Battered Women Syndrome (14)
My dad learned a lot from his “insider” over the following weeks. She never came to see us but they spent a lot of time talking over the phone. Karen pressed my dad for all of the information. She wanted to know everything and it allowed me to hear it all as well. Everything in the family had changed since my dad last talked to anyone. My Aunt Whitney was doing well for herself. She had gotten married to a high school teacher and they had a daughter about a year and a half after I was born. The reason why their marriage was doing well was because they kept a good distance from the drama of the rest of the family. My Aunt Whitney couldn’t help herself though, and without my uncle knowing she would gather information when possible. She loved to gossip.
Aunt Whitney told my dad that my Aunt Michelle (my mom’s youngest sister) had gotten herself pregnant and had a daughter. She was now a single mom because the father wouldn’t speak to her. My Uncle Joe had joined the military and was stationed for a time in Korea. He returned with a pregnant wife and shocked everyone at home waiting for him. She became know as Aunt Sam become no one could pronounce her real name.
The biggest news was regarding my mom. About 3 weeks after the police came to get me from grandma’s house, someone else showed up looking for us as well. It was John. He was drunk and/or high when he showed up at the door and my grandma wouldn’t let him in. He started to cause a scene and my grandma threatened to call the police. My mom went out to talk to him on the porch. Just like any good battered woman would do, she accepted his apologies. “It would never happen again”, he promised. He also promised her that things would be better. When she told him that they had lost me to my dad, he said that it was for the best. “She was nothing but trouble anyways”, he said. She was secretly worried about who would help her with the babies. Jessica was a handful and she was about to have another one. John was secretly worried about what I would say. My grandma refused to let him in the house and so my mom and Jessica left with him. Where they went, no one knew.
A week later my grandma got a call from the hospital. My mom had been beaten up and had gone into labor 2 months early. Was anybody shocked? Not really. The doctors couldn’t stop the labor and my youngest sister was born. She originally planned to name her “Jo Beth” after the actress Jo Beth Williams who played the mom in the movie Poltergeist. However, naming her after an actress in a horror movie didn’t seem right while she was barely breathing on her own. Her name became Teresa. How my mom came up with that name, I’ll never know.
I had just started first grade and was making friends, but I barely talked when I was at home. My dad had signed me up for dance class and softball to use as a babysitter and to keep me busy. Karen wasn’t comfortable with hiring a babysitter, for obvious reasons, and they both worked long hours. I loved playing baseball and going to dance class. I even loved school and the after school program they enrolled me in. Anything was better than being home. It was difficult at home. Everything that I said was analyzed and every time my mom was brought up there were problems. Karen hated hearing anything about my mom and when she was discussed, nothing nice was ever said. I wasn’t allowed to ask how she was doing, say that I loved her or even that I missed her. I had to hear how she was doing by listening in on conversations when my Aunt Whitney would call or when my dad would share the info with Karen. It was horrible and I held in a lot of anger during that time. I felt like a guest in a place that was suppose to be my own home. I walked on egg shells trying to keep from starting arguments. My dad had “important things” scattered throughout the house that he didn’t want touched or moved so I just stayed in my room by myself when I was home. I didn’t like having friends over because we couldn’t do anything.
Through my entire first grade year, my dad never saw me play baseball and only managed to make it to one dance recital. I stopped asking him if he’d be coming because he always made me feel bad for asking. “While you get to go and play, some people have to work to pay the bills”. It wasn’t worth the hassle. Teresa had gotten better and was released from the hospital after about a month or so. My mom and two sisters were back living with my grandma, at least that’s the information that my dad had gotten.
My first grade year was lonely, but a relief compared to what I had already lived through and what was to come ahead. My hair was long by this time and it was something that I loved because it reminded me of my mom. She always said that it was what made me beautiful. Karen cut it all off. I was heartbroken and I even cried. Karen told my dad that she had to cut it because it was too much to take care of. I took it personally. As heartbroken as I was there were more important things to worry about now. As second grade started, I learned that John was back. It didn’t take long for me to realize that he wasn’t just back in my mom’s life, but in mine too.