To kick things off here at LTTUS, I’m going to tell my story.
This is a story that has been told many times in parts, but never in it’s entirety.
I’m going to do my best to not leave out anything significant but forgive me if I do. For you to understand me and my life I must start at day one.
Here it goes…..
I was born in 1985 in Louisiana with Spina Bifida. Something my mother didn’t know until she heard the doctor call me a “spinal baby” seconds after I was born. My mom never had an ultrasound. She only heard my heartbeat once.
The hospital she went to only did ultrasounds if something appeared to be wrong with the baby. She had the perfect pregnancy.
In my first three weeks of life I had three major surgeries. The first would close the gaping wound that was my spine, the next two would place a shunt in my brain and then repair it when the first one failed.
I was immediately rushed to the New Orleans Children’s Hospital. My parents wouldn’t see me for three days. Three weeks later I went home.
When I was seven months old I needed heart surgery. Six babies had surgery that day. Only one survived.
My parents split for good when I was eleven months old. That same month was the first time I was raped. I remember every vivid detail. This single solitary event is why I changed my name ten years ago.
My childhood was nothing but hospital stays, surgeries and doctors.
I didn’t have friends. I didn’t have time for friends. I had acquaintances I might borrow a pencil from in school but it never went beyond that.
My mom’s response to my lack of friends was, “here have a kitten.” We had 30 cats throughout my childhood. Every time we’d lose one she’d get another. Sometimes she’d come home with the entire litter of kittens and sometimes puppies too, a squirrel once or twice, some hamsters. You get the idea.
I knew how to spell “scoliosis” before my sixth birthday, but misspelled “like” on my spelling test that year. My medical life was priority number one.
My father bounced in and out of my life until I turned seven. After that I told my mom I didn’t want to see him anymore.
My surgeries averaged one every five months. I had 20 of them by the time I was eleven.
I’d also had 8 near death experiences where I floated above my body, woken up during surgery at least once to hear one of my favorite doctors making very inappropriate comments about my maturing body and begged my mom to not make me ever go back to the hospital only to have her ignore me and tell them to sedate me when I started having panic attacks at the sight of needles.
In that time I had at least 15 unnecessary surgeries. I still struggle with understanding what made my mother put me through hell. I have dozens of pictures of me in the hospital crying, having panic attacks etc. Instead of comforting me, she was taking pictures.
The man who raped me when I was 11 months old tried again when I was 7. He didn’t succeed that time.
When I was 11, my mom finally took me out of the Spina Bifida clinic I was in. One of my friends had been killed by one of my doctors. I think that’s when she finally realized what she was doing to me. For three years I didn’t have a single surgery.
The next year, she started dating a man who took more interest in me than her. He never raped me, but he’d grab my hand and make me touch him, or make sure I’d walk in on him masturbating. Those things still affect me today.
I told her about it almost immediately.
Her response was, “is there food in your stomach? Yeah? Then shut up.” This was my mother, the one person I should have been able to depend on in the world.
The abuse happened continually for four years.
When I was fourteen, my mom heard about this “amazing” new surgery and she just knew I needed it.
A four hour surgery turned into a 13 hour surgery.
My doctor walked out of the operating room covered in my blood and refusing to talk about what happened.
I cried and screamed “No!” until I was given anesthesia and woke up screaming “No!” still.
The surgery didn’t do what it was supposed to.
I couldn’t hold down food for thirteen days afterwards. My doctor was giving me the same anti-nausea meds they give cancer patients.
It didn’t help.
I almost died.
When I got home from the hospital my mom never apologized. There was no oops, no sorry; you almost died.
I went back to school just like I had when I was a child. No one knew.
Now that’s the medical side of my story. My mom never made me have another surgery after that.
Here’s the rest of the story that was happening simultaneously.
When I was 3 we were homeless. We stayed with a friend of my mom’s for a while. My mom hurt her back one day lifting me and nearly dropped me. She spent months relearning how to walk while I went to school and acted like everything was fine.
I moved in with a gay couple my mom was friends with while she was relearning how to walk. They never laid a hand on me and my therapist would agree they are the best thing that ever happened to me.
When they died (JB had cancer, GV had a heart attack) my school kicked me out until I had an AIDS test solely because they were gay. I underwent SEVERAL interrogations about them molesting me, solely because they were gay. The social workers could not understand how an openly gay couple wouldn’t hurt a child. Let me say it again, they never hurt me. They are the reason I am the strong woman I am today. They are the reason I survived. They taught me how to live.
One night around 3 AM I received an angry call from my father telling me he’d shot and killed the dog that had saved my life a few months before.
I’d been blue when my mother found me and I spent seven hours unresponsive in a coma from an allergic reaction to a medication. My doctors don’t know how I survived. The only reason I was found was because my dog wouldn’t stop barking and clawing at my bedroom door. My mom got up to see what the barking was for and found me.
His reasoning? He couldn’t get a collar on her.
When I was seven my great-grandmother died and we inherited her house. We’d been bouncing between friends houses up until then and it was a lifesaver. We lived there until my mom died and I sold it.
When I was 11 my mom tried to commit suicide. I lived with another family friend who tried to get me to change schools, cut my hair and basically change everything about me. I was constantly told I wasn’t good enough, my friends weren’t good enough, my animals weren’t good enough, my lifestyle wasn’t good enough and I generally refer to that time period as hell. I overheard them talking one day about how my mom’s suicide attempt was my fault. Feels really great to hear that as an eleven year old lemme tell ya.
They dumped my pet turtles into the bayou because they didn’t want to take care of them. I still cry over that.
I was driven to the hospital to see my mom three times in six weeks. Every time I wanted to see her I was told no, they were too busy or they were afraid I’d pee in the car.
That was also the year a cat fell through the ceiling and landed in my lap. His name was Oreo and he was my thunder buddy. We saw a tree get hit by lightning together when I was five or six and ever since then we would spend every bad storm together. We had him for 16 years before he died, screaming his lungs out, a few months before my mom. I still miss him when it storms and can not tolerate a screaming cat without having flashbacks.
The house was completely unlivable by then. We stayed in it another ten years after that, but really it should have been condemned.
During a routine kidney exam when I was 16 I was tied to the table when a nurse couldn’t get a vein.
My doctor thought I’d been raped when I went in for my follow up and she saw the bruises.
My mom was escorted from the hospital for telling them to leave me alone while I screamed in agony.
A test that should have taken no more than an hour took 12. I’d asked multiple times for them to get a pediatric nurse to put in the IV but they refused.
My mom could have sued, but she didn’t.
At 17 I came out as bisexual. My mom caught me and my girlfriend at the time making out.
My mom had always been gay friendly. She had gay friends that I thought of as dads.
So when she started yelling at me and said she “should have seen the signs,” and “the thought of you kissing another girl makes me sick,” I was shocked.
She sabotaged that relationship by telling my ex’s mom she was a murderer…..
Age 20 brought my ex husband. We met online and had been dating 10 months when she died.
21, was when my mom died and I was suddenly on my own.
I’d never paid a bill on my own and now I was suddenly responsible for all of my mom’s belongings, her will, the house, the land. I sold everything mostly so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
Five months after my mom died I got married.
He wasn’t perfect but I wasn’t miserable, at first.
We were married for eight years.
I left him one day while he was at work and never looked back.
He never hit me.
He didn’t have to.
By that point I was so beaten down by everyone around me, my mom, my doctors, it didn’t take much for me to become complacent.
My marriage brought two miscarriages, my ex mother in law’s verbal abuse, including her welcome to the family gift, a broom, and my ex’s verbal abuse. I stayed silent and took everything on my shoulders like a good little girl should.
His insults started slowly, like a dripping faucet. By the time I knew what was happening I was in panic mode to escape.
In 2014, in the middle of my marriage falling apart, the dizzy spells started.
I needed brain surgery. My life stopped, but everything went according to plan and I’m as okay as can be expected now.
I left four years ago, seven months after having part of my skull removed.
Three and a half years ago I entered therapy.
It never occurred to me I had PTSD. It wasn’t even on my radar. When you live like that you just keep going. You don’t take time to look at your wounds, there ISN’T time to look at your wounds.
I was diagnosed with C-PTSD which is actually a more severe form of PTSD. It made a lot of things make sense and now I’m recovering.
I’m slowly allowing myself to take up space again. I’m in a loving, stable relationship with someone who understands what I have been through and we help each other on our bad days.
Life is good now. My story isn’t a sad story, at least that’s not what I want it to be. My story is one of survival, because that’s what I do. I survive.