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Undeserved Emotions

I’ve had an extremely hard time coming back to the blog since my last couple of posts.  I wonder if I spoke too much.  Was I too open in talking about the incidents that have compounded my depression?  Should I have just continued to deal with my feelings by myself?  I have been so confused.

And then……I reached out a couple of weeks ago to a prayer group that I’m a member of and asked for prayers for peace for my troubled mind.  I gave a brief testimony and the administrator of the group denied my post.  In talking with her later, she said that my prayer was “too big” for the group.  She said that many members of the group were “new in the Lord and might not be able to handle” my testimony and my request.   How can that be?  How can prayers be too big?  Is there a certain amount of time that you must wait before telling someone about a significant problem?  I guess I didn’t read that part of the “I love the Lord Handbook”.  I’m still at a loss over that.  I tried to not take it personally, but I just don’t get it.  How do you tell someone that their prayer is too big?  So, I decided to just sit back and do my talking directly to God.  And that’s where I’ve been for the past few weeks.  Stewing.  Simply stewing in emotions.  Those emotions are taking a toll on me.  My mind is in overdrive and it is so hard to focus.

Then, last week something happened in my hometown and I’m so confused about how I feel.  That’s not entirely true, though.  I know how I feel;  I am sad.  But deep-seated emotions keep rearing their ugly heads and are keeping me off balance.  There are so many things I want to say, but out of respect for others I can’t.  And that’s the tough part.  It’s almost as if my emotions are not valid.  But, how can that be?  Isn’t everyone entitled to their own feelings?  No matter what the circumstances, feelings — any feelings — are valid, aren’t they? I feel no anger.  I feel sadness.  And regrets.  And sorrow for those involved.  But I can’t speak of it.

Undeserving — that’s the word I used when speaking to a friend last night.  I was trying to explain my emotions and said that I feel as though any emotions I have are just plain underserving.  And I know that it’s not good for me to feel that way.  I’ve spent far too many years living with the assumption that my feelings don’t count and that they are underserving.  I have got to find some way to break this chain of thought.  I feel what I feel and I can’t help it.

Many of my friends, without my reaching out to them, have contacted me to relay their thoughts and prayers.  And that has meant the world to me.  They know, all too well, the conflict that is running rampant in my head and heart.   I just need a way to address these feelings.  Isolation isn’t working.  Sleeping isn’t working.  Pouring my heart out to God isn’t working.  I guess I just must be patient.  God is going to speak to me.  He is going to guide me in the right direction.  I do know this to be true.  But, in the meantime, I am struggling.  And it is so not fun.

~~~Betty 

Another Year Has Gone By

Happy Birthday, Allen Lee.

My thoughts are rambling tonight as I think about it being your birthday.  I pray that you are enjoying the day.  I pray that you are enjoying your life.  I pray that you are happy.  I pray that you are healthy.   I pray that God is part of your life.  I pray that you have been blessed with a wonderful family.  My biggest prayer is  that you have people who love you.  It is so very important to be loved.

I wonder if you ever think of me.  If so, I pray that your thoughts do not cause you pain.  I wonder what questions you have for me,  if any.  I pray that God has filled your heart with Grace and that you are confident that giving you up for adoption was an act of love on my part.  I pray that one day I will get to meet you and that I can tell you about the love that I’ve always had for you.  I pray that one day I can tell you about the 5 amazing days that I got to spend with you!

But, enough of that!  It’s your birthday!  Go eat some cake and blow out your candles.  Feel the love today.  It’s always there.

~~~

Betty

 

Go Forth and “Be”

The following popped up on my Facebook memories today and I felt it was worth sharing here.  I had written this last year for a dear friend who was going through a rough patch and was feeling less than worthy.
~~~~
September 4, 2016
This is for my friend (you know who you are) who needs to hear this loudly and clearly:

Put on your Big Girl Panties so you can own this. 
Put on your Mr. Magoo glasses so you can read this.
Put on your biggest pair of Mickey Mouse ears so you can hear what I’m saying.

Ready?????

Yes, sometimes life sucks. 
Yes, sometimes some people suck. 
No, life is not always (and sometimes is never) Fair.

BUT…….

Neither you nor I are on the list of “suckers” or “suckees”.

I don’t care who thinks we are. 
They don’t know Jack Squat.

AND, one day…….

Life will be grand. 
Life wIll be great.
Life will be fun. 
But, it still won’t be Fair. It will Never be Fair.

But, you won’t give a rat’s patooty. 
I won’t give a rat’s patooty.

We will just “Be”. 
And we haven’t done that in a while. 
But, we will both love just “Being.”
Trust Me.

So….hang on. 
Get tough. Get mean. Get ready. 
‘Cause it’s gonna be good, my friend. 
It’s gonna be good.

Now, on top of all that wisdom, remember the most important thing–

When you don’t (or can’t) trust yourself, dad-gum it, just trust Me.

‘Cause I’m here and I love you and I won’t steer you down the wrong path. (Forget those times that I’ve already done that. They don’t count.)

Now, go forth and BE. 
Darn it, don’t you DARE quit BEING!!!

~~~Betty

I Know There Is A Plan

A friend of mine replied to a post yesterday and talked about how God had healed her from her depression.  I know this is possible.  I have heard of God’s healing many times. I have prayed for His healing many times myself and I know that others have sent prayers to God on my behalf.  But, we all know that God does things on His time, not on ours. I believe that just because He has not yet taken away my depression, there is no reason to believe that He does not plan to do so.  I have faith that in His time, He will restore my mental health.

I have spoken with God so very many times. As a young child, I was a believer. Then, as things went on, I began to question why He was allowing the abuse and the heartache. How could a loving God allow that? As a young mother, I was reintroduced to a loving God. My heart was full again and things were good. As time went on, troubles began and I again blamed God for allowing hurt to be heaped upon me. I was not strong enough in my faith to believe that He had a plan for me. An ugly, painful divorce followed and I spent the next 20 years again believing that the guilt was mine. I turned my back on God again, believing that He was punishing me for all the wrongs I had done. I reached a point where I hated my life, hated it as I had never hated before.  There was nothing, other than my children and my grandchildren, that was good.  I was tired.  I was weary. I could not handle the pain any longer.

It was during this time that He sent someone into my life. Although this person brought a spark to my  life, all my fears and guilt and feelings of worthlessness still haunted me.   This person was kind.  He was caring.  He listened and showed compassion.  But, I was still miserable and felt there was no reason to live.  After spending a summer in which I was trying to garner the courage to end it all, I had a real health scare. It was because of this person who had been sent into my life that I had been found and rushed to the hospital. Upon waking up and finding out what had happened, I was super mad. I had been given the medical opportunity to not be here any longer. But, for some reason, I was.  I was struggling.  A few weeks in a mental health facility brought forth some hope. Things were better.  Upon returning home, it became apparent that all was not good with this person. Yes, he had saved my life and for that I am eternally grateful. But, it was not all good.  This person made me believe that I could care again, something I was sure I would never do. I learned to open my heart.  The problem was that because I could see the light again, the darkness was being buried.  In time, I found out that this person was just playing a game. It was terribly hard to finally walk away from him, but he was toxic. Yes, he had opened my heart again and that was good, but he was feeding me with false hope.   I was mad because God had let me open my heart to this person for no reason. Why was God making me pay again? I just didn’t understand it, but I no longer feel resentment. There was a reason for that person.  You know the old saying that people are sent into your life as either a blessing or a lesson? This person had been both a blessing when I needed it and was also a lesson.  I am better for this person’s visit to my life.

During this time, I had friends who were working their hardest to reintroduce me to their loving God. Through their tenacity, I finally decided that it was time to give God another chance. You see, I had turned away from Him because I did not have the faith needed to believe that God had a plan for me. I had thought He did not care. I was wrong. These sweet friends made me see that. I now have a pastor and his wife to whom I have been able to open up. I know that they pray daily for me and I know that they believe I am worthy. During a session with them, my pastor said something that really hit home with me. He said that he knew that I would live with God upon my passing, but he also knew that God wanted me to enjoy the good things while still here on Earth. He told me that God had a plan to enable me to do this. And that is what is opening my eyes.

Although I still struggle, although I still have doubts in myself, I do know that there is hope.  I have recently been plagued with panic attacks and for some reason, the biggest panic attacks take place as I am getting ready for church.  It has been years and years since I struggled with panic attacks and these are quite scary.  I break out in a sweat, shake so badly that I can barely hold anything, and actually become sick to my stomach. Just the thought of walking into the church where I know that I am loved, where I know that people will be kind, is for some reason scaring me to the point of being ill.  I cannot imagine the reason for this, but I am determined to overcome this.   I have stated before that I have a real problem with people being “nice” to me.  Those old thoughts of not deserving their “niceness” all come flooding back and I am overwhelmed. I pray daily to figure this one out.

I do know that God has a plan for me but that it’s not yet time to open my eyes to that plan. He is not finished with me.  There is something that God wants me to know or to see or to do that I have not done or seen or learned yet.  In order for me to know whatever it is, I must continue on this journey through depression.  I have faith that there is an end to it at some point.  I believe that.  He has plans for me to do, and be, something great and He is still working on that plan, refining it, so to say.  At some point, that plan will be revealed to me. Until then, I will continue my journey.  I know that I should be accepting and stop questioning, but I have always been the type of person who is not satisfied unless I KNOW the reason why. That is one of my downfalls (legitimate this time).  I pray daily for patience and for His guidance.  I have faith that sometime in the future my eyes will be opened. I will then know what I am to do.  What a blessing that will be!

~~~ Betty

One Moment So Free……..

When I write that my goal for this blog is to let others know that they are not alone, I am being very honest.  That is my goal.  However, it has also been my lesson.  I learn a little more each time I read a message from someone.  I treasure those messages that tell me I am not alone, that you, too, struggle.  I don’t treasure them because I WANT someone else to suffer, but treasure them because I often feel that I am, indeed, the only one who does. And these messages assure me that I am not alone.  It is vital for each of us to know that we are not alone.

I received a message this morning from a dear friend in which she talked about her journey through depression. She wrote such a powerful statement, one that I feel so very often.  She wrote, “I am going through the “these are the seminal moments in my life that caused shame” in therapy.  And it is so liberating but so damned hard.  One moment so free. And the next plunged back into darkness.”  Oh, how I relate to that statement!

One of the most frustrating things (and there are many) about my depression is that there is just so much about its anatomy that I don’t understand.  I don’t understand how someone can be intelligent enough to realize that our thoughts are merely in our heads and that we can change these thoughts at a moment’s notice, but that I cannot do that. There are many people who have mastered this technique.  My friend, Luann, knew how to do this.  I don’t.  She was so very good about cleaning out her thought closet.  I try. Lord, how I try.  But, the moment that I stop actively trying, the dark thought is back there again. And it is gnawing at my soul.  I hear this thought spoken in my head that says, “You are unworthy” and I agree with it.  Then, I stop and tell myself “Betty, that is so untrue. You are a good person.  You have a loving heart.  You have worked hard and been productive.  You have raised three beautiful, intelligent, hard-working children. You have wonderful friends who care for you.  You have done good things in your life.”  And I do believe all those things — so for a fleeting moment, I feel better about myself.  But THEN, that thought comes back that says, “Ahhhh, those things may be true, BUT you are still unworthy.”  And I immediately believe that message again.  What is it, exactly, that I must do to become worthy?  To myself?  In my own head and heart?  So that I can actually believe it?  I can easily justify the reasons that the voice is wrong.  But, I just can’t believe that it is wrong.  If something has been drilled into your head for years and years and years, is there ever a way in which to believe that it is wrong?  It can become such a vicious cycle in which I constantly fight those voices and I have yet to learn how to stop the cycle. As my friend said in her message, “One moment so free. And the next plunged back into darkness.”  That, to me, is the worst part about depression. I can feel so good one moment, and the next, be plunged back into that darkness.  I pray that I will learn how to stop the darkness.  It is hell.

~~~ Betty

Why? Because You Are Not Alone.

It’s been an interesting four days since I made my last blog post.  I had spent quite some time writing it, rewriting it, deleting it, and beginning again.  I finally decided that if I was ever going to be completely honest, I just flat-out had to post it.  After all, I knew when I began my blog that this story was going to have to be the destination.  My secret had been kept for over 50 years and it was slowly killing me.

I’ve had a couple of people message me and say that they were confused as to why I had let that instance “bother” me because it really was no big deal.  Of course, these two people are not of my generation, a generation in which bearing a child out-of-wedlock was most definitely a “big thing”.  It was something that brought much shame to the mother and the father, to their immediate and extended family, and in the end to the child if and when he or she was ever told of his or her birth story.  Back then, it was a “huge” deal and everyone did their best to keep it a deep dark secret in hopes that it would never be revealed.  It was such a shameful thing that there were “places” such as the Florence Crittenton Home where these pregnant young girls were sent.  Normally, their families spread the word that their daughters had been sent to live with an elderly relative to somehow help out the relative.  I have no idea where Mom and Dad said that I was or if they even acknowledged that I was gone.  Of course, the fact that I did not go until I was almost eight months pregnant probably helped whatever story  had been told. Things are much different these days.  Becoming pregnant before marriage is an accepted way of life now.  I won’t get into my thoughts about that because that has nothing to do with my story.

For those of you who have sent loving, supportive messages, I truly thank you.  When the messages began to come in, I could only clinically read them.  I had to keep all emotion out, knowing that if I read them with my heart, I would be overcome with emotion.  I had lived in fear for several decades that this secret would become public.  Now, I was the one who had made it public and that was a scary thought.  However, I was able to go back this morning and read them all and let the words sink in.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for the love.

But, I would like to talk about why I decided to even tell my story.

I did NOT tell this so that anyone would hate my father.  Although he was one of the major players in my story, it really wasn’t about him.  It was about ME and how I looked at the things that were happening in my life.  I thought that I was the reason that my father didn’t love me.  I thought that the things that I did were to blame for his need to abuse me.  I thought it was all about me.  My fault.  I thought that as a 10-year-old child, I had the ability to bring about the abuse.  I thought I was bad and for that reason, I deserved what was happening to me.  I thought that I was most definitely unlovable, undeserving, and unworthy.  In reality, it most likely was not about me at all.  It was about him.  I just grew up thinking it was about me.  It was about his illness (and most certainly he experienced some sort of mental illness.)  It was about his anger and his inability to love.  But, no matter what it was, it does not warrant hatred from anyone not involved.  You can hate the actions, but you cannot hate the man.  In my eyes, hatred belongs only to those involved in a personal way.  And, true, I did hate my father for many years.  But, that was because I did not have the insight to realize that he was sick. For whatever reason — his experience, his upbringing, his generation, whatever — he did not have the ability to love me.  And I promise you, it takes a lot out of a person to actively hate someone else.  It drains you.  And I finally had to just stop the hate.  My hatred of him was doing nothing to him.  It was only hurting me.  If you take his abuse of me and his abuse of my mother out of the equation, my father was a good man.  He was a hard worker.  He was a successful businessman.  He was a good provider for his four daughters.  He was a good friend to many people in our small town. In all of those respects, my father was a good man.  I now try to look at those things.

But, you say, he never abused your sisters, so maybe it was about you.  Well, that certainly makes me stop and wonder.  And, I guess you have a point there.  I do not have the answer as to why I was chosen. But, I was. I, and I alone, have to figure that one out. However, unless I find some hidden diary in which he wrote down his reasons, I will most likely never know why I was chosen.  And I don’t even know if finding out the “why” would change anything for me. It happened.  I suffered because of him.  But, I am recovering. That’s what counts.

I was most certainly not the first child to be abused and sadly, I will not be the last.  Child abuse happens far too often, even in today’s world.  Child abuse is a crime and the abuser should suffer the consequences.  A large majority of those abusers are never exposed and never suffer any consequences.  But, the children suffer. More importantly, the child who is abused is scarred for life.  And THAT is the biggest crime of all.  The thing is — I THOUGHT I was the only one who had things like that happen to me.  I had no idea that there were other children whose parent abused them.  I did not know that there were people out there who could have helped me.  I told my story because there are STILL people out there who think they are alone in their abuse.  They need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that there are millions of us out there who have experienced, and who still are experiencing the same things.  There are adults out there who still believe that their experiences of abuse have never happened to anyone else.  There are adults who struggle with depression, PTSD, and other problems because they think they are alone.  THAT is the main reason I decided to tell my story.

I have been amazed at the number of people who have contacted me to say that they, too, had similar experiences and that they have never been able to talk about those experiences.  Some said that it seems as though I easily speak of my past.  Believe me, it’s not been easy.  I have struggled with talking about my past.  I spent years and years and years not talking about it.  I spent years keeping it all bottled inside and it was slowly eating away at my soul.  I finally reached a point where I knew that it had to come out if I was to survive.  I am still embarrassed to admit what I did and what I experienced, but when I look at the options, talking about it was the only thing that made sense.  And, as I said yesterday to my therapist, at my age, I am at a point where I don’t really give a flip what others think.  Those people who are my friends and who care for me are not going to change their minds because they finally know about my past.

I do, however, worry about my children and my grandchildren.  I never, ever want to do anything to embarrass them.  I told my girls when they were teenagers about Allen.  I didn’t tell them about the abuse, but have openly spoken about it with them in the last few years.  Unfortunately, I was not the one to tell my son about Allen — my ex was the one who did that out of spite and that was the reason I told my girls when I did.  My ex also used this information against me during our divorce trial, so word of it got out in the town in which I spent 25 years of married life.  That was extremely painful, but I learned to bunch all of that crap together as being part of an ugly, public, painful divorce from a man who was and still is spiteful. But, that’s a story for someone else to tell; I am done with that part of my life. Thankfully, my children have been very supportive about my decision to talk about my past.  I just pray that my openness never brings them pain or embarrassment.  My son, my two daughters, and my six grandchildren are the best things that have ever happened to me. I love them beyond measure and never wish to bring them pain.

So, why did I do it?  Why did I “out” myself?  Because of the many others out there who are still hiding their truths.  For those out there still thinking they are alone in their depression due to abuse — please know that you are not alone.  Find a friend, find a therapist, find someone to talk to.  You will be amazed to discover how many other people are JUST LIKE YOU.  They have the same memories, the same guilt, the same fears, the same regrets.  Together, miracles can happen.  Together, you can find a way to overcome this terrible, terrible thing that has happened to you.  You can’t erase it; you can’t cover it up forever.  But, you can live through it.  Don’t spend your life alone, thinking you are the only one.  I, too, am one and I am living through it.  Come join me in this thing called life.  I hear it’s quite grand.

~~~ Betty

 

 

 

 

 

For Five Days……

I’ve been mulling something over for the past couple of weeks.  Each night when I go to bed, I’ve had the same thoughts.  I’m not sure what started me thinking about the words “For Five Days”, but I keep thinking those words over and over.  It seems as though I’ve been measuring everything in 5-day increments for a while and that length of time is just trying to tell me something.   And I know that when I start repeatedly thinking the same thing – there’s a reason for it.  And I don’t let it go until I have the answer.  Finally, the other night I woke up from a deep sleep and I knew the answer.  I knew what the five days meant and why that was so significant to me.

When I began my blog, I had a destination in mind.  I knew the incident that I was going to have to talk about at some point, but wasn’t really sure if I would ever be able to do it.  Is it time?  Do I dare?  Do I need to?  Is it just too much?  I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I’m going to try it.  This may never get posted, or it may be a long time from now when I’m able to post, but I’m going to begin the story.

This story is about a young girl – someone I’ve known all my life.  She had a rough beginning – lots of problems filled her days.  Alcoholic, abusive father.  Alcoholic mother who was abused by the father.   She had sisters who for some reason were spared the abuse.  Of course, they had to witness the abuse from the father, but luckily, never were the recipients.  Then, there was the young girl.  I never quite understood why she was the “chosen” one — the one child to receive the awful hate-filled verbal abuse, the painful physical abuse that included broken ribs, a concussion, and the many jabs and slaps and punches.  There is a reason she was chosen, but one that only the abuser knows.  In her mind, she was never smart enough, never good enough, never deserving.  In the beginning, she just took it.  Soon, she began to believe that she deserved it.  She wasn’t quite sure why, but she knew she deserved it.  So, she did nothing.

But, that’s not entirely true.  Even from an early age, she learned how to disassociate when things got bad.  One of her finest feats was that she learned to fly.  When things got really, really bad, she just closed her eyes, stretched out her arms, and she flew away.  Oh, the places she would visit!  She learned to love the mountains that she had never seen in real life, but had read about in so many books.  She would soar like an eagle, looking down on the world.  It was always full of normal people who lived in normal houses, and who were happy.  The mamas and the daddies loved the children and played with them.  This little girl would fly above them, watching with her eagle eyes, and she would wish that she could live that life.  Life as that eagle allowed her to be mighty and wise and all-seeing.  It allowed her to live in a world where things were good and beautiful and caring.  And then, she would have to land again, into the home where she was never good enough.  This went on for several years and she finally began to wonder why she had to accept that.  She slowly began to fight back – only with words, of course, but it was a way for her to fight.

And then, she reached the age where she discovered boys (or maybe the boys discovered her.  Whatever!)  Some of these boys treated her as though she did matter – that she was smart, funny, and worthy.  And that was all it took.  When she was with them, she was just a normal girl, like all her other friends.  And it was good.  She had found a way to be accepted.   She was so busy in her personal  life trying to hide the truth of her abuse from her friends that she jumped at the chance to be normal and to experience what she thought was love.  (Of course, it wasn’t, but since she had never experienced real love before, she did not know the difference.)  When she was finally allowed to date, a whole new world opened up for her.  Boys were fun.  They treated her like she mattered.  And it was good.

Then, came along one boy in particular.  Her father had never been really gung-ho with her dating at all, but this boy?  No way was his daughter going to date this boy!  He did not approve of his father’s line of work so there was no way HIS daughter was going to date THIS boy!  And let me tell you, there were some knock-down, drag out fights about his opinion of this boy and his father.  There were even some broken ribs involved, but since she had finally begun to revolt when he laid down the law, she decided that she was just not going to pay him any attention.  She was going to see this boy, no matter what it took.  And it took quite a bit of scheming at times. It finally reached a point where the girl knew that she really didn’t care for this boy as much as she should, based upon all the trouble it was causing, but her father WAS NOT going to win this fight!   No way!  She and the boy would “go steady” for a while and then he’d spy another cute thing and it would be over.  And then, he’d be back.  And then, they’d be over again.  And then, he’d be back.  She was always willing to take him back because she KNEW that her father disapproved.  And she was bound and determined that she was going to win!  No matter what it took!

And then, she met a knight in shining armor. He was kind.  He was sweet.  He had a wonderful family.  He was pretty darn cute.  He had a heart of gold.  And most importantly, he cared for her.  He really did.  And he didn’t mind letting others know how he felt about her.  AND, her father approved of this knight in shining armor.  Wholeheartedly approved!  So things were good.  Or so she thought.  However, her father was quick to remind her every chance he got that it would never last, that soon the boy would see that she wasn’t good enough for him and he would leave her.  But, the knight didn’t leave.  And things were good.  For a while.

Boy #1 still contacted her, still tried to see her, but she was determined to do things the right way.  She stayed away.  Until there was a tragedy in Boy #1’s life.  It was terrible and she did feel badly for him, but he was the past.  Her knight was her future.  And then……..her knight told her that she needed to see Boy #1 to tell him how sorry she was for the tragedy.  She didn’t want to.  She was afraid to, but her knight told her that it was the right thing to do.  Damn doing the right thing!  So, he picked her up for school one morning, but didn’t head to the school.  When she asked where they were going, he said he was taking her to Boy #1’s house so she could be there for him.  What a terrible, awful thing for him to do.  But, he was determined.  So, she went.  He said he’d pick her back up when it was time for school to be out.  She spent the day with Boy #1 and his family and in a way, her knight had been right.  It was the “right” thing to do, but oh, it was such a “wrong” thing to do, also.  She thought that after that day, things would go back to normal with her knight and they did for a while.

Then Boy #1 started calling and calling and calling and she fell for his sweet lines and began to see him again.  At this point, things got really confusing for her.  Her father was constantly telling her that her knight was too good for her, that they’d never last, and that she didn’t deserve anyone as good as a knight.  While he was yelling these words in her ear, Boy #1 was whispering his sweet nothings in her other ear.  And her knight was on the sidelines, still professing his love and devotion.  She had had 16 years of being told that she was not good enough and in her young, foolish heart she believed it.  She finally reached a point with her father that if he was so determined that she was “no good”, she’d show him what “no good” was.  She was tired of trying to please him and never being good enough.  If he was so set in his opinion of Boy #1, she decided that she was going to hurt her father just as much as he was hurting her.  So, she totally gave in to Boy #1.  Whatever happened would happen and her father was going to get what He deserved.  But, in the end, it was the young girl who was hurt the most.

It was now the end of January of her junior year of high school and it was apparent to her that there was a problem.  She had broken it off with Boy #1 and was dating her knight again.  How she was going to fix this, she had no idea.  Perhaps if she just ignored it, it would go away.  By the next month, she knew it was not going to go away.  What to do?  What to do?  She went to Boy #1 and told him of the problem and sure enough, he said it was her problem, not his.  He told her that he had just bought a new car and that in order to solve the problem, he would have to sell his car and there was no way he was going to do that!  Yep, those were his exact words.  It was either his car or fix the problem.  He chose the car.  She was devastated.  But, she still was not going to tell.  How could she?  She said nothing to her knight.

Secrets in a small town have a way of not staying secret.  This young girl got called into the Counselor’s office one day and she was asked if there was anything she wanted to talk about. Talk about?  Nope!  Not a thing.  The next week, she was called back.  Still nothing to talk about. This went on for several weeks and the counselor was not going to give up.  Week after week, she’d call the young girl in.  Week after week, the young girl would deny that there was anything wrong.  Finally, the counselor came right out and asked that terrible, awful question.  Are you pregnant?  “Good Lord, no.  Do you think I’d be sitting here alive if I were?  You know my father.”  Time was ticking away.  February. March. April.  Still not going to tell.  No matter what they say — she wasn’t telling.  Don’t know how she thought she was going to solve the problem, but she wasn’t going to tell.  Then, her knight told her that he’d heard something.  Oh, God, what was she going to do now?  At first, she denied it even to him, but sometime in May, she finally cracked.  He asked her what she was going to do.  She had no idea, but it was her problem and nobody else’s.  The counselor was still on her so to try to throw everyone off, the young girl signed up to take Trig during summer school.  The counselor told her that was a foolish thing to do since they both knew that she wasn’t going to be able to go to summer school.  “Watch me” was her reply.  And she was there for Trig each and every day.  She would go to school in the mornings and then go to work at her father’s store in the afternoons.  Still hiding the ever-growing fact that something was wrong.

When the young girl thinks of the counselor now, she is grateful for the concern shown to her.  She so wanted to open up to the counselor, but knew that if she did, there would be no stopping.  All kinds of hell would be brought out and the young girl knew she could not do that.  So, she did not tell.

Boy #1 was still denying any responsibility for anything.

The knight was still standing by her.

August came around and summer school was over so the young girl was working all day at her father’s store.  The knight was still asking her every day what “they” were going to do.  She reminded him again and again and again that there was no “they” and that whatever was going to be done had to be done by her.  She still had no clue as to what she was going to do – she just knew that SHE WASN’T TELLING.  Or so she thought.

There was talk at her house about going shopping for school clothes since school would be starting in a few weeks, but she kept putting that off.  One day, during the third week of August she was sitting at her desk in the store office and the knight’s mother walked in the door.  No problem.  Probably just wants to pay their bill.  But, she asked the young girl’s mother if she could “borrow” the young girl for a few minutes.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!  As they walked out of the store, the woman said that she and her husband would like to talk to her for a few minutes.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!  As she got in the back seat of their car, her heart was beating about a million miles a minute and she was sweating like a boar hog in the south Georgia sun.  As she sat there, a million thoughts ran through her mind and she knew that she was fixing to catch hell.  But, she was wrong.  As the knight’s mother turned around to face her, she reached back and patted the young girl’s arm and said, “The knight told us last night that you are pregnant and that the baby is his and that y’all are getting married.”  You could have knocked the young girl over with a feather.  How in the hell could he have told his parents that?  He knows damn good and well that this is NOT his child.  How could he have done that without even talking to her about it?   What does he think he’s doing?  While all these thoughts were rushing through her mind, the woman said, “So, we have gone by to see the preacher and the wedding is set for next Friday.”  Wedding?  WHAT WEDDING?  Surely she’s not talking about the young girl!  The woman said a lot more things that the young girl missed because she was busy trying to figure out just what in the hell was going on and how she was going to handle this.  And then, the woman said, “I assume you have not told your parents.”  I reckon not.  They are the LAST people in the world that she had planned to tell.  “Don’t worry.  We are going to tell them.  We will handle everything.”  She walked the young girl back into the store and asked the girl’s mother to find the father and to go home.  She said that they would be there in 30 minutes to talk to them.  And then, the woman walked out.  The young girl’s mother sat there just staring at the young girl for a few minutes before getting up and walking out into the store.  The young girl’s father stopped at the office door and just stared at her before walking out of the store with his wife.

As soon as they left, the young girl got on the phone and found her knight and asked him just what in the hell he had thought he was doing.  Very calmly, he said, “I fixed things.  I’ll see you in a little while.”   I’ll speed things up a bit here.  The next few days were torture.  Of course, there was the expected yelling and screaming and yelling some more at home, but the young girl’s father was just as shocked as the young girl was.  The knight had stood up to the father and told him that he was going to accept it and that that was all there was to it.  The young girl spent those days with a tortured mind.  How could she do this?  How could she not?  Did she love the knight?  She truly believed she did.  Was it fair to the knight?  Of course not.  Was he backing down?  Not an inch.  So the days ticked by.  The father was now not speaking at all to the young girl and as much as she cherished the silence, that silence was just as torturous as the yelling.  The young girl and her parents had spent an evening out at the knight’s home talking about how things were going to be handled.  The one thing that the young girl got out of all this was that she was being left out of the loop.  Nobody, not even the knight, had asked her if this was what she wanted.  I assume they all thought that this was the only option.  It seemed as though it was.  But, the truth was weighing heavily on her heart.  She couldn’t do this to her knight.  It wasn’t his baby.  He knew it wasn’t.  And from a couple of the remarks made by his mother, the young girl was sure that she knew it, too.

Finally, two days before the upcoming wedding festivities, it had to end.  It wasn’t fair.  She couldn’t do it.  When they sat down to talk, it was evident that even her knight knew that it was not the solution.  He was still insistent, but believed the young girl when she said that she would tell her father the truth if made to go through with the wedding.  And even the knight knew what that would mean.  So, they went to the young girl’s father and said that plans were cancelled.  It was that simple.  And he walked out the door.  The girl just received cold stares from the father.  The mother was crying.  The young girl was crying.  The father was just staring.

The next morning, the girl got up, got dressed, and went to work.  The mother came in to work and the father was missing in action.  The mother claimed that she didn’t know where he was.  Around noon, he walked into the office and told the young girl to come with him.  They got in the car and drove home.  When they got there, he told the young girl to go in and pack a bag.  “For what,” she asked.  “Where am I going?”  He just repeated, “Go pack a bag and come back out here.”  So she did.  They got in the car and drove down the highway.  He spoke NOT ONE SINGLE WORD.  She barely shut up.  She continuously asked where they were going and he said NOTHING.  As they hit I-20, it became apparent that they were heading for Atlanta, but she could get nothing out of him.  Complete silence.  Finally, they got off the interstate and began driving somewhere where she had no clue as to where they were.  They reached a long, winding, paved driveway and turned in.  A ways down the driveway was a large curved iron sign over the drive that read “Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers.”  She now had her answer.  They drove up in front of a large building and he finally spoke.  “Get out.”  She wondered why he wasn’t turning off the engine as she got her bag from the back seat.  Then, she knew why.  As she shut the door, he drove off.  He just drove off.  Not a word.  Just drove off.  And left her standing there.  Suitcase in hand.  She had no idea where she was or what she was supposed to do.  Finally, she walked to the door and knocked.  A lady came to the door and said, “Welcome.  We’ve been expecting you.”  Through conversation, the young girl learned that while her father had been missing that morning, he had driven to Chamblee and made arrangements for her.  Then he drove home, got her, and drove back to let her out.  And then he just drove off again.   And that, my friends, is how the young girl’s father fixed that problem.

It was now the first week of September and the young girl should be home starting her senior year of high school.  Instead, she was at a home for unwed mothers.   She tried calling home every day for the first week and was never able to speak to either of her parents.  Finally, after about 10 days, her mother accepted the collect charges and spoke to her.  She could hear the pain in her mother’s voice and the young girl prayed that the mother was not receiving the wrath that the father was certainly feeling. The Home itself wasn’t bad.  The people were nice and kind.  They were not judgmental.  She went to school during the mornings, only having two classes that she needed to take in order to graduate.  She spent the afternoons reading, or crafting, or writing letters.  Once a week, they were taken to a nearby strip mall where they could pick up needed toiletries or whatever.  Her father had been kind enough to leave $25 on her account so that she could have a bit a spending money on these trips.  Since she was now eight months pregnant, she was taken into Atlanta once a week to see a doctor.  (She had only seen a doctor one time during the pregnancy and that was after her parents had been told.  Her mom had taken her out of town to see a doctor and wham, a neighbor’s daughter was the doctor’s nurse.  The young girl could not help but giggle over that one.)

Her regular doctor’s appointment was scheduled for October 3rd.  She was told that in two days, they would bring her back to the hospital and they would induce labor.  She was told that she would spend 5 days in the hospital and then be returned to the Home.  She would spend one week there and then would leave.  During this time, the young girl’s father was still not speaking to her, but she was told by her mother that they had made arrangements with some family friends who now lived in the Atlanta area for her to stay with them upon her release.  They would bring her car to Atlanta so that she would have a way to drive to the Home each day until December when she would complete her studies and would earn her high school diploma.   The next day was their scheduled trip to the store and she bought an Instamatic camera and hid it in her bag to take to the hospital.  The young girl was told to call home after the birth to let them know how things went.

Early on October 5th, she was driven to Crawford Long Hospital and labor was induced. She knew no one.  She had no idea what was going to happen, but she knew she was alone.  And she was scared.  Sometime later that afternoon, she awoke in her hospital bed and a nurse came in to tell her that she had given birth to a baby boy and that they would be bringing him in to see her shortly.  What a beautiful baby he was.  He had her dark skin and dark hair and he was precious.  For each of the five days that she was in the hospital, they brought her sweet son into her room for the majority of the day.  The young girl was allowed to feed him, change him, take secret pictures, and love him.  For five days, she had someone she could truly love.  Someone who did not judge her.  Someone who loved her.  Someone she could take care of.  And then the five days were up.  They brought him in that last morning and told her that he’d be leaving before noon for his new foster home.  A woman came in and said that she was from the adoption agency and that she’d be handling the adoption. She said that she had spoken with the young girl’s father and that they had set up a date for her to sign the adoption papers.  Up until this point, the young girl had done her best to not think about this part.  As they took him out of the room that last time, she broke down.  They had taken away the only thing in her life that meant anything to her.  And he was being given away.  And it was her fault.  It was all her fault. She received a letter from the case worker a couple of weeks later and was told that they had had to change formula for the baby, but that he was doing fine.  She said that an adoption was in the works.  The young girl never heard anything else. Seven days after giving birth, the young girl turned 17.  She stayed at the Home for a week and then went to the home of family friends to live.  She had very little contact with anyone at her home.

A few weeks later, her parents came to the home of the people she was living with and picked her up to go into downtown Atlanta to the adoption agency.  She was told by the case worker that it looked as though the adoption would go through the court system within the next couple of weeks.  Once again, the father said NOTHING to her.  It had been the first time the young girl had seen him since he had put her out at the Home and driven away.  There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but no words would come out.  Not once did he ask about his first grandchild.  Not once did he mention the fact that it was a boy – he had always wanted a boy.  Now he had one in the family and he was forcing her to give him away.  It was probably better that neither of them spoke to each other that day.  The papers were signed and the young girl was taken back to the home of the family friends. She had no idea that perhaps she should have had a choice in the matter.  But, it was too late now.  Upon arriving at the friends’ house, she got out.  The father drove off.

So many months ago, the young girl had decided to do whatever she could to hurt her father as he had hurt her.  She was determined to make him feel pain.  She wondered that afternoon, after signing those papers, if he was finally hurting.  She hoped that he was.  She prayed that he was.  But, he never mentioned it again to her.

But, for five days –five glorious days – she had had a beautiful son.  He was perfect.  She was truly in love with this precious baby.  She loved on him, cuddled him, sang to him, fed him, changed his diapers, and prayed that somehow he could feel the love she had for him.  For five days, she was content.  For five days, she had someone to love.  For five days, she was happy.

And then he was gone.

You might wonder how I know this young girl’s story so well.  Did she tell me of this time in her life?  Did she tell me her thoughts, her feelings, her hopes, her dreams?  Did she confess her guilt to me?  No, she didn’t.  You see, I know this story so well because I was that young girl.  This is my story.   This is what has haunted me for all these years and still haunts me to this day.  I have prayed each and every day for my sweet son and for the loving family who adopted him. God Bless them.

Allen 1

Allen Lee Mains
October 5, 1966
6 lb. 14 1/2 oz.
19 1/2 inches
12:32 pm

About eight years ago, I started the process of trying to find my son.  I have filled out the oodles of papers and registered with the state so that if he ever tries to find his birth mother, I will be on record.  I have never heard a word.  I don’t know what that means.  I have no idea how he is, where he is, or if he is even alive.  I don’t know if I will ever know any of these things, but I pray that I will someday know something.  I pray that he has had a good life.  I pray that he has been healthy and happy.  I pray that he has loved the family who adopted him.  I pray that he can somehow, someday understand why he was placed for adoption.  Maybe one day, I’ll get a call or a letter.  Until then, I have only those five days to remember.

At some point after I moved back to my hometown, I ran into Boy #1 and we spoke briefly.  He still would not admit that the child was his, but he did say that we had both been young and foolish.  I guess that is as close as I’ll ever get to an admission that the child was his.  And I’m OK with that.  I wondered for many years why I didn’t hate him. I mean, I feel like I should have.  Isn’t that how the story goes?  Young girl.  Boy takes advantage of her.  She gets pregnant.  He denies that the baby is his.  She gives the baby up for adoption and then she hates him for the rest of her life.  At least, that’s how it goes in all the movies, right?  But, for some reason, I didn’t feel that hatred.  I tried to.  I pretended that I did.  But, in reality, I don’t think that I ever really hated him.  And I could never figure out why I didn’t.  But, through many years of therapy, I have come to realize that I was as much at fault as he was in the whole situation.  He didn’t love me.  I didn’t love him.  I knew that. I was a young, foolish, stupid girl who fell for his sweet lines and he used me.  That was wrong. But, I also used him as a way to hurt my father.  I guess that made it all even.  And while Dad never admitted it, I believe that I was successful at hurting him.  If he had any heart at all, he had to have been hurt (and I choose to believe that somewhere buried deep inside all the hate and meanness, he had a heart.)   I did find out many years later that Dad was told who the father had been and he never mentioned it to me.

As for my knight in shining armor — he went his separate way and is now married and has a beautiful family.  I am happy for him.  He deserves nothing but the best that life has to offer.  He has a good heart and he tried his best to “save” me and I’ll forever be grateful for that.  His wife and his children are blessed to have him.  May God Bless him always and in all ways.

I often wonder how things could have been or would have been different if I had not believed all the lies that my father told me throughout my years at home.  I wonder what it was about him that made it possible for him to never love me.  I wonder if there was a reason for all his abuse.  I wonder a lot of things.  The majority of them, I will never have an answer for.

But………..

I do know one thing.  And if I never know anything else, I know that for five glorious days his name was Allen and I was his mother.   Those five days will never change.

~~~ Betty