Sunday, April 18, 2010

The wedding

Pothead's family lived in a very rural area just past a national park in our state. They were so rural it made the community we had lived in on the farm look like a city. Anytime I was exposed to new people, new families, I was very observant. It was like taking an Amish child and putting them in one of our houses for a few hours. Everything was new. Everything was strange. So let me tell you about this family.

Pothead had a mother that worked herself to the bone. She was short and thin. She had a hair-sprayed bonnet hairdo. She, nor none of the family members could sign, but she could finger spell to Pothead. Pothead and his dad and sister were all heavier set. The sister was in her mid-twenties. She still lived at home. She was homely and had really bad hair. It was kinky/frizzy. Nothing could really be done with it. She kept it short, but it looked like a football helmet. She could also finger spell.  The dad, who was illiterate and an alcoholic, used his wife or the sister to communicate with Pothead.

I asked my mom why his family didn't learn to sign. This was their son and they'd had like 30 some odd years to learn. Mom said that Pothead had been sent away to school to live and learn to sign and read etc. Since he was only home during the summers and holidays she guessed they didn't get a lot of practice. To me, it spoke volumes about Potheads worth to the family. Explained a lot.

We'll call Pothead's Mom Venita and Dad we'll call Henry. Venita and Henry got up at 4 am even on the weekends. Venita kept the whole house clean and grew vegetables in her spare time. The family drank a lot of instant coffee. The kids were lazy. Neither had any independent living skills. We'll call the sister Kara. Even though Kara was grown, she sat in her room and listened to music all the time. She had no social life, no friends, no job. Henry wasn't in the best of health. He made extra money selling pot. Venita pretended she didn't know he did that, but if I knew... everyone knew.

Venita tried to be very nice to my mom and us girls. She was happy Pothead found someone. She'd slice tomatoes for me if I asked and I'd try to teach her signs. Kara wished we'd just disappear. We were annoying.
I generally followed Venita around because there wasn't a single thing to do when we'd go there on weekends. Venita did all of the laundry in the full basement and had no contamination rules. The house was clean, but not to mom's standards.

I was talking to Henry one day, standing beside his recliner. He was stupid. He was always touching his dogs wang because he said his dog liked it. Venita would yell at him and tell him to stop. He asked me to get him a beer and as he did slide his hand up the inside of my leg. I leaned down and whispered that if he ever touched me like that again I'd break his fingers. He quickly moved his hand and I felt empowered. I never mentioned it to another soul. I assumed a lot of men were this way and had decided that I'd never allow a man to touch me again. But there was no sense in getting the whole house in an uproar. Would anyone even believe me? This was the third time someone had been a pervert with me. I felt confident things were nipped in the bud and went on about myself.

I have no doubt that it's likely almost every girl in the world has been put in that type situation. Maybe not a full incident of anything happening, but that some adult somewhere made them uncomfortable.

I was moving into a stage in my life full of angst and depression. I wore some matching stupid outfit with my sister to the wedding in Hog Waller County. Donna was there and as mom and Pothead took center stage, I remember feeling very disconnected from the events of the day. I can clearly remembering thinking that something was wrong with me because I didn't experience joy anymore.  I thought it was because I wasn't Church worthy.  I experienced anger, depression, nothingness, curiosity, longing, but joy and pleasure escaped my grasp.  I was powerless. The only person I had a connection with was in California and I had no idea if I'd ever see her again. So I developed some coping mechanisms. As someone who loved music, I wouldn't just listen to music,... I'd often pick out one instrument and focus on that part of the song imagining myself playing the instrument. This technique allowed all other thoughts and emotions to be drowned out and gave my mind a rest. We weren't allowed to listen to the radio at night, but I'd listen to songs in my head to drown out any thoughts that were threatening to drag me into darkness.  And time marched on.


jodilee0123 said...

Can you remind me how old you are at this time?

Babs said...

12 Just before middle school

Paula, With all my heart said...

Babs, I know this is hard for you to have to write this and relive it but just know that by opening yourself up like this it will help someone else. I admire your courage. I don't know if I would be able to share my story if I had been raised in your situation.

Babs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Babs said...

Thank you Paula, I'm not gonna say it's not hard. I thought I had dealt with the majority of this stuff, but going back through it kind of shows me I still have work to do. I think it's good for me and hopefully others too :)

Von said...

Hi, there's nearly always work still to do because as we get older we swing round and view it from another angle.
There will hardly be a woman anywhere who hasn't been touched or treated inappropriately or worse by men at some time in life.You did a very empowering thing for yourself and good for you, hope it helped you to act strong again.

J. said...

I love that you told him you were going to break his fingers, that is brillant. I wish I had that courage as a girl... Thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

'Thinking about you and hoping you are well. Maria (Canada)