In May of 2011 my parents, then boyfriend, and I survived the Joplin tornado. I guess I’m using the word survived rather loosely here as since then my life has changed beyond what I ever could have imagined. My then boyfriend soon became my seriously abusive husband, my parents are still out of their minds between mom having a heart attack the day after the storm and the loss of everything they owned. I’m disabled, I’ve been so since my lungs became too unpredictable for me to hold employment at the age of 20.
I was 32 when the storm hit. By 33 I was saying “I do” to a man that had changed since the storm, which was also the day he proposed. I had an awful feeling about going through with the wedding but I was told to stop being stupid and that I just had cold feet. My mom watched the wedding via Skype from her bed in the rehabilitation unit of the nursing home. My dad, almost as though he had been replaced by a robot, walked me to what can only be described as the moment when a deep wound in our lives became both gangrenous and cancerous.
With both parents now living in the house I was renting from them, I was not only back in my childhood home with the toxic people I had tried so hard to escape as both a child and young adult but they cared even less now than ever before.
My dad witnessed the first time my husband hit me and he did nothing. It was 2 weeks in and I immediately declared I wanted a divorce. My dad told me I was over reacting. The year that followed brought countless beatings, silkwood showers, endless reminders that Marital Consent is still a very real thing in my state, choke holds, being suffocated with his hand on my mouth while the other plugged my nose, death threats, threats to turn his attention to my mom if I made a “mistake” whatever that meant as there were no correct answers with him, and lastly I watched him steal $20,000 from my parents.
Now maybe if there had never been a witness, maybe if I hadn’t been telling my parents everything I could, maybe if I had said “Yes” every time the hospital asked me if I felt safe at home, and maybe, just maybe, if I hadn’t thrown him out 3 times without his house keys only to have dad let him back in, then maybe I wouldn’t feel this gargantuan hole inside of me, but I do. It eats your soul and takes away your ability to trust anyone. It appears to also have made a home inside both of my parents.
I’m not sure why I was ever born. I don’t know if it was some narcissistic thing on their part or they honestly had good intentions. Either way, my biggest goal as a child was to be as invisible as possible. This didn’t always work out though. Kids need help with things and I had no one else to turn to.
They took me to therapy with a pedophile therapist that worked out of his basement office in his home. I would beg to not have to go back. Too ashamed to admit why, too worried they wouldn’t care anyway. They finally sent me to someone else when they walked into his office and had to find us in this tiny cinder block room, the only light coming from a computer screen, and me on his lap. I don’t remember what computer task I was supposed to be doing. I don’t remember what was on the screen. I just remember that wasn’t the first time and I was completely numb. When my parents showed up I burst into tears and ran to them. He made some excuse for this scene and I remember them trying to question me in the car. The only problem was they weren’t questions about what was going on, they were accusations that I was to blame. That my 8 year old self had put the moves on my shrink. They sent me to another therapist and now a psychiatrist. By the time I was 9 years old I was on a steady stream of psych meds.
I lost my Medicaid during the separation from my soon to be ex husband. I also lost the ability to afford any mental health care. I panicked at first. I had been told since the age of 9 that I HAD to have these medications and now at 34 I would have to suddenly stop all of them.
I was terrified. I couldn’t remember a single day that I didn’t pray to die nearly my whole life! It was my first thought every single morning, every quite moment of the day, and the last thing I thought about before falling asleep. I would pray for what seemed like hours every night, but was probably around 30-60 minutes. I wasn’t actively suicidal mind you, I never wanted to end my life. I just felt dead inside. Beyond hope. It was as though everything I experienced was from the inside of a glass box, and the glass was 12ft thick.
I felt love, pain, and even sympathy for others, but I don’t really recall ever feeling happy or joyful. What little I could feel barely registered and I hated myself and my life. If this was the best way I could be with all of those meds, I didn’t want to be anything anymore. Then came the detox.
About 4 weeks after I had to stop the medications, I laughed. I was watching a standup comedy special and for the first time since I was 9 years old, I laughed for real. The sound of my own laugh even startled me, I was that caught off guard. It was then I noticed I hadn’t been praying to die for weeks. Not once that I could recall and in fact, if I really thought about it, I felt hopeful. I’d never felt this way before! I wanted to fix the mess left by the storm and my ex. I wanted to start my new life and finish my degree. I wanted to say I was sorry to everyone for being so checked out and most of all I wanted to tell my parents how much I loved them and beg for forgiveness for every fight, moment of apathy, and tell them that I promise we will survive this because for the first time we really can all work together. I didn’t know then that no matter how much you hope for something to work out, if you haven’t seen a clear view of whom you have to work with, you need to adjust your hopes to match their capabilities.
What do you get when you attempt this with 2 unmedicaited, checked out bi-polars, chocked full of tornado PTSD, that still couldn’t care less if I lived or died? You are told you’re a liar, a worthless selfish c**t, they never want to see your face or hear your voice again, and then they lie to you. I was told to stay out of their lives for and they would help me get out of here. I couldn’t make a sound. If I left my room all Hell broke loose, and any chance they had to be hurtful in anyway they took it. This resulted in me doing all I could to stay asleep or doing something on my phone. I to this day spend all but 30 minutes a day in bed because there is no place else to go.
After a year had passed and my health had deteriorated due to inactivity. I checked the progress of getting me out of here. They hadn’t done anything. I cried. That was new. I was never one to cry before, but I cried. Deep, heavy sobs with raging rivers of tears. They told me to “Shut the f**k up and stop blubbering!” It was the first two years off the meds that I had to learn how to process feeling everything. I was now 35 and to what most people my age would be extremely disappointing or things that could be nice came at me like debris in a wind tunnel. This didn’t hurt like a normal disappointment should, it was like someone fired a cannon full of nails and razor blades at me. I tried to explain to them and to even my poor friends who had to watch me cry over commercials or find the littlest things far too funny, that I’d spent almost 30 years without feeling anything and now I’m adjusting to feeling everything.
My parents didn’t care. Instead they dubbed me a liar and only when it suits them to twist a knife, do they remember the first shrink, the first grade teacher, the countless times one or the other decided I couldn’t win on any particular day. Otherwise, I’m just a “Selfish, lying, whore.”
I’m going to be 37 soon. I don’t hyper feel things anymore and somehow, as I sit in my locked room, I still have hope for a future someday. I’m disabled, and my health is failing. My friends for the majority have long since taken off. My parents still promise help but both can’t and won’t while at the same time my mom spreads lies to the family about me. Dad destroys the house and mom texts pictures of the mess saying that I did it. He’s covered her bedroom wall with blue acrylic paint twice and his clothes were covered in it but somehow it’s my fault.
I’ve been told to stop lying about my ex husband too. Apparently even though he did steal $20,000 he was a saint and I’m too ugly and fat for anyone to ever bother with beating or raping. (Whomever said that a mothers love knows no bounds, clearly needed to get out more.)
Oh update: My father is in the hospital. He has an infected tush and needs cysts removed. I’ve tried to get him into anyone for weeks. He wouldn’t go because he hadn’t had a bath in months. Still, somehow this is my fault.