I left off in Globe, AZ where my mother had stabbed herself in the leg in an attempt to save my father’s soul. In her delusional state, she had went into hysteria about this. I will continue this story in an effort to show just how devastating mental illness can be, if left untreated.
Shortly after that we moved to Safford, AZ. It was a nice little town, I liked the school. I managed to make a friend in the trailer park we lived at. My father worked as a maintenance man there. Things seemed to be a little better there. My parents didn’t fight as much. She had stopped beating me, my sister was walking, and we had everything we needed. I joined the basketball team, I learned how to drive, and I spent a lot of time playing with my new friend. That wouldn’t last, my mother started slipping back into her old self. She didn’t trust the neighbors. I was becoming too headstrong, she thought. Then one day she gets a call from her dad saying he was going to kill himself without someone there with him. He had shot my grandmothers favorite dog. He was going crazy from her death. I truly believe she was the only thing that kept that family together, in more ways than one. My mother did not take that lightly. Just before Christmas, she packed my sister and me up. Then we made the trip back to Dripping Springs. I mentioned previously my grandfather was a hard man. My mother, despite the love from her mother, did not have the best childhood either. My grandfather was very abusive towards his children, and his wife. Picture the ‘Good ‘ole Boy’ cop, that's him. He used his position to get his way. That authority followed him home, his word was law. When we went to stay with him, he was happy to see us. My sister and I shared our cousin's old room, we had dinner, and went to bed that first night. My mother stayed up talking to my grandfather. When we got up for breakfast that next morning, my sister didn’t finish hers. Well, my grandfather was not having any of that. He slapped her because of it. I had been on the verge of tears all night, and that was it. I stood up, picked up my sister, and yelled at him not to touch her! That was the first time I stood up to an adult for hurting us. I was so angry, I had never felt that much anger before.
I made up my mind. I was going pack a small bag for my sister and I. Take her, and walk all the way back to Safford; where my dad was. I had it all planned out. I was going to hide the bag under the bed until they went to sleep. Then sneak out. The rest was just hoping we would make it before we ran out of food. A nine-year-old body can only carry so much weight, even though my sister could walk she would get tired. I had planned on carrying her when she couldn’t walk anymore. Luckily, my dad called that night. He has always managed to either call or show up when I have needed him the most. I don’t know how he knows, but he always does. There was a phone in the room we were staying in. If any of you are old enough to remember landline phones you know you can pick up the phone while someone else is one a different one, and hear their conversation. So that’s what I did. My father told her that he was coming to get us. We would move to Kearny, so she could visit her dad. She agreed. I waited for him to come get us. He came the next morning, and brought us back to Safford. We packed up a little bit of stuff. My dad sold everything left in the house for a dollar. He took me to the school to deliver my Secret Santa present, pick up mine, and get my things.
When we got to Kearny, we stayed at a motel until we found a place to live. I was accustomed to this. I have probably stayed at more hotels/motels than the average adult, simply from when I was a child. I hate them now. Go figure. We found a house a little out of town, got me enrolled in school, and started forming a normal routine. This is where my mother finally got arrested. There were no children for us to play with at this trailer park. So, my sister and I became very close. My parents had made friends with a neighbor there. They had set me up to wash dishes for the wife. My father had bought me a PS1 for Christmas, and I only had one game. They had tons of them, and were kind enough to let me borrow them. They would even come over to our house sometimes. The first day I went to work at their house was fine. They paid me, and I went on my way. When I came home my parents were fighting. My dad had thrown all of the knives in the house on the roof. So my mother couldn’t get them. She had locked herself in the bathroom. With my dad trying to get her to come out. My sister was crying on the floor in the living room. The bird we had at the time was going nuts squawking flying around its cage. I picked up my sister, and calmed her down and listened carefully to what was going on in the back of the trailer. My mother was screaming at my dad. Saying she was going to kill herself. She had been seeing a therapist in town, and was threatening to take all of her medication. Eventually he got her to come out and then flushed the pills down the toilet. Somehow, she called the police. She told them that my father had hit her. She had planned on him getting arrested so she could take us to our grandfather's again. But that’s not what happened.
Once the police got there she was in hysterics again, telling them he beats her. He never laid a hand on her in my entire life. She, on the other hand, hit him all the time. In fact, she had hit him that night, and admitted to it. They arrested her, and took her to jail. I was in awe. I always thought she could get away with anything. That she was always in control. That night changed my way of thinking, forever. We ended up getting her from jail. My dad had bought a van to get us moved again. This time, we were moving out of state. I remember my dad saying something along the lines of "getting her out of her father’s jurisdiction." We were moving to Las Cruces, NM. That would be the end and beginning of so many things including the divorce of my parents.
When we left Kearny at seven in the morning it was already 102 degrees. We had sent the entire night packing everything we owned into the van. My dad had worked on it all night. The truck had been hitched to the van. The car we had bought in Safford was packed full. We had walkie talkies, so my mother could tell him how fast we were going. I rode with my father while my sister went with my mother. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies, with all our belongings packed and piled in our spray-paint camouflage vehicles. The trip was long. We had a lot of ups and downs. However, we made it to Hatch. Where my un-biological uncle lived with his family. We stayed the night there. I made my first friend here in New Mexico. It was nice to be somewhere else with a new friend. It seemed like an entirely different world.
When we made it to Las Cruces where it seemed harder to find a place to live. We ended up in and out of hotels. We even had to go to the homeless center to eat some days. We had lived in a homeless shelter when I was very little. I don’t remember how long, where, or why. Eventually my dad found work, and a place to live. It wasn’t until then that I really knew what the ‘ghetto’ was, what gangs were, and how dangerous they were. I also didn’t know that school laws where different in each state. In Arizona you don’t go to middle school until the seventh grade. In New Mexico you start at sixth grade. So, not only was I in an entirely new world, I was thrown into middle school. I found out what racism was. I was one of maybe ten white kids in that school. The majority were Mexicans. They hated me. I was blonde with blue eyes. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I learned to stick up for myself when I needed to. Just stay to myself. I was never popular since I always found myself being the new girl. So, it wasn’t too hard to do. When we found our new house, and were moving in, something very distinctive happened. My mother slammed a box into my stomach. Silent tears started to fall. My father saw this. He took my sister and I to a hardware store. On the ride there, he looked over at my tear-stained face. He told me that if she didn't get better in one year he would divorce her. He promised me. That next year was horrible. She was as bad as ever if not worse. I started my period. Yay me. Even though, she was there she didn't care that I was laying on the floor in a ball. My dad asked me what was wrong. I told him my stomach hurt really bad. I had no idea what was going on. I knew what a period was. I had heard girls talking about it. The thought didn’t cross my mind. So, my worried father takes me to the hospital. They put me in a dark tiny waiting room. I was sure it was where they put families waiting to hear their family member had died. The nurse took me into an actual patient room, and explained to me what was happening. I was mortified. They gave me some Tylenol, and sent me on my way. Ever since, I have had nothing but problems with my reproductive system.
A year went by, and my dad started the divorce process just as he had promised. My mother moved out. She wanted us to stay with her once she got an apartment. I refused, but my sister wasn’t old enough to. I regret more than anything not going with her. I left my sister defenseless. While I stayed at my dads selfishly. My sister came back one time with a burn on her hand from touching the stove. She said it was an accident, and it probably was. It just meant my mother wasn’t watching her. I had a similar accident when I was a baby. I don’t remember it. You can only tell if you look at my hands very carefully. My father moved us to the next trailer park over where he could better afford the rent. I made a friend there, only to realize later she was living her own hell. Eventually, my mother decided she couldn’t afford to live alone. She moved back in with us. This is where everything changed.
For the first month, she tried to act "normal" and did normal things like a stay-at-home mother and wife would do. Slowly she changed back to who she was. She became violent. She started having strange men come to the house when my father was gone. I over heard a conversation between her and one of these men. They were discussing a trade of drugs for my performing sexual acts. This man came and sat next to me. He started touching my leg, and breathing hard. He smelled like sweat, cigarettes, and alcohol. I punched him, like my dad had always taught me. I ran and locked myself in my room. I never got the chance to tell my father about this.
The next day my parents were fighting. My friend had asked if I could go with her to a pool. I got permission and went. My friends step-father had worked on a pool for a hotel in town. They gave him a free room with access to the pool he had fixed. Everything was fine until they disappeared. I waited for them to come back. I finally got tired. Thinking they might have forgot me. I went to the room we had put our stuff in. When I walked in my friend and her step-dad were naked in the bed. I stood there in shock. I didn’t know what to do, so I took my stuff and left. I ran all the way back to the pool. There were people there. He wouldn’t touch me in front of them, right? Should I tell someone? Would they even listen to me? I decided I would tell my dad when I got home. I had no way to call him. At that time he didn’t have a phone. So, I waited. Finally, they came looking for me saying it was time to leave. I hesitated, I wanted to tell him no. But, what other options did I have? I didn’t even know where I was, how could I get home? Luckily, he just dropped me off at my house. I was so glad to be home until I walked in.
As I walked up to the house I could hear my parents still fighting. When I walked into the living room my mother was screaming that she was going to take my sister into the back bedroom to make my sister watch her kill herself. I had had enough at this point. For the first time in my life I stood up to my mother. I grabbed my sister, put her in the chair, and sat on her. I screamed at my mother that she wasn’t taking her. I was shaking, but I was not moving. She grabbed me by the arm, and flung me into the wall. She then turned, and went back to her bedroom. I was crying at this point, and my dad told us to get behind his chair. Luckily, we did. Because she came back out. There was a coffee table made out of two-by-fours and fours-by-fours. She picked it up, and started trying to hit us with it and screamed that she was going to kill us. My dad took most of the beating, resulting in a leg injury. When she realized she wasn’t hitting us she went back to her room again. I took the opportunity to take my sister with me. We ran to the neighbor’s house. It was an older Mexican woman. She was very kind and let us in. I asked her to please call the police, and if we could stay there until they showed up. She obliged, and calmed us down.
For the second time in my life my mother was arrested. This time it was me who called, me. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I felt strong, and scared at the same time. I told them everything. I let them take pictures of my bruises, and cried. They took her to Mesilla Valley, a mental health hospital. We were safe, right?
We went to see her once. She gave me a picture she had drawn. I didn’t speak to her. She seemed to be properly medicated. She managed to get out quickly. My dad was working hard to get the divorce finalized, and a restraining order on her. She managed to convince the judge that she deserved visitation. New Mexico is a "mother’s state." Which means mothers usually end up with the kids and at the very least are granted visitation. It is also mandated that if a married couple has children while getting a divorce, with domestic violence involved, the children have to receive counseling. So, we started the process. Once again, I left my sister to go to her house without me. If there was ever an opportunity to do something different, I would have changed that. I have spent my life protecting my sister. When she needed protection most, I left her with a monster by herself. I have come to terms with the fact that I was young, and not thinking clearly. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t change it though.
My mother decided she was going to marry a man she had met while she was in Mesilla Valley. He was also a patient there. They moved in together. Then started fighting for custody of us. At this point I had gone from the quiet little girl who coward in the corner, to an angry preteen hell-bent on seeking justice. This in turn made me look like a troubled adolescent. My counselor decided that we should change our visitation to supervised visitation. This happened after my mother claimed that her future husband had raped her. I was skeptical about that, but happy for the supervised visitation. Even though I wanted nothing to do with her. This took place in a little building off the side of the CYFD office. When one party was on premises, either dropping off or picking up their children, the other party had to leave until they were gone. They had a small seating area, with an office that the person overseeing the visit would occupy. Next to that was a little room with a TV, a couch, and a bunch of toys in it. This was the room used for the visits. The door was always to be open. I of course hated it. My mother was lying. She was trying to make me seem like a terrible child telling lies about her. She wouldn’t admit to what she had done. That only seated the hate I had for her.
My father managed to finally get a restraining order against her. Then we moved to Hatch. We still had to go to Las Cruces every week to see a counselor, and to go to the supervised visits. All of which only made things worse. I was having nightmares. I didn’t want to come out of my room. I was constantly sick from worry. I started missing a lot of school. By this time, I was 12, and in seventh grade. At one point I broke while we were at one of the visits. I started screaming at my mother that I hated her. Asking her how she could sit there and cry while saying she doesn’t know why I hate her. She said she had always been a loving mother. That my father had turned me against her. I couldn’t take it anymore. That day I got kicked out of the visitation room. I was forced to sit in the waiting area until her time was up. After that, they changed the visitation to calls. This was where she would call us weekly to talk to us. Instead of seeing us in person. I wouldn’t talk to her. I would just wait for the noise on the other end to stop then hang up. This however was a problem. They were trying to force me to talk to her. My therapist even went as far as threatening to make me go back to visitation if I didn’t talk to her. The next visit she had my mother waiting for me in her office. She had not cleared this with the courts, or informed my father of what was going to happen.
In my opinion that was very unprofessional of her. She actually ended up losing her job for it. Luckily for me, it was the end of the visits and calls. I went into her office where my mother was looking like she had already been crying. Wanting no part of what was happening, I was not cooperative. The therapist began asking me questions, trying to get to the root of my hate for my mother. I honestly don’t remember everything she asked, but I remember the last question. She asked me what my biggest fear was. I answered honestly. I told her my biggest fear was to become my mother. Which in turn prompted her crying. I got up in a rage. I don’t remember anything else that was said. Just grabbing the chair, and slamming it down on her desk. My father came in and took me out of the room. He took me outside the building to get some air. To this day he is the only person that can grab me like that, without getting punched. He truly is my hero. After that we left. My father reported the incident to the courts. They therapist submitted a letter to them stating that I no longer needed her services then lost her job and license. The courts required me to see a different therapist who properly diagnosed me with PTSD, and started me on an anger management program. Honestly, it didn’t help much. I was still angry, but they ended up submitting a letter stating I didn’t need their services either.
The final stage was when my grandfather died. I was never close to him, and often thought him to be an evil person. My mother ended up with some money from him. She decided it was a good excuse to come down to see us. She wasn’t supposed to know where we were. Turns out, our uncle's ex-wife had told her where we were out of spite. She showed up with the same man from the mental hospital (the one she claimed raped her). I was home alone the first time she came. Her boyfriend scared me so badly I was hiding until my dad came back home. She had sent him to serve my father with papers for court. He banged on the door so hard he dented it. I never opened the door. I told my father what happened. He called the police to make a statement. An officer served him the papers, and they left. She ended up giving me a car. I was almost 13, what was I going to do with a car? Again, I’m sure she did this out of spite. She also gave us a few thousand dollars, and bought me a laptop. I didn’t want anything from her. I felt like she was trying to buy me back. She pushed the courts to give her full custody of us, saying she was stable again. She wasn’t. I just wanted her to leave us alone.
The day of the big hearing was one of the toughest days of this whole ordeal. My father had bought us suits from a thrift store. My sister was left with a neighbor while we were in Las Cruces. We stopped at a food chain store, and changed into our suits. So we didn’t get them dirty on the way. My father had told me not to say anything, unless I was spoken to. If I was called up, to tell the truth, and to keep calm. I took him very seriously. My father was always very diligent in everything he did, still is. He chose to take parenthood in a different way than most. In fact, I can only remember him spanking me twice in my whole life. I deserved it, and was more hurt emotionally than anything else. He knew that respect for your parents was a much more effective way to parent than violence. When we got to the court house I was shaking. I was not ready to go in there, but I knew I had to. This was my chance to tell them what happened, potentially one of the only chances I would get.
We went in and waited our turn in front of the judge. We were dressed nicely in our secondhand suits. My mother came to court high/drunk, wearing cut off jean shorts, and a cut-up t-shirt. She was accompanied by her boyfriend along with a man I had never met before. Her boyfriend ended up falling asleep in court. I never was called to speak. Even though I wanted to badly to stand up and yell, “She’s lying!” I remembered what my dad had told me, and how important this day was. I stayed quiet. The man that had come with them testified that he had known my mother all his life, that she was an upstanding citizen. It turns out she had met him in Mesilla Valley as well. The judgement came quickly. My father was granted full custody. We were granted a lifetime restraining order against my mother.
You would think that was the end of it right? No, she continued to try to come see us. She even went as far as dropping stuffed animals off at my sister’s school to prove that the restraining order was just a piece of paper. She did eventually disappear. Not before she left us one last Christmas gift. The last thing we heard from or about her, for nearly ten years, was when she reported my father for molestation. First off, I will say, my father has never been inappropriate in any way. He has never even looked at us in any other way but that of a father. She knew this, anyone that knows him knew this. That didn’t stop her though. We were investigated briefly. I told them exactly that. They found that he was a good father. There was no evidence of any kind of abuse nor neglect from him. That was the end of that. We have lived in peace since then. As a family anyways. I personally have suffered greatly from the damage caused. I have fought so many demons. I have ended up in terrible situations. I have been raped, beaten, verbally, and physically abused. I have been in one bad situation after another. It has taken a lot of work to get where I am now. I am grateful for the trials I have gone through. They have made me the person I am today. They have taught me lessons I never thought I needed to learn. Instead of being that angry broken little girl my mother left all those years ago, I am a strong, independent, and prospering young woman.
I had originally wanted to split this story in half. However in writing it I have found it’s just too long to post that way. So, I will leave off here. I will finish this story in my next post. This should have been the end if I had a better handle on life. However, I went on a very destructive path that ended in violence. I found my peace though. Come back next time to read the rest. Again, thank you all for reading my testimony.