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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another day in paradise?

I apologize for having been offline for so long...I am so locked in my head and quite stuck. This post is an attempt to touch base with you and hopefully gain some insight to what is going on with myself.

Cycles...now there is a word for you. I am looking back at my life and I see cycles...lots and lots of cycles. I learned them from my mom and then apparently contiued them into my own life. Would she be happy or proud? I don't think so.

My folks did this dance. Things would go well for a while...when they started falling apart, Dad would get drunk. Mom would get sick of the drinking and eventually would pack us and our necessities and move us somewhere to start over. Dad would straighten up and back home we would go. When the family was together, I was just one of the kids. When the family split, I was the other parent.

My father had no clue as to what you do with a wife and kids other than you work to provide for them. He also knew we were a resource for getting work done. Other than that, the poor man was clueless. Because he was different than his dad and brother, they abused him.

My mother was one of 12 kids in a very poor family. Her father worked out of town all week and came home on the weekends. He had a woman in the other town and my moms mother had suitors of her own. He fathered a daughter in his other family, she gave birth to a son from her boyfriend.

My own mother learned how to play the victim role and she did so valiently. When she would leave my father, friends of the family would give her money so we could get set up and start life over. My father's behavior was socially unacceptable; my mother's was not.

My first attempt at escaping this insanity was at the age of 18. I moved to South Carolina to live with a friend and her new hubby. While there, I was raped by her new brother-in-law.

My next attempt was to get married at the age of 19. I married a fellow from the northern end of our county. The morning after our wedding I woke to find him sobbing in the bed next to me. Eighteen months later, I ran off to live with a friend in another state. The final upshot of the years spent in Virginia is that I returned home pregnant to my mother's at the age of 24.

She had contacted me in Virginia on a Wednesday and said she and the boys would be moving to Va. on Friday and told me to get us an apartment. I agreed with two stipulations. I wanted my own bedroom and I was keeping my cat. Although she hated cats, she agreed. I borrowed money from my boss and by Friday I had a three bedroom apartment ready for her and three of my brothers. The eldest boy had escaped to the army at the age of 17.

I began working three jobs for a total of eighty hours a week to support my family. One day I came home to find that my cat was gone. My mother had asked the manager's son-in-law to "take her to the local animal shelter". A few weeks later, I saw my cat at the pool of the complex. She was so skittish that I could not get close enough to catch her.

Soon after, I mananged to end up with 48 hours off from all three jobs at the same time. I slept the entire time and when I woke up, I called and quit my two part time jobs.

Shortly thereafter, I came home from work to find many able bodied young men carrying my belongings down the sidewalk. I stopped one and asked what they were doing. My mother had decided we were moving to a smaller place because we could no longer afford three bedrooms. I turned on my heels, went to the store, bought a six-pack of beer and then located my swimming suit. Without speaking to my mother, I went to the pool and shared my beer with some friends.

Not surprisingly, my mother and I would now share a bedroom. She and the manager had become great friends and the woman did whatever my mom wanted.

A few months later, after my long day at work, I went home to the apartment where I was now sharing a bedroom with my mother. I opened the door and was greeted by a growling rotweiler. The manager, who lived across the hall came out and informed me that my mother had gone back to Ohio and I would be staying with her and her husband until I got back on my feet. Her daughter and son-in-law now lived my my apartment. Oh, and would I please not forget to send my mom some money on paydays as she now was the sole support for my brothers.

I remember going to bed that night in shock. Close to payday I got a letter from my mother. In it she detailed how hard and horrible life was for her and the boys and would I please send money. I did. I sent her $150.00 every pay day for as long as I could. As long as I sent money, my mother wrote to me. When the money stopped so did the letters.

Being young, beautiful, and naive I was in a few relationships during this time. The first was with a great man who had racial issues. As a young black man, he had always been attracted to white women. His mother never approved. Eventually, it became clear our relationship, despite our deep feelings for each other would never progress to the next level. As difficult as it was, I moved on and eventually landed in the arms of a married man.

I basically managed to jump from the frying pan into the fire. The married man fathered my daughter. Pregnancy changed everything. I went from being a carefree foolish child in a woman's body to a ferocious beast who only cared to protect the life growing inside of her. When I found out I was pregnant, I had just started seeing another man and he assumed he was the babies father. No one ever said differently. I did not love this man, I had given in him to his pestering me for a date in the hopes of getting him to leave me alone. I learned later that he had, in fact, confronted my married lover and told him that he would take me from him. He didn't want me, I was merely a conquest.

I loved being pregnant...physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My life had purpose and I felt sexy, alive, needed. Pregnancy was wonderful, but my life was in shambles. I moved home to my mother's. She had finally divorced my father and was engaged to be married two weeks before the baby was due.

My babies, starting with the first one, were not the type to show up on schedule. My mother was to be married at 2p.m. and my mucous plug came out at 1:50 p.m. Since I had invested most of my child support in making their wedding wonderful, I did not tell mom or her intended.

Since I had thrown quite the fit upon learning that my mother had asked her baby brother's wife to be her maid-of-honor, I was able to stand up with the wedding party for the wedding. My stomach went from jello to concrete for the entire ceremony.

At the reception, my brother and I conspired with my aunt and uncle to be certain I would have transportation to the hospital when the time came. They let the newleyweds take their spare car to the hotel where I had rented them a room for the honeymoon. They came home the next afternoon to a note that read, "Gone to the hospital. See you there."

A month earlier, my mother had hosted a baby shower for me at my cousin's home. It was wonderful and I recieved many wonderful gifts for the baby. Although I had never made it a secret that my baby's father was a black man, some of my aunts had apparently not been told. The day my baby girl was born, some of my shower attendees went to my cousin's home and took their gifts back.


10 comments:

Brandy said...

I was drawn to read every word, word for word. Wow Phyl, even though you had a VERY hard life it is still a beautiful and touching story. It showns how strong you had to be. I could never have done all that, never. Thank you for sharing something that is so presonal.

With Love,
Brandy

SandyCarlson said...

Phyl,
You have faced your life with courage and compassion. I think if we survive our families we learn to love well and to be big-hearted! God's peace.

Candace said...

I don't know what to say. It seems you have given a lot, and been taken advantage of at times, but have overcome many of life's obstacles. I am proud to feel I know you, and hope that you will continue to overcome more of life's obstacles, and enjoy the peace that you have earned.

mamichelle said...

Wow, you certainly have been through a lot. I know what it's like to have an alcoholic father growing up but I had my mom for support.

Sorry you have been given so much to deal with. You must be a strong person to have come out of it so well.

Hugs to you!

luvmy4sons said...

I am sorry that there has been so much betrayal and pain in your life. I know sometimes for me I would cry out to God and ask Him why he let certain things happen to me. He has his reasons and they are good, acceptable, and perfect..and they made you who you are today. I pray that you have learned that the most wonderful place to be is solely dependent upon the Savior-it is mighty painful, but it is mighty satisfying as well. Hugs to you. Sometime I might have to tell you the story of the baby I delivered and the mother didn't know her baby was biracial and how God swooped in and cleansed me of any tiny remnant of any prejudice what soever. God love you!

Betty said...

You didn't have a very happy childhood, Phyllis. That explains part of why you are bothered with depression.

Place your faith and trust in God, and He will see you through. There is no friend like Him.

"Mom" Betty

Joyce said...

I think you need to meet my sister. We had a fair upbringing, but my sister chose to live a different life. Well today she has been a baptised believer for 10 years.

God has His reasons and for you it is to be the wonderful person you are today. Thank you for sharing with us.

storyteller said...

How bravely and eloquently you've shared your story here. Seems like you've used your time well to reflect upon all of this and recognize the 'cycles' without allowing yourself to be swept back into them. My thoughts and prayers are with you ...
Hugs and blessings,

Cricket's Hearth said...

Hi there - it is has been a while since I have touched base with you. As I read your story I could feel your pain and heartbreak. I agree with Sandy, if we can survive our families we can go on and have happiness. It can be difficult, some days are worse than others, but know you have friends and hopefully one day we will meet.

Sew Prim Khris said...

Wow Phyl. What a life....I was enthralled with every word. I went back to the beginning to make sure I wasnt reading a novel you were going to publish. Truly you are an amazing person and should be so proud of yourself for getting through what you have had to. You are a survivor and will survive whatever anybody dishes out girl. I know I have had a lot of pain in my life but only over the past 15 years because of the death of some very close loved ones. Not because of all the betrayals of my family like it seems you have had to deal with. Anyway girl, you stay strong and you hold your head high. You are AMAZING. Hugs, Khris in Oz