Please read part 1: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/figuring-out-my-mother-was-an-abuser-part-1-of-3/ and Part 2: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/figuring-out-my-mother-was-an-abuser-part-2-of-3/ first! 😉 Content note was on part 1, and all three parts are all tied together. I was originally going to just post them as one long post, but then decided breaking them up would make for easier reading.
Around December of my sophomore year in high school, when I was 15-years-old, I had to go in for surgery. At one point, I happened to be alone, and someone — a nurse, perhaps — casually asked me a question that caught me off guard.
Have you ever been abused?
I’m still, to this day, unsure of what they were going for with this question. It could be that since it was an orthopedic procedure and involved broken bones, maybe they wanted to suss out if someone had broken my bone as an act of physical abuse? Allow me to assure you now: the injury truly was not the result of abuse in any way. It was a freak accident. Anyway, I hesitated. Had I ever been abused? They asked me, point blank, and I specifically remember that I paused before answering. At this point, I already knew the answer was yes. By this point, at age 15, I distinctly recall knowing my mother was abusive.
I don’t know when that happened. I don’t know when I got to the point of knowing so much of what she did was actually abuse — to the point of truly considering it, in my own mind, to be abuse. I just knew, in that moment, that it definitely was. I was so much more sure than that day two years prior when I’d tried to garner up the courage to call the hotline.
However, I answered “No”. No I had never been abused. I lied. Because I didn’t want to have to explain what I meant by abuse. Because it wasn’t the type of abuse that “mattered”, the type that these medical professionals — or potentially a social worker/person from Child Protective Services — could do anything about. Because my mother was the person who had brought me into the hospital and she’d be so angry with me if she found out I considered her to be abusive, and nothing good could possibly come from me calling her abusive in this moment. Because clearly the person asking wasn’t expecting me to say yes, given the throwaway way they asked it, not even making eye contact as far as I know. Because after I considered the question for just a single moment, I knew they must have meant physical abuse, and all my mom had ever done to physically injure me were tiny little scratches. Yeah she’d abused me in some physical ways already at that point, and would continue to do more as the emotional abuse escalated more with time and escalated, as it often does, into things that are more physical (I still had a few more years to endure with her). But… she didn’t seem like a physical abuser to me at that point. She might violently throw or break objects. She might trap me in corners with her body. But the only time she’d ever physically injured me it was “by mistake” in the midst of a largely shouted burst of anger — or rather than burst, really usually it was a seemingly never-ending period of intense rage.
So no, had I ever been physically abused? The answer was no.
That wasn’t the day that I figured out my mother was an abuser. That couldn’t have been. That day was a day when I already knew. Rather, that was the day that I officially realized once and for all that at some point along the way I had stopped doubting that “abuse” was the correct term for the emotional torture she would constantly inflict on me. I remember that day, that moment so clearly. My decision to say “no” was huge for me. No I had never been abused. Because it had felt, so completely, like a lie.
I could talk about so many other things regarding my mother and her abusive nature, or about abuse in general. But I will save those topics for another day — probably another month. For now, I just wanted to get out my story of my complicated journey of figuring out, just short of my 16th birthday, that oh yes, I was actually abused throughout the majority of my childhood.
Thank you for bearing with me and reading the whole long thing. 😉