My posts have been really erratic lately. I was so dedicated to posting once/week usually on a Wednesday. As life continued, our move was complete, and camp searches started, I stopped posting consistently because I was either too busy or exhausted. But I’m back, at least for now. It is a Sunday, but I think according to wordpress, it is a different day so my post may not show up when I want it to…ah, so goes life!
I remember being a child, holding everything in. I was so frustrated at times, I couldn’t really express myself-my mother wouldn’t let me unless she could “fix” the situation. “Just pray, lean on Jesus….He would take it all away” she would tell me in a sweet voice at times, and other times out of anger. So I did just that. But what happens when you hold things in too long and “give it to Jesus” is that you begin to learn to stop caring, and to stop being affected. When you are a child, “giving things to Jesus” is something you have no idea about. Many adults don’t know what that even means so it is harder for children. It is like saying “trust in Santa”. So for me, my idea of “giving it to Jesus” was staying quiet and not complaining even though it hurt so much.
I remember the first time I was molested. It took place in my father’s new pool he had built for the children. We were 6 children, and I was the oldest of the children that “belonged” to he and my mother. I was about 9 years old (my recollection of events are blurry because I am now in my late 30s and I have blocked out much of the bad-though they seem to resurface in nightmares). I believe I was 9, my white sister (the oldest of the biological kids) was about 7 years of age and the other children (the triplets -1 set of twins and a biological child who is exactly the same age as they are) were 4 years old. My father had just poured the chlorine into the mini pool the night before and we were all pretty excited to go for a swim.
I think the word excited can’t be used here because at an early age I learned real fast to suppress my emotions, and how I felt about any situation. My mother told me how to feel. When she was upset, I was supposed to feel upset, when she was happy I was supposed to be happy, when she was sad, I had to be sad with her. Regardless of how I really felt at the time, I had to mimic her emotions. So when everyone else was happy, I didn’t really know what to feel because most of the time, my mother was quite the opposite.
All the children were jumping up and down and my father said “Ok, you guys can get in.” The pool, that used to be a garbage pit was behind the house. How my father converted it into a swimmible space, I have no idea, but he and his handyman worked at it for months and we were all very appreciative of it. We were hot, it was hot, and swimming was just the right thing to do.
The younger ones were allowed to jump into the pool but not dive. I was too tall for my age so jumping would have hurt my legs. So the 4 year olds jumped in and yelled and screamed and had a merry time. I walked in careful-i didn’t want to slip. The 6th child, a 12 or 13-year-old at the time walked in behind me and pushed me….I got all splashed and I remember feeling a bit upset inside. I just wanted to go in on my own….I didn’t want to be bothered. After pushing me, he rushed passed me without even saying excuse me or “I’m sorry”. I backed up and sat on the step to watch the others. I can remember not having anything in my head…..my mind was kind of blank, I stared out into what was the wooded area, wrapped my arms around my body because I was feeling a bit cold. Then I took a deep breath.
I don’t remember how long I was sitting there until I decided it was time to get into the deep end. I believe I had on a white full length bathing suit and my hair was afro-ed out with a headband/scarf. My mother never knew how to deal with my hair and all the combing hurt too much. So she left it out. Leaving my hair out was a huge cultural taboo which later led to a lot of bullying and physical abuse by my peers and other adults.
Dealing with my hair was what she called it, because combing it would be too personal and create an attachment that I feel she didn’t want. Her biological children got their hair combed and the adopted/foster kids got their hair dealt with.
I started walking toward the deeper end of the pool and as I stepped into the “deeper” end, I went under water. The feeling was amazing. It was cool on my body and my hair got so wet but looked dry as soon as I had my head out of water. On the second submergence, I felt a hand on my body. I had thought that it was one of my siblings, because they were all splashing around and making a lot of noise. But I was under water and it was a bit weird.
To give you a bit of background, my mother pushed for a “shared” bed. For me, this was so strange, I guess because coming from an orphanage, everyone was super close in the first place. Everyone was touching each other, bumping into each other, and the smell of urine an feces was overpowering. So coming to a new home, I think I was hoping for a bit of privacy.
It was not until I turned 6 years old that privacy ceased because we had moved to a new country and my mother seemed to have had a change of thought. But I remember the switch happening so fast-One day I was sharing a room with my younger sister in Haiti, and the next minute, all six of us are in one big room with beds in a circle. At times she would make us put the bed on the floor and my mother, father and her boyfriend would sleep real close to us (yes, my mother had her boyfriend and husband living with us under the same roof-that is for another post). I hated sleeping so close to everyone. I felt so violated emotionally, I felt that I was not allowed to have my own dreams, my own thoughts, I had to share my most intimate times with everyone around me. I guess I was selfish as a child. But I think this is where all the sexual abuse started to happen. Because everyone was so close, it justified the abuse.
So he put his hand on my bathing suit and somehow got under it on my lower parts. I remember standing up real quickly and being so confused. I was nine years old and had no idea what to think. Did I provoke it? Was it my bathing suit? Did I somehow tell him he could do that? I was so upset but I didn’t know how to show my frustration….I was angry and at the same time, the touch did not hurt, which confused me even more. “Well, if it didn’t hurt” I thought to myself, “then it can’t be bad.” It was not necessarily a good feeling, but it was one that forced me to realize that my vagina actually had sensations. My vagina was not just for peeing.
My mother never had the “talk” with the older kids. I think she assumed that we would learn as we go, which in my opinion is the worst approach ever. My daughter who is 12 has read a book called “What’s happening to me”, I wrote a blog about this book a few months back. In the book it actually talks to children about masturbation and how it is “ok” to feel good down there. I wish I had that book when I was a kid.
I remember getting out of the pool and putting on my towel. I wrapped it tightly around my body and left the scene. I went to our “shared” room and got dressed. Then, I sat on the toilet for about 30 minutes, trying to figure out what had just happened. I couldn’t tell my parents because maybe they would get mad at me for letting him do that. I couldn’t tell them because I felt so guilty, as if somehow what had happened was my fault. I couldn’t tell them because my mother would tell me how I was supposed to feel.
So I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell them until I was in my mid 20s and even then, my mother would not acknowledge the beginning of the abuse. Even in my mid 20s my mother tried to tell me that somehow I let it happen. Even in my mid 20s my mother tried to tell me how I was supposed to feel about the situation.
The night I was molested for the first time, I went to bed scared. When I awoke the next morning I was soaked in my own urine. I didn’t know if I had a bad dream, or if someone had peed on me. But I was wet, soaking wet. Surprisingly, my parents did not get upset with me, but when it started happening each night, until I would turn 15, anger started to become part of their reactions.
Our live-in maid once told my mother that something was deeply wrong, that a 13-year-old girl should not be wetting her bed and my mother didn’t want to listen to her; after all, this woman was beneath my mother and my mother had all the answers. One of the many live-in maids I would have over the next few years even told my mother that she had seen sexual things happening, and my mother again would brush it off and say things like “nah, they are just exploring, let them explore”.
I cried in silence for the first time in years when I was in my 20s. I remember sitting in the hallway of the door room, after having the conversation with my mother that actually started via e-mail and I listened to her give all these reasons as to why I was molested. I ended the phone call with “I love you” because even then, I still had a deep sense of love for her….even then she told me how to feel and I was still loving her.
I later learned, as I became more college educated that in order to be on the “good side”, you start to see them as your protectors and you start to actually love them and protect them. Maybe a form of Stockholm syndrome, I’m not sure. But I felt that this woman could do no wrong. I really did “love” her and I allowed her to continue to tell me how I should feel, be, study, and eventually become.
My silent cries in college that night was the catalyst for a lot more emotions that would flood outward. I felt free because I actually told my mother about the abuse but at the same time I felt imprisoned because she still had control over me. I felt angry because she didn’t protect me when she had many chances to.
The abuse continued (about 2.5-3 years I think-it was all a blur) until he was thrown out of the house for molesting my younger brother . But even after my brother squealed, my mother made a joke saying “I bet he liked it.” I was too embarrassed to talk about it when we had a family gathering that started with my mother saying “has he touched any of you guys?” He had done way more than touching me. I am thankful I didn’t say anything at the time because when my bother revealed his abuse, my mother looked at him and for a second, pitied him. I knew at then about 12 years old, that I didn’t want to be pitied, I just wanted my own room so that I could be away from people sleeping close to me.
She never understood why I didn’t want to sleep in the same room as everyone else. She eventually let me have my “own” room-in the jungle/forest. The house was designed where there was a main house and office and all the other buildings were a branch with paths kind of like the Swiss family Robinson home. To outsiders it was so “cool”, but to me, it made me want to puke.
My heart became so hard, hard like a rock. Hatred for my mother was my center focus and I hated everything about her-and yet, at the end of every phone conversation, or email, I found myself saying “I love you too” or “I love you.”
I had to find a way to free myself of this hold she had on me. So I decided to write and publish my story. I had been writing about my abuse for years, in my little journal, but I decided to put it all into a book. You can read A Failed Adoption: Who is Your Larimar? on amazon. It is my story and became my tool for emancipating my heart, mind, soul and finally body.I never meant to hurt anyone with the book, but now that the damage is done, I don’t feel obligated to go through the motions.
This book has allowed me to feel, and feel deeply. Over the years I have learned to express myself and find myself crying real easily. When I watch movies, I find deep meaning in them, and I cry.
I was watching Inside Out the other day with my daughter and found myself seeing meaning and value in everything each feeling had to say and did. I cried and cried….my daughter said “mom, this is not a sad part”. And I said through my tears in the theater-“I know…”
Yesterday I watched a TedTalks about a photographer who took pictures of an 11 year old girl in Seoul and eventually found someone to adopt her. That story made me tear up and then cry uncontrollably in my room. Then I started to Tedtalk binge…..so I had to force myself to stop.
I read posts on facebook about parents who choose not to acknowledge their adopted child’s culture, parents who adopt with a “savior” mentality…and parents who are just dumbasses and naive and think that turning their children “white” is fine and dandy because it is the easy thing to do. I cry when I read that.
Last night our puppy was eating an apple like a human would and I wanted to cry. A few days ago I went shopping for some groceries and an old white man was trying to help me find a cart (I knew where it was, I’m not that stupid) and I thanked him for his kindness. I wanted to cry right then and there.
There is kindness in this world and I would love to think that there is more love than hate.
Emancipating myself through writing and lifting these taboos of feeling that you can’t express yourself,has been my way of giving back to the world.
If I can impact 1 person with my story, I know that the world will be a better place than it was in the 80s. If one child feels that someone else has gone through the same thing, then they too will know that there really is a super bright light at the end of that really dark tunnel.
My prayer is that those who read my blogs get offended. I want you to get so offended that it propels you in a forward motion and it forces you to do something that will change a life. I hope that those who are reading my blogs are not just applauding or enjoying my posts but are making a difference by sharing my posts, reading the books, and doing research on the topics I’ve discussed. Because the more we learn about each other, and about those suffering, the better this world will become because we are choosing to make a difference.
Let’s all cry easy even if it is not easy to cry!