Thursday, March 25, 2010

Difficult times

When I started this blog I said that I would be sharing my journey to recovery with you. Today's post is fairly personal, but I hope it will help other survivors see that I'm right there in the trenches, too. For those readers who are not survivors themselves, I hope today's post will give you some insight into the reasons we may seem sad during the holidays, or may seem in pain over "old" issues.

Spring is here. For me Spring is always a difficult time of year. Some of my worst experiences happened during the Spring season so I tend to struggle with sadness and memories more during this time. So I decided to take some time and call my brother, Keith, the only one who speaks to me. Of all my relatives, I miss Keith the most. Keith was born mentally retarded and physically handicapped, so even though he is four years older than I am, we shared a room when he lived at home and it was my job to take care of him. We were always very close.

So I call Keith, and as usual I speak with his foster mother first. She always catches me up with the facts of how Keith is doing beyond football games and fishing trips. You see, Keith hasn't lived with our mother in thirty-two years; not since the day he was taken by ambulance to the hospital after a beating so severe he required surgery to restore his vision. Up until this week I thought I knew all the damage that beating had caused, but no, like so many of us (abuse survivors) the damage continues well into adulthood. For my brother that means our mother's beating killed all the roots of his teeth, but it is only now thirty-two years later that the final damage is being seen, as his teeth become infected and fall out. The dentist says they will ALL have to be pulled to avoid further infection.

And, was our mother punished for, of course not! I remember the police taking my statement and telling me my mother was going to jail and neither of us would EVER have to live with her again. I was so relieved! But of course, somehow my grandfather got the charges dropped. A year and a half later I was back living with her again, but at least she lost custody permanently for Keith. Of course to this day she claims she only spanked him! But Keith and I know the truth. I came home during that beating and took the rest of her anger. I sat by his bedside for three days trying to care for him until someone called the police. I know the truth!

I am thankful Keith is retarded. Yes, you read that right. Because of his handicaps Keith doesn't often struggle with the memory of that beating. His foster mother says that once every couple of years he gets a little sad and asks why our mother beat him. He doesn't correlate his tooth problems with the abuse, and he takes the problems as a minor inconvenience. For me (the normal one?), I get angry. I want justice for Keith, and for myself. Since this conversation I have had flashbacks and nightmares. I don't want to remember that beating and Keith crying. I don't want to remember sitting next to him, putting cool washcloths on his face, watching his eyes swell shut and his face turn color. Sometimes, I wonder which of us is more blessed.

So, if you think about, please pray/say tehillim for my brother, Keith Andrew Ben Shayna Etta. (I don't know his Hebrew name). And, if I look tired, you'll know why.

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