Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Cherry" by Mary Karr

I picked this book up at the library kind of at random. I was looking for an autobiography to read, and the book cover drew me in. So I picked up "Cherry" by Mary Karr. This seems to be the second of three memoirs by this author and deals with the author's teenaged years. I'm sorry to say but I'm putting this book down before getting to the end. I realize that Mary is not from my generation or whatever, but I'm 30 pages in to the book and I have other books waiting to be read now. This book is going back sooner rather than later.

If you check Amazon you get a mix of reviews on this one. Many say that her first book "Liars Club" was better, but it dealt more with her parents and with her younger years. I don't really care. I'm just going to say I'm moving on to something else. Sorry folks.

I found my foster sister and we are both survivors

I submitted this to "Band Back Together" which is a group blog. They have the right to edit it, etc.. so if/when they finally publish my piece it may be altered from the way I originally wrote it. I'm not thrilled with that idea, but I thought it was good to get my story out there, and their format seems like a good place to do it. More people read BBT than read this little thing I think.  When they do post it, I will put up a link etc..

In the meantime, here's the raw piece--

Something for Band Back Together

I am a married, mother-of-a-5 year old, full-time employed, forty year old woman. Life is good now but it hasn’t always been that way. At the risk of being labeled with “multiple personality disorder” I have 3 blogs all under different names. I’m also on several social networking sites. I guess you could say I like to write.

I am also an Adult Child Of an Alcoholic (ACOA). I went to my first Al-Anon meeting when I was 18 years old, a freshman in college, and my mother finally left a physical mark on me. I didn’t start going to meetings regularly until my mother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and I thought she was going to die. She didn’t die, but I learned to detach. I learned to live. I have stopped going to meetings now but I still use the coping skills I learned. I have lived in the F.O.G. that is Fear, Obligation, and Guilt all my life. Although I feel like I have moved on I will never truly be free.

This was brought home to me last week.

Last week I was surfing Facebook.  A friend’s list had a name I knew. That list had another... and within a few clicks I had found not only the name of a former high school classmate but also the name of her biological sister. Her biological sister had been MY foster sister for four years. Her half-brother had been my half-brother too during those years. I couldn’t believe what I had stumbled upon, and I wasn’t really sure it was 100% true. Names change over time, and the world of Facebook is a pretty big place. Nonetheless I sent out the messages and friend requests.

My former foster sister responded very quickly. She was glad to hear from me. Then before I knew it we were talking about old memories. My mother beat this girl. My mother abused her repeatedly. For four years my mother beat this girl who was 4 years old when she came to live with us. When she was 8 years old my mother finally left a mark that someone at school could see. Then the social workers came, and then she was gone. I saw her once a year later but I couldn’t talk to her, and then I never saw her again. I was 10 when she left my home. I’m 40 now.

For three days I cried after finding this woman on Facebook. It was not a reaction I expected. I thought I was relapsing into PTSD and I was pretty scared. I know now that I am pulling out of it. I will be okay. However in the past week we have messaged back and forth about the past and the present getting caught up. My mother is a monster. I had to let this woman know the guilt I carried with me. I had to tell her that she was not alone. My mother has abused many. My foster sister, and her brother were lucky to get out. The baby who my mother and step-father were in the process of adopting was not so lucky. In spite of the child abuse charges the adoption still went through. My adopted brother is 31 years old now. He was likely abused too and he has suffered his own demons that I can only guess at. I am 40 now. I have to keep telling myself that.  I am still in contact with that monster who gave birth to me. I am the only biological child and I was always treated as the oldest.  I am grateful that many miles separate us now, and that I have a supportive network, and the tools I learned from Al-Anon to support me.

Re-experiencing the past was a shocker though. Hearing my sister’s stories, learning about some of the abuse that I didn’t know about  was hard. Reliving my own memories is scary.

I went to the doctor’s office on Friday because my asthma is bothering me. They were “updating their forms” they said. There was a question on the forms “have you ever been abused?” Well for the past 8 years I have lied about that question because it was in my past. On Friday though I had to speak my truth, and in the examining room with my doctor, I broke down and cried.

My foster sister said she learned to never be quiet, never expect not to be believed. Always stand up for yourself, and always speak your truth. She is right. I will not defend my mother. I don’t think I ever have. Staying quiet is not the answer though. We need to speak our truth, and when we share it with each other we find out that we are not alone.