Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part One
HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Mary” is a pseudonym. The following series is an original non-fiction story that spans 33 pages of single-spaced sentences. It will be divided into 10 parts. The story begins during the author’s early childhood and goes up to the present. At each stage the author writes according to the age she is at.
Trigger warnings: various parts of this story contain descriptions of graphic, often sadistic, physical abuse of children, apologisms for religious abuse, deprivation of food, as well as references to rape.
Part One: Early Childhood
I am so excited! I just prayed with Mom and Dad and asked Jesus to come into my heart! Everybody at church says that’s such a good thing. I like everyone acting so happy with me.
Mom says that I need to get baptized now. I know it means that I need to go in front of everybody at church and I’m not excited about that. So many people looking at me scares me so much, but Mom says that’s what God said I need to do, so I will try very hard to be brave. I’m only four, but I will try my best.
Mom just told me that it is time for bed, but I’m still so excited that I can’t sleep. Abby and talk for a while and then she turns over and goes to sleep.
I got baptized yesterday in front of the whole church! It was scary and I didn’t want that man to put me under water. I don’t like him at all. He always tickles me when I come to church and I hate that! I’m glad he didn’t try to tickle me yesterday! Tonight, Mom and Dad are leaving and we have a babysitter. I like her a lot. She has her ears pierced! Mom says that I am too young to have mine pierced, but I just can’t wait. Abby and I play with her earings and watch her take them off and put them back on without even looking in a mirror! I don’t know how she can do that.
Now it is time for bed. Abby and I race to see who can get their pajamas on the fastest. It’s close, but I won! We go get into our bed and our babysitter turns off the lights and shuts the door. We are not tired yet, so we start talking. Abby asks me if I was scared to go in front of the church and I tell her I was, but not to tell anybody. Then I start to tell her that she needs to ask Jesus in her heart because we do everything together and I want Abby to be with me all the time all the way to heaven! She is my best friend and I want to be with her always. Our babysitter comes back in the room and asks us why we are talking. I told her that I was telling Abby about Jesus and she starts looking at me funny and then says ok, and leaves the room. We don’t want to get in trouble for not obeying the babysitter, so we stop talking and go to sleep.
It’s morning time! I love waking up in the morning because I love breakfast. It also means that Abby and I can play for a long time before it’s bedtime again. After breakfast, we run into our room to play. That’s our favorite place to play because most of the time, John leaves us alone. Today we get out our Barbies and all our stuffed animals and our baby dolls. We change our Barbies’ names all the time but our dolls are always Rita and Gail. Mawmaw and Pawpaw gave me Rita for my birthday when I turned three. She is my favorite toy and I love her so much. I sleep with her every night because she is the perfect snuggling size. Mawmaw and Pawpaw gave Gail to Abby too, but I don’t remember when. Today we are playing “Ranch” first. We like to play this in the morning because it is cooler outside and we don’t get too hot. We spend a while drawing the maps to our ranch and marking what everything is, then we head outside to start playing. Rita and Gail go with us because they are our daughters and the ranch is going to be theirs one day. So they need to learn how to take care of all the animals.
It’s getting warmer out here, so we decided to go in our room and play “Beauty Contest.” We dress up our dolls in the prettiest dresses they have and then line them up on the bed for judging. Abby and I are the judges but Gail can’t be the only one that wins and neither can Rita, so it is a tie! They are both the most beautiful. Now that the beauty contest is over, it’s time to play “College”! This is always fun because we go get Mom’s huge nursing books. They are the biggest books in the house and are so heavy! That has to be what college is like. We also get notebook paper and pens and scribble on every line. We don’t know how to write words yet so we try to make the scribbles look like words.
Yay! Mom just called lunch. Today we get egg and cheese sandwiches, one of my favorites! After lunch it is quiet time. Abby and I are supposed to try to take a nap. Mom says that we don’t have to fall asleep, but we have to try. I’m too bouncy today and start jumping on the bed with Abby. Oops! We hear Mom coming down the hallway. We lay down really fast and squeezed our eyes shut to pretend we are trying to sleep. She opens the door and tells us that she heard us jumping on the bed and that if we don’t stop then we are going to have to stay in bed longer. We really want to get up so we are very good and don’t jump anymore. After Mom lets us get up we take our Barbies into the living room to play. John is in there playing with his Legos and train tracks. He built the most wonderful train track we had ever seen and we wanted to run a train on it so badly! He wouldn’t let us though. He said that he was fighting a war and the lego planes were about ready to start bombing! He starts making bombing noises and starts blowing up his wonderful train track! We can’t believe it, he didn’t even run a train on it once!
He’s now finished blowing up his train track and by the way he is looking, he is trying to figure out what to blow up next! Abby and I start picking up our Barbies really fast but he is faster and grabs one of Abby’s Barbies. That Barbie’s name is Helen and he pulled her head off her body and then started yelling that Mt. St Helen blew her top! We just watched a video about that volcano last week and he really liked it. We start running to our room to get away from John and we try to shut the door before he gets there, but he is so fast. He gets his foot in the door and we slam it on his foot. He is so strong and he almost gets the door open then Abby and I get an idea. We sit on the floor with our backs up against the side of the bed. Then we put our feet up against the door and hold our legs out straight and lock our knees. We finally get the door shut but we have to stay like that until he leaves because he has already broken the lock on our door.
All of a sudden it gets very quiet on the other side of the door. We start laughing and telling John through the door that he can’t fool us again. The first time he did that, we were fooled and thought that he had gone away but as soon as we opened the door to leave he got in. We are still laughing and telling John that we are not going to open the door when we hear a thud on our window. I look over and there is John trying to open our window from the outside. I run over really fast to make sure the window is locked, then Abby and I start teasing him. We know he can’t get in that way, so we are not scared.
John looks really mad now. I glad the window is locked. Wait, he just picked up his bat and is swinging it at the window.
The outside of our window is broken and we know John is in big trouble! We are glad he is in trouble though. Maybe he will stop being mean to us.
I am scared right now, Mom said everything was going to be alright before she and Dad left us with the babysitter and went to the hospital. She told me that it was time for her to have our baby brother and that she was ok. Why does she need to go to the hospital then? Hospitals are where people go when they are very sick and sometimes people die there. I don’t want Mom to go, I miss her and want her home. I go hide from the babysitter in my room and cry. I am worried about Mom and I want her to be ok.
It’s bedtime and Dad still hasn’t called, I can’t sleep at all. Our babysitter comes in and reads me another story and tells me again that Mom is just fine. I want to believe her but it is so hard! I finally am able to go to sleep because I am so tired.
It’s time to get up now! Maybe Mom and Dad will be home soon. I want to see them. so badly. After we finish breakfast, the phone rings. We jump and try to be patient while our babysitter talks to whoever is calling. She is smiling very big when she turns around and hangs up the phone. She tells us that we have a new brother and that his name is Henry and that he is just as healthy as he can be. I am so happy that I start screaming and Abby starts with me and we run outside because we can’t keep screaming inside. Mom will not come home till tomorrow, but I know she is safe.
Henry is such a cute baby and I love having a baby brother. I am such a big helper with him too. I help Mom change his diapers and give him a bath. Mom says that I can’t help feed him, but that’s ok, sometimes Mom lets me watch. I ask her if it hurts to have a baby sucking on her, but she says no, that’s they way it’s supposed to be. I ask her when I’m going to get the bumps that she is feeding Henry with and she just says that I’ll get them one day. I always wonder how long away is one day. I am just so fascinated with Mom and I want to be just like her when I grow up.
Everybody says that I look just like her and that makes me proud. I am her oldest little girl and I am glad that I am so much like her.
Mom just called us into the living room, we sit down and she says she needs to ask us a question. Baby Henry is sleeping in her lap and I try to be careful so Mom will let me touch him. Mom tells us that she and Dad have been talking about her not going back to work anymore. She said this means that she will be home all the time with us, but she wants to know if we like that idea. I was so excited and happy — that means Mom would be home every night and would be able to tuck us in and everything! I tell her that I want her to stay home. Abby says the same thing and John says that he does not care. Abby and I are so happy that we start to dance around the living room until Mom reminds us to be quiet because Henry is still sleeping.
Mom’s Medical Problems
I am so tired! We have been at the doctor’s office all day long.
Mom brought us a picnic lunch and we had to eat in the parking lot. Finally Mom and Dad come out, but we still have to stop and get Mom’s medicine before we can go home. This is the fifth doctor Mom has been to this month. She has very bad headaches all the time and she is too tired right after breakfast to get off the sofa. We have had sandwiches for lunch for so long! I am so tired of them, but Mom doesn’t have the energy to fix anything and that is all we know how to make. I am not looking forward to supper either, Dad doesn’t know how to cook anything so we know that we will have cereal for supper again.
Why can’t anybody figure out what is wrong with Mom? I miss her yummy food and her playing with us. She can still help us with our school work because she doesn’t have to get up for that, but I want her better. She is always a lot more irritable when she has a headache. It’s harder to get our school work done the right way to make her happy. As we drive home, I am hoping that this doctor figured out what is wrong. Mom finally tells us that he didn’t and that she has to go to another doctor next week.
This doctor is not in town and they have to go spend the night for a few nights. She tells us that Grammy is coming to stay with us while she and Dad go. I get very excited again. I love Grammy so much! She is my favorite grandmother. For the next few days, Abby and I are counting them down till Grammy comes! This is going to be a great week. She won’t make us do school work and we get yummy food again. Grammy also always gives us lots of hugs and kisses and tells us she loves us. I don’t know why Mom and Dad don’t do that anymore but I really miss getting hugs.
They finally know why Mom is so tired all of the time. Her thyroid is not working anymore. I don’t know what that is but Mom said it is a little thing in your throat that gives your body energy and because it doesn’t work anymore she hasn’t had any energy. If they could figure out why she is getting the headaches then everything would be fine again.
Right now I am mad at Mom. Her headaches have been worse but now she can get off the sofa. She is angry at us all the time.
I don’t know why — we are not any different.
She didn’t like the way that Abby and I cleaned our room this morning. That is why she is mad. I am mad because she has been yelling at us all morning. I wish the doctors would fix her headaches!
To be continued.