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My Story - Linda

I lived with all kinds of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

I was molested by our gardener and raped by a family member. I and other family members also had to deal with the physical, emotional and sexual abuse from my dad.  It started between the ages of 4 or 5.

There were times when life seemed normal.   My father was in the army so we moved a lot.  I have 4 brothers and a younger sister and we were all born in a different state or country. One of my earliest stories was of a time we lived in the Canal Zone, Panama. My sister was not born yet, and my youngest brother was less than 2 years of age. We had exotic animals as pets: a kinkajou, which is a small honey bear, and a parrot named Polly. Living in the woods across from our house were big tree sloths, large snakes and lots of bats in the night sky. I loved playing with my oldest brother. We would go on spying missions to my dad’s office and the local beach for swimming and finding huge seashells. Life was full of mystery, excitement, and dangers.  I remember a man being killed by a man of war jelly fish.

A Child’s Worst Fears

During my first day of Kindergarten, I remember being comforted by one of my teachers because I was so introverted and I didn’t want to leave my mom’s side. He told me that my name in Spanish meant pretty – I liked that. During recess, I heard some of the playground kids talking about some kids in the river canal. They were found dead and cut in pieces. Someone said that a machete was used to chop the kids up.
A few days later, I was walking home from school and was met by our teenage gardener. He said he wanted to show me something. He told me to take off my shoes and he carried me up a very large hill. I remember the ground having stickers, and that without my shoes I would need him to take me down the hill later.
He put me down on a blanket he’d apparently put there prior to our encounter. It was only after being forced onto the blanket that I saw the machete. He said that if I told anybody what he was doing, he would come back and kill me. All I could think about was those kids found in the canal. The next thing I remember I was being brought down the hill on the Gardner’s back, walking home, and being meet by our maid who demanded to know where I had been.  Because I would not tell her what she wanted to know, she spanked me. I couldn’t figure out why she was so angry. This was the first time I felt disconnected from everything and it was the beginning of the nightmares.

For the first time I realized that there were real monsters.

All I wanted to do was to die and for my pain to go away. Shortly after that I remember taking a bunch of aspirin, and when asked why I had taken them, I stated that I had a really bad headache, and wanted it to go away. Not long after that my dad was transferred out of Panama. We traveled back to the states on a cruise ship. My dad was headed to Vietnam, and we went back to live in Georgia. No one knew my secret, and life seemed to get back to normal – playing with neighbors, riding bikes.

Not long after my dad came back from Vietnam, he walked into my room to find a family member with me on the bed exploring my vaginal area.  My dad was angry, but all he told me to do was get dressed. I came to realize later that my dad had already started abusing other family members. His abuse with all his children started around the age of 18 months.
The next memories I have are when we lived in Oklahoma, where my sister was born.  I lived in a world within a world. Dad was physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive to all of us. The perversion started with him. Dad would take each one of us into the back room at different times and do all kind of things to us. He would also visit me in my bedroom at night after mom would fall asleep.  Their bedroom was right across the hall from my mine. To this day, I hate sleeping in my own bed: I would rather sleep on the couch, with the TV on. Dad also liked to take me on errands.  That was his way of getting me alone in a car, where I could give him blow jobs, and he could do things to me. I remember the smell of his crotch and I remember the ceiling of the car. To this day, I have problems riding alone in a car with a man – even my husband.

Dad had lots of secrets. One night I found the courage to tell him that I didn’t want to do this anymore and that I felt mom would get mad. Dad lied and told me that my mom had always known and the things we did were ok with her; however, that was the last night dad came to my room.

 Living Nightmare

One day a family member wanted me to go to the back room with him.  I didn’t want to, so he picked me up and started walking me to the back room. I struggled to be let go. He made it as far as the front bedroom and pushed me down on the floor.  I pleaded with him to stop but he wouldn’t.  Not even my tears would deter him.  In an instant he’d raped me.  My world fell apart.

Shortly after that, I went to a church youth camp, where I learned for the first time that our family was not normal.  When I got back from camp, somehow I found the strength and I was able to tell my mom everything.  From that moment, she worked to get me out of the home. She must have confronted dad about what I told her, because before I left he called me into the back room and asked me why I had told “our little secret?”  He then told me he didn’t love me anymore. Strange as it may seem, my father telling me he no longer loved me left me devastated. They were the last words I heard him say before I left.  Two weeks later I went to live with my grandparents. When dad found out, he took out his anger on mom.
I’d never seen dad hit my mom and they’d never argued in front of us.  I found out during a phone call that he’d hit her.  I wanted to die. All my fears had come true. After that dad drove down from Oklahoma and dumped mom and my siblings on my grandparent’s doorstep (mom had double pneumonia at the time). My grandmother had many health problems and shortly after the rest of my family arrived, grandma had another heart attack: we now had to find a place to live.

My Shattered Life

I don’t know what my life could have been like. All I know is, I have been suicidal from the age of 5 and continued to be until I came to ReClaim.  I had no self-esteem and I couldn’t even stand to look in a mirror. All my relationships were toxic. I saw multiple therapists, hypo-therapists, doctors, church pastors and staff members on my quest to become normal. I know that I was not a Sibyl, yet I lived with many voices on the inside of me. The voices I heard were never truly my own. My soul was not split but shattered into many pieces.

I ended up marrying my soul mate; the problem was that both of us had wounded souls. I refused to give him control over my life. He wanted to tell me how to dress, he was very jealous, and was very verbally abusive with a very bad temper. My husband wanted me to have very little contact with any friends I might have had, or with my family.
We have a child with many issues.  I wonder what kind of mother I could have been. Would my child have the issues he has if I didn’t have so many myself?

I am learning to be one person, but I still have major anxiety over sleeping in a bed.  I struggle with depression and my addiction of choice has been food, I will binge till it hurts. I find comfort in knowing that my stash of food is never very far away.
I lived in survival mode for so long, and am now learning to live without the things that got me through my early childhood and teenage years (all my addictions and fears). I know I will get there, but I am still finding it hard and that it is a journey.

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