The Gift – Part II

I was born November 22, 1941, very shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and our full involvement in the war. My father was an Army non-commissioned officer for most of his days in service. He went off to the war shortly after I was born; I am not really sure how long he was gone or what countries he was in.

When I was perhaps two or three, my mother and father and I drove to Rhode Island from Ft. Jay, New York, where we had been living and where I was born. We drove to get my maternal grandmother, for my grandfather had passed away, and she could not afford to live on her own. In those days, a widow whose husband died in the army, a sargent I believe, got some $50 a month.

My father’s background was very strange. He came home from school one day when he was 16, at the heart of the depression. He had other brothers and a sister, but his family had abandoned him. So I think he might have struck out to live as best he could, and as soon as he was able, he joined the army. In order to be accepted, he had to give his salary to a poor family. He would receive room and board, but they would get his salary. He told me once that they never once sent him a card or thanked him.

Dad apparently found out where his birth family was living, but they never accepted him back, and to this day, I live with the mystery of what caused that. I do know that his only sister who was younger than he was committed suicide, shooting herself in the head. Even after my dad and mom got married, his family still never accepted us and so we never knew them at all and no one spoke about the issue.

Neither my mother or father ever finished high school, so schooling was very difficult through all elementary and high school learning. We lived in the same town in El Paso, TX until I grew up except for a couple of years when we were sent to Okinawa. But we returned to El Paso afterward and we always lived on the outskirts of town and only my mother had friends, and that was later in life. I was not allowed to have friends except the little girl my same age next door. And she never came into my home; any playing we did was outside or at her home.

I cannot remember when it began, but my father began to molest me. I might have been as young as three or five. For a young child to have to suddenly think of the people who are considered the world and all the child knows and learns from to suddenly be faced with people they somehow know but who have turned into monsters is almost unimaginable. Everything that is known must be unlearned because nothing seems to make sense anymore. The mother is not there for the child, but accuses the child of being the cause of the issues when she is confronted with the truth. The world was suddenly shaken on its very foundation, and the child caught amongst people who were no longer there to attend to her most basic needs.

Every little child has a sacred little place in his or her mind where he or she goes into and no one else enters it. It is the place of childlife magic. It was as though someone went in that little sacred place and broke all the dishes. Even if the dishes were to be repaired, they could never be capable of magic again.

This was how I lived my early life. I felt ashamed and yet there was no one I could trust to tell, and in my mind, I was probably the only one in the whole world with such a burden on my soul, one that I struggle to understand to this day. But somehow other children saw something in me that conveyed my shame at being a victim, and they bullied me all the way through school. I hid on the playground in the bushes at recess, and would only go home when all the other children had left. But as hard as I tried to avoid them, I often failed. One day another young girl held a knife at my chest; to this day none of it seems real. Another day some boys grabbed me after school and threatened to cut off my fingers with some kind of equipment that looked like a guillotine and was used to cut cigars. They ultimately let me go, but the layers of needing to hide and not being accepted were building up thickly.

I often wonder which nightmare was worse. I ran away several times, but always got caught, for I had no place to go. And I could not give a reason to the police who found me riding my bicycle after dark down the streets not so far away. I was punished of course, often staying in my room for a month or two at a time when I came home from school, even eating my dinner alone, and no one speaking to me, though my grandmother shared my room. I think she would have, but she was a vulnerable hostage as it were too. She did manage to whisper good night, but that was it.

We went overseas to Okinawa with my grandmother for a couple of years when I was in 2nd and 3rd grades. By then, my younger brother had been born sometime before we went to Okinawa. He was five years younger than me. I remember his innocence and how I felt a need to protect him even though I had no one to protect me.

The whole world seemed to be insane. The wives and children of the men there seemed really crazy. One day a woman who lived nearby in another quonset set her home on fire and ran down the street naked screaming. The children were even worse, and bullying was an everyday occurance, and this time instead of one or two children it was a gang regularly. I was shot with a B B gun, luckily with no long-term damage from where the B B hit, and I wad “crowned” with a skull as I was tricked into going into a cave in the hills. And once again, I was threatened with having my fingers cut off with a film cutter that looked a lot like the previous cutter that I had experienced.

We lived through typhoons that threatened to topple our quonset, and weekly practices of having to run into foxhills on the beach and take shelter until we were released verbally. My father shot and killed a boa constrictor that somehow had found its way into our quonset. The beaches were littered with the remains of landing crafts covered with rust, and the hills and mountains contained many jars filled with bones and belongings of native peoples who had died in the war. The native peoples were extremely impoverished, and the military people were ordered to take in at least one person to help with household chores and make sure they were fed and cared for. When we got sent home again, they ran all the way to the ship we had to board, holding onto my parents’ legs and sobbing to have them come with us.

This is a long and painful journey to recount to you, so if you have difficulty reading this, you may want to stop reading now. I will be posting the next episode within likely a few days, There IS a good message to come from this living nightmare and pain, but as in all horror movies, you have to watch the bad parts first. This is written to all those who have suffered in some way in their lifetimes from painful memories whose doors they have not been able to close. Most of us have chosen over the many years to hide issues of identity and abuse away because it is too difficult to deal with and we are living in fear that society will judge us negatively and perhaps hurt us physically. In the end result, we hurt ourselves more than anyone else possibly can.

23 thoughts on “The Gift – Part II

  1. It has made me sad to the core to read this and I think you are very brave, Anne to put your experiences into words on paper…My childhood by comparison although my father was strict was idyllic… My first marriage was not…It is sad that childhood abuse goes back years and still happens in this so-called enlightened age…My wish is that all children have a safe and happy childhood the reality is so different.. I hope by putting your thoughts out in the public eye give you some peace ..Bless you xx

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    1. Thank you so kindly, Carol. It is important no matter what pain or depression it brings forth for me, and believe me, it is difficult to stay positive. It is important not only for me, but the babies everywhere who are abandoned and abused and ultimately murdered before they can even walk, many of them newborns, and children everywhere in the world suffering in so many ways from malnutrition to abuse and abandonment, to human trafficking. You will see that I too have been in a very abusive marriage as the story moves forth, but the purpose of this writing is to attempt to show others that we don’t have to continue to live in shame with our secrets of things we did not create and had to way to fight in the times we lived. It is the healthiest thing we can do that I can think of, and I hope it will save lives of other women, children and teens who have lived through the worst of the worst to know they are not alone. Thank you again. I am very much fond of you as a dear friend even in this short time.

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    1. Thank you so kindly, Zenaide, and I think that I recognized some sisterhood, be it spirtual or other form, but I think perhaps a form of all of the above. Thank you again. There is power is a feeling of sisterhood for all of us ladies.

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  2. I’m so very sorry Anne I thought my childhood was bad but yours was horrifying. Nobody should ever have to endure such pain but your right that you need to write about it to encourage others. That’s why I wrote my blog to encourage others that no matter where you have been there is always Hope in this life. Even though it was very hard to read and I could feel your pain you are able to talk about it and that brings much freedom to our lives.

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    1. As I noted in Part 1, these challenges we go through are often blessings for us, because without them we could never build a sense of compassion for others, and to learn other difficult life challenges as well. From the things I have seen and learned that have happened to others in this life, I don’t want to be silent anymore. Yes, we do need the freedom from trying to contain too many secrets and too much shame and being helpless victims. Thank you kindly. Anne

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  3. Anne, I am so proud of you for writing your story. It takes bravery and a strong sense of self in order to do that. Bravo! I hope this will give you peace, and also give others the power to do the same.

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    1. I was inspired by another blogger who spoke of his brother committing suicide. I thought of how we can go through our lives holding in all the terrible secrets and shames and we can carry them with us to our graves. Or we can use what we have experienced to give hope and courage to others so that they can grow up and have good lives and in turn help others too. I wrote an article about tiny newborns who are abandoned and often murdered by the parents, and it continues from that point. We have to stop children from being abused or abandoned in any manner, and hopefully telling our truths will at least accomplish part of that. Thank you so kindly, Jennie.

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  4. I am so very sorry this happened to you. I commend your courage in writing about it. You are helping everyone who reads this overcome their shame about bad things that happened to them in their childhood that was not their fault.

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  5. Thank you, Cindy. You know, most of us who have suffered abuse and/or bullying in their youth continue to suffer through their entire lives, and it affects their ability to deal with society as they become adults. And they need to be OK in this world so that they can create and serve society in many ways. It was hard to get this out even just the little I did share, but it was so much harder to ignore my own fears, my shame, and my inability to stop hurting myself. I hope that some child that might happen upon this will honestly be helped. Near where I live (just a few blocks away) a little girl age 13 hung herself late last year because of bullying. And those children who do not end up in such a sad way are likely to become social misfits themselves, bullying others, getting involved in sexual activities and drugs and having children out of wedlock and then abandoning, abusing them or something far worse as I have written about the Garden of Angels in Calimesa, CA. It is an endless chain that must be broken. Thank you very kindly.

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  6. Wow! This post brought tears to my eyes and bless you, Ann, for having the courage to write this. Even though I didn’t have a perfect childhood, I didn’t experience anything comparable to yours. I don’t understand how people can be so cruel, especially a parent that abuses their child. Once the abuse starts, it seems to continue through generations and it has to stop.

    Thank you for the follow and take care! 🙂

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    1. Thank you so kindly, Eugenia. I was not just abused in childhood, but it would be too overwhelming for me to write everything that has happened to me, but that was just the beginning of a long lifetime of abuse, assault, rape, and severe bullying to the point where I have permanent PTSD. But through all that, I never did drugs or became an alcoholic, and I never However, luckily I have a strong mind, and one of the things I learned to do to help myself was to read, read, read, and learn, learn, and finally, to volunteer. I have been a volunteer at one thing or another since I was 14 and I continue to do so today at 77. I have a very good and kind counselor, and he reinforces positivity in me so that I can overlook the horrors and see the ways those things have helped me in my life. I often tell folks that if we never had challenges in our lives, we would never learn compassion for others, or how to help them in times of need. And our walk in this life would never be as meaningful or in depth. When we volunteer, we get to see life on the other side of the track and we can open our view of life more in depth because of that. One of my volunteer jobs was with the neonatal department of Harbor UCLA and I handled hearing screening of those infants. A lot of the infants came in already addicted to crack or other horrific drugs, and their mothers were obviously too. It helped me to see that other side of life where a person is abusing their infant before that baby is even born, and that is a case where there is a chain of abuse that may go back three or four or more generations. Anyway, thank you kindly for the good response. There is always hope if we are open to it.

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    1. Thank you so kindly. I always found my way by being a volunteer and trying to help others who were suffering in a variety of ways – physical/developmental/emotional challenges, etc. It is my heart work. In I think the 70’s, my brother came from Vietnam 100% disabled – a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD. It changed my life forever as he is five years younger than me. I had wanted to be a nurse in the military when I entered high school, but in those days, many of us young women were encouraged to just get married and have children; we were told it was not in the cards for us to have careers. Anyway, I have done these things along with having my own careers, since that time, though I have been a volunteer since I was a candy striper when I was 14. Thank you so kindly and yes, I love your versatility as a writer and your wonderful sense of life. It is very inspiring to me and I am so happy that I met you.

      You know, we can hold our secrets inside ourselves, and there they continue to fester and poison our spirits and our bodies. But I decided after all these years to free myself from these things so that I would never have to feel shame or to continue to grieve my lost childhood. I hope others will do the same, for it is good to find a way to be able to free ourselves from these things that hold us prisoners so that we can live life more fully and hold our heads high. Peace and blessings always, Anne

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  7. Aw Ann,
    So,so sorry your ‘loved’ one broke all the dishes in your magical world.
    Your consideration of other’s feelings at reading your horrific journey pales into insignificance compared to the courage it must have taken to write it.
    🤗🤗🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think in previous years, it was wrecking my life because I kept accepting guilt and shame for everything that happened. Any small child will do that because to the child, the parent is like a God who is going to protect them. The child knows somehow that damage has been done to them, but feels obligated to protect the parent. Most abused children will try to do this no matter how severe the damage done to them is. Being able to speak the unspeakable is a true sign of healing. Yes, the broken dishes, and someone coming into the special world of a child is symbolic of the child’s sense of its own little private world of imagination and beauty and magic being violated in any manner.

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