Forgiving


The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the night and the empty skies my love
To the night and the empty skies

Roberta Flack

The pain of my parents’ betrayal lies deep in my Psyche. It’s hard to talk about how deep the wounds my mother and father inflicted go but especially my mother because she was the supposed sane one. My father was certifiable, in and out of psychiatric wards from the age of 17 until his death at age 47.

My Mother didn’t “go crazy” until I started talking to her about how hurt and angry I felt about some o the things she did. Then she had a “nervous break down,” effectively shutting me down and protecting her status as the victim. It’s hard to write about it. It’s hard to think about it because I get so angry at her for manipulating me for so many years and for continuing to try to manipulate me now.

The closest I’ve come to actually talking about the ways my Mother abused and betrayed me is some abstract poetry that really doesn’t tell it all. It just hints at what happened and how I felt at that moment. None of my therapists have really wanted to hear about what my mother was up while Daddy was putting his filthy hands all over me.

That was secondary and she was not at fault. My father was the offending parent. Like Harry they aren’t listening to what the hell happened in that situation. They aren’t hearing what I am saying. This woman told me she wished I had died instead of her first born son. She told me this repeatedly for 17 years.

God damn-it, I’d rather had my father’s beatings and his hands in my panties than that refrain echoing in my head for 55 years. Why can’t these crazy therapists understand that?

Truth be told, I feared my mother more than I feared my father because there was no end to the torture she inflicted upon me and my brothers. Daddy was violent at times and he was crazy heavy-handed. Mother had good reason to say “Stop, you’ll kill her!” He could become that enraged and he drew blood on more occasions than I care to count but once he stopped hitting you he was done.

Mother’s psychological warfare never let up though. The guilt at not having been the child she wanted when I was born still haunts me even though intellectually I know that this was one of the most patently ridiculous guilt trips of all. There was nothing I could have done to alter being who and what I was at birth. Had she said this to me once or twice, I might have remembered it and felt grieved but this was a litany that I heard at least once a month for 17 years.

And then there is the complicity and her actual participation in the sexual abuse. Perhaps this poem expresses it best. I don’t think I can write about it without becoming overly emotional and giving our perverted lurkers too much gratuitous information. This is my first memory of the incest.

Complicit

Three…I am three years old and it is dusk
the last few moments of daylight cast feeble shadows
across the white counterpane of my bed;
the sky is glowing pink fading to gray and
I can smell newly mowed grass and the bitter green
of dandelions gone to seed, the sweet yellow roses
blooming on the porch trellis beneath my window
and the faint whiff of Daddy’s Pall Malls.
And I, fresh from a bath, wearing only cotton panties
smell like ivory soap and baking soda
dabbed on mosquito and chigger bites that still itch.
My hair is damp and your hands are harsh
brushing out the tangles, warning me
“Sit still! Don’t wiggle! Be quiet, you’ll wake up the baby!”

I have this memory now, I’ve brought it up
from the cellar where bad dreams and the sad tears
of little girls are kept when it’s too hard to remember.
I’ve claimed it now even though I’d rather push
it back to that time and place when I was only three
and freeze myself in that chair getting my hair brushed free
of snarls and your hands are impatient and tired.

It came to me in bits and pieces at inconvenient times
in inconvenient places as if it had a life of its own,
refusing to be denied, ignored. It came and insisted
that I recall every single moment, every single
assault on my senses, every single thought and emotion
that ran through my three year old mind that night.
It comes again and again insisting that I recall this information
And when it comes I am, for the duration, three again…

Listening to you walk wearily down the stairs,
the soft murmur of your voice and Daddy’s
deeper and louder, the thump of the screen door
and the heavy tread of his weight on the stairs.
The smell of oil and grease on his blue jeans,
stale cigarette smoke lingering in the fabric of his shirt.
The heat and humidity, sweat on his hands
when he rubs my back and whispers, “Turn over, Baby.
Give your Daddy a kiss goodnight.” The thumping of my heart
as I turn and give myself to his hands and meet
the vacant stare in your eyes as you stand,
watching from the doorway before you turn and walk away

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn

B

Tuesdays are Harry the shrink days. Man, I dunno if I should stick with this guy. I was telling him about Jimmy losing his eye today and really getting into the emotions of the whole thing and he came in as an apologist for my fucking mother. I have the most godawful feeling that he’s going to be the next one pushing for reconciliation. That thought makes me want to puke.

He was going on about how holding on to these emotions wasn’t doing me any good. Well hell, I know that asshat. That’s why I’m sitting in your office abreacting. I need to express them. Once I do that then I can get on with my life. So let me express them and quit making excuses for the bitch who made my life hell.

I think I might need to dump this ex-Catholic priest who is into forgive and forget. Fuck that shit. That bitch has never said she is sorry and she won’t ever say she is sorry because she doesn’t believe she did a damn thing wrong. She will forever point the finger at someone else.

Harry ought to read this website about forgiveness. This quote is pertinent:

You cannot forgive someone until you have fully felt the pain he or she has caused you.

I can say I forgive her all I want but there are 17 years worth of daily abuse to overcome and according to Doctor Arndt and Dr Shriver (cousin to Maria Shriver married To “Governor Ahnold” of California–no kidding, he told us so.) who treated me when I was in that fancy schmancy 28 day treatment program for adult survivors of child abuse in Rogers Hospital over in Oconomowoc, there are sometimes when it just isn’t possible to come to a place where you can forgive. The sins are just too many and too big. You keep working towards that but… shit.

B

“I saw behind me those who had gone,and before me,those who are to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and in front, to see my son,and his son, and all the sons upon sons beyond.And their eyes were my eyes.As I felt, so they had felt,and were to feel,as then,so now,as tomorrow and forever.
Then I was not afraid,for I was in a long line that had no beginning,and no end, and the hand of his father grasped my father’s hand, and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand,and all,up and down the line that stretched from
Time That Was,to Time That Is,and is Not Yet,raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man,in the Image, fashioned in the Womb by the Will of God, the Eternal Father.
I was of them,they were of me,and I in all of them”

Richard Lewellyn How Green Was My Valley

I imagine that my 5th cousin three times removed or whatever relationship he has to me, Steven Fate would share those sentiments with Mr. Richard Lewellyn who shares my children’s father’s name. I called my Richard, Skip, as did everyone else who knew him. Skip used to make fun of the Fate family penchant for tracking down their ancestors. He went to exactly one family reunion with me and that was enough to last his whole lifetime. It was the last one I ever went to myself come to think of it.

What a bunch of fol-de-rol! My Daddy thought it was a line of bunk himself and never went to any of those prayer meetings either. I thought it was because of the prayer but now that I am older and wiser, I’ll bet it was the fawning all over themselves that he couldn’t bear.

It hurt to find out that the Fate Family genealogical site does not acknowledge my existence but in the long run what does that matter. I’ve had a few days to reflect on that and to realize that it doesn’t change one damn thing about me whether or not a bunch of nincompoops who are trying to prove they have noble blood realize I exist or not. Whoop-de-doo.

The Lewellyn blood line is probably far more pure than the Fate blood line. OK maybe not. OK, for sure not but at least the Lewellyn name is unusual. <heh> Really unusual. Even the Gavin name is more unusual than the Fate name.

I chose the presentation background for this blog because it reminded me of the old saw the only way to get over the pain is to go through the pain. The car driving through the tunnel is a metaphoric symbol of that. It also seems rather yonic to me. A rebirthing. One of many rebirths I have been through. I”ve always used Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings to meditate with in the past too and this reminded me of an O’Keefe painting. I like this, there is power here in the symbology of the journey of life and the rebirthing of the yonic passage.

I’ve come to believe that I arrived here in this time and place to make this journey with the people who brought me into this life and have come into my life for no specific predestined reason nor to fulfill some supernatural holy creator’s plan but just because that’s the way my life turned out. It was the luck of the draw. Random ppatterns of DNA coming together with other random patterns of DNA. Oh I think there are reasons my parents got together and why Skip and I got together but it has more to do with the make up of our psyche than any supernatural bunk.

My psychiatrist Dr David Israelstam tends to be new age and believes in the possiblity of reincarnation. I want to believe in it because I would love to come back and do life all over again even if it turned out I had to go through all this woe and horror all over again. People are surprised by that but I love life. I would make different choices if I could have a do-over.

For instance, I would pull a knife on my father when I was thirteen or fourteen instead of waiting until I was almost seventeen and I would tell my Grandmother Fate what the hell was going on instead of going to the Gavin side of the family. I believe she would have made a big stink and I would have been allowed to stay with her or she would have raised holy hell. I believe that’s what my mother was afraid of and not that telling Gran would have killed her as she said when it all came out when I was fifteen.

I was ready to run away to Lincoln to stay with my friend Sheila and her family who I believed would hide me when I told them what was going on. The problem was all my money was tied up where I could not get at it. So I went to Kathy Jo, my aunt who was 6 months younger than me and asked her to loan me the money to get a bus ticket to Lincoln. It was $8 for the bus fare and I thought I needed $12 for food and local bus fare and telephone money once I got there–funny what sticks in your mind.

Sheila and I actually had this planned out pretty well. We wrote long letters to each other twice a week. She had an older boyfriend who was in college and he would help me get a job. Once her parents heard my story they would understand and help me out. Her Mom and Dad really loved me. They thought I was such a good influence on Sheila who was pretty wild compared to me when they lived in Clay Center. <heh>

Kathy was unwilling to give me the money without talking it over with Tommy who was two years older. Tommy went and got Grandma and Grandpa and the shit hit the fan. Grandma went over to see my parents and in about an hour my parents showed up to get me. They picked me up in a pick-up truck with a deer rifle in the back window and put me in the middle and began driving around out in the fucking middle of nowwhere.

It was fall. The corn had been harvested and everywhere you looked it was barren and dead. My father was crying and my mother was very angry. I don’t remember what exactly they said but I know that most of what came out of my father’s mouth was bald faced lies. He had”Forgive me, Honey. You’ll forgive me, won’t you?” For doing whatever it was he was confessing to only doing once or twice. And it was because of my doll baby pajamas (which by the way he would demand that I wear). “Please, forgive me… Why won’t you forgive me?”

And then my mother said with such visciousness “Because she likes to see you crying and begging! She’s always been trouble! She’s hateful!” And she was partially right, I did like to see him squirming.

I watched the pheasants flying up out of the ditches and heard the gunshots in the distance and thought that if Ididn’t say I forgave him they woudll kill me. But a voice inside said if I forgave him for the lies he was telling I would die inside anyway and I didn’t say a word. I really was afraid for my life but I didn’t care at that point. We must have been out there for two hours with them badgering me and I just went away somewhere inside myself and watched them as they got more and more desperate to make me cave in to their demands.

I don’t remember getting home. I suppose I went away somewhere inside myself and simply refused to be present for the rest of the BS that was going on in that red and white pick-up with the deer rifle in the back window. Defiant. Hard hearted. Dissociated from my parents and myself. I wasn’t going to get away. Fuck it.

My Grand mother came over and asked me a bunch of questions. She wanted to know details about when and where. She told me Daddy had said I seduced him and I dressed too provacatively. I was anything BUT provacative. I used to walk around with my arms crossed over my breasts and hunched over so they wouldn’t stick out. My grandmother was constantly telling me to quit hugging myself and stand up straight and proud.

My mother eventually told me I had a choice I could go live with some distant relatives on the west coast who operated some kind of home for wayward girls or I could stay out of my father’s way and clean up my act. Quit dressing provacatively, quit being seductive around him, quit sitting on his lap, etc. It was my fault, I had seduced him. She had three sons to raise and I was just going to have to deal with it. I was stunned. I began to hate her in that moment although I would deny my hatred for years to come and turned my anger at her and my father in on myself.

My mother swears that it was my Grandmother Gavin who made the comment about the three sons and not herself. She can deny it all she wants but I can see her forming the words and hear her voice. I’m not crazy. My memory is not faulty. That moment is burnt into my memory as if it were emblazened with a branding iron, Mother. Grandmother may have said it first but you took it and made it your own when you said it to me as I was sitting on that ugly brown couch in the living room and you were sitting on the arm of Dad’s big recliner. Then you got up and walked nonchalantly into the dining room and said “Come and peel the potatoes.”

For that one incident in my life you can be branded a bitch mother. For the fact that you deny it and will not own it and say you are sorry you did it you can be branded a heartless bitch. For the fact that to this day you blame my Grandmother for your actions you can be branded a fucking heartless bitch and I can tell you to go to hell in a handbasket without guilt. For saying”I don’t know” when I asked you why you did not say “I have a daughter to protect.” if we play let’s pretend Grandma said it, you don’t deserve one iota of respect from me.
B

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973) “Personal Conduct”

Tonight’s topic is forgiving and should you or shouldn’t you in cases like mine? In what circumstances? OK, maybe the title is going a little too far in this forgiveness business but you have to admit, it’s damn funny! But then again, maybe it isn’t…

I was in a 28 day treatment program at Rogers Memorial Hospital over in Oconmowoc for adult children of abuse and the Doctors (psychiatrists and PhD psychologists) there don’t believe you should neccessararily forgive someone who doesn’t deserve being forgiven. Their reasoning was that you earn pardon by taking responsibility for your harmful behavior, saying you are sorry and making amends to the person you have harmed.

My mother hasn’t earned forgiveness from me or any of her children. I believe she is mentally ill so in some ways I don’t believe she has the capacity to ask for forgiveness without being taken by the hand and led to the altar. I refuse to play god and do that. It wouldn’t be sincere and besides it would be so grudging and insincere it wouldn’t mean anything.

It would be like making two little boys caught fighting on the school playground apologize to each other. You just know they are going to start slugging each other the moment they get off school grounds. My Mother would just start manipulating me the way she has always manipulated everyone her whole life as soon as she thought the storm was over. It’s useless to try to come to terms with her in any sane way.

I refuse to be lured back into that dysfunctional lunatic asylum they want me to call a family. It’s not my family. It’s interesting that I discovered a Fate family genealogy site that includes my Mother’s Father and Mother. All of the details about my family are wrong. My mother is listed as having died in 1973. I don’t exist at all.

At first I was offended and wanted to correct that error by emailing my mother’s fourth cousin twice removed but then while I was searching Google trying to find his email address I found this site and I realized that sometime somebody somewhere is going to be doing an internet search for the Charles and Della FATE FAMILY of Clay Center, Nebraska and they are going to find me. Phyllis Fate’s dirty little secret is out in the open where everyone can find it.

Revenge is sweet sayeth the lord. Just call me Cthulah.

Barbara Jean Gavin born 09/05/1952

former daughter of William Dale Gavin and Phyllis Ann Fate Gavin

married Richard LeRoy Lewellyn b09/26/1950-06-28-1999

son b 02/05/1971

daughter b 05/13/1974

grandson b 03/22/00

grandaughter being adopted b 1246 And the beat goes on…

B