My Mother and I have had our hardships throughout life. Dear God, the poor thing. She used to scream at me, “I hope you have 5 girls!!” I was a terrible teen. Rebel doesn’t even quite cut the description of my bitter behavior. I know my Mother struggled with guilt and worrisome during my adolescence as I was fighting an internal battle that I wouldn’t win until January of 2016. That is when I shared my story on my blog of my sexual abuse. I remember the morning after sharing quite clearly when I texted my Mom as soon as my eyes opened, feeling completely exposed and scared, yet surprisingly calm and asked her, “Is this healing?” She wrote back, “Yes Sugarpie!”
I didn’t and don’t have an impressive following on my blog. At the time it was just my close friends, family and a few randoms. It didn’t matter though. The truth had been revealed and I had finally set myself free. In turn, I’ve had incredible breakthroughs in moving forward from this event that had dug such a deep chip into my poor sad and sorry shoulder. A part of me was set free that day.
I have realized in the past months that a lot of people don’t quite grasp the dynamics of my family relationships. We are very close. We get together and first things first, we ask the deep questions. We skip the weather chatter all together. I think we’ve always been this way, but for a lot of people it’s uncomfortable to be around. My closest girlfriend Lisa comes from a family where privacy is sacred and vulnerability is rare. She and I talk openly about this now and I asked her how it was to be around my family our whole lives where everything is so open and never swept under the rug. We don’t own rugs. She replied it was “Refreshing.”
The older I get I realize that our dynamics are not “normal.” My boyfriend points it out quite often during conversation as we come from completely different backgrounds.When he first discovered my blog and finally talked to me about it, he said in distress, “Your life seems like a sad, dark indie film” My response was, “Maybe it will be someday and we won’t have to work.” I used to be ashamed, even embarrassed of this quality of my family, but I’d rather be real than “normal.” I’m so proud we keep it real.
My Mother went through an awful break up last year, right around the time I was not drinking and had just revealed the truth of the sexual abuse on my blog. I was very clear headed and strong in my will to be a Brave Babe. She was very distraught after her happy ending came crashing down and I gladly grabbed her and had her stay with me for a bit. I forced her to hike with me, saged the shit out of her morning and night and reminded her of all we’d overcome in life and how one day she’d see this too as a triumph. We were walking into the grocery store and I was listing tragedies we’ve overcome, and when I said, “Mom, we got over Kathleen” (the woman who molested me) she stopped in her tracks, her body stiffened and she looked at me with such intentness and said, “I will NEVER get over that.”
Fuck. That. I thought. I have honestly felt so guilty my whole life for bringing this pain upon my Mother. She had already been through enough. The shame and guilt fell back into my belly that moment at Gelson’s Market. I asked my Mother months ago to write her side of the story. I hope you’ll read it with gentle eyes and come to understand that my Mother is the one who taught me how to master Bravery. Thanks Mama!
Love Always, Dot xoxo
My Mother’s story, titled Ouchy
It was 1995. I was a 29 year old single, working mother with three kids; Kindra who was 10 and in fourth grade and her younger brothers who were one and two.
I’d always been blessed with steady work and a wonderful child care provider that was like family to us. In 1995, that all changed. I was offered a great new job. Better money and hours. The new job would mean no more waking up at 4 am and packing the kids into the car in the snow at 5:30 am to get to work by 6 am. It would mean no more slinging bacon and eggs (although I never minded) and a lot more money. That I wouldn’t be working just to pay the babysitter and keep the lights on.
I was excited and a little nervous. Starting my new work day at 11:00 am meant ending it at 7 pm. And then there was the drive. At least an hour and a half each way. It was clear that I needed after school care for my daughter and help with the boys when my regular sitters day was over at 6 pm.
I’d worked for several years with a woman named Donna. She had a young son (19 I believe) named Steve who had recently married (a just as young) Kathleen. Kathleen had hosted a few times at the restaurant that Donna and I both worked at, so when Donna suggested that I talk to Kathleen about looking after the kids for a few hours a day, that seemed reasonable to me. Donna was a good person. A straight shooter. A good mom. Steve was a nice young man. Responsible. A new husband. Kathleen was a sweet girl. Hard worker. Innocent.
At least I thought she was innocent.
After about 2 weeks at my new job, my mom came to visit. I was telling my mom about the problems I was having with Kindra. Kindra at this time was sound asleep on the couch. She never stirred as I told my mom my concerns. Kindra had become grouchy and irritable. She was distant and downright mean. She didn’t want anything to do with me or her brothers and started demanding to spend more time with Kathleen. I knew there was a problem. I just didn’t know what. Was it my new job? My new hours? That I wasn’t the one to pick her and her brothers up from the sitter? Was it her teacher? A fellow student? Hormones? All I knew is that this girl was not the girl I knew and I could tell that she was miserable. In fact, she was full of venom. And I was worried sick. I questioned Kindra, begged and pleaded with Kindra, but anything I did or said was met with a tantrum. That night, the night I talked to my mom, I picked my daughter up off of the couch to take her to bed and she didn’t awaken. Scarily, her eyes rolled around and back in her head and I shook her and yelled “are you doing drugs???!!!” My mom was gobsmacked. My mom admonished me. Her exact words were ” you must always assume the best about your children!” and I replied ” no mom, I must always assume the worst”
The worst was yet to come. After questioning Kathleen; is someone putting something in Kindra’s food or drink, are you and Steve fighting in front of the kids, is anyone smoking pot, doing speed or coke where she can get to it, WHAT IS HAPPENING WITHH MY DAUGHTER??? All of Kathleen’s responses were the same: no Nicki, we never have company when the kids are here, we would never fight if the kids were here, neither of us does drugs Nicki, we would never let harm come to the kids Nicki!
So I started digging. Literally. Through all of Kindra’s things. I discovered her journal. It was full of letters to and from Kathleen. Kindra would write a letter to Kathleen and leave the journal with her and then Kathleen would write a letter and send it home with Kindra. Kindra addressed her letters to “my love” and signed them ” your lover”, everything in between was things a 10 year old would write about. School, home, family, hobbies. It was horrifying. It was true. My one last fear. The question I’d tip toed around was true. My daughter was being molested by her 19 year old, female babysitter. Who’d have thought.
I did in fact think it could be happening. I mean, anything is possible and I really did ask. Please know I asked. I asked my daughter. I asked a lot and a in a lot of different ways. I felt dirty and wrong asking, because, what was I inferring?? That is a heavy allegation with heavy consequences, but I still did ask.
So now, here was the proof. Of my worst fear. And not for me, but for Kindra. Period. Fuck Kathleen, she wasn’t even on my radar then. It was just my daughter. And her well-being. Her safety. Her mind. Her body. Her soul. Her future. Her life. All changed, forever. And a day. And a day and a day and a day.
The therapist that I’d been taking Kindra to called the police when I fell on the floor with my face in the carpet and said “it happened”. I’d already confided to him my fear that Kindra was being molested and we were both, as a team trying to get to the bottom of it. As Kindra waited in the waiting room and I sobbed into the carpet the police arrived to take statements. Kindra, unaware that I had read her journal and knew the secret she’d been told to keep from me, seemed to know that she was safe. She opened up to the officers and told the truth and I swear I saw her un-age. She became 10 again. And trusting again. And reliant on others again.
Kindra, that brave little tiny soul, if you could see her in her little plaid skirt and little white blouse and her pigtail and her mary-janes up on the witness stand. You would be so proud and have so much admiration. You see, Kindra did not just become a Brave Babe at the age of 30. She’s been a Brave Babe all along. Kindra endured a yearlong trial in the same court room as her molester. She even sat with the police at our apartment for weeks taping very uncomfortable and personal phone conversations with her molester for evidence. Her molester and her family, even her mother in law Donna, called bullshit and worse, storming out of the court room mid testimony, slamming the door behind them. But that little Brave Babe kept showing up. Month after month, continuance after continuance.
Before what would be the very last court appearance, I called uncle. I’d seen my daughter go through enough. She was the victim, she was telling the truth and she’d been through enough. Testimony had been over for some time so we were showing up for each court appearance hoping for a conclusion. We always showed up. Except that last time.
I’ll never forget receiving the phone call from the states prosecuting attorney Michelle. “Nicki. Kathleen was sentenced today” Wh-wh-WHAT?!? Was my response. After a year and all of the stalling and all of the continuance’s and all of the BS and hatred this little girl endured Kathleen was sentenced on the day we decided not to go???? I waited, staring at the floor. I could hear the excitement and god-damned, the joy in Michelle’s voice as she told me ” the judge threw the book at her, she sentenced her to the maximum, seven years in prison.” I wept then, with joy and relief. It was over. But it wasn’t. Not for Kindra.
I wept again, with true joy and relief when Kindra, the Bravest of the Babes, told you her story. THEN, it was over. And she was set free.
I am Nicki.
I love and accept myself.
I am a Brave Babe.
Mom’s Motto: Family Comes First