I tried to spare you some of the gravity of the issues of my last post, but I am not sure I accurately described it all. I think I wrote a watered down version to spare you the imagery and the true pain. I imagine that you know that I am working through some hard issues with my childhood. A re-telling of my childhood memory to memory. Some good memories and some not so good, but truthful and from the heart. This next post is difficult for me to write because of the nature of the abuse and how long the abuse went on.
I started wetting the bed and I could not stop it or control it. It would be a while before they figured out that I was born with a congenital birth defect in my bladder. While I stayed at my grandma's, when I wet the bed she would clean and wash the mattress and then drag the mattress out side on the front yard to air it out. Everyone saw it and the neighbors did ask questions about that mattress. I didn't know what was wrong, only that I repeatedly wet the bed. Wet the bed then drag the mattress outside repeated everyday of my life. The embarrassment was horrible. It never ceased, in fact it slowly grew to anger and resentment.
Enter the BIG plastic table cloth. I was instructed to place it under the sheets to protect the mattress. I soon came to believe that the mattress was more important that me. Very rarely was I allowed to spend the night out. If I went to spend the night with anyone, out came the plastic table cloth. The look on my friends faces was devastating to me. They had no insight to draw from to understand this. The few times I went to daddy's to spend the night his new wife made such a big ordeal about the bed, the mattress and the plastic table cloth. My step siblings did not understand why I wet the bed. I just stopped going to spend the night with them. It was too painful and humiliating.
Everyone thought I was doing it on purpose even my grandma. Loved ones can say horrible and hurtful words. It rolls off the tongue with great ease and no sympathy. What I gleaned from it was "You are no good", "If you wanted to stop bed wetting you could","You are making my life miserable with how you act." and "Why can't you stop it?" These were just a few of the remarks I heard over and over. It really damaged my opinion of myself and my outlook on life. And then the beatings began.
So now we have moved out of our daddy's home, moved in the first time with my grandparents, moved into an apartment, then back to our grandparents for the second time. Next we moved out of my grandparent's home and into this old creaky house. Moma worked, but she also liked to go out and party and dance. She seem to have little regard for us. She constantly brought new men in and out of our young lives. Little kids just know what their parents are doing and I knew it was wrong. Sure she tried to cover it all up with fun, picnics, and her drama. but I knew what she was doing. I just did not know why she was doing this to me.
The best thing she ever did was to hire this wonderful black woman named Ophelia to watch us and to care for us. She was real jewel and my life was better because of her. I loved her and begged to go home with her to her family. She was the one bright spot in my life. She had a great imagination and would play with us even when she was busy. Once I got stuck in a tree and she bent over and told me to land on her back. She was crippled, yet she put herself last. She made the best macaroni and cheese. Baked until it was a little bit burned on the edges. She was a caretaker, she loved us and we loved her. Why couldn't our mother love us?
On the few occasions she did spend the night with us she stayed on the couch. I would wrap my arms around her. She felt safe. Moma had a sewing mannequin and my sister and I would dress her up and pretend that moma had come home. All the while, Ophelia went along with the joke and pretended that it was moma. She carried on a conversation with her until we burst out laughing. When we moved, she still cared for us. Ophelia brought short term security to me, but mostly love. It odd that total strangers could love us, but not our own mother.
They tried everything to make me stop wetting the bed and when everything failed they would beat me for it. Moma had met a new man, Bill. She met him at Arthur Murray Dance Studio. She was a dance instructor. They were going to be married. When the doctors said I needed surgery it coincided with moma's second marriage to Bill.
The doctor ran all sorts of test that were painful and frightening to me. Then he said I needed surgery. It was the beginning of December when I had my surgery. When they came for me they had to catch me. I hid under the bed refusing to take any medication. They caught me and tied me on this gurney to take me to surgery. Everything was this green color. The walls, the equipment, even the people's scrubs were green. I fought so hard, but then they held me down and placed this big black mask over my face. They said to breath in and it tasted like onions.
The next thing I knew I was back in my hospital room with a huge glass bottle attached to me. It was for the catheter to drain my urine into. No plastic bags in those days, just the giant water bottle which fit underneath my wheel chair. I am not sure which was worse for me, having surgery or finding out that there was no Santa. I was devastated on both accounts. I was in the hospital for a month. My teacher came to see me with a big card made by my class mates encouraging me to get well. I liked that and appreciated it very much.
I had a little Christmas music tree that would spin around playing Christmas songs. The nuns came around with gifts from a fake Santa. All I wanted was to get out of that place and be normal. Every Friday I would go to the urologists office to be dilated. They put this purple liquid into your bladder and when you voided, it turned bright orange. Not cool, but necessary to kill infection. I felt so violated in so many ways. More about that in future post.
By now, this is the sixth place we had moved to in three years. Bill built us a new house and Ophelia came with us to take care of us. I was in the first grade. I lived in fear of wetting the bed. Moma would wake me up in the middle of the night for me to go to the bathroom. I could not go then, only when I relaxed enough could I go. Every morning like a drill sergeant moma would throw back the covers to see if I had soiled the bed. If I had then she would beat me with this big belt. Me...crying and promising to not wet the bed again and her shrill screaming voice scolding me over and over. This still makes me sick to my stomach and shiver in fear. She was a bully.
I thought of a cover up for the situation. When I wet the bed I would get up and put towels on top of the wet sheets, then add another sheet over that to cover up my accident. I never slept because of the fear and the abuse. It went on for years even after they knew I could not help it. I soon learned to hold back the tears from the beatings. If I didn't cry, then she couldn't really hurt me.
As this chapter ends I am in the first grade.
To be continued...