Tuesday, April 23, 2024

My bizarre backstory at age 11: weird abuse, parentification, co-sleeping with babies, plus more

 Hello friends. I recently turned a corner in my life. Instead of ignoring and making excuses for the childhood trauma I experienced, I've begun reexamining it. I'm starting to call my parents' and stepparents' treatment of me, what it actually was: abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, social and spiritual), neglect, endangerment, scapegoating, exploitation, shaming, parentification, coercion manipulation and gaslighting. It was aggressive, passive-aggressive, systematic, constant and varied, with each parent and stepparent putting their own narcissistic spin on the abuse. This may be triggering for you to read and if it is, please don't. 

Today I want to look at one of the most bizarre (among  many other weird) forms of abuse: making me co-sleep with their foster kids and later their babies. First, let me qualify. Yes, it was more common for same gender and age group kids to share a bedroom back then. This wasn't just siblings sharing. For one thing, my mother's foster children weren't siblings. That's not me being cruel. It's fact. We weren't encouraged to think of them as siblings. But my mom sure fancied the idea, especially when it came to me doing the work of an older sibling. When it came to her caring for them like her children, not so much. Enter in a shit ton of gaslighting on her and her boyfriend's part about my "responsibilities" to those children. 

Yep, you read that right. Her boyfriend. She decided, as you do, that moving her drunk, unemployed shag buddy into an already overcrowded foster care  home would be a good idea. Crude of me? Sorry, not sorry. This has needed to be called out for what it was, for decades. If it offends, move along.

Here's  how it worked. From the time I was 11, I was made always, to sleep with all the little ones in her care and care for them as if I was their parent (parentification). Before you ask, I don't know how, in 1974, she was able to have a foster care home, being unmarried, let alone with her shack job boyfriend.

An unemployed boyfriend who routinely sexually and emotionally abused me and physically abused the foster kids. (Her foster care license was ultimately revoked because he would switch the kids, which of course was considered child abuse. She blamed bf, but I remember her laughing along with him as me told them to "dance." One little boy would wet his pants when this happened. He was already struggling with potty training due to abuse in his bio home. It was my job to clean him up afterwards. I felt sick to my stomach watching them, not because of  the mess but because of how it made the little boy feel. I can still see his little face, 50 years later. I still have what I call "toilet dreams" in which I have to clean bathrooms and floors covered with excrement and urine. 

I also realized now that another reason the foster care home was closed is because I, an 11-year-old,was made to handle their care. I wasn't her backup option, but plan A. I don't think, now, that she ever had any plan to actually do the enormous amount of work required to care for 4 very special needs children. And her lazy-ass abusive boyfriend was only around for the whippings. 

 To convince CPS, a lot of lies and cover-ups had to have occurred. A big one being that my mother was allowing two other unmarried couples to shack up in the home (which was quite small). One of her foster kids, a 15-year-old girl, "Melanie" was pregnant by her 32-year-old drug addict boyfriend "Miguel." My mother let them sleep together on our living room floor. She also took "Melanie" to have an abortion all while staunchly preaching pro-life. I sat in the car at the clinic. 

And as if our home wasn't already enough of a brothel, she moved my uncle and his girlfriend in, and gave them my bedroom. My haven. My only space in this hellhole of a home. I was made to sleep with the three oldest foster kids, ages 18 months to 5. None of these people helped with childcare. 

Another of her lies was that she and her boyfriend didn't even sleep on the same floor as the kids and I. There were three bedrooms upstairs. Uncle and gf in what was mine. Kids and I crammed in another and a third where a very physically abused baby slept. And where did mom and bf sleep? Two floors down in the basement as far from us as possible. She made a little apartment for them, for "privacy." They ran fans and AC to and had a TV, to drown out any noise. Remember bf wasn't even working and slept all day. 

While the kids and I slept in the second floor in a little hot box of a room. No fans. Uncle and gf had a fan, just saying. It was so hot that I kept the window open to cool it some.  One night, a strange cat cam in through the window. So it was just a cat. But it could have been a racoon, or possum or squirrel, Mom and bf would have had no way of hearing anything including intruders, animals or babies crying. In case of fire, they would have been too far away to hear or smell smoke. No safety plan was made and I would have had to throw each child out the window or we would have burned to death. That fear alone kept me awake quite a lot. 

She had more children than was regulation but this, she says, is because she was so good at it. Bullshit. I was good at childcare. And I highly doubt when the caseworker came over, she saw and approved the living arrangements. This was only a small part of the chaos of my life with them. It's not even the only abuse during the foster care period. I was left alone for a week, to care for these kids with only her boyfriend for help. All he did was keep everyone awake with the TV all night and sleep all day. When I got overwhelmed caring for the baby at night, he woke up, pissed off at me for waking him. He screamed at me that I was abusing the baby and told my  mom so. When she got back she believed him  and punished me. I was 11. I've believed his lies all my life and very nearly ended it several times because I couldn't live knowing I was a "child abuser." Then there was the molesting by one of their teen foster kids. 

And this was only their part in abuse, parentification, neglect, endangerment, scapegoating and gaslighting. And it was only their part. My dad and his new wife had their own spin on parentification, abuse, neglect, shaming, blaming, scapegoating, endangerment and gaslighting me. This was just one patch in my crazy quilt life. And once over, we never talked about it again. Unless it was to lie. 

And before you ask, my mother very much knew better. She wasn't raised with anything like this. She was raised in a good, clean, moral, safe, caring home. She wasn't made to raise kids. She chose all this and went out of her way to do it. And the hypocrisy was rampant. Part of what's been so weird is that my mother has always fancied herself a preacher. She went to church, played the organ and is always quick to tell other people what the Bible says and what they should and shouldn't be doing. Yet she openly flouts God to this day, binding up others to burdens she doesn't carry. Especially me. She was carrying on like this in full view of neighbors, family, everyone. No shame. And it was not morally, socially, religiously or ethically acceptable back then. 

How do I know she knew it was wrong even then? The one time I confronted my mom about all this, she lied and said none of it ever happened. Then she said that she wouldn't do those things because if she did that she would (wait for it) LOSE HER LICENSE.  So she knew and did not effing care.  She married her boyfriend and they carried on with their dysfunction. And lies. And gaslighting. And shaming and blaming me. Several times, her husband has come unglued on me over nothing, calling me names, screaming at me and attacking me. He kicked me out of "his" house when I was 16 for coming home an hour late. He was still unemployed and I was working to buy my own clothes and sanitary napkins. While they were on welfare and using my child support to fund their own lifestyles. All this with my mom looking on and approving his behavior. But again, when confronted, she lied and said she couldn't remember kicking me out of the house and if she did it was his fault. At no time did she apologize. 

So what was the point of this post? Oh yeah. Why I can't sleep at night for nightmares. I think it probably speaks for itself. I've got a lot more of these kinds of stories to unpack. It's going to be a long ride. I feel sick from remembering. But at least I do see where a lot of my triggers come from. 

Love you all and thanks for hanging in there. 

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