Let's start off with the warning signs:
When I was a teenage monkey, my stepmother used to write little hate notes pointing out some tiny, insignificant thing I did that day--every day--that pissed her off and set her over the edge. Stuff like leaving a dirty shirt on the washing machine instead of putting it in the wash. A little bit of errant toothpaste in a sink to a bathroom connected exclusively to my room, and that I shared with no one. We're talking very reaching, neurotic stuff. This wasn't surprising for a woman who would visit a shrink and who was on Rogaine because she would tear her own hair out over...I couldn't even tell you. The day to day challenges of being a housewife?
She would sign these hate notes "Evil Stepmother" without much hint of irony. It was intended as a challenge to my sexuality.
Now for the truly messed up stuff.
My stepmother would put cleaning chemicals in my contact lens case, in my food, anywhere really. She once served me a "special breakfast" calculated to make me throw up on my first day of school. I don't know what was in it, but it gave me a heart murmur that I still have to this day.
One day, when her drug addict adult son assaulted me, a minor child, with a baseball bat, cracking my head open so wide that blood spilled from my skull like water from a pitcher, she covered for him. She lied to police and said that I "tried to rape her" and that her son had stopped it. Yet we were fighting because her biological son was a steroid popping adult meathead who had charged right at me like a rhino because I told him he shouldn't call me names. The fight had nothing to do with her at all.
Blood streaming from my gashed in cranium, this woman got me warm towels to apply to my bleeding head, not cold, but warm, so as to hasten the bleeding. She drove the speed limit not to the nearest hospital, not to the second nearest hospital, but to a hospital on the other side of town, again, in an effort to just have me bleed out. This is what trying to maintain the appearance of legal propriety while actually not giving a shit about somebody looks like.
I was abandoned at the hospital while doctors ran tests and stitched up my head, but only after she had instructed hospital staff that I was "high on drugs." I was refused emergency treatment until I peed into a cup, with police at my bedside instead of doctors.
Gazing at the results from the piss test, my father explained to me that if I sought help from police, social services or legal counsel, or told the school what happened, that they would say I was high on drugs and started the whole thing. They would say I was making it all up.
You see, I used to smoke a lot of weed as a kid, mostly to help me cope with this abusive domestic situation. Could you blame me? And though I wasn't high at the time of this incident, I obviously still had trace amounts of THC in my system. Oh, and as anybody who has smoked weed can tell you, it really leads to a lot of aggression
But because I was a dumb kid, conditioned even at that point to still trust adults, I believed this ploy would work. "And what would I be fighting for anyway?" I thought. It was clear none of these people wanted me there. Within a few days, I cobbled together enough money to take a bus to go live with my mom in another state.
All of this ultimately went unacknowledged and unpunished.
* * *
A decade later, when I was told that my stepmother had developed cancer, I thought surely it was an act of karmic balancing. My prayers had been answered, though even death seemed too merciful a punishment for a mentally ill woman who poisons and tries to kill children.
But no. Remission. She lives to this day. She is as healthy as ever. In fact, from what I've heard, she still proudly tells her friends and relatives about the time her adult son bravely, brutally beat her unarmed, underaged step-son with a metal bat to within an inch of his life, to stave off his not knowing his place and sticking up for himself his sexual advances
No, I've seen some evil in this world. Legitimate evil walks among us, and the worst stories of child abuse that you never hear about, the ones that never make it to social services, often involve well to do families of seemingly innocuous people.
* * *
You may conclude that I've been drinking a lot over Memorial Day weekend, which is true, but what I want you to know, reader, is that I value and appreciate your time. I mean that. And I want you to know that I've kept this story bottled up deep inside for my entire adult life, confiding in very few people. But I'm at a place with this where I want to tell the world about it. I want to tell you all.
I don't need anything from you. Not advice. Not encouragement. Not pity. I just want you to know what I know. I want to know that you know what I know. Thank you for reading this. It's been very helpful to me, just sharing this with you. Thank you so much for your time and your understanding.