#amwriting, Abuse comes in many forms, Adoption, Apple Blossom Lane, Foster Home, Mental Abuse, Speaking from Experience

Apple Blossom Lane

I’m going to start my writing in the way that I feel most comfortable, just getting it out. No drafts, no notes, just as it comes to me at the moment.

Apple Blossom Lane ties into my first book, but it will stand alone. I felt it was important to shed more light on this “House of Chaos” to help raise awareness about how some foster homes function and what really happens after kids arrive.

The image I chose is pretty accurate as to the size an overall look as to the foster home you’ll get to learn more about.

The house was originally a three bedroom with a full bathroom on the main level and a half bathroom upstairs.  The Smith family resided here in the early 1970s. The Smith’s were the typical family with a mother, father and their two children, Leah and Jesse.

Here’s where the speculation begins, because this was before my time.

I can only assume that everything was normal, and at some point, Mrs. Smith decided to become a foster parent. I don’t know her reasons or what prompted her to take in a young girl that was the same age as her oldest daughter, Leah. What I do know, is that little Cindy arrived as a foster child at a young age, she was adopted shortly after and didn’t leave until her 30’s.

During this time, a young boy, Todd also about the same age as Leah and Cindy was taken in as a foster kid. Todd had a younger brother that was placed in another home. I suspect that the Smith’s didn’t have adequate space for a third boy.

Using the image as a reference, the windows to the left of the front door is where one bedroom was. Above that bedroom was the (fairly large) second bedroom upstairs. The windows to the right of the door is where the living room was, above that was the master bedroom.

Assuming that Mr. and Mrs. Smith took the master bedroom upstairs, Leah and Cindy were in one bedroom while Jesse and Todd shared the other bedroom. Todd was also adopted and became a permanent member of the Smith family.

Entering the 1980’s, Mr. Smith separated and later divorced Mrs. Smith. I heard that he was a big drinker. I also tend to suspect that adopting two kids also made it difficult on their marriage, and it may not have been what he signed up for. Foster kids are seen as temporary, and each kid comes with a stipend every month to help feed/clothe them. Once a foster kid is adopted, that stipend ends, and the foster parents take on full responsibility/expenses. At least this is how it worked in Massachusetts.

With Mr. Smith gone, Mrs. Smith needed help raising the four kids. She had her mother and stepfather move in, they occupied the bedroom on the first floor. Jesse and Todd shared the bedroom directly upstairs. Leah and Cindy shared what used to be the dining room. Mrs. Smith’s stepfather, Pete was getting his pension and also working part-time, which helped make ends meet financially. Gram was retired and was pretty much the live-in babysitter. Pete proved to be a more significant help, cleaning, taking care of the yard, and being a Jack of all trades kind of guy.

At this point, the kids were in there teenage years, they were getting bigger, and I suspect that the house was starting to feel a bit cramped. The half bathroom upstairs was converted into a very tiny bedroom. The space in the basement was split, and a single bedroom was added on one side, while a two room unit was built on the opposite side. This extra space meant that Mrs. Smith could take in more foster kids.

Jesse and Todd remained upstairs, Leah and Cindy went downstairs in the new basement rooms, and Mrs. Smith took in babies and toddlers mostly, and they shared her master bedroom with her. During the 1980s, many kids came and went, like there was always a revolving door. One kid would leave, and a few days later, a new kid was arriving.

Mrs. Smith took in an infant, Natalie, which she ended up adopting. Natalie’s parents had other children, one older daughter, and two that were born after Natalie. Her parents only gave her up and kept the other 3 siblings. I suspect that it was because Natalie was a premie, and the doctors knew that she would have developmental issues. Her adoption was an open one, in the sense that her parents and siblings were allowed visitation access, and her older sister was often allowed to spend the night or the weekend. It was mostly Natalie’s father and her older sister that came to visit her. Natalie’s mother had postpartum depression and blamed herself for Natalie, turning out the way she did. At least that is what was expressed to me once I arrived. I suspect that to be true as I don’t recall ever seeing her mother on any of those visits, or for her birthday or Christmas.

As I mentioned earlier, Todd had a younger brother. They were both sexually assaulted (not sure which parent) and their mother locked them in a closet for extended periods and fed them Cheerios under the door. Todd’s younger brother would visit, sadly he was mentally underdeveloped as well. Neither of them finished high school, neither could hold an entry-level job. Once Todd quit school, he was put to work around the house.

Todd’s jobs included:

  • Getting the younger kids up and ready for school
  • Watch the younger kids (even though there were other adults in the house)
  • Feeding the pets ( 4 dogs, 3 cats, and a rabbit)
  • Cleaning up the dog poop (in the house and out in the yard)
  • Helping to open/close the pool for the season
  • Getting bottles ready
  • Changing diapers
  • Riding along to all infant/toddler appointments (he couldn’t drive due to his mental state)
  • Help Pete with the yard work, shoveling, mowing
  • Eventually, he was the uncertified PSW for Gram
  • The older kids (now legal adults) Jesse, Leah and Cindy made Todd their errand boy all while teasing him, calling him names, making him feel like shit because he wasn’t “normal.”

This poor guy never had a day off, never had a day to himself to do what he wanted to do. What were the other adults doing?

Pete didn’t take a hands-on role with the younger kids. He was needed in other areas around the house, he had his weekly routine of chores. Pete worked two evenings each week and turned over a good portion of his pension to help financially. Pete was in his late 60’s and only got attached to Natalie. The other kids were not his concern unless they were in his line of sight and doing something they should not be.  If “No” or “Stop” didn’t get their attention, he’d yell for Todd or Mrs. Smith to intervene. Friday nights were his nights. Pete would wait until the house was quiet, go into the kitchen, and have a few beers and smoke his pipe. Once his six pack was finished, he’d go to bed.

Gram would make a small effort and help keep an eye on the kids if they were in her line of sight or entering her bedroom. Otherwise, she would not chase them upstairs, downstairs, or outside. That was a job for Todd along with being her personal chef, butler, maid, and PSW. Natalie was her favorite and could get away with murder, nothing was ever Natalie’s fault, and the nickname of Bratty Natty was given, with good reason. Gram would often instigate arguments and defend Natty when she should not have. Gram would do the opposite for Todd, everything was blamed on Todd, Todd was never good enough unless there was an undesirable task, then he was perfect. Gram was toxic and vile towards many of the younger kids, myself included. She would often tell us that our parents must be really unfit if we ended up in this house. Gram would also encourage Natty to unplug the phone if someone was using it, and she wanted to make a call. Natty’s lousy behavior was applauded and covered up by Gram.

Leah was a legal adult, she graduated high school, and her boyfriend (best friend to her brother Jesse) moved in. They shared the two room suite in the basement. If she were spending time upstairs, she’d assist with the kids. It was too easy to hide in the basement and ignore what was going on. Unless it was before 7am on the weekend and the banging, running, screaming of 4 little kids (under 10) became too much to ignore. Then you’d see Leah, Dominic (the boyfriend), Cindy or Jesse run up/down the stairs into the living room to yell “SHUT UP!”  then go back to bed. After Dominic graduated, he and Leah got married and continued to live in the 2 room suite in the basement.

During my time at the Thompon’s,  I had visited Joey on a few occasions, mostly in the summer when school was out. Mrs. Smith had told me that I could come over anytime to see Joey as long as Mrs. Thompson was okay with it. One of my first impressions was feeling overwhelmed at how many people were living there and wondering how there was room for everyone.

On one of my visits in July, I was invited to Joey’s birthday party and was advised to bring my swimsuit because their pool was open. I remember Mr. Thompson dropping me off, getting out of the car and being greeted by Bitsy, an overprotective Chihuahua that started nipping at my feet/ankles. There were many people/kids outside, and within a few seconds, Natty yelled, “Joey, your sister is here!” Joey came out and invited me inside to change, he had been waiting for me before getting into the pool. I attempted to change in the only bathroom on the main level, naturally, with so many people, that room is always occupied. I was told to use Pete and Gram’s room, they were both outside, nobody else should be entering that room. Just as I’m starting to undress, one of the little kids comes running in, no knocking. The bathroom is free, so I try in there again, that ended quickly. The dining room had a closable/lockable door, so I managed to get a few minutes uninterrupted to change. Lesson learned, wear my bathing suit under my clothes next time.

 

**********************************************************************

That is all of the time I have for now. I will come back and continue this story tomorrow.

**********************************************************************

This foster home was very different from the one I was placed at with the Thompson’s. My concern was for Joey and his well-being, I had no problem being a whistle-blower if I suspected that he was not happy or if he was abused. I knew that I could talk to Mrs. Thompson if I had any concerns, she’d look into it and not brush it off.

While I found this living situation to be overwhelming, chaotic, and uncomfortable; Joey appeared to be well adjusted and handling it better than I could have. It occurs to me now that perhaps it was because he never endured the trauma I did, his fight/flight reaction wasn’t triggered. He was referring to Mrs. Smith as “Ma” just as everyone in that house did even though we were still having regular visits with our mother. To me (at 11 years old) I took that as a sign that he was comfortable and considered Mrs. Smith as a motherly figure.

Joey (9) was sharing a bedroom with Todd (17) which would have concerned me, but considering Todd’s mental state, he was on par with that of a 12 or 13-year-old. Their bedroom had Cable TV, Nintendo, Sega Genesis and a computer which is saying a lot since this was 1989. There were kids his age to play with, he made friends quickly and being an animal lover, this foster home seemed to be a good fit for Joey. He seemed happy, and he never pulled me aside to indicate that I should be concerned.

To be honest, as much as would have liked to visit my brother more, that house was too trigger inducing and it wasn’t like it was quality one on one time, there were too many disruptions. Bratty Natty mostly butting in, creating drama and being the eyes and ears for Gram that often sent her upstairs to “check on us.”  I could have invited Joey over to the Thompson’s, he was always welcome there. I also shared a bedroom that didn’t have Cable TV, or a gaming system or a computer and figured that he would get bored. We saw each other during our regular visits with our mother, and that seemed to be adequate sibling time for both of us. I preferred the quiet, Joey didn’t mind a bit of chaos. Our separate foster homes were a good fit for both of us, even though it was difficult being separated at the beginning.

Just going back to Gram for a moment. This was something I remembered last night, in the five years that I was living in this House of Chaos, I had only ever witnessed Gram in regular clothes on two occasions. Gram always wore worn/tattered old lady muumuus with open heeled slippers. Her hair was never done, her teeth were never in. Her only exception was when her sisters were coming over to visit. I remember hearing that her sisters were coming for a visit an didn’t think much of it. I arrived home from school one afternoon an walked in the back door which leads into the kitchen, at the table was Mrs. Smith and three older ladies that I had never met. As I was making my way through the kitchen heading upstairs, one of the ladies greeted me with, “Hi Hannah, How was school today?” I found it odd that she knew my name, but I was polite and replied. Before I could leave the kitchen, the same lady asked if I recognized her and started laughing. At a quick glance, I did not. I was pretty good with faces and was a bit confused. It was Gram, all gussied up in regular clothes, hair done, makeup, nails done, teeth in, different glasses, perfume, jewelry. What also threw me off was that she never asked me about my day until she had someone to impress. I wish I were exaggerating.

Depositphotos_17427729_l-2015Sweet grandmother in red apron cooking traditional thanksgiving turkey

I’d like to think that when Mrs. Smith started out as a foster parent, it was for the right reasons. Somewhere down the line, the motive shifted and taking in kids to prevent further trauma was not the priority. Whenever that shift happened, it was well before my permanent arrival in 1991. As I mentioned in Breaking the Cycle of Abuse: My Journey from Victim to Survivor, there were 14 people living in that house, myself included along with 4 dogs, 3 cats, 1 rabbit and for a brief period a bat (with wings).

Details that weren’t mentioned in the book…

  • Leah and Dominic had a second daughter shortly after I moved in. Making it 15 people in total.
  • Leah’s friend from high school, Joy was also a frequent visitor with her daughter, Samantha. Joy was a piece of work, a single mother in her early 20’s still partying on the weekends. It sure is convenient to know that you can always dump your kid off in a foster home any time you want to. Todd has no life, he’s always there watching the other kids, so what’s one more. Your friend Leah, and her husband is home, but they aren’t watching your kid. Sure, Gram and Pete are home, but they too are not watching your kid. Cindy may be home, but she is definitely not watching your kid, because she’s locking herself in her room to avoid any kid interaction.  Basically, you are leaving your 3-year-old with Todd, who’s mentally equivalent to a 13-year-old at best. Todd who is also busy watching another 3-year-old and her 5-year-old sister and a 9-year-old Bratty Natty ( who thinks she’s helping, but mostly tattling), a 10-year-old boy, and my 11-year-old brother. I won’t include myself as one that needed a babysitter at 13. This house is an unlicenced unofficial daycare, but go ahead and dump your kid off here, she’s in good hands.

Joy started off by asking Mrs. Smith if it was okay to drop Samantha off for a few hours. Then it escalated to asking to see if it was okay to drop Samantha off for the weekend so she could go out drinking, partying, hooking up with biker guys at the Onion (biker bar). Joy became so comfortable, she stopped asking and just showed up, dropped of Samantha and came back a few days later with no way to get ahold of her. This was before cellphones/texting were mainstream. Pretty sad when you have to leave a message at the bar to find out when Joy was expecting to pick up her daughter.

***********************************************************************

This is all of the time I have today. To be continued.

***********************************************************************

Normal day to day life was chaotic, holidays, especially Christmas, were unbearable for me. My anxiety and hypervigilance were already in ON mode, during the holidays the ON turned into Overdrive.

The living room had seating for three adults or 5 kids on the couch with an additional single armchair. Once Thanksgiving was over (the USA in late November) Mrs. Smith and Todd were busy pulling out all of the holiday decorations. The armchair was removed to make room for the Christmas tree, and a fake fireplace/mantle was set up to the left of the entryway into the living room. As if the house was not cramped enough.

The dining room was the makeshift Santa’s workshop, in the sense that Mrs. Smith would go a little crazy buying presents for everybody and everything she bought would be stashed in that room. The dining room table is where Mrs. Smith and Leah would wrap the majority of the gifts. I was asked to help once they wrapped anything that was for me, and I didn’t mind the one on one time with them, feeling included didn’t come often.

When I say that Mrs. Smith went a little crazy with gifts, all of the kids 16 and younger would have at least five gifts each, mostly clothes because they were outgrowing what they had and at least one toy that they wanted (asked Santa for) and one big ticket gift. Mrs. Smith would also make sure the over 18 crowd had at least three gifts. The other adults (18+) decided that they would exchange one gift each (x7) because it gets expensive. Pete and Gram were receivers, not so much givers. So let’s do the math, shall we… 7 kids x 5 gifts each= 35 gifts + 7 adults x 3 gifts each= 21 gifts… 35+21= 56 GIFTS. Nevermind the fact that Mrs. Smith also bought for Joy and Samantha, so let’s just add 10 to make it 66 gifts that were wrapped each year for the 5 years that I live there.

Just imagine yourself as a kid in that house and waking up to 66 wrapped presents under/around the tree and taking up literally half of the living room floor. Christmas time for those kids must have been amazing! Christmas for me, not so much. At 13 years old and the childlike innocence of Christmas is gone, I had to resort to placing my order through the Lane Bryant catalog.

For those of you not familiar with Lane Bryant, it’s a women’s line of clothing that caters to the plus size women, which Mrs. Smith and Leah were. I was 13 years old, 105 pounds, 5′ 2″ a size 5 petite, nowhere near plus sized. The first year I marked a few things from the catalog in the smallest possible size, hoping for the best. The clothes came in, and they never fit correctly. I expressed my concern, the solution I was given was to create a list of items I wanted or get nothing. I was done growing, I didn’t need clothes. I felt uncomfortable asking for high ticket items, like a Super Nintendo, Game Cube because those things didn’t interest me. I felt that by asking for unwanted things, I was taking money away from what we all needed FOOD, UTILITIES.

I have never been a great gift receiver, it makes me feel awkward. Mrs. Smith found a compromise since I didn’t like shopping in-store or through a catalog; instead, I was given cash to spend how I wanted. Mrs. Smith knew that I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be adopted because I told her that I have to respectfully decline her offer (pretty smart for 13, right) the day our caseworker, Martha made an appointment to see me at the Thompson’s to drop that bombshell. In some way, I felt that she was trying to buy me off, and I wanted no part of it. I didn’t want to feel like she would have something to hold over my head.

Perhaps I was hoping for Mrs. Smith to make the time to get to know me, my likes, my interests or at least take me under her wing and be a mentor or someone that I could look up to like Mrs. Thompson did. Mrs. Smith barely had time to use the bathroom alone, she was always in demand from the time she woke up until the time she went to bed. She was the modern day Old Mother Hubbard on Apple Blossom Lane, not in a shoe.

A few years had passed, and Leah, Dominic, and their two daughters finally moved out from the two-room unit in the basement. Mrs. Smith had decided that Cindy would move in there and that I would take over the single room in the basement. Finally, my own space that wasn’t occupied by the belongings of other people. I was 16 at this time and happy to have a closet and dresser that I didn’t have to share. I technically didn’t share the master bedroom with anybody. Mrs. Smith had a large desk up there with all of her personal files/records/bills. There was a kid’s bed up there for Natty, which she never used because she slept with Mrs. Smith. Half of the dresser and closet was occupied with Mrs. Smiths clothes.

Since I was working while going to school, I was allowed to have my own phone line, a dedicated phone line for me. No more Bratty Natty unplugging the phone for her or Gram when they wanted to use it. No more people picking up the extension and start dialing while I was already using it, no more Natty or Gram picking up the other extension to listen in.

The best part about being 16 and in high school was having friends that had their own cars. Having friends that would drive you home, drive you to/from work and on weekends drive you away from the hell that was your life. Having a reason to stay busy so that I wouldn’t get stuck babysitting and being groomed to become the next Todd. That idea alone was a huge incentive for me to do well in school and get the hell out of that house.

During my first three years in the House of Chaos, I rarely invited my friends over. Chances are you wouldn’t have either. I did on two occasions and fully explained to my friends what they are likely to witness so that their experience wouldn’t be such a shock. Since those few instances, I avoided inviting friends over to visit or spend the night, mostly out of embarrassment. Bratty Natty would do her best to be noisy, rude, and get as much information as she could to relay back to those who sent her to do their dirty work. Mostly Gram, but sometimes Cindy would join in.

Just to go back to Christmas, as I remember this event. I was 17, working, in my senior year of high school and had my own vehicle. Christmas in this house was not at all personal or genuinely felt like Christmas to me. I decided to change that and decorate my room with items I bought including a real Christmas Tree with lights that had various settings and played music, garland, lots of purple ornaments because I could, the works. That was my subtle way of rebelling. Mrs. Smith was fine with me decorating my room, but she wasn’t impressed when I carried the tree through the back door, through the kitchen and down into the basement. The little kids were excited to see a “real Christmas tree,” the adults not so much. That story still makes me chuckle.

Honestly, that was probably the only time the ruffled anyone’s feathers. I wasn’t the typical teenager that played loud music, her son Jesse did plenty of that. I didn’t drink/party/do drugs, although it was all accessible in that house. Jesse most likely would have bought alcohol for me, Dominic did ask me if I wanted to buy weed from him as he was a regular user when he lived there.

One evening my friend Bill (R.I.P) and I were out driving around in his Corvette, before taking me home he bought me a 4 pack of Strawberry Daiquiris (we were 17-18, the legal age was/still is 21). I brought them down to my room in a paper bag, had my first drink, and didn’t care for it. I think I was able to get through half a bottle before I had enough. Joey came down to visit, and I told him what Bill had bought for me. Joey was intrigued and wanted a taste, he really enjoyed it more than I thought. Joey ended up drinking the other three bottles while we talked and watched TV. I know, not my most responsible moment taking part in underage drinking and sharing it with my brother that was (15-16), but at least it was under my supervision, we weren’t driving, and he didn’t get sick. It was a one time only deal. Since then, I don’t think we’ve ever shared an alcoholic drink since that night, some 20+ years later. Having spent so much time apart, this is one good memory that we share and look back on fondly.  Fondly and also sad for me as I remember the good times with my friend Bill 😦

Perhaps I’ll write a separate segment dedicated to him later on.

While the Christmas gifts and complete lack of adult supervision sound great to the average teenager, this foster home on Apple Blossom Lane was not at all conducive to helping kids that endured trauma. Not to say that it was always that way, it certainly was once there were more kids than Mrs. Smith could handle by herself. It’s not up to other teenagers (adopted or foster) to take on that responsibility, we are not your live-in babysitters, we are not just a paycheck.

Child Services would make their house visits every 6 months or earlier if they had grounds for suspicion. These visits were announced and arranged much like appointments when you are getting cable installed. You get the date and a widow of 4-6 hours to make sure you are home.  For Caseworkers reading this, please consider taking the foster parent(s) aside in a separate/private area to talk. Don’t allow the grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, neighbors the opportunity to eavesdrop on your conversation. What’s going on with the foster kid(s) is not their business, nor should they be interjecting their thoughts on the matter. They are not legally responsible, they are not part of the process.

When you’re one talking to the foster parent(s), take time to talk to the kid(s) privately. Going forward, should you come across a similar scenario, don’t believe that all of the adults are “helping” because chances are, they are not helping only mooching. Listen to those kids, don’t just brush their concerns off. When there are 7 adults, and 7 kids in the house and only 1 person is working, the red flags should be waving, bells should be ringing. Especially in this day and age, there is no way in hell that is possible for the average middle/lower class family.

Back in the 1980s-1990s Child Services made it mandatory that all foster kids attend therapy (with exceptions to very young age and the nature of their circumstance, not all reasons are traumatic). Joey and I were forced to go biweekly for the first year, and if memory serves, it was adjusted to once a month for a while, and by year 3 I was forced to attend group therapy with other girls my age. I don’t know if Joey stopped going at that point, I think it was just me because I’m pretty sure it was Mr. Thompson that was taking me at that time, not our social worker.

Once the state of Massachusetts declared that Joey and I were to be adopted, we were no longer required to attend therapy. We were no longer wards of the state, now the property of Mrs. Smith. I was pretty well adjusted during my time with the Thompson’s, and I wasn’t ready for therapy at that time. When I really needed it, it was no longer available (at no cost). The same goes for Medicaid/Medicare. All foster kids have their health/dental covered by the state, which is excellent and much needed.

Once I turned 13, no more medical coverage or dental coverage because I was no longer in foster care, I had a legal guardian. Do you think Mrs. Smith kept up on making sure I was seen regularly now that she was responsible for paying the bills? NO. In the 5 years (age 13-18) while I was living with her, I went to the doctor once and the dentist/orthodontist twice. The doctor visit I had to arrange for myself, it was my first PAP/pelvic exam at 16 (even though I was almost 12 when I started my periods). I described this event in my book, so I’ll spare you the details. As for the orthodontist, I was fitted for headgear to prepare for braces on the first visit, on the next I had them removed mostly due to the cost ($5000 then) out of pocket, and I felt guilty, knowing that it was a lot of money that could go for other things.

The point is, just because a family was able to successfully adopt 3 kids 10-20 years ago, doesn’t mean they are a good fit now. The only kids that went to the doctor/dentist regularly were the ones that were covered by the state, none of the adopted kids went unless there was a serious concern. Just something to consider and giving you an insiders perspective. Things may have changed, I’m betting it has not.

I feel that this segment is coming to an end. There is not much more that is worth sharing, or that I have not already covered in my book. For those of you that have not read Breaking the Cycle of Abuse: My Journey from Victim to Survivor there is an entire chapter dedicated to this “House of Chaos” on Apple Blossom Lane.

Overall, I am happy that I decided to share this segment in blog form, as I suspected that I would not have enough material to create a book. Anything less than 150 pages isn’t worth it for me to send off to KDP.

I hope that you enjoyed this little 3 part mini-series, I’m happy to answer any questions and your comments are encouraged.  Please give this a Like or a Share if you deem it worthy.

Thanks for listening! ~ Hannah

 

 

 

Advertisements
Abuse comes in many forms, Clear the air, Family Matters, Speaking from Experience, Venting

Unhappy Mother’s Day

Welcome back blog readers,

Yes, I know it’s been a while since my last post. Life gets busy and I haven’t been inspired until now to post anything.

No the title is not a typo, It is meant to read Unhappy Mother’s Day. It’s not to discredit the great mothers and motherly figures out there. This post is not about them. For me and for others that don’t get along with their mothers, it’s simply just another day. I am not a mother in a biological sense, I do consider myself a pug mom. I am an Aunt and a big sister that has stepped into a motherly role from time to time.

Here is what prompted this blog post.

59178144_1088278941355865_4956203654685130752_n

60338850_778760592517599_7729534127283634176_n

I saw this on Facebook, I can relate so I shared them both to my page knowing that I have a few people on my friend’s list that can also relate. My mother saw them, and her natural instinct is to think they are about her. I’ve told her on a few occasions that not everything I share is about her. If I don’t tag her specifically or share it on her page, it’s not meant for her and is just a generic post I thought was worth sharing.

My mother sent me a private message, here is how things played out.  ** If you have not read my book, or through posts on this blog SPOILER ALERT**

Mom:  Hi Hannah, just a question.. be truthful.. was I really a bad mother to you and Joey? as you put all these two posts say..

Hannah:  I have no reason not to be truthful… First not everything I post is about you or anyone in particular. Not everyone has a mom to celebrate Mother’s day with for various reasons. I can relate to that. Not everyone has a great relationship with their mother, I can also relate to that. If you’ve read my book, you should know exactly where I stand. As for your question about you as a mother… You were not great, you were not the best, I know that you believe that you did the best you could. You were also not the worst. Your kids grew up to be functioning members of society, that was partially you and also not your doing. You don’t get to take credit for how we turned out as you only had 7-9 years of influence.

Mom:  Okay… Wow… I did not finish the book yet but I will at some point.. and I feel like you just slapped me for being who I am.. sorry you feel the way you do but you are right about me doing the best I could at the time you two lived with me.. and no I was not there as you both grow up as I had wanted too but then again that was not all my fault… but I do and will still always love you both and will be here when and if you both ever need me ..

Hannah:  You are free to take whatever I say in any manner that you see fit. I didn’t say that you DID the best that you could, I said that I know that YOU believe that you did the best that you could. You are and have been in complete denial about the choices that YOU made and the part that YOU played in everything. You asked me to be truthful, now I ask that you be truthful. I told you the truth about George and what he had been doing to me once you walked in on the last encounter. That wasn’t enough for you… you wanted confirmation/proof, you wanted to know who was telling the truth… You heard the truth, from ME, from the doctors and you still wanted to be with a man that raped me 9 times over 14 months. YOU did NOT do all that you could do to protect me and to keep your kids. YOU could not stay away from George once he was in prison, you got caught visiting him even though you knew you should not, if you wanted your kids back. You chose George again over your kids and their best interest was to be with their mother , not sharing a roof/life with a pedophile. Not only could you not stay away, but you befriended and married another one. Still you feel that you did the best you could, playing the poor me victim card, wondering why your kids don’t talk to you, or make the effort to visit. I opened the door of communication for YOUR benefit, not mine. I don’t need you as a parent in my life. I’m 40 and have done just fine without you. read my book, or don’t, I honestly don’t care. I’m too busy for this BS. You wanted honesty, that is all that I have ever given you, I can’t help how you react to it, that’s on you. I won’t respond because I have to work. Happy Mother’s Day, you brought this on yourself. Now you know why people get frustrated with you and don’t talk to you. How’s that for honesty?

For those of you that are not caught up and not at all familiar with the references, long story short (or as short as possible). I was sexually abused by my mother’s boyfriend in the mid-1980’s the abuse happened 9 times over 14 months (I was 8-9 years old). Once confirmation was obtained (rape test at the hospital the next morning) Child Services were called, my younger brother and I ended up in foster care. What was supposed to be short term ended up being 5 years that ended up in adoption because my mother kept choosing her boyfriend over her kids. We never did go back home.

Anyway, you get the idea. Mother’s day is just another day for me as I don’t have a reason to celebrate. Sometimes fishing for compliments backfires. Some might think that my response is a bit harsh, that’s fine.  You don’t know her like I do.

She has a knack for asking loaded questions, starting an argument and when she finally hits a nerve, she asks why you’re so upset. No accountability for her actions, she’s never to blame and always the victim of circumstance. It’s never her fault for anything.

I’ve tried to be nice, I put myself in her shoes 13 years ago and realized as big as her family is, nobody talks to her or goes out to visit. I felt sad for her. She had 3 grandchildren that she had never met. I was able to salvage/rekindle her relationship with my brother (married with 3 kids) and with her sister. Sadly both were short-lived because she can’t leave well enough alone, she sabotages herself and blames everyone else.

I’m done. Done sugar coating my responses to spare her feelings. She doesn’t take a hint. Sadly brutal honesty is the only thing that gets her attention. Sometimes the truth hurts, so be sure you want to hear it if you come looking for it from me.

I do want to wish all of the great mothers and those that take on a motherly (Aunts, grandmothers, sisters, stepmoms, cousins, nieces) role a Happy Mother’s Day!

Thanks for letting me vent.

 

**** Just an update****

Since the post went public yesterday, I have exchanged a few more private messages with my mother.

Just more of the same BS, of her not taking responsibility, not recognizing that her choices have consequences, nothing is ever her fault. After her last message this evening, I decided not to respond. I’m done! I have blocked her from Facebook as there is nothing more for me to say to her. She sees us (me, my brother, her sister and her brother) as the problem, as to why we don’t talk or visit with her. Funny thing is, we all talk to each other, she can’t admit that she is the common demoninator.

Anyway, just thought I’d share the most recent event for those inquiring minds.

 

 

 

#MenToo, #MeToo, Abuse comes in many forms, Sexual Abuse, Shared Link, Speaking from Experience, Stigma/Taboo, Victims of sexual abuse/sexual assualt

Reasons why Family Members side with Sexual Abusers.

Welcome back blog readers,

I just came across this article on my Facebook news feed and felt that it’s worth sharing with all of you.

https://psychcentral.com/lib/reasons-family-members-side-with-sexual-abusers/?fbclid=IwAR1nfSWAZWvJrRIfRgdO0f0SBl2uGk5TrARWlnvnbOl5tImXALN5B_I7fBE

With all of the stories that have been coming out over the last year and all of the claims of sexual abuse that HAS taken place, I still don’t understand why there are still so many people that blatantly dismiss the vital information that we are sharing.

We’ve come forward, we’ve shared our experiences to help others recognize how abuse of this nature continues to happen and WHY many of us could not come forward right away. I’m beginning to feel like a broken record, repeating the same information over and over again.

I have been silenced for too long, so NO, I won’t stop talking about my experience nor will I stop sharing information that might help save another child from going through what I experienced. LISTEN UP!! I’m not writing and advocating to merely pass the time. We as a society, as families, as neighbors have allowed these sexual predators to get away with taking advantage our loved ones for far too long. When are we going to open our eyes and hold those involved accountable? When are we going to learn that staying silent (because it’s easier than to admit what really happened under our noses) is not the best way to handle these situations?

Can you not see that we’ve allowed sexual predators to continue their vile acts on other people, while their victims that need help, need support get shoved aside and cast out. Can’t you see how damaging that is? Wouldn’t you rather be a part of the solution and not help a sexual predator continue their vile acts on innocent kids?

Now, look at where we are… it’s 2019, and we have a president that openly admits that he’s been able to use his celebrity status to do whatever he wants to women. This same man had 20 women come forward all claiming some form of sexual misconduct had taken place before he entered the White House in 2016. Since his time as president, he has endorsed Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court Judge, he too had a woman come forward stating he had sexually assaulted her 30 years prior in high school.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/27/christine-blasey-ford-security-donations-trauma-survivors

We all know how that turned out. When the president is a sexual predator, naturally he’s going to support any other of his kind and push their careers forward while he can. That’s how they work and how they’ve been able to stay under the radar for so long. Just look at the Catholic Churches. Hundreds of priests have been able to hide behind their religion for decades. So many claims have been coming forward, most are discarded and not given a second look. Why? Sexual predators show a different side to everyone they are not abusing. They are often charming, funny, just a super nice guy/lady that we couldn’t imagine them hurting anybody.

We need to stop turning a blind eye on people that hold a position of authority, an important place within our church, anyone with celebrity status because sexual predators come from all walks of life. They use their job to their advantage, some can afford to pay their victims to stay silent.

Have you ever wondered why sexual predators are housed together, away from the general population in prison? It’s for their safety, seriously! Even in prison, they are still being protected.

If you’ve read the article and have read everything up to this point, are you seeing the signs? Is this all making sense? Is there somebody that comes to mind, someone that checks all of these boxes?

Learn to recognize the signs of abuse and how to handle this type of situation if you or someone confides in you that they have been abused.

https://www.rainn.org/safety-prevention

I still firmly believe that those who are quick to defend an abuser is hiding something and you should be very cautious around them.

Consider yourself warned. ~ Hannah

Not the Popular Opinion, Religious Beliefs, Speaking from Experience, The World We Live In

Religion, it’s personal so keep it to yourself.

Religion icons set

Welcome back blog readers,

There are a handful of topics that get me fired up, and religious extremists are one of those topics. This is not going to be religion bashing post, because that would be disrespectful and it’s not at all the point that I’m trying to make.

Before I go any further, I should make the disclaimer that what you are about to read are my opinions based on my experiences. I do not follow any particular religion, I do not belong to any church. I’m simply offering a different perspective. I am not lost, nor do I need saving.

Lately, there are so many headlines on social media that have me shaking my head in what should be disbelief, but is sadly the new normal in society. Shame on us for allowing such things to happen.

Things like this:  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/alabama-abortion-crime-pregnancy-trump-administration-us-a8854716.html?fbclid=IwAR3QY9xUsuWaEHkkMBZvqQOIhru1JH6IAv8NtRfov3gDAwWBHOQS-na_UXs

And this:  https://www.texasobserver.org/texas-lawmaker-no-abortion-access-would-force-women-to-be-more-personally-responsible-with-sex/?fbclid=IwAR1nrD9XjQzIcKvWNnHNQXwzLGu8rX8bb3WyxB3ulZ6_gK_qW_hu8QMtGrA

Yes, while on the outside it looks as though on the Republicans are taking credit for these new rules on controlling women and their bodies; if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that religion plays a part. These lawmakers are forcing their beliefs and views on society, and it’s not right.

16406459_10155804545642729_7459238479329190762_n

As I have said before, Religion has a time and place. Religion is personal and is not meant to rule the entire human race. There is not one religion to rule them all, just as your religion isn’t the only one that exists. While I don’t follow or put my faith in one particular religion, I do recognize that others do exist and I respect whichever one you seek comfort from or choose to follow. As long as you don’t push your beliefs on me, we won’t have a problem.

Laws and religion are supposed to be separate, but clearly, they are not. Laws are meant to protect citizens, keep the peace, not force us to conform to your religious beliefs because you don’t acknowledge any other religion but your own.

Religion should have NO place in the government, there should be no religious influence what so ever. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all government officials have to be Atheists, I’m saying that religion should not be playing a factor in the lives of others.

Just as religion and public school should be separate. There are schools dedicated to various religious groups so those views should not be pushed on students that don’t practice or follow, it’s their choice.

As for the medical field, the government doesn’t need to get involved in every single aspect. Patients should be allowed to seek doctors or other medical/mental health professionals that they are comfortable with.  Patients have rights, click the link to read more from a reputable source.

https://www.who.int/genomics/public/patientrights/en/

When ethics and morality come into question, that’s where we tend to see religion pop up. Topics like abortion and physician-assisted deaths seem to trigger people. We have to respect that some medical professionals are not on board with performing either, that is fine. If these services are not something you believe in, that too is also fine. It doesn’t mean that other patients shouldn’t seek out these solutions if it’s in their best interest and there is a medical professional that is willing to help.

Please spare me your comments about how it’s Murder! That is your opinion, your opinion is not a fact. Abortions and Assisted Deaths should be a discussion for the patient and their doctor, your input carries NO weight. Just as my opinions about any medical procedure you want carries no weight.

Religion is personal, so keep it to yourself and mind your own business.

Acknowledge that more religions exist beyond Catholic and Christian, be respectful and stop pushing your views on other people.

If your religion promotes being mean and hating other humans based on their beliefs, gender, race, how they identify, then find a more peaceful religion.

Blindly following those that promote hate and racism never leads to anything positive.

That is all the time I have for today. ~ Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

Family Matters, Speaking from Experience, The World We Live In

Family Matters, at least it should.

Girl on a swing in the woods

 

Welcome back blog readers,

I’m just going to come right out and say it, My Family Sucks!

I feel that I should clarify that there is a handful that I do associate with and none of those members are included in what comes next. Nor are the family members that have been the most supportive (my husband’s family), they are not involved in my family bashing post. It’s important that I say that up front as there are a few that do follow my blog, this is not about you.

Now that I’ve made that disclaimer let’s get into this.

Due to my childhood, having been separated from my family at the age of 9, it is understandable as to why I feel deeply compelled to reconnect with family. I have patched a few relationships within my family because I know how it feels to be cast aside, given the silent treatment over stupid petty issues or pride getting in the way.

I don’t know where my deep sense of family values came from, it certainly wasn’t from my parents or my immediate family. They honestly do put the FUN in dysfunction. As a 40-year-old woman, I wouldn’t think that this shit would bother as much as it does, but yet here I sit in tears because my family fails to disappoint me at every opportunity.

I do believe that this post has triggered my inner child to emerge and that is where the tears are coming from. I know that things aren’t going to change because they haven’t in my entire adult life. Yet, that small part of me, my inner child keeps holding onto a false hope that one day she’ll be worthy enough and loved enough for her family to make an effort to visit her. How do you tell a child that once they reach 9 years old, her family will never come to visit her? Imagine carrying that around with you for 31 years.

Sure I have some of them as “friends,” and we share the odd message every once in a while, but it’s idle chit chat, nothing that really matters. What’s worse is that I’ve been putting a few on “snooze for 30 days” and limiting their posts because they often share hateful, racist messages that I don’t want to be associated with.

The only time specific family member seek me out is when they are asking for money. There was an incident back in 1998 when I was living in Florida when I received a call from my mother (we were on talking terms back then), and she mentioned that family member (one of her aunt’s that I had never met) had been diagnosed with Cancer. I offered my sympathy and sorry that I can’t do anything to help as I was 19 and trying to get settled after moving 1,000 miles away.

A few moments later I receive another call from someone claiming to be a family member and sharing the bit of news that my mother had just talked to me about. I found myself baffled that this person has never reached out to me in 19 years, I don’t know who they are even though they seem to remember me, to call out of the blue because they want money. If my mother had not called me first, I honestly would have thought it was a scam. This was back before PayPal and e-Transfers. Have I ever heard or seen this mystery family member since then? Nope. Not a single peep.

My mother’s side of our family is huge. My grandmother has 7 siblings, those siblings have 3+ kids each, and they grew up to have 2+ kids of their own. I have so many second and third cousins out there, some I had never met because I was taken away from the family before they were born and they have no idea I exist.

Like this morning for example; I received a friend request from one of my cousins. I knew of her, she reached out to me last night, and I replied this morning. Letting her know that I look forward to getting to know her, thanks for reaching out and I was happy to answer any questions that she might have. She admitted that she didn’t realize I was family (I wasn’t surprised because she is one of the younger cousins), but she’s pushing her line of jewelry and hoped I was interested in placing an order. I declined because I don’t wear jewelry, but I did offer a quick rundown as to how I fit into the family. That was met with an ” Ok, well if you would like to still show support that is much appreciated, share my video when I go live.” Awesome, that makes me feel great, I was just a cold call to drum up business and nothing more. Yeah, I’ll be sure to share your videos and promote your $5 jewelry.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for showing support and helping people promote their business, books, buying from your kid’s school fundraiser. I’ve donated to various GoFundMe pages to send your kid to Washington D.C, or send your kid to Japan, sending your family money for medical expenses because you’ve fallen on hard times. I’ve placed orders for Tupperware /Mary Kay/PartyLite/Pampered Chef for items that I don’t need just to support your side home business.

What do I get in return when I’m promoting a fundraiser for Children’s Cancer? Nothing.

What do I get when I share the news that I’m a best selling author and offer a free copy of my book? Nothing. Nobody says a damn thing. No congratulations, no comments, no inquiries. No acknowledgment. No shares, no likes, no downloads or purchases.

I know they’ve seen the post, actually several posts that I’ve shared. They comment and share the posts before and after, just not on the milestone that actually means something to me. When I decided to write my book, I thought it was best to use a pen name as many authors do. Due to the nature of the contents, I was afraid of the backlash that often comes with sharing an experience like mine. Not all family members were cast in a positive light. I did change the names of all living family members except for those who granted me permission to use their real name.

I took a considerable risk in sharing this milestone with my family, most don’t know I even wrote a book, some know, but don’t know what pen name I used. Those that do know, I have their support. I chose to create a separate author page because I wanted the distance from my personal life. It’s been a year and my views have changed. I wrote something that I am proud of, and it sucked feeling like I couldn’t share that with my family/friends that really know me, not as Hannah Reinbeck. I have reached a point where I no longer care if feelings get hurt, those people should have made better choices and did more to protect me. I will not apologize for how some people are portrayed, their actions were their choice.

I have to stop expecting my family to be better than what they are.  I have to stop caring about what they think and be honest with myself. They don’t care, as much as they profess. It’s difficult to throw in the towel and give up on family even when they’ve proven that you are not a priority. Maybe it stems from me believing in treating people the way I’d like to be treated, I don’t know. This issue has been an ongoing struggle and internal battle that I keep fighting, yet knowing I’ll never win.

That’s all the time I have for now. Thanks for listening.

 

 

#MenToo, #MeToo, Book Promotion, Interview, Podcast, Speaking from Experience

This Author is open to Interviews

Welcome back blog readers,

After much thought and deliberation, I thought I would push myself out of my comfort zone and offer to be interviewed as a way of self-promotion and raising awareness when it comes to childhood sexual abuse.

When I say interview, I’m thinking more of an online/virtual sense, not putting a camera in my face with a studio audience because I don’t do well under that kind of pressure.

If you are conducting research about childhood sexual abuse and want to talk to an adult survivor, I am open to sharing my story and answering your questions.

If you’d like to interview me for your blog or maybe a podcast, I am open to that as well.

Anyone interested, please feel free to contact me here by leaving a comment on this post, on my facebook page or on Twitter where this post is published.

Thank You for your consideration, I look forward to working with you.