the haunts within the truth. This is so they can move forward and not go back and muddy their hands again in the lie that made up a false-truth about that life event. My students…I am a hypocrite. I have not cleansed all that could have been cleansed. I hope you understand why I had to hold those truths back until now. We all have skeletons. Maybe for some this skeleton did not need to come out of the closet. But I could not continue to treat it like an old coat you only wear a few times a year. I choose to not only free this skeleton from the closet, but I am purging this closet–taking the items to the thrift store and moving out of that house.
I am not sure how this letter will be met. I began to write it so I could heal and move forward. This letter is not about the good memories. Please know I do find joy in moments of my childhood. Many of those moments make me laugh, cry and shake my head. I cherish those memories. But my life was not built on those memories. There are far more episodes of abuse, than laughter. I am doing this for myself. Not because I am trying to condemn anyone. The truth needs to be said. I need to heal so that when I leave this place, I can be remembered for being a good mom –and not a better grandmother than I was a mother. I hope my kids realize the courage this took to publish. My hope now is someone else who maybe was abused in their life can move forward. Or perhaps someone who may currently be being abused can find courage to do something about it and move on. And to my kids, my love- Christopher and friends—for those times I screamed at you and acted out in anger, I am sorry and apologize.
A Letter to Three of My Abusers:
Dear Dad, Mom and Jimmy:
Where do I begin? Dad, I guess. I am proud you found the courage to quit drinking when you did. I am happy that your fits of rage did not kill anyone, including myself. I used to be angry that I loved you even though you beat me terribly. I used to be angry that you did not want anything to do with me unless it suited you or you were trying to show a friend, family member or co-worker what a good father you were. I still do not understand, to this day; when you would punch me, beat me, why it came so easily. Perhaps someday, I will get that answer. I used to be angry that you ‘left me in charge of Stupid’ when you found out you were dying. That was irresponsible of you. Stupid (as you called him), or Jimmy—as he was named at birth, was not and is not my responsibility. I am not sure if you even knew about the sexual abuse I endured from Jimmy. I would like to think you didn’t. I know Mom did and the fact she did nothing, still hurts. Lastly to you I want to say, thank you. Thank you for teaching me about hard work. I still cannot eat an ear of corn without knowing its value. Thanks.
Mom, I find it hard to write about you or to you. Probably because you died most recently. I am still dealing with emotions from that day. Emotions that come because of the decisions you charged me with making. I pray I never have to do that again. I am angry because of those things you left me to do after you were gone. I am angry because of the things you made me do when I was a kid. No kid should have to take naked Polaroids of their mother to send to her prison pen-pal boyfriend. And no mother should allow her prison pen-pal boyfriend to write explicit letters to their 10 year old child. That moment is why I broke down and cried after each time I had to bathe you after your lung cancer surgery, when you lived with me in 2013. It was too much…just too much.
But I also want to thank you. I want to thank you for stopping the beatings during those times you chose to. I may not be alive today if you had not. I want to thank you for helping me see that I want to be my best and authentic-self always. To be anything but, produces negative energy to continue the charade and the lie. I cannot live that way anymore. I can no longer buy into the reality you created and wanted me to believe.
At your funeral people talked about the person you were. This was not the person I knew. I only got to see that person when we were around people you wanted to see that side of you. You only let certain people see the person you wanted them to see. I saw that person sometimes. But the person I got to see most was vicious, mean, belittling and abusive. You made me keep secrets about not just the Polaroids but about the sexual abuse I received from Jimmy since I was young. I forgive you for that because I want to believe you did that out of embarrassment and not because you didn’t care. I think you did care but did not know how to show it. For that I am sad because I think you and Dad both had redeeming qualities to be good people. I believe I possess those qualities. Also want to thank you for showing me how to speak my mind. Although I am still working on not being as crass as you, I am still a work in progress.
Jimmy—my biological sibling. I cannot give you the title of brother. I have brothers. Mark, Mike, Bob, Curt, Donny, etc.
There is so much to say but I truly do not want to waste energy on you or your profane thoughts of life with me in it. I will make it easy for you, in case you have not figured it out yet. I am done. My responsibility of you has ended. I surrender that to someone else. With that being said, I cannot say I ‘used to be angry’ – because I am still angry at you. I am working through that and to do so; I must tell you how I feel.
Since Mom’s death there have been so many people telling me the same thing…how I am a bad person…how I think I am better than everyone else… how I got everything handed to me. You would like people to believe that because it is more fitting for you, than dealing with the truth and owning what you have done. You would want me to be weak and buy into your ideology of who you think I am and who you tell everyone I am. It is always someone else’s fault. Someone else is to blame. Tell me, exactly what does a blind man in a wheelchair have to say to you to get you to beat them? How were they at fault? Or they guy you beat that resulted in you going to prison…or Audrey– or me? After all you put me through.. the abuse, the torture, the molestation… I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you too, being raised by the same parents, just needed guidance and friendship. I find it amazing that you continue to tell people how self-centered I am and how I was handed everything and you got nothing. – And that some people are buying that crap! If you are referring to when Dad died– I was written out of his Will. If you are referring to when Mom died, the Estate went bankrupt. No one got anything except the mortgage company.
I am not sure where in my adult life I got anything that I did not earn. Our parents wanted no part of being involved in our successes. I worked hard to be self-sufficient. I am blessed by friends along the way that had to endure comments and accusations of inappropriateness by my parents and you. I am glad they stuck by me anyway and came to know the real me. I have only asked my parents for two things ever (three if you count asking my mom to go to my college graduation) 1. To walk me across the field for Senior Band Parent Night. (They did not. My mom sat in the stands and my best friends parents volunteered to do the honors), and 2. I asked my parents for was a roof over my head after my separation from my first husband. That was for my kids though, not for me. If I didn’t have the girls, I would have just lived in my car again. I know you know how that feels because they would not walk with you either when you were in football. The coaches did. And our parents also took you in—time and time again (without and with your daughter). These may be the only instances where we were treated equally in our lives.
At first I was insulted by all these people telling me the deplorable things being said about me. I was also insulted because people I had known most of my life were or are choosing to believe these things about me. Then I had a conversation with someone last night that really helped me think about things differently. Now, I thought I might feel sorry for those who choose to believe it, but honestly, I am growing indifferent. I just wanted my voice to be heard. I got to where I am today because of passion, drive and my own doing. Not because my parents gave me anything. Not because I asked for anything other than moral support (which I can assure you, I did not receive). My biggest goal was to have at least one of my parents see me graduate from college—in spite of them and in honor of me; even if only for a few short hours, maybe it could be about me for a moment. I earned that moment! I deserved that moment. And to those people who still talk about me like I am the biggest thing to ride in on a broom, this side of the Mississippi– if having independence, drive, passion and self-sufficiency make me a bad person—then I am HORRENDOUS!!! And yes, I care and I am here to set the record straight… because of the people that do matter, they support me morally and emotionally. The people that do matter hold me up when I am down –and me, them. And all your hatred and naysaying only pushes me harder to be my best self. I am me!
I included you in everything, regardless of the lies and abuse. Holidays, family events and such–I had my husband include you in things, like our wedding, bachelor party, baseball games and amusement park trips. Still, I am deemed a horrible person. Meanwhile it was me that is extending the hand of graciousness and gratitude to someone that defiled me. I no longer feel for you. I do not love you. I do not hate you. I am indifferent to you and your outcome in life. You strive on drama, fear and anger. Only you can change that. I choose to no longer buy into your narcissistic, socio-pathological ‘reality’–.the one you and Mom created so the world would not know the evil that took place in our childhood home. Another point that amazes me is how at every turn, when I was giving benefits of doubt and second chances, you continued to belittle me at every turn. And for what? You have talents. God gave you talents and intelligence, just like me. You choose to live in the ‘Land of Whoa’ rather than do anything about showcasing those talents. And then karma kicked in… Jimmy, all along, you were trying to project my kindness as weakness. You thought my being kind was me letting my guard down. On the contrary. I was being my true, authentic self. I am kind. I was, however, still living the lie or the truth as it had been fed to me for so many years. Because I wanted to believe you were a victim. Trouble is you fail to escape the victim mentality. This is what allows you to get people to be sucked into caring about this fallacy you call a life. It is not a life. You are not truly living and I cannot help you do that.
Sometimes people are forced to be observers in their own life. They are forced to take on beliefs and ideologies based on the beliefs and ideologies of their parents/ care givers. I have done this my whole life. I was told I had to believe a certain way and when I went out in the world and sought real answers, I was condemned for ‘getting to big in my britches’ because I wanted a better life than what I had. I was made to feel I turned my back on my family because I wanted to go to college—and why should I? No one else had and they got on just fine! This kind of thinking only made me want it more and made me more determined to succeed. And for that I am thankful. However, the one I am thankful to is God. I am thankful to God that attempts to stop the pain did not work and thankful to myself for perseverance. The pain allowed me to feel and allowed me to grow and know I was alive. For years, this way of thinking also led me to keep many secrets in my life. Many secrets no young child should have to keep just to save-face or keep the family from embarrassment. Maybe you too have secrets I know nothing about.
They say the truth has three sides: Your side, my side and the real truth. Well this is my side, which is the truth. They also say the truth shall set you free. I refuse to remain quiet anymore. I cared for years that the truth might hurt others but for all these years, it was me that hurt and no one really cared. And for years I stayed quiet, for what I believed to be the betterment of all involved. But people failed to realize the real victim in it all was not better in any way, for being quiet. I tried to be, this person they call ‘the better person.’ But in reality all I was doing was continuing to elude the truth and buy into others’ version of reality. A wise woman once said, “Sometimes, though I choose to let others drown for they must stop their ways and make better choices in their own lives. If they don’t choose to do so, I can at least say, Well, I cared enough to give them the opportunity!” I cared. I gave second chances. I was manipulated into your truth to protect you, Mom and Dad. But who was protecting me?
Lastly, I cannot thank you but I do forgive you. I pray you recover and realize the second chance God gave you to be a good person. It is never too late to choose to do so. You are capable. Look at people like Alan, Alice, and June. You are capable. Forgive yourself and others and move beyond the lie. But know when and if you do, my door will still no longer be open to you and I will still no longer be your sister. I am freeing you from that responsibility and having to own that lie too. You are but a memory. Best of luck.
“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
**If you or someone you know is being abused. Please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) Or live chat with a hotline representative that can help you.