February 28, 2017

Stripped of All Hope

As I became further convinced that mother was right about me being stupid and worthless, I lost interest in school.  Instead I began looking for a job.

I went to school each day just long enough not to get in trouble.  I went to a couple of classes in the morning, especially my math class that I loved, and skipped the rest of the day. 

I didn't care when I heard some of the kids making fun of me in class because whatever they said about me I figured was probably true.  I was stupid, ugly, worthless and a loser.  I couldn't blame the other kids for making fun of me.

Instead of looking through the paper for jobs, I walked for hours every day going into stores and restaurants asking if they were hiring.  I found a job working one day a week taking delivery orders over the phone for a small pizza restaurant.  With my job as a popcorn girl at the theatre, that made three days out of the week that I was working.  It wasn't enough.  I had to find a full time job.

When I first started looking for a job my intentions were simply to do what mother told me to do, work and give her my paychecks.  Mother began reminding me at least once a week that she had taken care of me all my life and now it was time to start paying some of it back.  It was just one more thing that made me feel guilty for being born and being a burden on her life.

Paying mother back for having taken care of me wasn't my main motivation for trying to find a full time job.  During one of my visits with my brother Peter, he saw how depressed I was and told me I only had a couple of more years before I could move out on my own and start my own life.  He told me to hang in there and concentrate on finding a job and saving some of my money.

Peter didn’t like the idea of me dropping out of high school but he told me I was smart and I could get my GED and then go to college.  I wasn’t worried about college, but it sounded like a good idea.

It never occurred to me that one day I would have the option of leaving mother.  I imagined that I would remain in mother’s prison until some idiot wanted to marry me or until mother died. 

Once Peter made me realize that I would be able to leave and start my own life, it was all I could think about.  I had no idea what life would be like on my own, but I figured it couldn't be too much worse than it was now.

My first real job was working as a file clerk for a car dealership.  I lied about my age and said I was 16.  Since they thought I was in school, my schedule started later in the day.  I worked at the dealership five days a week and then at the theatre on the weekends.  I quit the job at the pizza restaurant since it didn't fit into my schedule.

I had never been around working adults before and I was nervous and scared.  Kids at school made fun of me because I was shy and awkward.  I was scared that adults, who could tell if someone was abnormal better than kids could, would be more cruel toward me. 

Even though everyone, from all the mechanics to the customer service women, were very nice when I was introduced to them, I kept my guard up because I had developed a misconception from Grace and mother that people usually had more than one personality.

No one at the car dealership ever made fun of me or bullied me as the kids at school did.  No one exhibited different personalities beyond being grumpy when having a bad day or feeling sad for various reasons.  I even managed to make a friend with a young woman who regretted getting married at eighteen and was thinking of getting a divorce because she was in love with one of the mechanics.

Instead of making fun of me or bullying me, I was uncertain how to feel when coworkers made recommendations on dressing to show off my figure, or to cut and style my hair to accentuate my face and eyes.  The only teasing I got was that I looked like a librarian with the big bun on top of my head that mother insisted I had to wear to be a proper young woman.

Before I dropped out of high school I made friends with a girl who was bullied for being fat.  She introduced me to the Baptist religion when she invited me to go to a church hayride.  Even though I had been baptized as a baby, they insisted on baptizing me again.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to get baptized again since according to mother I was evil.

I liked the Baptist church and went regularly on Sundays and Wednesday evenings.  There was also a very cute, tall, curly blond haired high school senior named Daniel who came from a traditional southern family that I had a crush on.  He was the boy that all the girls at church were trying to win as a boyfriend.  I figured I didn't have a chance, not with all the beautiful blond girls at church, but he sure was nice to look at on Sunday mornings.

When my friend told me that Daniel asked her what his chances were if he asked me out on a date, my mind froze with shock.  I couldn't believe a boy like him would ever be interested in me.  My shock quickly turned into suspicion.  It wasn't right for a popular boy like him to choose me over all the other beautiful girls.  Something wasn't right.

Even though we went on a couple of dates through church functions, I never trusted him and my suspicions over his intentions each time he told me how much he liked me grew stronger.  It was the beginning of a horrible cycle that would last into my mid-twenties.

Good men who were interested in me didn't have a chance, because I refused to believe that they had good intentions.  My damaged mind firmly believed that they were playing games with me.  Something along the lines of, "Let's see what it's like to have sex with an ugly loser chick."

I spent most of my life attracted to men who clearly were not interested in me, or that I could never be with, such as married men.  It was my way of once again reinforcing to my damaged mind that mother was right when she said that no man would ever want me, let alone love me. 

I intentionally sabotaged my chances of being loved by a good man because I was not emotionally or mentally strong enough to accept that mother had intentionally damaged me.  I could not allow myself to accept the truth because it was too painful.

In the end it didn't matter whether I sabotaged my chances with Daniel or not, because once Grace saw him driving me home from a dance the church had organized for Halloween, she made sure I would never see him or any of my friends again.  She even made sure that I lost my job at the car dealership.

After I got home from the church dance, Grace woke up our mother and told her that she saw me having sex in a car with a man from church.  Mother demanded to know who I had sex with.  She would not listen to anything I had to say that contradicted my sister's lies.  She emptied my purse and took the little address book I kept in my purse, all the while calling me a demonic whore.

A week passed without another word from mother or Grace about me supposedly having sex in a car.  However, I was not allowed to answer the phone, so when my friends called Grace or mother would tell them I wasn't home and not to call again.  I was also not allowed to return to the Baptist church.

The following weekend Grace came home from working at the lounge with her blouse ripped, her hair and face messed up, crying and shaking.  I immediately knew she was acting, especially when she told mother that the boy from church had followed her to work and waited for her to finish her shift.  When she saw he was following her home, she pulled her car over to ask what he wanted and that's when he attacked her and pulled her into an alley and raped her.

I knew she was lying not only because he was a good person, but also because I knew that weekend he was in Wisconsin at a family reunion.  Not to mention the fact that he had never met my sister and didn't know what she looked like, what kind of car she drove or where she worked.  Of course mother had no interest in anything I had to say because I was the devil's whore sent to destroy them.

The following Monday morning mother instructed Grace to call everyone in my address book and tell them what an evil whore I was.  I sat on the sofa as I heard Grace speak to my friends or their parents and recite the same story of how I had arranged to have attacked.  She told lies about how I would come home from spending time with my friends and talk about how easy it was to fool them into thinking that I was nice while laughing about how stupid my friends were.

She sounded so sweet as she told everyone she couldn't live with herself if she didn't warn them and something happened to them.  I found it interesting that she never called the parents of the boy from church who allegedly raped her.  I also found it interesting that she didn't call the police to report being raped.

While she didn't call the police, she did call my boss at the car dealership and told him the same sick story.  I never went back to work at the car dealership because I was too embarrassed.  No one from work called to see if I was coming back or not, or to check if I was okay.  That's when I knew that if I had gone to work, I probably would have been fired.

A few days later when I tried to call my friends from a payphone, they either hung up the phone when they heard my voice, or told me to never call again.

When I called my friend from the car dealership, she would only tell me that she didn’t believe my sister’s story, but for someone to do what Grace had done meant something was wrong with them and she was too scared to stay in touch with me.  Her last words to me were, “Move out of that house and get away from them as soon as you can.”

I never told Peter what happened because I was too scared he would confront Grace or mother and make things worse.  I was too scared what they would do to me to get revenge for seeking Peter's help.

Even though I began looking for another job so I could save money for the day I would leave home, I had been stripped of all hope and saw a future full of pain and loneliness. 

In my very damaged mind I felt that I would never be free of either Grace or mother.  Even if mother died, Grace would still be a part of my life, ensuring that my life would be empty of love, happiness or friends.

I felt as though I had been stripped of any and all hope of ever living a normal life.

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