Domestic Confusion ©

I was born to a Father who loved me and a mother who hated me and both were monsters.

Dysfunction doesn’t begin to describe my daily life. There was constant chaos in our home. My mother could have played the role of Mommy Dearest. Wire hangers were only one of her many vices she used against me. 

The relational dynamic and the level of dysfunction were elements I couldn’t understand until I was grown. My parents fought and argued every day. 

This was a typical night.

I could hear my Dad’s truck pull into the driveway. I left my bedroom and I walked past her as she lay on the sofa, pretending to be asleep. I could hear the fear in her voice “Please don’t leave me. He’s going to hurt me. Please don’t go”. Just then, I could hear the key in the door and my Dad entering. What was I supposed to do? I was a child. I ran down the hall, to the bathroom. 

My Dad had been drinking. He was an angry drunk. I kept my ear to the door. 

“Get your ass to bed. Now!” I could hear her pleading with him. “Please don’t hurt me. Please. I have to work in the morning. Please just let me sleep.” Just then their bedroom door slammed and I ran back to my bedroom. 

I could hear him yelling and her screaming. I covered my head with my pillow and tried to sleep. 

The next morning, her eyes were bruised, and her face was red. She snapped at me. “This wouldn’t have happened if you had done what you were told!” I never knew what to say to her. She was always angry with me except when she needed protection from my Dad. 

**********

I was sifting through a bag of photos, looking for my baby pics to share with my daughters. I sat down as I realized I had found the photo that began my journey into the past. From my trembling hand to the bag of photos, I returned the photo and realized this was a flashback and one that took me years to come to terms with.

 This was the day I decided to write a book. Many years would pass before I realized I had not written a word. 

My mind was telling me my story needed to be written. My heart was telling me to wait. Why and for what, I didn’t know. My answer came soon after my Dad died in 2008.

I loved my Dad. He was my best friend. My hero. He was my daughters’ Grandpa. 

I couldn’t write. He had changed and for the better. I didn’t want to hurt him. 

On the outside, she was beautiful. Petite, with long red hair, light blue eyes and she carried herself with confidence. Her smile lit up every room she entered. She didn’t have an education beyond high school. She worked as a waitress and enjoyed the interaction with the customers. She loved country music and could dance the two-step better than anyone I knew. 

He was tall, stocky, large hands and a face only a mother could love. His smile, laughter and personality made up for what he lacked in good looks. He was a WWll Navy vet. Highly educated and intelligent; A genius in most subjects. He was a private pilot. A memory like an elephant. Self employed. 

I don’t know how they met and what drew them together. I do know that the dynamic of their relationship was one of the most abusive unions I have ever seen or heard of.

Their personalities were not compatible and yet they seem to feed off each other. There were times when he seemed very much in love with her and she with him. How could two people love and hate each other with equal intensity. 

She had been married previously and had two boys. My brothers were two and three years young when she left her first marriage. I have wondered and have heard rumors as to why she packed up her babies and left. Was this the relationship that prepared her for the extreme abuse that would almost take her life on several occasions?

She became pregnant with us end of March or early April of 1964. Midway through, she attempted a self abortion. Thankfully, she failed. My parents and brothers were living in San Bernardino and she gave birth in December 1964. An agreement had been reached between her and the doctor. He would adopt my identical twin sister as payment for the delivery. There is no record of this transaction and my birth certificate indicates only one live birth. The way my Dad explained it made sense and yet I was hurt and angry that the abuse she inflicted on me began even before I was born. 

My Dad was waiting outside the delivery room when a nurse, carrying two babies came through the double doors and toward my Dad. “Mr. Spencer?” And as he was shaking his head and replying, “Yes”. She said, “you have two beautiful baby girls”. My Dad was shocked but reached out to hold us. This would be the last time, my Dad or I, saw my sister. Or was it?

My Dad was not aware of the prior arrangement made between my mother and her doctor and due to the fact, they were not married, she had the right to give up one or both of us. I believe this was the beginning of my Dads’ disdain for her. 

My Dad doted on me. Constantly taking pictures and reel to reel home movies. My brothers joined him and spoiled me rotten.

The green-eyed monster convinced my mother that I was her enemy. 

My first memory of abuse at the hands of my mother, came early in my life. I was 11 months old. I was being potty trained, and my mother thought it was a good idea to snap a picture of me on the toilet. As I sat there, she walked toward me, raised her left arm, and backhanded me so hard, I flew off the toilet and into the adjacent wall. I remember the yelling and then being in my Dad’s arms. 

What happened that made my mother such an evil abusive person? She wore many masks. Her public mask was probably the most confusing to me. Watching her as she interacted with anyone outside our home, made me question who she was. She smiled and laughed. She was quite engaging. At home, she was a stranger. Mean and hateful. Constantly berating my Dad. 

It never took much to cause her anger to surface when she was at home. I was in trouble most of my young life. I tried to avoid her, and school became my refuge. I have very fond memories of all my teachers, from kindergarten through 6thgrade and there have been significant family members, who played a huge part in who I became. My Dad, brothers, Maternal Grandmother and a few aunts and uncles, on my Dad’s side of the family, were all very loving and caring. 

We lived a few short blocks from my school. In third grade, as I was crossing one of the streets between home and school, a car pulled up beside me and a man asked me to come to him. I was skeptical and just as I was about to run, he reached through his window and grabbed my arm. I wriggled out of my sweater and ran to our block mothers house. The Yancy house was our neighborhood safe house. I hit her door running and fell into her. She closed her door and asked me what happened. After explaining, she phoned the police and then called my Dad. His shop was only a few blocks away and he arrived before the police. The police never did find that man but I’m sure I wasn’t the first child he attempted to abduct.

Third grade was an eventful year and the first and last time I had pneumonia. I was small for my age, but otherwise healthy. I had many small bruises, most of which were from mother grabbing at or hitting me. I remember my Dad talking with the doctors and everyone wondering what could have caused all this. I think my Dad knew where the bruises came from and in my young mind, I remember thinking that the reason she was “punished” by my Dad was because she abused me. 

Since that time, I’ve learned that my pneumonia could have been brought on by the abuse and overall stress in our home. 

Shortly after that visit to the doctor, I jumped off our back wall and fell on a nail. It went right through my foot. This was an unusual day as my mother was home and when she heard me screaming, she came out and carried me inside. She sat me on the counter in the kitchen and then she grabbed her keys and purse and ran out the front door. I’m not sure how much time passed before she realized I wasn’t with her. She reappeared and carried me to the car. My memory of this time fails me at this point. The next thing I remember is my Dad questioning her about what happened. I spoke up and told my Dad what happened and added that she left me sitting on the counter. I do recall my Dad being angry with her but no yelling and screaming.

This was the only time I remember her showing any real concern for my well-being and it wasn’t much. 

The summer after 5th grade, I started my period while walking home from school. I was scared but my 5th grade teacher had just showed us a film about all the female stuff, so I knew what was happening but the aches and pains that came with it were overwhelming. My Dad gave me some pads and they were huge, but I made them work. Sixth grade started and this turned out to be my best year and favorite teacher of elementary school. Mrs. Shelton taught me so much and instilled in me a love for reading and singing, as she was not just the 6th grade teacher, she was also our choir teacher. We sang songs that I’m certain are not allowed in public schools now. Many years later, after I had my first daughter, I located Mrs. Shelton and visited her at the school where she was working as their librarian. She was still the same woman I remembered from 6th grade; her smile lit up the library as I walked in. She knew me right away. It was awesome to see her again. I shared with her what an amazing impact she had on my life and that she was one of the many people who helped me survive my younger years. I thanked her for her unconditional love and support. She teared up and gave me a hug. 

Junior high school began with a bang. Although I had many friends, somehow, I acquired an enemy that haunted me the entire 7th grade. I was still quite small, for my age, so I suppose I was an easy target. She was big, ugly and scary. When she saw me alone, she would push, hit, trip and call me names and even as I ran away, she would still be taunting me. I don’t know why I didn’t tell anyone about her abuse. I suppose I learned, early in my life, that trust didn’t come easy for me. 

Seventh grade was coming to a close. We were a month or so away from summer vacation and several of my friends approached me and asked about my bully. I just told them that she bugged me a lot and they said they’d take care of it. I’m certain some of them had witnessed her behavior on a few occasions.

As I was walking home from school, my bully came up behind me and smacked me across the head. I kept walking and I realized she was no longer walking behind me. I turned and saw several of my friends circling her. I couldn’t hear their conversation, but she never bothered me again. I’m thankful for these people whom I called friends. 

Junior high came and went. I loved summer vacation as I was usually with my Grandmother or a friend and her family. We’d travel to the Colorado River; Cottonwood Cove. The first summer, DeeDee taught me to water ski. She was amazing; funny, crazy and so much fun! We had been best friends since kindergarten. 

I have so many great memories growing up with DeeDee and all the other girls and boys who made life bearable due to my homelife being so erratic. I never spoke of all the abuse between my parents and from my mother to anyone. I suppose I was embarrassed and most of my friends’ parents were good and loving people and perhaps they wouldn’t understand. 

Summer of 1978. I was spending a lot of time with all the girls and the older guys who sort of adopted us. They were all like big brothers and seemed to look out for us. One, in particular, took a liking to me and I trusted him. I was 14 going on 15 and he was 21. He invited me to his home to have lunch with his parents and I didn’t hesitate to accept. Although when we arrived at his house, the butterflies in my stomach became enraged. If I had known better, I’d say the red flags were flying high and I should have asked to be taken back home. Once inside, I realized his parents were not there and had gone to Vegas for the weekend, per a note they left on the kitchen table. I was raped and for many years, I believed I deserved it. Not because I was a bad person, but because I was smart enough to know not to be alone with men. He was a “friend”. I’ve learned that true friends don’t intentionally hurt you. 

Chapter 1~Waves

I grew up in a household overwhelmed with and by domestic violence. 

Contradictions were almost ceremonious. They were preceded by some of the worst DV I’ve ever heard or read about. So it stands to reason that I would leave this environment and want nothing to do with this type of family dynamic. Consciously yes.

I met my first “husband” in high school. I guess you could call it puppy love or high school sweethearts but the reality was that he practically wore the red flags of Domestic Violence. However, after meeting his family, I thought maybe I was wrong. Maybe this will be ok. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I had moved out of my Dads’ house when I was 17. I continued to attend school and worked two jobs. I was independent and I thought I was happy. Both were true. Until I moved in with my boyfriend and his family. After a short period of time, I moved to an apartment in town. He moved in a few short months later. My mind just wasn’t right and I should have never allowed this relationship to continue. I was fully capable of making it on my own. 

He was a druggy, heavy drinker (his parents owned a liquor store) and had a rock and roll band, which I managed for a short time. 

I would have been able to deal with the drugs and alcohol, and music, minus the jealousy and violent outbursts.

We married the year I graduated from high school, in November 1983. By the summer of 1985 I discovered he was having an affair with one of his friends’ sister. So, I kicked him out. By this time, we had moved to a small house just outside of town. His constant abuse was overwhelming to say the least. Anytime I was on the phone, no matter who I was speaking with, he would rip the phone out of my hand and hang it up. While I was attending college, he barged into the classrooms on a few occasions and created such a scene, I had to leave. His jealous rages were daily flashbacks of my younger years with my Dad and mother. 

One night after he got home from work, he woke me, screaming and yelling, “Where have you been?” “What the hell have you been doing?” Who have you been screwing around with?” By this point in the relationship, I knew not to try and deny anything, so I said, “I was working and visited with a few friends and then came home”. He jumped up on top of our waterbed, the old style kind with one chamber full of water and pulled the very large mirror off the wall and broke it over my body. Initially I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt the water closing in on me. I don’t think it was the broken mirror alone, which caused the water to leak out. I think he used a knife or a piece of glass and cut the bed open. He then stepped off the bed and began shoving my head into the water. He was trying to kill me and it took every bit of strength I had to push up from what was now a pool of water in the frame of the bed. I don’t know how I was able to get away from him but somehow I did and ran out of the bedroom toward the bathroom. I had to run through the living room and kitchen to get there and as soon as I stepped onto the linoleum floor, I slipped and slid across the floor. I realized I was bleeding and hurried into the bathroom. I locked the door and began to assess the damage to my body. Just then I heard him pounding and kicking on the door. “Let me in Bitch!” Over and over, I begged him to leave me alone. I don’t know how much time passed but I realized I could no longer hear him at the bathroom door. I thought, could he be gone? Am I safe to leave or was I, once again being fooled into his trap? I waited a bit longer before I unlocked the door and opened it slowly.

 That kind of silence is the most deafening sound you never want to hear! 

The back door was to the left of the bathroom and it was open. I peeked outside and his car was gone. I locked all the doors and was looking for the phone. This was way before cell phones. He had ripped the cord out of the kitchen wall and threw the phone against the far wall. I was able to reconnect the phone and I called the sheriff’s department and before they could arrive, he came back. I was trapped. I knew the sheriff deputy was on his way, but I didn’t know if he’d get there in time. I yelled and begged Kevin through the front door, to please leave! The sheriff is on his way here! He didn’t care. He told me he would kick the door in or ram his car through the house if I didn’t open the door. Just then, the sheriff deputy pulled into the long dirt driveway. They stood outside talking for what seemed like forever! I had sat down on the sofa, trying to catch my breath when I realized someone was knocking on the door. When I looked outside and saw that Kevin was gone, I opened the door. The deputy asked me if I was ok. I said NO I’m not OK! For god sake, that boy tried to kill me! He came inside and asked me what happened. I showed him the cuts on my body and then took him to the bedroom where the attack had occurred and he just simply said, Kevin told him that I attacked him! Wow! I told him I wanted to file a formal report and he pulled out his notepad and wrote down my information and what I said happened and then he left. I called my mother in law, not realizing that it was only 4 in the morning! I told her what happened and that I didn’t want him to come back! She told me he wasn’t at her house as yet and that he probably wouldn’t come there. He was to open their liquor store the next morning so she thought he’d probably go there. 

Divorce was not acceptable in their family and so I was asked not to ever speak with his grandmother and great-grandmother as he would be removed from the will and so I agreed as long as he would file the divorce papers. They also required me to sign a document giving up any claim to his inheritance and any other monies he had prior to the marriage. Once that was done, I was finally free from this maniac, or so I thought. Even after we divorced and I moved on, he stalked me, following me everywhere and had his friends follow me as well. I saw his Mom, downtown, from time to time. She was always so nice and the only thing she ever said to me, in regard to her son and our marriage/divorce, was that she was sorry it all happened and hoped the best for me. I, too, wished her well. 

My first ex went on to marry the woman he had an affair with and I, well, I walked right back into a lions’ den. Only this time, there were no drugs or alcohol to excuse the abusive behaviors. However, there were excuses. Ridiculous and lame as they were, they existed and were used.

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