I am lucky not to have true flashbacks very often.
But I tend to get stuck on a few thoughts or memories that play over and over in my mind. It’s like someone put my brain on repeat and there is no skip or forward option.
I’ve been fighting off a virus and needing some extra sleep. I took a nap. I was having a dream about sex toys. My nose has been so plugged up I can’t breath long enough for more than a peck of a kiss so it is no surprise my hormones have leaked into my dreams.
The phone rang. I was to groggy to pick it up. I laid there a minute, trying to decide if I was going to sneeze or should sit up and reach for a tissue. I got up, blew my nose, started coffee and listened to the voice message.
It was a call from a victims assistance fund to let me know they’d be deciding if Little Boy’s expenses will be covered. And it reminded me I just got a hospital bill from his visit to the ER. A bill I’m so damned pissed about I don’t even know where to start.
It’s just wrong.
I had gotten off the phone with Manbaby. He insisted on working the night shift. I had sent the children to bed and we talked while I folded laundry. Our marriage was a wreck, a joke. He’d explode in violent rages. I convinced myself it was the drinking. He made jealous, demeaning comments about the kids and to the kids about me. I walked on eggshells barefoot, knowing if I misstepped there was glass broken underneath. But he seemed to be trying, he called from work that night.
He got called back to work. I hung up the phone and finished folding. I heard the boys’ room door open and the Big One hurry down the hall. T-Dog barked at him. My brother was supposed to have gotten his dogs the day before but was held up. Why did he bark? I went to check. On a whim I tiptoed down the hall behind the Big One. I listened at the door.
Little Boy says “But will I be OK? Will it come out my butt when I poop?”
The Big One answers, “Yeah, sure, you’ll be fine. Just don’t tell Mom.”
I open the door and turn on the light. “Don’t tell Mom What?”
“I got hurt working on our fort.”
I know it’s mid-January and they haven’t been outside for days.
I get Little Boy out of the room. He doesn’t want to tell me. He was made to feel that it was his fault, that he’d be the one who went to jail. He wants to protect the only big brother he’s ever known.
Bit by bit I convince him he can tell me. He says “he put a condom on his pee-pee and put it in my but and the sperm came out.”
I check that he is not hurt in any obvious way. I call Manbaby, leave a message. He calls back. I tell him what I’ve been told.
Manbaby rushes home. He gets in Little Boy’s face, screaming, trying to intimidate him into recanting. He threatens him, tells him he’ll never see his mom or sister again. Little Boy sticks to his story.
Manbaby goes after the Big One, hereafter called Child Rapist. He confesses, sort-of. Manbaby decks him. Little Boy’s clinging to my neck, terrified. I call 911. They send Deputies and Detectives and an ambulance.
The paramedics insist on taking him in, just to be sure. I numbly go along. Half the ride is a flashback of another ambulance ride with him. When he was only a year old, but that is another trauma and another story. We get there. The nurses confirm that he is not physically hurt and schedule a forensic exam for morning. I convince the detective who came to question us at the hospital to take us home. A nurse lends us her child’s car seat. They refuse to take our insurance card and insist that I don’t have to worry about the bill for this.
I get home and stand firm that Child Rapist will not be in the house. Ever. Manbaby gets dramatic about “the end of his marriage.” I try to say that it’s very late and I’m very tired and in shock and can’t make any decisions. The cops won’t arrest Child Rapist till the nest afternoon. Manbaby takes him to their old house for the night. I am already trying to convince myself I can save my marriage, that no one can control what their children do.
By morning Manbaby misses me and want to come home. And the weeks that follow are a blur, a nightmare like no other.
At one point Manbaby explains how he is worried about Child Rapist, people might think he is gay “because of this.”
Slowly I am waking up. The fog clears. I start taking to Manbaby’s first ex-wife, Child Rapist’s mother. I go to a parenting class and a mediator. I get Little Boy set up with a therapist.
People are worried about me. They ask if I am safe at home.
Manbaby gets worse and worse. Is temper tantrums keep going up and up. I am never good enough. I am lucky he puts up with me. My kids are always anxious and being raised by TV as I try to keep them away from the worst of it.
I take a stand. I will not be treated like that. My kids will not grow up in a home where abuse is normal. I am accused of lesbian affairs and drug dealing. He tells me there are weird people coming by the house. He tries telling these stories to my family, friends, neighbors. They’ve known me too long to believe it and tell me all about it, word for word. He berated me in public with little embarrassments and small explosions. In private he screams in my face, calls me names, makes threats about me losing my children.
Weeks pass and I do not back down. He is sure that the change in me is do to drugs. But no, I have just decided I will not let my daughter see me put up with it. I won’t.
There is a monster fight. It drags for days. I tell him to leave until he can behave better. He comes back contrite. For ten minutes. Finally he storms off, packs up and moves out. He means it to punish me, to control me, to make me beg him to come back.
But I call my friends and family. My brother and DD stay close, guarding me and the kids. I don’t let him come back. He plays endless games over it, texting me constantly, calling, stalking. He drops in on my mom at work. He makes his kids text me.
A few times I slip and actually tell him how I feel and what I think. Some part of me wants to make him understand. But I know that I can’t, that he doesn’t care, that he wants to guilt me into taking him back. He tries everything to get a hook on me, to pull me back into his web. So I get smart and ignore him, completely. I have divorce papers in my hand.
It has now been several whole weeks and he hasn’t texted or called once. I am sure I am still his enemy number one, that he has spread his strange tales far and wide. It does hurt. But I am starting to unwind, to move one. I have learned to treasure the people I can count on to look out for my kids. Like my other Ex, the man who sucked it up and was nice to me for the kids’ sake for 4.5 years. Day in and day out.
And then there’s that bill. My child was raped. I may not be starving but I’m not well off. And someone wants to make a profit. And I keep reliving that night. Keep going back through the details of dating Manbaby and the red flags I missed. And there’s the victims advocates and assistance groups calling. And I need to know I’m not alone but every reminder is a stab in the back, is a flashback and then The Loop.
The Loop is the place I can’t get out of. I chase my own memories in circles. I function on the outside. I feed the kids, clean the house, weed the garden. But it’s like a shell, a mask, of me is going through the motions. Inside, I am living the past. The Loop is like mini-flashbacks on repeat.
The DVD of my memory has this big gauge in it and I can’t play past it.