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Monday, October 8, 2007

It's time to tell

This is it. It's time to tell. I used to be a multiple personality system. The last alter personalty integrated 8 or 9 years ago. So that part of my life is now sealed. We, the personalities of the Sisterhood, told our collective story once, long ago. But now, there is just me, Erin, who came to the Sisterhood in adulthood, springing forth fully formed, like Athena from Zeus' forehead.

So now this is MY story. In the end, all the other personalities except the original, damaged core, merged into me. Their stories wove together and became my story.

And now it is time to tell.

I was born in February 1969 and adopted immediately by a salesman and his wife, who had lost their 18 year old son 20 months before. I was once told the adoption process had taken 4 months. Another time I was told 4 years. My mother quit work to raise me.

We were alone together quite bit. My Dad was a traveling salesman, who could be gone up to 5 days at a time. He was also a serious amateur athlete, a grade school boys' football and basketball coach, head of the school athletic association, member of the parish council, CYO umpire/referee, 16-inch softball umpire, Knight of Columbus, and (I think) American Legionier. Like many sales professionals, he was gregarious in public, and quiet at home. He loved TV sit-coms and movies about Nazi's and gangsters. He would watch any type of sport or competition on TV.

Most of my memoires of my Dad are pleasent and happy ones. We went camping several times a year in a Starcraft pop-up. I remember those as peaceful and happy times. My Dad taught me a lot of things: how to do embroidery and needlework, how to build things, how to play gin rummy and blackjack, and a little about sales. I never did catch on to team sports, poker, or some of the other stuff he tried to show me. When I was about 9 or 10, I started going with him on short sales trips to southern Illinois, Indiana, and maybe Iowa. He took me to Amish country the first time. He never recognised my horseback riding as a sport as he understood sports, but he did go to some of my shows and helped me earn money to pay for horse-related expenses. I think he wished he could afford to buy me a horse, if only to stop my constant pestering for one. ( I leased horses from my 4-H leader for several years.) I was seriously involved in a horse-knowledge competition through 4-H called Horse Bowl (like College Bowl) and the last year of his life, he helped coach my team. I won state champion that year, and it was the last thing I did that made him proud. He died a week later. I was 13.

Not to make my dad out as a saint or anything, I will say that he had a horrible, explosive temper. I don't believe he ever abused me, but I did get the belt a couple of times. He was mostly a yeller--a big man with a big voice that made the dog hide under the kitchen table. Then he would have whatever it was off his chest and move on. I must confess this is my own style and I battle it constantly with my son. I have now toned it down from big-time yelling to impatient snarky-ness, most of the time. Although it is possible, I don't believe my father was one of my sexual predators, either. I am pretty sure this is a fairly objective assessment. It just does not fit with the way I remember him.

So, with my Dad absent a lot of the time until he died, I was let pretty much alone with my mother. She spent quite a bit of time with her parents, and I was quite close to my grandma. She had also been in sales, a retail manager for Spiegel's when they still had brick-and-mortar stores, and quite successful. She loved horses, and everyone in the family believed that was where I "got it from." She was a gifted artist and crafter, who could sew, quilt, cook, bake, draw paint, quilt, knit . . . . you get the picture. We spent hours together making things and talking horses. She died when I was 28 or so, and I miss her to this day.

My grandfather was another story entirely. A retired history teacher, he seemed to me distant and forbidding. I feared him. He died when I was 21. I quit therapy before I could "see" my abusers' faces in my memory, but I have good reason to believe he abused both of his daughters and me as well. What I do know for sure is that my aunt sent a letter (a hateful, terrible letter full of lies, according to my mother and grandmother) to my grandfather and a copy of it to my mother and who knows who else. That was the last time my immediate family had any contact with her. The only other thing I ever heard about it was that my aunts daughter once told my grandmother, "It's not you, it's Granddaddy." Extremely circumstantial evidence, but it fits with the rest of my life.

This now brings me to the last important person in my early life, and the only one still alive today. My mother. My mother is also the only major abuser I know for sure. My mother fucked with me mentally and emotionally. She sexually molested me. She tried to control my food, my weight, my personality, my speech, and my thoughts. She spied on me. She raided my room and read my diaries. She flirted with my boyfriends. She filled me with her fears, her self-hatred, her distorted body image, and all her other problems. She told me what I should like, do, think, and feel. She denied that I ever had any boundaries, physical or otherwise, that separated me from her in even the most obvious and essential ways. In short, I was never allowed to "be myself;" I was just supposed to be what she wanted me to be.

Now I am going to tell all about it.

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