Sunday, June 12, 2005

Part One: Story of Another Life

I'd like to tell you a story. A true story about my life in the very recent past. Some of you know this story from firsthand experience because you were there for me. Some of you know this story only from what you've heard, but the grapevine can be cruel and heartless and unforgiving. What you're about to experience is the last few years of my life. Understanding the truth in the circumstances will help you to better understand who I am.

The period of time in 1999 after the birth of my daughter, my third child, was turbulent and emotional for me and everyone around me. I had endured the death of my favorite uncle only two-and-a-half years before(who was only 39 - you can read about that here), my grandfather six months later, my younger cousin and her two little girls a few months before (read about them here) and discovered (admitted to myself?) that my grandfather had molested me as a child.

My intermittent periods of anger and tears seemed to be unending. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, and it only got darker when my daughter's father - whom I'd loved dearly - left us. Co-workers at the daycare center where I taught preschool convinced me to go to the doctor.

Several doctors and dozens of medications later I still had no answers and still felt no better. The consensus (after a twenty-minute visit in one doctor's office) was that I was bipolar. None of the other doctors questioned this diagnosis, nor was I tested further (psychologically or otherwise). I was in a constant stupor. I couldn't have told you left from right if you'd asked me. Friends often told me I looked "stoned" although I'd never been involved in drugs (aside from a short period between 19 and 20 when I'd experimented with marijuana, but decided I hated feeling stupid and quit). Quite honestly, "stoned" is a pretty fair description of how I felt, too.

I gave birth to my fourth child in July of 2001 (still on the medication). He was a quiet, contented little boy. I had breastfed and worn in infant slings for all of my children, so the bonds were very strong. We were a very close-knit family. I had made a number of poor choices in relationships, so for the most part we were all we had.

My children would talk to me about everything and anything, but that didn't make my life as a single parent easy. I had just had my then boyfriend arrested. I'd caught him viewing child pornography and beastiality sites on our computer. I was struggling to make it through college for an early childhood degree, working part-time, caring for four children alone and in the midst of it all trying to make sense of my life. A few months later, however, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter opened my eyes even more.

My little one had what, for the purposes of decency, we'll call "behaviors" when she was alone in her room at night. It was more than a little disturbing when I would see these things as I checked in on her at night, so I sat down next to her. I was nearing tears and tried not to frighten her with any semblance of panic.

"Honey," I began as calmly as I could manage, "sometimes people hurt people..."

"Sometimes people hold people," my daughter interrupted.

"Who held you, baby?" My heart leapt into my stomach.

"My daddy Mick." This is what she'd called him, since we'd been together from the time she was only a few months old.

"Where did Daddy hold you?"

"He hold me like this," she said, placing her hands on her hips. My first thought was that this was going to turn into a story about playing airplane or swimming. I was beginning to feel calmer. "Then what happened?" I asked.

I could not have prepared for her next statement: "Then he go potty on me." I knew in my heart, as sick as her words made me feel, exactly what she meant. There was no mistaking the horrible scenario that began playing out in my mind.

Did you know that if no-one sees the perpetrator molesting the child, and if there is also no physical evidence (i.e. from penetration), the perpetrator will not be charged? Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.

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