Tracy Porter - The Author
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CHAPTER 6

Hell

My mother has told me countless times that the only thing that she ever wanted in this life was a nice home that she could share with her children and grandchildren. No doubt, her desire for a nice home has stemmed from the difficult life that she undoubtedly had, but in my humble opinion, her overwhelming urge to possess the nice things in life has contributed immensely to the destruction of our family unit. Although our family was far from perfect when we lived on Bunch Road, it practically disintegrated when we moved to the new house. The old saying, ďthe love of money is the root of all evilĒ was not coined without good reason.

It seems that even though Mama had finally achieved the one thing she wanted in this life, a nice, house, she still wasnít happy. Mama also had a bad habit of going into one of her many foul moods during the weekends, thus enabling her children to experience the full force of her fury. On Saturday and Sunday mornings Mama would be running around in the kitchen, attired only in a nylon nightgown that went up to her knees, screaming and yelling like a raving lunatic. Her tantrums usually centred around the fact that the house had not been cleaned to her specifications, and although she was loathe to lift a finger to do anything about it, she wanted everyone to know just how enraged she was that we may have left a speck of dust somewhere when we were cleaning her house.

On one occasion when Mama was in the midst of one of her many screaming sessions, she was standing in the kitchen enraged about something insignificant, maybe a dish had not been washed the way that she would like it to be, or some other such nonsense. and in her animated flurry Mama bumped her head against a metal corner of the oven. As soon as my mother had realised that she had harmed herself, she started screaming at the top of her lungs so we would know that she had hurt herself just in case we hadnít already gotten the message. You see, while my mother had absolutely no qualms whatsoever in harming other people, one thing she simply would not tolerate was any pain inflicted on her, even if she was the source of pain. I did not have the education to know this, but my mother has a borderline personality disorder composed primarily of the histrionic and sadistic personality disorders.

When Bill saw that during my motherís mass hysteria she had bumped her head against the metal grill, he rushed to her aide to comfort her in her moment of need. In all the chaos that was transpiring, Candice and I did not dare leave the room because we knew full well that Mamaís dramatic display was designed specifically to make our lives hell, which it did. My mother was fortunate in that she married a man who enabled her awful behaviour.

I would like to point out that while my mother was so meticulous about the cleanliness and hygiene of her children, she was not that terribly bothered about her own personal grooming. Mama only bathed once every two or three days and washed her hair once a week at the very most. Years later, when I went on one of my rare visits to see my mother, I was astonished to discover that the bathroom in her shop was coated with dust and other debris. Additionally, Mamaís old shop on Bunch Road was infested with mice because I constantly found their droppings in her drawers. I honestly donít know how Mama could openly declare that her hygiene was in some way better than that of her children. It seems that she had the Ďdo as I say, not as I do, mentalityí. I now believe that my mother had projected her own sense of unworthiness and self-loathing on to her children. She hated herself, but could not admit it, so she decided to hate her children instead. My mother felt dirty inside so she projected the filth that she felt within herself onto her own children.

I can never understand how in Godís name Bill could ever be attracted to a vicious woman like my mother, who obviously had no control whatsoever over her emotions. Bill was a college educated man who would have been able to date a much nicer woman if that was what he wanted. From what I understand, he had numerous affairs and always threatened to leave, but he nevertheless continued to stay with her. No doubt, he had some serious issues to deal with himself if he chose to stay with a woman like my mother. My only conclusion is that he must have in some way been aroused by my motherís hysteria, because I am not aware of him ever telling her to get control of herself. Although one of the biggest turn-offs that I can think of is some man yelling and saying horrible things to me, it takes all kinds to make a world. Bill obviously must have derived some sort of perverse pleasure out of my motherís uncontrolled fits of rage because he could have walked away from my mother any time he pleased: but he stayed, and stayed, and stayed.

One time someone told me a story about her husband and his business partner going to a meeting with a woman who was very angry. In the course of the meeting the woman had become so enraged that she began yelling and screaming at the men, as well as throwing things. The business partner became sexually aroused from her aggressive behaviour, and actually had to leave the meeting because he developed an erection from the womanís temper tantrum. I donít know why, but some men like hostile women.

It is important to note that virtually everyone with a personality disorder comes from a dysfunctional family background, which clearly links sociology with mental health. Everyone has a personality, which is quite often apparent from an early age. There are, however, certain incidents that can alter an individualís underlying temperament. For example, some prisoners of war felt that their time in captivity had dramatically altered their personalities for the rest of their lives. In addition, educational, spiritual or physically challenging events can be transformative.

It is interesting to note that we often consider people with personality disorders to be crazed people who we would never think of having contact with but the fact is that many of the famous personalities we see on TV and read about in the newspapers have abnormal personalities, which are characterised by recurrent, maladaptive, inappropriate or destructive behaviour. While some activities of an individual with a personality disorder are criminal and others are merely socially inconvenient and a nuisance only t the sufferer and his family. There are eleven distinct personality disorders, which are:-

An individual with a paranoid personality disorder feels that people are out to get him even when evidence to the contrary is presented to him. Men are more likely to suffer from a paranoid personality. Shared paranoid personality disorder, or Ďfolie a deuxí is a strange condition in which two people who are closely linked emotionally share the same delusion.

A patient with a paranoid personality disorder exhibits the following symptoms:-

As with other personality disorders, people who come from dysfunctional backgrounds are prone to developing a paranoid personality disorder. In addition, long term drug abuse, in particular with cocaine, amphetamines, and similar drugs such as Ecstasy is a frequent cause of paranoia.

An individual with a schizoid personality disorder tends to be a loner, self-contained, doing a job as well as they can, minding their own business, and neither experiencing nor expressing emotion to any great depth. Characteristics of the schizoid personality disorder are:-

The schizotypal personality is the individual who is considered by others to be a bit eccentric, and can actually grow into full blown schizophrenia. These people usually have some bizarre habits and are given to fanatical beliefs. They are socially anxious people. The signs of this disorder are:-

People who have a histrionic personality disorder are usually women. They tend to be more sexually attractive and seductive than other women and pay undue regard to their appearance. They like to be the centre of attention and will often do something that will propel them into the spotlight. Histrionicís emotions tend to be shallow and they tend to react intensely to emotional situations. When a histrionic develops a relationship, she can become dependant on her partner and attempt to control him. Although casual friendships tend to be superficial and are easily abandoned and they are able to achieve a lasting partnership, provided that it is on their terms. What is interesting to note is the fact that while these women may use their sexuality to lure their romantic recruit in, they usually become sexually unresponsive after they have made their conquest.

Symptoms of a histrionic personality disorder are:-

Individuals who have a narcissistic personality disorder generally have delusions of grandiosity. The symptoms of such a disorder are:-

Individuals who have an anti-social personality disorder are usually male and tend to be very aggressive. Their character and behaviour are such that unless they are very cunning, or very rich, they are almost inevitably going to clash with society. In addition to aggression, these individuals also exhibit cruelty to animals, vandalism, early experimentation with drugs, and excessive amounts of alcohol, and general rebellion. People with antisocial personalities characteristically come from large, dysfunctional families, where love has been at a premium and there has been excessive use of violence, whether verbal or physical. Indicators of this type of disorder are:-

Individuals who have a borderline personality disorder have characteristics of several disorders and it is for that reason that it is difficult to define. People with borderline personalities are essentially unstable in many aspects of their life. They have a constant restless feeling of boredom and a lack of purpose. Most people who develop a borderline personality claim that their childhood was unusually unhappy and seem to have a greater than usual likelihood of having been exposed to domestic violence and physical and sexual abuse. Sufferers are also believed to have a higher than average incident of childhood sexual abuse. Their parents are more likely to have a history of mental disease, other personality disorders, alcoholism and come from a fragmented home, all of which have added to the condition.

Individuals who have an avoidant personality disorder are thought to be very shy. Indicators of the disorder include:-

Individuals who have a dependent personality disorder are essentially submissive and lack confidences, and are more commonly women. They allow other people to make all of the important decisions in life, are not prepared to disagree openly, and are generally the doormats in life. Indicators of the disorder are:-

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder are perfectionists who love lists, rules, schedules, hierarchy. As a rule, they are more likely to be male than female, and tend to be pessimistic and lack confidence, but at the same time are ambitious, competitive and may develop a depressive illness. Indications of this disorder are:-

There are some people who have sadistic personalities, which is exhibited in their relationships with family members or with junior colleagues at work. They tend to rely on mental bullying, but are themselves not physically violent. In fact, if they were to be confronted with physical violence, they would be alarmed. These individuals do not consider themselves to be violent, as the majority of their behaviour relates to mental activities.

Some individuals have disorders of impulse control, typified by the shopoholic, the arsonist, the gambler, or the kleptomaniac, just to name a few. The normal pattern of behaviour is that the patient suffers from increasing tension and excitement before they perform whatever act is their particular penchant. They carry it out, experience pleasure and gratification followed by immediate relaxation. If the act was antisocial, it may be followed by self-reproach and remorse, whereupon the whole cycle tends to repeat itself.

We moved into a house on top of a 6 Ĺ acre plot of land when I was 13 years old and finishing the seventh grade. We were still in the same school district and therefore only needed to figure out which bus to take to and from school every day. Because Candice had been put back a year, she was still in the sixth grade and would have to change schools. My mother, not wanting to disrupt Candiceís life any more than it had been already had been, decided that Bill would take Candice to school every day for the remainder of the school year. It did not go unnoticed that my mother had no qualms whatsoever about disrupting my life. I resented the preferential treatment that Candice was getting because all through my life no one had ever taken my feelings into consideration. Although I never voiced my views, I felt that if it had been me who had to change schools then my mother would not even have given my welfare a second thought.

With great relief, the school year ended and we had summer vacation to look forward to. Marc had a motorcycle and could therefore come and go as he pleased, but since public transportation in Arkansas was practically non-existent, Candice and I had nothing to do except watch television all day long, all alone, all by ourselves. Naturally, I regained any weight that I lost during the previous year because no one was around to monitor what we put in our mouths and see that we have got sufficient exercise. As with many American children, the television became our babysitter and we became couch potatoes.

Candice and I were expected to keep the house clean, so every morning we would get up and proceed with the housework, which was our responsibility. Although we really tried, nothing we ever did was good enough. It goes without saying on the few times that I did speak to my mother she would only criticise me about the quality of my housekeeping.

One time my mother got a bright idea that she would actually pay us for keeping the house clean. As usual, we set about doing our chores to the best of our ability, but when it came time for our mother to actually give us the money that she had promised us, she complained so bitterly about the quality of our work that I told her I did not want the money anyway. My mother was so pleased that she did not have to give me any money that she waffled on about my sense of ethics, but ethics had absolutely nothing to do with it at all. The reason I didnít want to take any money off of her was because I had my pride and was sick and tired of hearing my mother criticise me all day long.

The fact is that my mother cannot stand spending a dime on anybody but herself. There was nothing wrong with my quality of work. My mother just did not want to pay the money that she had committed herself to. In addition, her constant criticism of me only served to decrease an already low self-esteem.

I honestly donít think that my mother ever saw any of her children as human beings who needed love and attention. We were always treated as if we were these disgusting creatures who robbed her of her childhood and ruined her figure, which is what she informed me on a regular basis. Because we werenít planned, we werenít deserving of any respect. My mother just assumed that we should be grateful for any attention (good or bad) that she gave us at all, and conducted her affairs accordingly.

Flu Flu died the during the summer between the seventh and eighth grade. Bill must have let him out on the leash in the morning when he went to work and the lead must have gotten tangled up under the tire of my motherís Mercury Marqui. When she left the house to go to work she accidentally ran over him. Our only consolation is that it must have been a painless death because it happened so quickly. Marc went out and told us that Flu Flu was dead, so one of us had to our mother to ring and tell her. My mother was very upset about this and naturally decided that it was our fault for what happened. My mother truly cared more about her pet than she did her own children.

As it happens, Candice and wanted to go to the swimming pool on the day we had to telephone Mama and tell her Flu Flu had died. Because our mother was angry at us and blamed us for the fact that she ran over her own dog, she said that we could not go swimming. We were even being punished for things that we had absolutely no control over.

It was not long after that incident that Mama did allow us to walk to the swimming pool, which was about a mile away from our home. After Candice and I had a nice day swimming, we proceeded to walk home on our own. For some reason, Candice walked faster than I did on that day, as I trailed behind daydreaming and enjoying the scenery of the countryside. When I was sufficiently far enough away from Candice, an older man in a pick-up truck stopped and asked me directions to the swimming pool. Because I was not particularly street wise, I innocently spoke to him in a friendly manner and gave him directions as he spoke to me and asked me some questions about the local area. As I was speaking to the man, he suddenly, he pulled this grotesque thing out of his pocket, something that I had never seen before in my life and something that I had absolutely no desire to look at. When I stared at him in shock with an alarmed look on my face, he asked me if I wanted to Ďkiss ití. I abruptly told him that I was not that sort of person and ran away as quickly as I could.

As I departed, I heard him yell over to me, ĎIíll give you a dollar!í.

Well, Iím here to tell you that no amount of money in the world would have made me go anywhere near that individual.

When I caught up with Candice and told her what had transpired, I received about as much sympathy as I would have received from a scorpion. She admonished me that it was all my fault anyway because if I had been walking with her, it never would have happened.

When Candice and I got home, I telephoned Mama at work and told her about my rather unusual day. Mama was alarmed that such a thing could happen virtually in her own back yard, and telephoned the police to report the incident. The police came that evening and took a statement from me about the events of the day. Unfortunately, that one incident more or less sealed our fate, locked away in that house that summer, with no one to keep us company.

Although I was not to realise this for three decades, that one day sealed my destiny of meeting men who had perverted ideas about sex. My first husband had homosexual tendencies, was mentally disturbed, and would go on to steal my child from me. My second husband would turn out to have a personality disorder, raped a woman, and was a registered sex offender. I donít know why, but I would always attract the bastards and would not give the nice guys the time of day.

At times my mother would try to break up with Lela, and she would cry and beg my mother not too leave her. Because my sister and I would witness the diatribe, we would be in tears as well, begging Mama not to leave Lela. Of course, we were so innocent that we had no idea of the complexities of what went on with our motherís relationships with other women, and merely assumed that Lela was a friend on the same calibre as we had in school. On a couple of occasions Lela would be beside herself with grief during these tense moments, and her husband Glenn had to be summoned to the house so that he could collect her and take her home. I have no idea what Bill and Glenn made of what was going on, but they certainly never tried to intercede when their wives got into fights. Perhaps they hoped the two women would become bored with each other and the relationship would fizzle out on its own. If they were jealous of the attention that these two women paid to each other, they certainly never issued any ultimatums that the liaison should cease.

By the time I was 13, my mother had grown tired of Lela and found another friend, Bobbie. I imagine that Mama met Bobbie through her circle of friends, but she never elaborated about how they became aquatinted with one another. As with the nature of all my motherís friendships, they are of such an intense nature that she was unable to be friends with more than one person at a time. While Mama honestly couldnít care less what Bill got up to just as long as the bills were paid, her relationships towards her friends were entirely different matters.

So, just as quickly as Lela had entered our lives she had left. I did not understand all of the clandestine activities that my mother and Bobbie were engaged in to get Lela out of their lives, but Lela soon got the message, departed with whatever dignity she had left, and carried on with her life. But even Lelaís leaving to allow my mother to find happiness with Bobbie did not satisfy her.

Soon after my mother and Lela parted company, Lela became pregnant. Instead of my mother being happy for her friend, I overheard her say to Bobbie on several occasions, Ď Lela tried to prove she was a woman, and look what she got for it!í My mother was obviously referring to Lelaís daughter. In retrospect, I suppose that my mother regarded her own children with the same contempt that she had for Lelaís child. We were all something that resulted from my mother having sex and being a woman.

Of all of my motherís friends, I must say that Lela was the nicest. Lela came from a very reputable Pentecostal family in Arkansas and had a wealthy husband who could afford to help her. Whatever went on between the two women, Lela would do nothing to jeopardise her standing in the community. My motherís other friends, however, were not from such affluent backgrounds and therefore had nothing to lose should their activities tarnish their reputations in any way. Knowing this, they carried on in any way that they saw fit, often with little regard for anyone else but themselves. I have no doubt that my motherís affairs spread around Little Rock like wildfire, and I also have no doubt they adversely affected my social life. For reasons I could never understand at the time, my friends would not be allowed to invite me into their homes and on some occasions people would not play with me. I was made an outcast over things that my mother had done.

Of all of my motherís friends, I think that Bobbie did the most to destroy the relationship that I had with my mother. Without a doubt, she must be one of the most evil, wicked persons who I have come across to deliberately set about to destroy any possibility of unity between my mother and me.

Of course, as an adult my mother had free will to decide what was more important to her, her children, or her friends, and as an adult I have the choice to forgive my mother for all of the things she did. But, as fate would have it, as we are all endowed with feelings and emotions that are not so easy to rationalise, which makes it that much more difficult for me to come to terms with what she did. As a child, when I became embroiled in squabbles with other children, my grandmother would always admonish all parties involved and tell them to Ďkiss and make upí. Wouldnít it be easy if adult life was as simple as that; if we all had the capacity to forgive and forget? Unfortunately, I have a very good memory, which makes it very difficult to forget all that is said and done.

Bobbie came from a completely different family background than Lela. Where Lela treated people with decency and respect, and as a result of her good qualities had an active family and social life, Bobbie tended to be much more flamboyant in her lifestyle. Lelaís was close to her family, who were active in the Pentecostal church in Little Rock, while Bobbie hailed from Texas and did not maintain ties with her relatives for a variety of reasons. Lela lived in the more affluent suburbs of Little Rock, while Bobbie was forced to share an apartment with another woman in order to make ends meet. Lela had something that Bobbie didnít have Ė stability.

Bobbie did not have wealth and was not able to provide Mama with the lifestyle she had become accustomed to while staying friends with Lela, but nevertheless for reasons I will never understand, my mother had an affinity with this woman who had come into our lives. At first it was a great novelty to have this new person to talk to and confide in, but as I got to know Bobbie, I saw a dark side to her character. If my life was fraught with difficulties before, it was when Mama met Bobbie that things went from bad to worse.

I guess because I came from such a dysfunctional background myself that it never occurred to me that something may actually be wrong with the way Mama dumped Lela for apparently no reason and took up with Bobbie. Because I had never really been taught the complexities of human relationships, I did not know that as social creatures we often become acquainted with a variety of people who we see on a casual basis, and there is no reason to discard one friendship just because another person comes into our lives.

A cunning creature, Bobbie believed that in order to win my motherís affections she must become liked by her children and husband, and it is for that reason that we all became fast friends with her this interloper to our family. Bobbie would allow my sister and me spend the night with her on Saturday evenings, and we considered it to be great fun because we were able to get out of the house for even a brief time. The fact that Bobbie would usually disappear and leave us there all alone was of no consequence, because it was such a pleasant journey away from our motherís bickering and constant criticism. After a while Candice chose not to spend the night at Lelaís, but I did Ė I would do almost anything to get away from home.

Of course I was really too young and naÔve to realise what was going on in Bobbieís mind, and therefore I did not realise that her actions were more sinister in nature. Bobbie, probably through her own childhood experiences, had a fascination with sex. She would sleep with men, women, children, anybody. I now believe, based on other behaviour that Bobbie adopted during those weekend visits to touch my body or behave in other inappropriate ways. I donít feel that her reasons for having me in her home were innocent and well-meaning.

Early on in my acquaintanceship with Bobbie, I was to learn that as a child she had gone to a psychiatrist several times a week for several years. I simply could not imagine why a child would need to see a psychiatrist, but did not ask Bobbie to go into detail about why she and her mother felt she needed it. Bobbieís mother obviously felt that she needed help if she sent her to a psychiatrist, and I am positive that she had Bobbieís best interests at heart. If Bobbie would be sent to see a psychiatrist in the 1940s and 1950s, she must have been in a really bad state of affairs because therapy was not yet in vogue as it is today. I also feel, based on Bobbieís rather bizarre sexual preferences, that she was sexually abused as a child or young adult, thereby adversely affecting her behaviour as a child, and then later as an adult.

Bobbie pretty much became a permanent feature in our household, as she saw Mama literally every day and joined us for a huge family meal on Sundays. I suppose that in some ways I should be grateful to Bobbie because if it had not been for those weekly lunches I doubt very seriously that I would have seen my mother at all. The entire family carried on as if everything was normal, and I honestly donít know if anyone ever approached my mother regarding the normality of her allowing a single woman to infiltrate her family the way she did.

Bobbie was so enamoured with my mother that when her own mother came to Arkansas from Texas, there seemed to be a disagreement between mother and daughter about the bond that the two grown women had developed with each other. From what I can gather, Bobbieís mother felt that my mother was using Bobbie and that she felt her daughter was doing entirely too much for my mother.

Because I know my mother so well, I am sure that she was using Bobbie to some degree. What no one knew at the time was the fact that both Bobbie and Mama were as thick as thieves. They were both using each other to get what they both wanted out of life. I do believe, however, that in the end it was Bobbie who did irreparable damage to our family and was the greater user of the two, as events that later transpired will attest to this.

This diatribe escalated to the point where Bobbieís mother refused to go to Sunday lunch at our house. Instead of Bobbie spending that Sunday with her mother, who had travelled all that way to see her, she instead decided to spend Sunday with my mother in our house. I found Bobbieís behaviour to be quite odd, considering the fact that her mother had flown to Arkansas especially to see her daughter, but as usual, I did not want to pry into exactly what was going on because I felt that it was none of my business. Also, at that time I still considered Bobbie to be my friend and I therefore believed that Bobbieís mother was simply overreacting.

Bobbie tried to give the impression that she was an upbeat, happy person, but I feel that it was a faÁade that she had built up over the years to get what she wanted out of life. There were some cracks in this veneer that covered Bobbieís persona, but since she was my motherís friend there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it. What I did not know was that Bobbie had a drug problem. Her happy go lucky attitude was therefore the result of substance abuse and not being high on life.

On one occasion I caught Bobbie reading my motherís mail. When I reproached her for it she became defensive and made up an excuse about her behaviour. One another occasion, when Bobbie had found out that someone she knew had died, she howled, moaned and cried for what seemed like hours. I could not understand how Bobbie could react to death in such a way any more than she could understand how I could show such lack of emotion over such an extreme life event.

Bobbie could be very volatile, but rarely showed it to people who did not know her. One day I came home to find that we had a new telephone, and later learned that Bobbie had ripped the old one off the wall in a jealous rage. I know that if I had a friend who displayed such violent tendencies that I would vow to distance myself away from her because I do not like intense friendships. I can only believe, therefore, that since my mother can be rather explosive herself, that she must have yearned for such attributes in other people.

Bobbie could be very overpowering and tried to order me around just like she did everyone else in her life. When I was in the seventh grade I attended a football game with the M-ettes, a group of football supporters that my mother allow me to participate in. One evening Mama asked Bobbie to collect me, and when she arrived at the football game she grabbed me and pulled me down the bleachers against my will. If she had behaved a bit more civilly then I would have been happy to oblige her, but considering the fact that she was treating me more like a rag doll than a person, there was no way I was budging from my position. Because Bobbie was physically stronger than me, she eventually won the battle of wills. I was nonetheless, very embarrassed that she would make such a spectacle of us in front of my classmates. It was very rude of her to barge into the middle of the football game and physically drag me from the bleachers. That was not the first time that Bobbie would use force to make me do what she wanted me to doÖ. And my mother swears that she would never allow her husbands (or lovers) to harm me.

On several occasions I told my mother that I thought Bobbie was a lesbian, but instead of refuting the allegations, my motherís only response was, ĎIf Bobbie is a lesbian then what does that make me?í.

Either my mother was severely in denial about her relationship with Bobbie or she was incredibly naÔve. My mother was not ready to admit to herself, let along anybody else, that she was in an unhealthy relationship with another woman.

When I was almost 14 years old I noticed a brown discharge when I changed my panties. This went on for several days until it dawned on me that I must have been menstruating. Because my mother was not available, I discussed the matter with Bobbie only because I needed sanitary protection and did not know what sort to purchase. Bobbie took me to the store and I bought some pads that I thought would be suitable, and thought nothing more of the incident. While I did not think my first period to be any cause for celebration, Bobbie evidently had other ideas.

At the earliest opportunity she told my mother all about what had transpired, and to my dismay, my motherís only response was sorrow that I had not discussed it with her. If my mother had ever bothered to even try to establish any kind of rapport with me then I would happily have told her what was going on with my body. The closest that my mother ever came to telling me about what to expect when I approached adolescence was on one occasion, while she was in the toilet, I was informed that when I got older I could expect some changes to occur. My mother never elaborated on this, and I never asked for further clarification.

Considering the fact that my mother couldnít even be bothered to discuss the facts of life with me, I didnít see what the fuss was all about. She could not have been too concerned about my welfare because she didnít even have the common sense to give me any sanitary protection to use during those times of the month. Fortunately for me, I never had a particularly heavy flow to contend with because I would have been expected to produce any kotex or tampon out of thin air. My mother, the person who was so devastated that I had not told her I started my period, never even gave me any money to purchase what I needed and she certainly never provided any for me.

Mama and Bobbie would often take Candice and me to the movies. These excursions were saddened by the fact that they rarely watched the movies with us, but would drop us off and promise to collect us at a later time. Quite often, however, Mama and Bobbie would be terribly late picking us up, so two 13 year olds would be all alone, waiting outside the theatre for someone to pick us up. Although Candice and I were quite annoyed to have been kept waiting out on the streets, late at night, we were too naÔve to ask our mother exactly where she was all that time. It was also quite unsafe for us to be out on the streets, late at night, but when did my mother ever let a little thing like the welfare of her children get in the way of her having a great time.

On one occasion Mama and Bobbie dropped my brother, sister and myself off at the movies and kept left us there for such a long time that we saw at least two movies before they came to collect us. I am sure that Marc did not appreciate their antics because it was the last time I am aware of that he was lured into going to the movies with us again. It did not take long for us to tire of going to the movies because it soon became apparent that it was not intended to be a family outing. My mother had to take us with her because she had to be able to pretend to Bill that my sister and I were there the whole time. My mother was counting on the fact that we would not reveal that she and Bobbie were not at the movies with us, but had dropped us off, unsupervised, so that could go and do their own thing.

When Bobbie initially came into our lives, she shared an apartment with another woman. On one occasion when Candice, another young girl and I went to spend Saturday night with Bobbie, the woman who she shared an apartment with had brought a man home to spend the night with her. When we woke up the next morning, to our surprise there were menís clothes littered across the living room floor and staircase leading up to the womanís room. Personally, I was quite amused at what I saw because I have never been a prudish person. Unfortunately for the poor woman and her man-friend, Bobbie felt is necessary to telephone my mother and tell her what happened.

Never mind what I had been subjected to in my own home, my mother was sufficiently shaken by the thought that her innocent little children may be corrupted in some way that she felt if necessary to have one of her few mother-daughter talks. Therefore, when I came home from an enjoyable reprieve from my home, I was greeted with a very sombre expression on my motherís face, as she ushered us into her bedroom to inform us that what the woman had done was not a very nice thing to do. To be honest, I was not bothered in the least that the woman had decided to spend her Saturday evening enjoying herself with another man and found myself a bit uncomfortable at having to listen to my mother try to explain to me the right way to live. I found my mother admonishments to be a bit hypocritical considering the fact that my own brother was conceived out of wedlock and my mother had been thrice married. It never ceases to amaze me how the most vehement preachers are also the biggest sinners. If we could all just live and let live, there would be much less strife in the world today.

It was not long after that incident that Bobbie moved into her own apartment.

A couple of times when Candice and I were supposed to be staying at Bobbieís, she would drop us off at a coffee shop and collect us several hours later. Once at the coffee shop, she would order us a dessert and we were instructed to wait for her to return. Bobbie merely said that she had gone to see a friend and never elaborated on where she had been and why she had been away so long. Candice and I never questioned Bobbie about this, but my sister soon tired of Bobbieís lack of concern about where she dumped us off and decided that she did not want to stay at Bobbieís anymore.

I am not sure exactly here Bobbie was all those times she dumped us off in the centre of Little Rock. I have heard that she was a prostitute and that she was on drugs. I personally donít know which story was correct. What I do know is that something really strange was going on. I do not know exactly why Bobbie wanted me to spend time with her is she was only going to dump me off. I also do not know how many times Bobbie used me as an excuse.

Because I was so I unhappy at home I stayed with Bobbie almost any opportunity that came my way. One evening when Bobbie had gone out and I was there all on my own, I had nothing better to do and happened to go through her drawers. I was quite intrigued when I found a book of old pornographic cartoons. As topics of a sexual nature were concerned, I was still very naÔve. I therefore found the book to be something of an eye-opener. On another occasion I found in Bobbieís bookshelf the book entitled, ĎAll You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Askí. Naturally, I was at that age when one wants to know about such things, and therefore read the book from cover to cover. I found Xevier Hollanderís book, ĎThe Happy Hookerí, and read it from cover to cover as well. For someone who had never even been kissed, I sure learned a lot about the mechanics of sex in a very short period of time.

When I was about 14 I went over to stay the night with Bobbie. Bobbie had a sofa that converted to a bed, so I already knew that I would be sleeping there while Bobbie slept in her own bedroom. As I settled into the abode for the evening it was not long before I dozed off in front of the television set. While I was slumbering, I awoke to the rustling of covers, only to find Bobbie in bed with me. Irritated to have found Bobbie sharing my sleeping space, I asked her quite frankly what she was doing. Bobbieís only reply was that she thought I might like some company. I assured her that no, I did not want any company, and let it be known that she should go back to her own bed.

The next morning I thought the incident of the previous evening was over and done with and thought nothing more of it. Then Bobbie received a call from someone and she told me that she had to go out for a little while and would be back soon. Not thinking about whom she was with or what she was doing, I kept myself occupied by watching television and getting ready to go home.

It was not long after Bobbie left that my mother rang, asking where Bobbie was. Bobbie had not given me any instructions about what to say should anyone call, so I told my mother that Bobbie had gone out, not knowing that my response would provoke anger. When Bobbie returned I told Bobbie that Mama had rang, totally unprepared for the reaction that I would get. Bobbie started yelling at me, asking me why I did such a thing, and then told me that she would pay me back for what I had done. Considering the fact that I was only 14 years old and unaware of any wrong doing that I had done, I could not understand why Bobbie was reacting in such a way. I could not understand why Bobbie was yelling, screaming and threatening me. I did not know what I was supposed to have done.

I never stayed at Bobbieís after that, and we soon developed an animosity towards each other as we competed for my motherís affections. I also never discovered where Bobbie had been and what she had been doing those times when she was away for hours and could not explain her whereabouts.

One warm, summer evening Bobbie and Mama decided they would like to see a pornographic movie at the local drive through theatre. This was a bit difficult because Mama was obliged to take Candice and me with her, so we were instructed to hide in the back seat of the car when the two adults drove into the cinema. Mama told us that we were not to watch the parts where people were actually having intercourse, so when those scenes appeared we had to close our eyes and not watch. Considering the fact that even as an adult I can think of 1,001 things that I would rather be doing than watching two individuals copulate on the big screen, as an adolescent I was quite embarrassed to be watching such things say the least. Oddly enough, I never considered my motherís actions peculiar, but I am sure that if I had told any of my friends the kinds of places that my mother took me to they would have been horrified.

Although I was too young to know what was happening, my mother and Bobbie were corrupting me in the hopes that I would adopt their values. Corrupting children, I might add, is a form of child abuse. What I find to be perplexing is the fact that my mother would admonish me about the sins of having pre-marital sex and would turn around and expose me to a pornographic film. I did not know it, but my mother had a very strange sense of values, which caused me to grow up to be a very confused individual indeed.

When I was in the eighth grade I was quite surprised to come home from school to find my mother in bed with Bobbie. Although I was quite naÔve for my age, I nevertheless knew that there had better be a really good reason for two grown women to be in bed together. When I expressed my annoyance at the two of them for showing such flagrant disregard for conventional morals by sleeping together in the same bed, Bobbie merely replied that they were tired and decided to take a nap. Considering the fact that I was still a child and they were adults, I was not in a position to voice my concerns vociferously and therefore had to let what I considered to be a very feeble excuse rest for the time being. Although I never disclosed to anyone what I had witnessed, I was still very upset about the incident nonetheless.

Although my mother and I have never had the type of relationship where I felt that I could speak openly with her, I was never aware of my mother as being a sexual being until she befriended Bobbie. During that summer when I was home, all alone, all by myself I had nothing better to do except to look around the house and see what there was to see. It was during the time that I opened up my motherís bedside drawer to find a white, cylinder shaped object. I had no idea of what it was and found such a thing to be quite peculiar. Because I knew that my mother would be very unhappy with me if she was to discover I had been looking through her personal belongings, I put it back where I found it and thought nothing of it. It was not until several years later that I was to realise that what my mother had in her possession was a vibrator, and although I am quite open minded about sexual matters I do feel that my motherís attitudes towards were quite hypocritical to say the least. My mother frequently told me that men were animals, yet she was keeping sex toys. I can only assume that because of her own experiences of sexual abuse, she had become obsessed. It is also important that my mother was very much a part of the ďmeĒ generation, and many of that era took the attitude of ďif it feels good, do itĒ To my mother, a vibrator felt good, so she used it.

In contrast, when I was an adult I had a boyfriend who bought me a vibrator. I was so embarrassed that I threw it away.

One day when my mother had let me alone in her beauty shop I had nothing to do except read magazines. I had grown quite tired of the True Love and Modern Romance that were normally left for the customers to read, and therefore decided to look around to see if there was anything else of interest. As I opened the closet in the room that contained an assortment of hair dryers I was surprised to find several magazines in a top shelf. To my surprise, I found several editions of Penthouse and other assorted pornographic titles to peruse. Amazed, I read them from cover to cover, as I was quite intrigued. What I did find to be perplexing, however, was the fact that the pictures in the spreads were of women, and not men. If my mother was going to be purchasing pornographic material then wouldnít it seem plausible that Playgirl would have been more appropriate? Deep down inside I knew that my mother had lesbian tendencies even if I could not openly express it.

At this point in my life I still had somewhat of a rebellious spirit because it had not yet been pummelled to the ground. I therefore confronted my mother with the pornography that I had found and asked her what she was doing with it. Without even batting an eyelash, my mother matter of factly informed me that the magazines belonged to Bill, my step-father. I have never been a suspicious person and therefore accepted her excuse as to why she would have pornographic magazines stashed away in her beauty shop. At a much later date, however,I happened to mention the magazines to Bill, who seemed very surprised to learn that Mama had them kept in her shop. He assured me that no, they were not his magazines, but he would be very interested in have a perusal of them to view their contents.

On another occasion I found some books of a sexual nature hidden in cabinets in the house. I had never had any sexual experiences and was therefore just dying to find out what it was all about. I read the books, which were mainly reference material, from cover to cover, as I yearned to know what was so special about adult relationships and sex. I think that most young people have a keen interest in sex because it is something that is forbidden.

It slowly became apparent to me that my mother was somewhat of a hypocrite. She expected Candice and me to be perfect little angels while she carried on in any fashion that pleased her. What is even more ironic is the fact that years later, when my mother had pilfered through my sisterís personal belongings and found that birth control pills, she suggested that my sister and her boyfriend should be thinking about getting married if they were going to carry on like that. When I was 18 and had joined the military, my mother suggested to me that she did not approve of my lifestyle because I had a few boyfriends. In retrospect, I honestly donít know what fantasy world my mother was living in when she put across this pretence of unabashed purity to her children and even tried to make them feel guilty for the choices that they had made in their lives. I can only surmise that my mother was living in a massive state of denial about her own behaviour and therefore honestly believed her lifestyle was quite innocent. My mother may have felt ashamed of her activities and believed that if she could belittle her children about their own lifestyle then she would not feel so bad about the things that were going on in her life. It is important to note, however, that before the birth control pill became popular, lesbian relationships were considered quite acceptable in some circles because women could be intimate and not have to worry about getting pregnant. So popular was this practice that even the late Princess Margaret was rumoured to have had one such relationship. Therefore, even though I look at lesbians with disdain, many women opt for homosexual relationship as a viable means of birth control.

While our family unit was slowly disintegrating into a non-entity, Mamaís relationship with Bobbie was taking on a more sinister tone. Bobbie was slowly working to undermine the relationship that Mama had with her children, which is also a very common practice in lesbian circles. One woman will feel jealous of the children, so will work to the parent/child relationship.

One day I came home from school to discover that my mother had gone through the entire contents of the room that I shared with my sister. I did not understand why she would invade my privacy in such a way because I felt that I had never given my mother any cause not to trust me. During my motherís rampage through the room, she had taken the books that I had so carefully hidden in one of the drawers. Of course, I was too embarrassed to bring this to her attention and she never bothered to speak to me about it. I was hurt and upset that my mother would have so little regard for my privacy, but was powerless to say anything for fear of retribution. My mother did not see me as a human being who was entitled to a private life, and therefore did not have any regard for my feelings or personal possessions.

When my mother snooped through my personal belongings, she found a tongue and cheek book that I had bought on how to tell effective lies. Of course, the majority of the stories were quite funny and nothing that would be any use to a 14 year old, but my mother did not hesitate to make sarcastic comments about it and try to imply that I was in some way dishonest for having purchased such a book. Well, considering the fact that my mother is one of the biggest liars I have ever met, I considered her accusations to be like to pot calling the kettle black. My mother felt absolutely no remorse whatsoever for having gone through my personal things, and then berating me for it. To be honest, I really didnít need a book to teach me how to be. All I needed to do was spend a little more time with my mother and I would have perfected the technique in no time at all.

It was not until years later that my mother confided to me that her so-called good friend Bobbie had been stealing from her. Her drug habit, which was also kept a secret, no doubt fuelled her desire to steal from her best friend. Of course, Bobbie would never admit the thieving and therefore fabricated a story that I was stealing money from my mother to buy drugs if she was not projecting her problems onto me I certainly donít know what she was doing. This, of course, was not true, but my I suppose that my mother would rather believe her own daughter stealing from her instead of taking a close look at the associations that she was forming. To make matters worse, my mother would habitually make snide little comments to me that she knew I was using drugs. I honestly didnít know what in the world she was talking about.

Because Mama had to work, Candice and I never spent a great deal of time with her, so I was mildly surprised and pleased to come home to find my mother had set the dinner table and had made a pot roast for our supper. I asked my mother what the special occasion was, and she told me that she thought it would be nice to fix dinner for her children. While normal people would consider my motherís actions to be quite commonplace, if not ordinary, they were in fact out of character for her, as this as one of the few occasions in my life where she did put forth the effort to do what other mothers do.

At 14, I was very self-conscious about my weight and decided to do something about it. I therefore ordered one of those Weider exercise kits from a magazine because it promised to transform my figure in as little as two weeks. Because I was desperate to lose weight, I waited for the mailman to deliver what I considered to be a miracle cure in earnest. When it finally arrived, I found that it was composed of plastic drawstrings that attached to the doorknobs and the literature promised me a new, svelte figure if I used it every day. Sadly, instead of my mother being pleased for me because I was actually trying to do something about my weight, she took every opportunity to make snide, vindictive remarks. It seemed that she was never happy. She would criticise me for being overweight; and when I decided to do something about my weight she would criticise me for that as well.

To say that my mother criticised me is an understatement. It is more appropriate to say that she would become temporarily insane. My mother would literally run around the house screaming and yelling in a massive tirade. She would usually be upset because the hours had not been cleaned to her specifications that she would begin screaming at me for actually taking care of myself and exercising.

The bottom line is that it did not matter what I did because my mother was always looking to find fault with me. Although my mother was loathe to even lift a finger around the house, nothing that my sister and me I did was ever good enough. My mother expected my sister and I to spend every waking moment at her beckon call, cleaning her house for her. Any time she found a speck of dust she would become hysterical. Among the irrational accusations that she would yell in my direction was the fact that I wanted to exercise instead of clean the house.

It seemed that I just could not win. When I was as young as 10, I had to ask permission to put any food in my mouth at all and my mother had already put me on the rice and fruit diet because she thought I was overweight. At 14 when I decided that I would like to do something about it my mother took an entirely different stance and berated me at every opportunity for taking a little pride in my appearance. I now believe that my motherís sense of values were so warped that she was actually jealous of her own daughters. My mother did not want me to be attractive because she saw me not as her daughter who needed love and encouragement, but competition.

Although I am sure that Bobbie had an ulterior motive, one of the only decent things she ever did for me was to persuade my mother to let me have a part-time job when I was 14 years old. Although my mother will never admit it, the realisation that she would no longer have to spend any money on me at all was the deciding factor in allowing me to have a job. True to her word, Bobbie scheduled an appointment for me to see the owner of the local MacDonalds. During our meeting I sat back and said nothing, but Bobbie, possessed with the gift of being able to think quickly on her feet, did all the talking and secured me a position with the company.

Although Bobbie did that one good deed for me, even if her own interests were on the forefront of the venture, the damage that she caused cannot even compare to the small little favours that she did. The following summer Candice decided that she wanted a job, so Bobbie resorted to the same tactics and landed one for her. What soured what should have been good fortune for my sister was the fact that Candice was to be working at the same place that I was. I personally did not have a problem with this, but where Candice worked was shrouded in complete mystery because my mother and Bobbie did not want me to find out. Well, if Candice and I were going to be working together I would have found out sooner or later. I was particularly hurt by their actions because they purposely did not tell me because they naturally assumed that I was like them Ė they believed I would try to cause problems and hinder Candice in some way because that is the sort of thing that they would do.

I think the fact that my mother would participate in trying to undermine the emotional bond of her two daughters should serve as a clear indicator of just how disturbed she really was, and just how dysfunctional our family was.

Had it not been for the fact that I was allowed to go out to work on the weekends and during the school vacation I donít know what state I would be in right now. When I was at home I was isolated and alone, but when I went to MacDonalds I was surrounded by young people and soon developed a rapport with other people. Because I did not drive, Bill usually took me to work and picked me up, which was a kind and thoughtful act. Although I am sure Bill had ulterior motives for taking me to work everyday because he was free to do whatever he liked without fear me cramping his style, it was nevertheless one of the few decent things that he or anyone else has ever done for me.

Is it not surprising to discover that after all that was going on in my home that I would develop a problem with kleptomania? I had this problem to varying degrees even as early as 6, when I would take money out of my motherís purse to buy candy and other things. However, when I reached 14 or 15, this tendency became out of control, as I wanted to take for myself whatever pretty things that I saw. I suppose I was very much like a magpie. Money was not necessarily a factor in this compulsion because I was working and had my own income to purchase things. I honestly cannot describe what possessed me to take things. The only reason I can come up with is that I was under a great deal of stress at the time. Some 20 years later, when I having a nervous breakdown I had an uncontrollable urge to steal a bag of chocolates from a shop when I had plenty of money to pay for whatever I wanted. It was at that moment that I realised my kleptomania manifested in response to extreme stress.

My problem reached its peak when I was caught trying to take some trinkets from a drug store. Again, I had plenty of money to pay for whatever I wanted, but the thrill of taking the items was just too much a thrill to turn down. Unfortunately, I was not very sophisticated in my attempts at theft and was soon caught red handed. While I was waiting for the police to come I cried absolute buckets of tears and begged the manager of the shop to let me go. I begged him to let me go and even promised him that I would do absolutely anything in the world he wanted me to do if only I could go home, knowing full well that what I was suggested was a veiled invitation for him to seduce me. Although I had never even been kissed by a boy, I was prepared to let this old, overweight, bespeckled man touch me in any way that he liked just to get out of this mess that I seemed to have found myself in.

Fortunately for me, the manager of the shop was decent enough to turn down the advances of a pathetic, sobbing 14 year old. So humane was he that he didnít even press charges, which he very well could have done. The policeman on duty telephoned my parents and told them about the incident, and they were so unconcerned about what had happened that they told the police to let me go to work in my tearful, traumatised state. When I arrived at work I rang my parents and cried into the telephone some more, not elaborating on what had happened should any of my co-workers catch on to the fact that I had been caught shoplifting. The superintendent was suspicious, but had the common courtesy not to interfere in my tearful conversation.

Amazingly, when I arrived home that night, not one word was said to me about what had happened that morning. Bill may have expected Mama to speak to me about the incident, but I guess she was so wrapped up in what was going on with her own life she couldnít be bothered to worry about the problems that I might be having. I suppose the whole family was embroiled in a serious state of denial, and to acknowledge that I had a problem would open up Pandoraís Box, something that they did not want to do. They preferred to believe that I was the one with the problem and if they ignored it, it just might go away.

With Bobbie, my mother was able to have a lifestyle that she had never before dreamed of. Every day my mother would leave for work early in the morning and not return until well after I had gone to bed. It seemed that with the exception of Sunday lunch, I would literally go for weeks without seeing my mother. My motherís rationale for her behaviour was that she was reliving her childhood because lost her it through having children at such an early age. My motherís reasoning seems quite contradictory to me, because for the most part my brother, sister and I had to fend for ourselves our entire lives. When my mother did make a rare nocturnal appearance, she usually only made insulting comments, which had ceased to hurt me many years earlier.

One evening when Candice and I were home alone, Mama returned in a hurry to sort out some flower arrangements for the house. Because it was so unusual for Mama to actually be home at that time in the evening, I went into the dining room to say hello. My appearance was met with a frosty reception, as my mother was obviously in a foul mood for some reason that my sister and I were not made privy to. She looked at me, asked me a question about the dried flowers that I knew absolutely nothing about, and proceeded to hurl a litany of profanities in my direction. Because it happened so fast I was unaware of her precise wording, but I was able to recall that my own mother called me a Ďgoddamn, fucking bitchí, among other things. As suddenly as my mother entered the house she departed off to destinations unknown. In a daze, I went back into the living room and watched some more television because I wasnít sure of the correct protocol when one has just been insulted for no apparent reason. It is interesting to note that at no time did my mother ask me how my day was, ask me how I was doing at school, or even made sure that I had been fed. She just expected me to get on with it because she knew that she wasnít prepared to sacrifice the good time she was having for me.

The fact that Mama was out living it up almost every night of the week obviously took its toll on her marriage to Bill. I am sure that Mamaís feeble excuse that she wanted to relive her childhood because she had to give it up for her children did not bode any better with Bill than it did with me. On at least one occasion that I am aware of Bill threatened to leave Mama because of the fact that she was never home. I recall this event because it was one of the rare times that Mama actually came and picked me up from work. She looked so morose that even I felt sorry for her, knowing all along that she had brought all of her marital problems onto herself. This was only a minor crisis, however, because Mama can be oh so charming when it is in her best interests and therefore succeeded in persuading Bill to stay. I must say that Bill has stayed and stayed and stayed. At the time of this writing he has stayed with my mother for almost 35 years, and God only knows why.

No doubt Bill felt lonely and neglected over my motherís antics, and often took his frustrations out on my sister and me because we were not in a position to retaliate. Most of the things he did were merely annoying, like hiding books and shoes that we needed for school. One evening, however, Billís actions took on a more unusual tone.

One Saturday evening when Mama was out as usual, Bill and I were watching television. For some reason I decided to go downstairs and watch Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman in the den, which was rarely used. Bill followed me downstairs and proclaimed that he would like to watch the show with me. As it was already very late at night I felt quite uncomfortable with the fact that he was suddenly taking an interest in me when for the previous eight years I was viewed as nothing more than a hindrance. That was probably one of the tensest evenings I have ever spent, as I chewed what was left of my already bitten nails down to the quick. When the show was finished I politely excused myself because I had to get up early to go to work the next morning. Had it not been for the fact that Bill was basically a decent man and I would never had been so stupid as to welcome any of his advances, I suppose that I may well be just another statistic of sexual abuse. Even though Bill may very well have been lonely and needing of some company, I suppose rational thinking prevailed because he never approached may in an inappropriate fashion. I never discussed what had transpired with my mother, but I suspect that if she had known that Bill was interested in me she would have encouraged such an arrangement because she would have been relieved of the burden of having to perform conjugal activities. In retrospect, Bill may have been trying to be friendly out of a sense of loneliness because I do not recall him ever touching me or speaking to me in a suggestive manner.

I would like to point out, however, that my sister and I were both perfect incest victims. Our mother was emotionally and physically unavailable and we had taken on the responsibility of all of the household tasks. If Bill had been a more sinister sort of person, he could have done whatever he wanted and our mother would have permitted it, if not encouraged it.

Bill had worked very hard to build the basement into a lovely den that contained two bedrooms and a bathroom. I had outgrown my sister and needed my own space, and therefore welcomed being given my own room, as I had already started sleeping in the parlour in an attempt to acquire a little independence. After that incident with Bill, however, I started having nightmares and did not want to sleep on my own. Because my sister did not have the same experience that I had, she was not sympathetic to my fears. Candice made it quite clear to me that there was absolutely no was in hell that she was going to let me go back to sleeping with her after it had taken her such a long time to get rid of me.

It was also about this time that I started worrying about what would happene if something should happen to my mother and she was not there to take care of me. I was in such a state of denial about my home life that I actually believed my mother cared for me. I was so concerned that Bill would end up taking care of us if something happened to Mama, and such thoughts left me with mild anxiety attacks because I knew that once Mama was out of the picture that Bill would not hesitate to get rid of us as quickly as he could. For some reason I never even thought of my paternal relatives who had spent so much time raising me during my most formative years, but centred all of my thoughts on the sorry state of affairs my life would be in should my mother meet an untimely demise. What I didnít realise was that I was in a sorry state of affairs precisely because my mother was caring for me.

Not long after I moved into my own room I received a phone call from my friend Linda. She had moved to another school district, so I did not see her anymore, but we still kept in touch telephonically. Linda had some news that she thought that I may find of interest. Because Lindaís brother, Guy, had openly admitted he was gay from the time that he was in his late teens, Linda was very familiar with gay life in Arkansas and took it all in stride. Evidently, the gays and lesbians in Little Rock pretty much all knew each other, so Linda was completely shocked when Guy came home and told her that my mother was a lesbian. I must say that I was not that surprised when Linda broke the news to me, as I had my own suspicions for quite some time. What I was shocked about, however, was the fact that other people totally unrelated to my mother were aware of her activities. My mother had a secret life that she had tried to keep from her family and this secret life was adversely affecting her children.

By the time I was 15 I was totally fed up with my mother and all of the neglect that I had been subjected to just by virtue of the fact that I had to live with her. I came home one day to find a group of her dykie friends sitting in the living room, enjoying themselves. Mama and her friends may have been having the time of their lives, but all of this fun they were having was having a detrimental affect on ME. I wanted a mother, not some swinger who only saw me on rare occasions so she could hurl verbal abuse in my direction as a type of panacea for the pathetic existence she had. As I looked at all of her friends, attired in short, cropped haircuts in Levi 501 jeans and penny loafers, I was overcome with a sense of hatred for those women. Those women saw my mother as a charming bit of fun and couldnít care less that she had a husband and three children who needed her at home. If all that was not bad enough, my mother was starting to bring those women into the family home.

As if to retain some of my own personal power, I went into the living room where my mother was entertaining her guests and told the group something to the effect that my mother was a terrible mother because she had never been there for me.

Since my motherís sorted acquaintances were merely looking for a good time, they wasted no time in making their excuses and leaving. Although Bobbie did not possess enough decorum to realise that her intrusion into our family was destroying it, at least these individuals who my mother had literally drug in off the streets had the common decency to realise that they were not welcome and leave. Those women had absolutely no business going into our home.

Of course, my mother just wanted to die of embarrassment because I would be so bold as to make such declarations to her Ďfriendsí. Instead of taking a good, hard look at how her lifestyle was affecting me, however, she took an alternative approach to the problem and told me that I was going to have to go live with my father because she did not want me any more. I have no doubt that Mama telephoned my father and begged him to take me off of her hands, but since he barely able to provide for himself, much less another person, that was not an option. After Mamaís initial statement I heard nothing more about being forced to move out of the house. Iím sure, however, that my mother was seething with anger because I was cramping her style immensely.

My mother was so wrapped up in herself that she couldnít even be bothered to attend important school functions for her children. Forget about PTA and school open evenings. Because Mama never attended one and we did not expect her to. Although she feined work as an excuse for not attending these meetings, the fact of the matter is that since she was self-employed, if she wanted to, she very well could have rearranged her schedule for her children. The fact of the matter is that my mother simply didnít give a damn about how well her children did in school because she viewed them as parasites who had robbed her of her childhood.

One event that she failed to show up at sticks in my mind particularly because it had nothing to do with me, but my sister. Candice was in the band and the choir at school. Part of participating in these activities means that a recital is often required to show the parents the achievements their children have made.

On one particular evening Candice was scheduled to attend a recital, and on this particular event she was singing in the choir. Bobbie, ever the helper, dropped both Candice and me outside the gymnasium of the school where it was to be held. Bobbie assured me that she and Mama would return to see Candice perform, which was just another unkept promise. Because I was all on my own, I sat down in the bleachers and waited for Mama and Bobbie to return so they could see Candice sing.

The gym soon filled as the proud families came to see their offspring sing and play musical instruments. I tried not to look too conspicuous, as I sat on my own in the bleachers. Towards the end of the performance Mama and Bobbie finally arrived just in time to pick my sister and me up and take us home. Mama never told us why she couldnít even be bothered to attend her daughterís recital and Candice never uttered a word to me about her disappointment in her mother not seeing her perform: I suppose that by this time she was accustomed to having a mother who didnít give a damn. I donít think my mother ever went to one recital, she was so unconcerned about the achievements of her children.

It should come as no surprise to learn that with all that was going on at home, I was beginning to have difficulties educationally and socially. Although I managed to maintain reasonable grades, Iím social skills were beginning to deteriorate at a rapid pace. I am sad to say that I was becoming just a belligerent as my mother was, and treated people accordingly. Unfortunately, I said some really hateful things to people who were not in a position to defend themselves from my sharp tongue, and it is for this reason that I developed my share of enemies.

Although I am not aware of having ever said anything hateful to one particular person, she developed a hatred towards me. Kay, having come from a rather abusive family herself, had no qualms about using violence to get what she wanted, as I am sure that she no doubt had violence used against her in her own home. Evidently, one of the girls who I went to school with told Kay that I had said some things about her, which I never recall saying considering the fact that I barely knew the girll, and that was all the incentive that she needed to verbally and physically attack me. Although I had no desire to engage in a fight with Kay, she desperately wanted a fight and I had no other option but to give her what she desired. Because Kay had been brought up in a lower social class, she was quite proud of the spectacle that she made of the both of us in the playground of the school. I, on the other hand, wanted to die of embarrassment at having been the centre of such attention that she so desperately craved.

I can only surmise that the only kind of attention Kay received was negative attention, so she decided to make a scene so she could get some attention. I was too inexperienced to know this, but the schoolyard bully is usually bullied at home.

Children who bully have to learn how to bully somewhere, because it is not a natural state of being. Children who live in loving homes will learn by example and will in turn be loving. Likewise, children in dysfunctional homes will also learn from example and will in turn be loving towards others.

Because Kay had no reservations about screaming obscenities at me everywhere and anywhere she saw fit, I avoided her at all costs. I was just too embarrassed about the spectacle she made. Because Kay and her milieu hung out in the bathroom, smoking cigarettes during the lunch hour, I would be forced to go the entire day without relieving myself. I am sure the fact that I was not able to go to the toilet when I needed to has contributed to the fact that as an adult, I have always had incredibly weak bladder and kidneys, and must relieve myself at least every hour if possible.

I absolutely dreaded going to school because it was a war zone. People smoked cigarettes and carried knives and other weapons. I donít think it would be unreasonable to maintain that for many young people, school can be a stressful, if not traumatising experience. Thanks to the many bullies that seem to abound in the world today, I had severe anxiety attacks at the thought of going to school, and that is one of the main factors which contributed to my leaving school at the earliest opportunity. Although it is a well known fact that the bullies of the world today in all probability has learned how to treat people badly at home, this knowledge does little to calm the nerves of those who are the victims of such harassment and techniques of terror.

If everything I was going through at school was not bad enough, my mother betrayed me yet again, further verifying to me just how low I was on her list of priorities. It just so happened that my mother was the hairdresser to the mother of one of the girls who had been harassing me. It would have been such a simple matter for my mother to tell the girlís mother since this girl was causing me such a great deal of trauma she did not feel that it was appropriate to do her hair anymore. Typical of my mother, however, just about anything and everything took precedence over me, so my mother did not even bat an eyelash as she continued to provide a service to this woman who had brought up a girl to be such a bully. I donít know why I was surprised in the least that my mother should fail to put her childís needs above her own because she had never done so in the past.

This was just one example of many where my mother failed to protect me. She failed to protect me from her husbands, her girlfriends, and even her customers. The message being relayed to me was that I was a non-person. I was not worthy of any kind of love, respect, caring, nurturing or protection. And why was that so? Because my mother had sex with a man without thinking to use birth control. My mother never, ever hesitated to tell me that she did not want me.

It was not long before it became obvious to me that my mother would always put her desire to go out and have a good time with her friends above the needs of her children Ė specifically her daughters, who she considered to be competition instead of offspring. On one warm spring day I was sitting with my mother and Bobbie in Burger King. Because my mother has always had a huge appetite, one Double Whopper with Cheese was not enough and she had to have another. I noted the amount of food that she could wolf down because my own metabolism is not nearly as fast. Aside from the fact that I would be physically ill if I tried to eat two Double Whoppers with Cheese in one sitting, I would also be as big as a barn if I sustained that type of eating habits for any length of time.

After my mother polished off her second Double Whopper with Cheese she discussed with Bobbie the fact that she was going to go to New Orleans while Bill was away on a business trip. She was very concerned about what alibi she would come up with so that Bill would not find out what she was up to. Still innocent and naÔve, I did not understand what all the fuss was about and why Bill would be so upset with her for going away on a trip. Without thinking about anything in particular, I asked my mother, ĎWhat if Bill finds out?í

Although to my way of thinking I thought I had a legitimate concern, my mother took it as a threat. As soon as the words left my mouth my mother lowered the Double Whopper with Cheese that she had been delighting in, glared at me with her green eyes, bore her teeth, and replied in a viscous, ice cold manner that I was not un-used to seeing, ĎI pay my debts!í

That was all my mother needed to say for me to get the message that if I even dared breathe a word about her nefarious activities, my life would not be worth living. Of course, after that display of potential vindictiveness the nice, mother-daughter outing was completely ruined. I didnít have much interaction with my mother and Bobbie after that because they made it very clear to me that I was not a part of their happy little circle. To this day I feel that if their trip was just an innocent break from their day-to-day activities then I cannot see how Bill would have minded. But of course I am confident that Bill did not consider their motives to be innocent, hence the reason they did not want him to find out.

I donít think my mother considered me to be her offspring and needing of protection and nurturing, but viewed me as her competition: an attitude she no doubt picked up from her own mother, a woman who never helped her own children in life. Unfortunately, my motherís views on motherhood seemed to worsen as I matured, and my mother was not above yelling and screaming, threatening and throwing things at me. My mother was so accustomed to surrounding herself with people who would tell her whatever she wanted to hear, it was simply impossible to have an intelligent conversation with her about anything. Whenever we had a disagreement, it usually ended in my storming out in a rage and her throwing something, such as a shoe, at me. Most of the arguments centred around the fact that I wanted my own car and to date young men.

While my mother was not averse to me having my own car, she made it quite clear that she would not co-sign a loan for me. My motherís attitude upset me a great deal because most parents in Arkansas helped their children to get cars, and I found her refusal to help out extremely cruel. If my mother was struggling to make ends meet then I could have understood, but that simply was not the case because she wore expensive clothes and jewellery, and went to night clubs almost every night of the week with her girlfriends. My mother owned her own business and had income from her rental properties, and therefore was strapped for cash. The fact that my mother would not help me had nothing to do with her financial standing but was a reflection of the deep seated hatred she felt towards me for having had the nerve to have robbed her childhood from her through no fault of my own.

My mother also adamantly refused me to go out with boys. She would become hysterical and throw whatever was handy at me whenever we go into a dispute about why I could not go out with young men. My motherís pat answer was that Ďmen are animalsí, and I honestly could not understand why she thought such a thing. Bill never voiced his concerns about my mothers rather extreme views, but I am sure he nevertheless felt very hurt by the values that she was trying to instil in her daughters. I can only imagine what type of message she sent to my brother, as she spouted her controversial opinions to the world at large.

My mother was so opposed to me seeing men socially that I suffered from severe anxiety attacks any time I was with my mother and a young man took notice of me. Although I never gave my mother any cause for concern, on the few occasions that a man paid any attention I almost wanted to die of panic.

On one occasion a young man who I had met only once came to my house to see me, I was so terror stricken that I would get in trouble for speaking to this male creature that I begged him to leave. Although he seemed like a nice enough guy, the thought of my mother and Bill thinking that I had invited a Ďmaní to the house instilled the fear of God in me. After I pleaded with him long enough, he finally agreed to leave me in peace, probably thinking that I must be totally nuts. When I managed to get rid of this testosterone filled Ďanimalí who innocently entered into our mire, I surreptitiously entered the house, hoping that Bill would not notice. If he did, her certainly said nothing to me about it, but I am sure he related the incident to my mother at the earliest opportunity.

When no one in my family was around I was a completely different person. I was an incredible flirt, and delighted in the attentions of men. I certainly did not consider men to be Ďanimalsí, but regarded them as sublime creatures that I certainly wanted to get to know better. Because my mother was absolutely horrified at the notion that I should even talk to a man, much less date him, my social skills with the opposite sex were severely underdeveloped. I had a tendency to develop crushes on men who were not available to me, which saved me the humiliation of not being allowed to date them even if they ever noticed that I even existed.

When I did reach 16, the age that my mother had told me I would be allowed to date, I wasted no time in looking for prospective dates. This social activity had been denied me, and I was eager to find out what was so special about it. When I secured my first date, my mother was mortified. Although she had initially agreed that I could go out with boys at that age, she had no intention of ever keeping her end of the bargain. After I reminded her of her promise, she relented, but made it quite clear that she was not happy about it.

To my motherís delight, my first date was a total disaster. The boy who I was supposed to go out with phoned at the last minute and said he could not make it. Word got around to some of the people who I did not particularly care for, and they took great delight in rubbing my nose in what I considered to be a humiliating experience. I was devastated, and my sisterís friend phoned him up to give him a piece of her mind. He did, in the end, agree to pick me up and take me to see some friends for the evening, but if I had an ounce of self-respect I would have told him to go jump off a cliff. Self-respect, however, was something that would take me literally decades to acquire even minute amounts of.

Even though my first date was a non-event, I did not let it stop me in my quest to get a boyfriend. Because I am a flirt at heart, I managed to get a young man who worked at MacDonaldís to ask me out. I went out with him twice and then told him that I did not want to date him anymore. Of course he was devastated that I could be so callous as to do such a thing. Although I liked him as a person, there was no romantic attraction and I did not see the point in carrying on with a relationship.

When my mother found out that I had gone out without her permission, she was furious. I, on the other hand, was surprised that she even cared, considering the amount of time she actually spent with her children. When my mother saw me the next morning she gave me a stern lecture and grounded me for a period of time. I personally feel that she had a lot of nerve to try to tell me how to live my life considering the sorts of people she consorted with.

It is important to note that at no time in my life was my mother ever concerned in the least in anything that was not remotely associated with her own personal satisfaction. Her shock in discovering that I should be so brazen to actually date a young man was not based on concern for my happiness but instead panic that I may get pregnant, as she had done when she was only 16. During all of our arguments, which centred around me asking my mother why my brother was allowed to do whatever he wanted while I was sentenced to stay in the house all the time, her only response was that men could not get pregnant. My motherís irrational remarks did not reflect the fact that while men could not get pregnant, they could get young women pregnant, so their activities needed to be monitored as closely as those of the fairer sex. My mother was so opinionated, however, that no amount of logic could get her to change her mind.

The fact that my brother Marc could do whatever he liked while I was closely supervised caused me a great deal of distress and no doubt instilled a deep seated hostility towards my brother, who had been given so much more freedom due to the fact that he had a penis and I did not.

Although I was not aware of it at the time, Marc had his own set of problems that I knew nothing about. He has never discussed this with me, but I am sure that one of the reasons why he got a job at the earliest opportunity was so he could stay away from home as much as possible, and his motorcycle helped him to go wherever he would like. Because Marc was never home, he was not aware of my motherís highly unreasonable behaviour. My mother treated my brother differently than she did her daughters, so he had forgotten the brutality that she had shown him when he was a child. Marc, therefore, does not believe that my mother abused me because he simply was not there to witness it. Marc was the lucky one. He got away from home as much as possible so he did not have to find out what my mother was really like.

By the time I was 16, I was not stupid enough to bring any of my friends home, but Marc, it seems, would never learn. One time a friend of his came over to the house to pick something up and my mother could not even maintain her composure long enough for this young man to get what he came for and leave. My brotherís friend, Greg, mildly sat in the kitchen while my mother raced around the house clothed only in a nylon, baby blue nightgown. While she was racing around the house, she was screaming and yelling about the house being dirty or something insignificant like that. I am sure that since my mother made it a policy to surround herself only with those people who would never dispute the maturity of her many tantrums, she behaved like that in front of my brotherís friend just for effect. I am sure that my brother just wanted to die of embarrassment as he watched his mother carry on like a raving lunatic in front of his friend. I felt the shame that he no doubt must have felt.

My mother was so used to throwing tantrums around her family that it never occurred to her that she should try to behave reasonably around houseguests. My mother was well and truly a tyrant around her friends and family. I heard her brag on several occasions, ďWhen I say jump, people ask how high!Ē

My mother was quite happy that her girlfriends were so besotted with her that they would do whatever she liked. She was also quite pleased about the fact that her daughters were so afraid of her that they would do whatever she liked. One thing my mother did not understand was that while her daughters would obey her out of sheer terror of reprisal, we no doubt resented her deeply. It was only a matter of time before we would grow up and would fight back.

My mother may well have been able to abuse us when we were children, but she would not be able to do it when we grew up. I donít think my mother ever realised that she would brutalise us so much that one day we would actually fight back.

Marc has always liked the freedom that speed allowed him, and this pleasure was to be his downfall. On one occasion he got caught drag racing and was fined $150. When the police got involved, Bill was summoned to the scene. Of course Bill was not one to keep a confidence and promptly told Mama. Mama, in what she considered to be a wise move, decided that for his punishment, Marc would not be allowed to drive for a year. Perhaps if Mama had been more approachable and open to reason the events that later unfolded may never have occurred, but we will never know. Just like so many other people in this life who create messes that other people are expected to clean up, my mother has absolved herself of any responsibility for what was later to occur.