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The courage to heal and thrive despite abuse

“I Will Not Cry…” I Chanted

Published August 1, 2016 in Blog , The Woman I Love - 0 Comments

So much of my early years...in fact, most of my growing up years, I simply cannot recall in any kind of detail.

However, there is one event that stands above all of my few earliest of memories and is branded, seared into my memory as if it was yesterday.

I was not yet five years old. One of my many chores was to set the table for dinner. I remember circling the table after it was set, chanting...

“I will not cry,” “I will not cry,” “I WILL NOT CRY” over and over again.

Every evening when my father came in from work, I would cry.

He hated it and it always ended up in beatings. This time was no different. He no sooner walked in the door and I started crying again. Again…the beatings. His were not spankings, they were beatings.

After dinner was over, dishes washed and other chores were done, my brother and I were told we could go out and play. I decided this was my opportunity...I slipped out the back gate and ran...I was going to go far away from this place and from HIM!

Imagine a child of not quite five years, all by herself on the streets of Los Angeles! I had made it about 15 blocks away and stood petrified on a street corner without a clue of where to go or what to do.

An elderly couple out for their evening walk, happened upon me and inquired who I was and where were my parents and my home?

By this time I was shaking in my shoes...I was not supposed to talk to strangers...but I was SO scared. They were so kind. They insisted they needed to take me home.

I was beyond miserable and scared, knowing full well that I would be punished. They walked the 15 blocks back to where I lived with me...if you can imagine the look on my father’s face when he opened the door!

As an adult, I realize that that elderly couple were truly my angels…what business did a small child have being off on her own at a tender age in a big city?

I look at my grandson who is nearing the age I was when I ran away, and I shudder to think of him walking the streets alone even in a “safe smaller community.” I cannot imagine!

That night changed me. He decided me and him were going to stay up all night. He decided that if I was going to cry, then he would give me something to cry about. Each time I stopped crying, he would beat me again. And so it went till he left for work in the morning.

I no longer cried…outwardly, when he came home.

Where was Mom?

Why would she not come to my rescue?

I feel certain that she tried, but she too was a victim.

I was powerless to his violence and to his power. By the time the night was over I was broken. I was lost, and would stay lost for a long, long time to come.

I became an obedient, serving, hard working, “ugly,” “stupid,” “never going to amount to anything,” “forever a failure” girl, with such a complex I could not breathe. (These were his constant descriptions of me.) I was a nervous mess, an always jumping out of my skin, aiming to please little girl.

Years later, my mother would recount the times she had to lock us kids in the bedroom and tell her parents and friends we could not come out because we were sick. Truth was, we’d been beaten and the bruises would give clues.

Musing: Looking back, I well remember the confusion. My father had a split personality. He could charm anyone who came near. He entertained. He could be outrageously fun. He was a smart entrepreneur. He was hard working.

But...he could change at the snap of the fingers. Typically that change, that transformation, came in a split second and with quite the repercussions. Seldom if ever, would that change take place in front of anyone other than our family.

That would change later, but not for a good many years.

This story is found in my memoir:  "The Woman I Love:  Surviving, Healing and Thriving After a Childhood of Sexual, Mental and Physical Abuse."  To be released on Amazon mid August 2016

The image for this post is being used permission granted by the artist: Zindy Zone.  Her gorgeous artwork can be found on ETSY:  https://www.etsy.com/people/zindy

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