Something in the making that’s been a long time coming…the story of my womanhood, at least one aspect of it. I haven’t been able to settle down enough to lay it out but it’s gnawing at me so I’ll begin in pieces.
After meeting God and going over my life review I discovered that there had been many beliefs that I’d constructed my life and thought patterns around that were tainted, distorted and not serving my life in the most fruitful ways. I realized that I never respected women’s sexuality because I thought it meant irresponsibility. I feared men’s sexuality because I thought it required my degradation.
My parents married at the age of 19 after conceiving my older brother and a day less than a year after he was born I came along. By the age of 24 my mother had 3 children and a full time job. My father worked nights mostly from what I can remember though once, when my sister was small, he stayed home for a short time while my mother worked.
They had a typically youthful and tumultuous relationship. I can remember cops being called to the house and speaking with my dad. There were times when he beat us or my mother too hard or too often. Lots of yelling and childish frustration between the both of them that would spill out into the open. I look back at times, for instance when we would visit my grandparents, my parents would get angry at us for something we did, either being impolite or not listening to orders. My dad would take us into the main bathroom in the middle of the house made of paper thin walls, have us pull our pants and underwear down, lean us over the bathtub rail and whip the diddly squat out of us as we wailed. Sometimes my mother would be in there and sometimes during our whippings she couldn’t bear to watch. I can’t imagine today that if my brother were to take my niece into the restroom and strip her down, beat her as she screams, that I could sit there with a blank look on my face and finish my dinner making small talk at a table full of people hearing and witnessing the same thing. There are many things I look back on in my life that make me realize that I’ve escaped a religious cult.
In my family the center was the male. The man of the house was what everything else revolved around. I connect this to religion in my life because it reflects the Jesus theory. Although Mary is given more airtime in the Cathoic religion vs the other popular Christian religions Catholics still put the man over woman just by placing Jesus as Lord and determining god a male. For me God is both male and female, he is above sex and gender. But that is hard to portray en masse to a richly physical world so it may seem that one side of the scale may always be tipped, it depends on where you “stand”.
On my mother’s side of the family was a strict Catholic upbringing. My grandparents had 6 children, the first died in it’s first year. We attended Catholic private school for generations and some still do. In my old hometown, where many of my family still live, they attend church together every Sunday and my grandparents attend secondary masses and prayer vigils, etc. I have nuns and a deacon in the family. As a child I wanted to be a nun but I also didn’t want to miss out on relationships with men so I just kinda tweaked the vocation to better suit my needs. My maternal grandma is a very devoted Catholic wife. She refers to my grandfather as “daddy”, as their children would call him. My grandfather is a very self disciplined Catholic man. He cannot easily deal with emotion though. If my grandmother begins to speak about something that makes her emotional all he has to do is say her name in a stern manner and she looks down and shuts her mouth, turning the conversation with a forced smile. He deals with pain with anger but doesn’t like to express his anger, though you see it rumble around in his brow. But he is a gentle man and playful. He loves to laugh and lift you up. My maternal grandparents are still alive and married to each other.
On my father’s side they were like the deviant side compared to the Catholics. My grandma said they were Baptist but they didn’t go to church. My grandma had four boys and had lost her first one near its birth. My grandparents would drink and smoke in their home when we would visit. They had “new money” from my grandpa’s business and loved to spend it on luxury items. My grandma had closets of furs, the wall paper of their house was more like fabric and everything was so new and coordinated. They had a black maid who played the accordion as my grandma would sing. I remember the maid could only use the toilet that was in their laundry room. I remember liking that lady but thinking, though she was kind to me, she didn’t seem to like us much. I didn’t really enjoy visiting my paternal grandparents as a child but years later I created a relationship with my grandmother aka Mawmaw Teen. My grandmother and mother didn’t really get along and she seemed to prefer my other cousins because she had more in common with their mom. She told me once that she was just better with boys. I think she was once a stripper but the family didn’t talk about it. My paternal grandparents divorced at age 65 and both have passed on in the last ten years.
In both families the man was the Sun and whatever happened was in accordance to his needs. I think when you have children young it sets you up into a role of authority you’ve not yet been humbled enough by life to deserve. So it seemed that our family revolved around the needs of an angry, highly sexual, post pubescent male. Everything required my father’s say so, we couldn’t have dinner without having what he wanted and waiting for him to come home for it. He wouldn’t allow my mother to pierce her ears until she defied him at the age of 27, he thought earrings were for showy whores. I can also remember my father keeping Playboys in the living room. Occasionally my mother would complain about it and they would fight about why he has to look at other women, isn’t she good enough and blah blah blah. Years later he finally moved his stash to the top of the armoire in their bedroom. I can remember all of us sitting around watching TV one night, my sister was still tiny so I must’ve been 4 or 5, and my father flips it to a pornographic sex scene – not just R rated movie stuff. My mom got upset and asked him to change it. He laughed and refused and she got up and walked off but eventually came back and sat down again. I remember being so confused. I wasn’t ignorant to what he was doing but confused at the emotional interaction between my parents, it was more disturbing than the porn. I already knew my father was a monster, my fears were; what does that make my mother, my supposed ‘role model’, who allows it?
I’ve compared my life timeline to my mother’s over the years. Around 1990, she was 30 and I was 10, after living in the big city of Houston, TX for a while she began dressing more provocatively at my father’s request or at least that’s the reason she gave to me. My mother is beautiful and she had regained her youthful figure after having 3 children so I don’t blame her for wanting to be seen. My god encounter at the age of 30 reignited my sexuality among other things so I could relate at that age a sliver of what she may have been going through. The tough part about it for a chubby 10 year old (actually looking back I wasn’t chubby at all until jr high but the way I was treated made me feel like I was 300 pounds overweight) was the sexual attention she received from others and my father.
She would wear short shorts with her ass cheeks hanging out, crop tops with her tits hanging out, legs legs and more legs combined with “who, me?” eye flutters and “bashful” but flirty smiles. She would have my father publicly fondling her whenever he pleased….sticking out her ass for him to grope in our drive way or at the store for all to see, in my fathers lap on the recliner in the living room where he would be fondling her between the legs, she squirms and giggles looking around acting like she’s trying to be covert while a 12 year old boy, 11 and 7 year old girls are trapped in the room watching tv during “family time”… Fucking Gross.
When she became a sex object I felt a loss of protection. She was, I thought, my only hope. When she was displayed I felt violated. Why did I feel this? Because of the extra sexual energy it invited into my atmosphere? At those ages I could only interpret it as aggression. Because she seemed more concern with attention than my well being? Why did I feel fearful in the first place? I know the answer to the last question but the conditioning I’d been placed under wouldn’t allow me to consider the truth because I lived in a blanket of lies where the truth suffocates under the need for survival and “sanity”. Why did I put all of this responsibility on her and not my father? Because I was a female and knew I was strong, the difference between right and wrong and I assumed the same of her.
I can understand her need for expression and attention. I can understand being raised to want children and following through with that inception at a young and ignorant age. Seeing the two collide was like a bombing of a city in my territory. There had to be a way to discover yourself without causing harm to others in your charge, I had to figure this out. Also it was increasing the behavior of my father, luckily I was considered “fat” at this point and I felt that kept me somewhat safe from him.
My family made plenty of comments on my looks growing up, it was just expected from a young and shallow environment. My parents would ask me “don’t you want to be thin and pretty like the other girls your age? they have so much more fun.” As a small girl I liked to play outside with the animals and often got scratches and rashes on my extra sensitive skin. My mother would scold me and say “you can’t be a model when you grow up if you have scars on your legs” I’d tell her that was ok, I didn’t want to be a model. She didn’t seem to understand that at the time. My mom was so thin and beautiful but I was always told I looked more like my dad’s side.
This gave me a complex of feeling that I looked more like a man. I would say this all the time all the way up through high school. If any one told me I was pretty I looked at them like they were nuts and said “I look like a man” with the deepest sincerity. The usual response was laughter and I thought “wow, they’re really not seeing me” and felt lucky that they didn’t notice. This complex kinda faded but then during my divorce , at the age of 29,I had called my mother to go over some old stuff from her marriage that was coming up for me during the end of my marriage.
She seemed to recall that period much differently at this point. One of the things we went over was why we didn’t see my father’s mother for a period of time. We weren’t allowed to visit there and she wasn’t allowed at our house, my grandpa would sneak over for visits. My mother told me that my grandma was accusing her of cheating on my dad and that I wasn’t his child (supposedly his brother’s, whom my mother had dated before she dated my father but that part was kept quiet). She spread this “rumor” around the small Louisiana town that my entire family resided in. From that point on when I would meet my mother’s friends they would all be sure to remark “oh my goodness Sandy, but she looks just like her dad” or “I can’t believe how much she looks like her dad” to make my mother feel better. I always felt this emphasis had to do with how identical people thought we were and had no idea as a child of the angle it was initiated from. Finding this out actually rearranged the way I saw myself. It was a strange relief and I felt an unfamiliar power reinstated.
Another excerpt of the past that was brought up between me and my mother during my divorce was about an accusation she claims I made as a child. I attended kindergarten in Louisiana at the private school my mothers family had being going to for generations. We moved that year and I finished kindergarten in Houston, TX. I mention this as a date reference marking my age because I know the conversation I’m about to describe happened before changing schools so I would have been 5 years old.
I recall having just learned about inappropriate touching and strangers at school. I remember being confused to the boundaries of touching. An alert went off in class when the nuns were talking about it, I remember turning red but not knowing exactly why. After school a few days later I was sitting outside with my grandma in the carport. My grandma usually took care of us after school. My grandpa worked on cars and kept the ones he was working on parked on the far side of the drive. I remember sitting on the bumper of the car parked there at the time as I was talking to my grandma. I was always drawn to the cars, especially the wrecked ones. Once he brought one home with a shattered windshield still holding the impression and hairs of the head that slammed into it. My favorite was little green MG Midget.
Back to the conversation…I was telling my grandma about what we learned in class and then asked her, by showing, just what type of touching was inappropriate. She became alarmed and this freaked me out. I was scared of my dad, we weren’t supposed to tell. I knew he would kill me. This was my cage of fear. From my memory I tried to act like I was just curious but she was insistent on asking me “who touched you like that?” I remember her taking me inside but don’t recall much after that or had even thought about the incident again until a call with my mother almost 25 years later.
During my divorce, when I called her to clear up things in my family’s past that I thought were hindering me from fully loving another, my mother mentioned being annoyed at me that she hadn’t been close to her sister, my godmother, since I had accused her husband of molesting me. Hearing this came as a shock to me. I think I would have remembered saying something like that and couldn’t have imagined me blaming him because he was my favorite uncle at the time. I loved my godmother and her boyfriend at the time was a large, over weight guy who was funny to me and at that age I felt safer around unattractive people. I felt they understood me better than my parents and had less interest in the superficial because of how they chose to look (I was wrong about that). I couldn’t believe I would have blamed him, not that I was accusing my mother of lying…at least not at that moment…I still “believed” what I was told back then.
I tried to reason the claim. Maybe my fear of my father led me to blame my uncle who i thought was a safer focus for the family so that I wouldn’t get in trouble for telling on my dad. But I honestly don’t believe I said that as a child. None of that sounds familiar, I don’t recall any conversations with any family members about my uncle and “touching” before or after talking with my grandma. I do recall how often my mother covered for my father, it was protocol. Now it’s just total denial of the past since she’s moved on to a new marriage…the old life would be too embarrassing to admit to.
Once I heard this from my mother it was like a rush of cold water in my veins. I felt betrayed. Even if I did blame him she’d have to know what I meant, then and now. My family always raves about how smart my mother is so I highly doubt she was ignorant of what was going on in her adult home that a 5 year old was conscious of. But instead a 5 year old was made to be a cryer of wolf (which worked to their advantage for years to come). I felt so horrible when she told me this that I called my godmother’s husband a little while after to explain the situation and apologize for the years of misunderstanding and hard feelings it put between the adults. It was not well received. His simple country brain couldn’t wrap itself around what I was trying to say. He works as a guard at a correctional institute and began to tell me a bout the men in there serving years who are innocent but someone accused them. I tried to tell him that I never accused him and that it was my dad, and if I actually did say it was him it was only because I was a scared shitless 5 year old who couldn’t leave her situation and couldn’t afford to tell the truth because I had no one TRULY watching out for me. Could he now take that into account in regards to the situation if they still believe I accused him. He still didn’t get it and went on berating me until I had to hang up the phone.
I have to mention again that at no time in my life growing up did anyone mention this to me or make any sign that they were upset with me (or concerned for me) – just the typical christian sweeping under the rug and put on a fake smile, be polite, etc., etc. Fake as fuck.
As I began to develop I also began to envelope, or hide myself further.I noticed older men staring at me and winking on occasion. I didn’t know yet the subtle signs of predatory behavior, I just knew it felt invasive but it must be some form of hatred within me to be unnerved by someone giving a greeting. I later realized why it felt so sinister. I can recall a particular time at a store when I was about 12 or 13 and a 50 something man was eyeing me as i walked with my family. As soon as he fell behind my parents he gave me a deliberate wink and looked at my breasts. I wanted to cry – I felt kidnapped or stolen, something horrible i couldn’t explain or tell anyone, at least not the people I lived with. The more this happened the more angry i became that my “father” wasn’t the only creep out there. This was accepted and normalized and would be a daily public intrusion. Now how to deal with it…?
In Jr High i had developed into a full C cup and i hated it. I hated the attention from everyone, I hated wearing bras and the backaches they gave you. I hated feeling pushed once again into a sexual object. I began to stop showering and I would wear baggy jeans and large men’s t-shirts to hide myself in. I wasn’t trying to be butchy, I was trying to be invisible. I didn’t want to shower because i didn’t want to feel the water on my skin or the cool air around my damp body – i didn’t want to feel anything on my skin. i didn’t want to feel anything. i REALLY didn’t want to feel. I would go to school in baggy clothes and just sit there sad like some creepy homeless person. I had friends and though i didn’t talk about certain things with them but they gave me escape with laughter.
I began to put on weight. Although i hated how i looked it felt safer i guess and distanced me farther from my body and having to feel. One day at the mall with my mother we ran across some of the more pretty and popular girls in my class and my mother said “I don understand why you don’t want to be skinny like your friends. Don’t you want to be pretty?” My parents put me on diets a lot in those days. They would restrict my food and allow me, let’s see if i remember, one was a turkey sandwich in the morning: two pieces of wheat bread and two slices of turkey and the same for lunch. I think they gave me apple slices and carrots or something. Oh, and diet pills.
My mother used to drop me off early at school on her way to work so i’d wait by the back door of the school watching the sunrise and the cows for about an hour until my math and homeroom teacher showed up for work. He would let me in to hang out with him till school started and we’d play horse with the nerf ball and hoop. He always treated me like any other kid. I would also usually eat the turkey sandwich that i was given for lunch because i was hungry. For the rest of the day i would buy sour powers from he kids selling candy and overload on sugar because i was hungry. Then I started sneaking cookies in the morning by buying them in the cafeteria. I knew I would get in trouble at home if I gained weight so i taught myself to throw up and in 8th grade i became bulimic. My parents found out and tried harder restrictions. My father would block me from the bathroom after dinner – one night i just vomited in the kitchen sink in front of everyone. They kinda just ignored it after that.
I was also battling a lot of anger issues that year – stuff from home that was getting too intense to contain. There was a girl in school that just seemed to get on my nerves, maybe she reminded me of my “perfect” mother. She was a cheerleader and in AP classes so we’d cross paths in some subjects. AP kids always worried so much about seeming smart that they kinda overdo it in the kissing teachers asses dept. That shit really irked me, especially from her. One day i couldn’t take it anymore and while she was in the middle of some story of some awesome thing she did i walked out of class and into the girls bathroom and beat up a bathroom stall. I couldn’t understand why i was so mad. I just hated feeling.
The next day i went to school with a bottle of sleeping pills and when my teacher let me in the building early i went into that same bathroom stall and emptied the bottle into my mouth – no cookies that morning. My homeroom teacher noticed i was a bit off during the day and sent me to the nurse who sent me to the counselor. I told him what i did but that i was fine, just upset that it didn’t work. He let me go back to class and sent me some smiley faced hang in there card a few days later. I assume he called my parents – i can’t remember. I’m sure i was grounded for it – i was grounded a lot so that’s a blur.
The back cover of a book my mother sent me.