Tracy Porter - The Author
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The Descent

When I finished the third grade Marc, Candice and I left the safety of my grandmotherís ample nest and moved back in with my mother and her new husband, Bill. We lived in a rented three bedroom detached house in a neighbourhood with other young families.

Although the reasons for the move were not explained to me, I would later learn that we had to go back and live with our mother because she had become ill and could no longer afford to pay for our keep. We went back to live with our mother not because she wanted us but because she could no longer afford to pay someone else to look after us. This rationale, therefore, was not a suitable reason to hand us back to our mother, but for the sake of the almighty dollar that is exactly what happened.

It goes without saying that the knowledge that my grandmother loved money more than me saddens me deeply. America is unfortunately a very money oriented society and people are not judged by what they are liked as human beings, but how many possessions they aspire to. Unfortunately, my country of birth is so crazed about acquiring material wealth that they will put a person in prison because they have fallen on hard times and cannot pay child support. Such tactics set a terrible example for children, who are taught to believe that poor people are criminals and rich people are good.

Decades later I would discover how true my assessment is because I myself fell on hard times and could no longer send my ex-husband money for my son. Instead of my ex-husband having a little bit of compassion for my plight, claiming to be a Christian, he responded by reporting me to government agencies and brainwashed my son into believing I was a really evil person. I would like to know who the genuinely evil person was, however? Was it the Christain who beat his wife, and abducted her son, extorted money from her, and then raised the child in question to hate his mother, thereby sealing his fat as well? Or was it the poor hapless woman who had survived physical, mental and sexual abuse as a child, only to marry men who would help her experience those feelings of self loathing again on a daily basis to the point that she had a nervous breakdown and could no longer afford to pay her ex-husband.

Who exactly was the evil person in this scenario? A society that is not so money oriented would have blamed the man because he was so obviously a cruel being who would likely to on to harm his child in the same manner that he harmed his wife. America, on the other hand, is so crazed with acquisition of money that they see the poor downtrodden mother who lost her child as the evil person only because she did not have the power or the money to combat her husband. I am sad to say that America, the land of the free, my country of birth, is a place where people will kick you when you are down.

Marc wasted no time in going out to meet the other children and on one of the few occasions that he has ever spoken to me, he borrowed my bike so he could riding with other boys his age. I suppose that Marc coped with the cards the game of life dealt him by staying out of the house as much as possible that was a very wise thing for him to do because he did not witness much of the violence and aggression that my sister and I did. My mother has often commented on the fact that even when Marc was as young as one year old he would run away from home every day. On some occasions he would get as far as a mile away before anyone notice that he was gone, and usually someone would have to bring him back home.

While my mother laughs at her eldest childís antics, alarm bells would have gone off in the mind of any responsible person. While my brotherís behaviour was very cute, not one person ever bothered to ask questions like:-

Because my siblings and me inherited a mild form of dyslexia from our mother, I never considered Marc to be particularly bright. In retrospect, Marc was probably much more perceptive than my sister and me because he had the foresight and proactive nature to stay out of the house as much as possible while Candice and me, much more introverted and less equipped to deal with hostility, stayed in the house and allowed Mama and Bill to vent what they felt to be the futility of their lives unto us. Being battered children, we learned long ago not to fight back. The fight or flight mechanisms were not working properly, so we just stayed where we were. We knew that if we did not fight back we had a better chance of survival.

Because it was the summer, I was in a relatively good mood. I have almost always felt good when the weather was warm and the sun was out. There is something about bright, sunny days that will lift almost anyoneís spirits. My sister and I ventured out of our front yard into the world at large, and believe it or not, we actually met some children our age. My mother liked to sleep most of the day, so she was not particularly bothered what we did just so long as we stayed out of her way.

When my mother did bother to get out of bed, it was usually to yell and my sister and me about something that we did or did not do Ė especially with regard to cleaning the house. One Sunday when we had come home from church my mother was in a rage about some mess we did or did not make. She started yelling at me and asking me how I could do such a thing as to leave such an awful mess, which in all probability was an over-dramatisation that she learned from her own mother.

Because I was at a loss for words and wanted so dearly for her to shut up, I replied, ĎBecause Iím lazy?í That comment went over like a ton of bricks. My mother ranted and raved even more than she had in the past. I wanted so much for her to just shut up, but her yelling just went on and on for what seemed like ages. It did not take long for me to realise that I could not talk to my mother about anything.

Because she was always angry and punishing me for any real or imagined wrong, I tried to just stay out of her way. With each passing day we just became further and further apart. If there ever had been a bond between us, it had been broken long ago.

Needless to say, all that yelling and criticising I was forced to endure every day took its toll on my health. It was only a matter of time before I developed dandruff, which incidentally is a form of eczema and is often aggravated by stress. My mother, thinking that my sister and me developed dandruff because we were dirty, wasted no time in washing our hair in Pine Sol cleaning fluid, hoping to get rid of our flaky skin. I have no idea whether the Pine Sol helped our dandruff or not, but my mother stopped complaining about it after our first wash. I suppose that the reality of the situation was that she could not be bothered to wash our hair and therefore decided to just accept it.

In no time at all my nerves were shot, and I took to comfort eating. While I have never been a skinny child, living with my mother was such a traumatic experience for me that I soon ballooned, this being the beginning of what has been a lifelong struggle to maintain a normal weight.

While my confidence was slowly crumbling as I had to listen to my mother berate me on a daily basis, my sister and I actually received an invitation to a birthday party. My happiness at being included in a social engagement was soon eclipsed by the fact that my mother told me that if I wanted to go to the party I would have to give the child a gift that had been given to me for my birthday! I was shattered by what she told me. My mother was unwilling to buy a present for me to take to the party, which was a totally cruel thing to do to a young child. I therefore stayed home when the other children went to the party because at that time I was not prepared to give up my own presents. In addition, I doubt very seriously that the young girl whose birthday it was would have appreciated second hand gifts.

I found my brotherís birthday to be equally disappointing. My mother had organised a party for his 11th birthday and invited all of the children in the neighbourhood. The happy times that could have been had were eclipse by the game, ĎPin the Tail on the Donkeyí. My sister, Candice, failed miserably at the game, and because my mother did not want to wash the dishes that had been generated from the event herself, she told Candice that she would have to wash them as punishment for not doing well in the game. As I saw the expression on Candiceís face turn from happiness to sadness, my heart broke for her. What was supposed to be a happy occasion turned into misery as I was forced to watch my sister wash the dishes all by herself. I donít know if the other childrenís good times were ruined because of my motherís behaviour, but mine certainly was. For reasons that I will never understand, my mother actually enjoyed seeing her children suffer.

Because my mother has had such disastrous relationships with men, it should come as no surprise to learn that she formed very strong bonds with other women because she had a need for adult companionship. Men had proven themselves to be untrustworthy, so my mother only told things in confidence to other women. I have never asked my mother whether any of her relationships were physical in nature, but regardless of whether or not they were platonic, they nonetheless affected the relationship that she had with her children. These women took precedence in the day to day activities of her life, which kept her from caring for her children. I doubt very seriously that the women who my mother took up with gave a damn about the effect their relationship was having on the children.

In this day and age of political correctness, homosexuality is considered a lifestyle choice. I do not see it as a lifestyle choice, but as a mental illness. There has to be an imbalance in a personís psyche to cause him to be attracted to same sex intimate relationships. The causes could be very complex, such as child abuse, domestic violence, or even rape. It is a well known phenomenon that victims of rape often become lesbian because they cannot be around men anymore. In my motherís case, I think it is more complicated than that. I believe that the men in her life had just let her down so abysmally that she felt she could only relate to women.

The statistics are that 3% of men and 1% of women become homosexual. Homosexuality is in fact a very immature reaction to the world around us, and reveals that oneís development has been impaired, thereby preventing mature heterosexual relationships.

Between the ages of 5 and 12, children possess a strong urge to separate into all boy or all girl groups, as they reject close contact with members of the opposite sex. Of course, just after puberty most people emerge from this same sex phase and begin to become attracted to members of the opposite sex. Somewhere along the line, individuals who become homosexual fail to adequately make the transition from childhood to maturity.

Lela, my motherís then best friend, was a frequent visitor to the house. I always liked Lela because she spent time with Candice and me, and I felt that she was genuinely concerned about our well-being. My motherís relationship with Lela was not without difficulties, however, because Lela had a tendency to ask questions about our mother and we would then be reprimanded for telling Lela the truth. I still cannot understand what type of life my mother was leading where she felt that she needed to keep secrets from her husband, girlfriend, and children. This scenario went on an on for years, and I am sure that my mother and Lelaís bickering did nothing to help my increasingly nervous disposition.

As I reflect on how my motherís mistakes had such a huge impact on me, I can only surmise that she married Bill in an attempt to have a normal life. When she married Bill she quit her job and wanted to be a homemaker, which was not an unreasonable thing to desire. Bill, however, did not want my motherís children, and his refusal to provide for my mother and the family that he married into caused a great deal of stress in their relationship. Instead of confronting Bill about his refusal to accept her children as his own, she deflected her resentment onto her children who were not in a position to fight back. We were such easy targets and so easy to abuse. We had already been conditioned not to betray our motherís dirty little secrets.

Whenever Mama was angry with me or one of my siblings, she would always make a point of telling us that she did not want us and Matt, our father, did not want us either. I can tell you that her comments to me about only having me around because no one else wanted me did nothing for my self esteem. Is it no wonder that I turned into such an emotional wreck as an adult?

I lived in that rented house with my family for the summer, but we all moved into a double-wide mobile home on Bunch Road shortly before I began the fourth grade.