Posted by: Ety W. | February 25, 2008

My Testimony 2: Growing Up

This is part 2 of “My Testimony”. If you want to start at the beginning, click here.

My mother was a very religious woman. She loved pomp and ceremony, and was very devout in her Episcopal faith. Though my father attended church with us, I noticed that he never knelt for the prayers and solemn times during the liturgy. Nor did he partake of Communion. Besides lighting a candle on Christmas Eve while my father read Luke 2, I don’t recall anything spiritual at home. I don’t recall ever reading the Bible as a family or having family devotions. Grace at mealtimes consisted of my brother and I reciting “God is great…” in unison.

Unfortunately, religion wasn’t the only thing my parents didn’t have in common, so they fought a lot. They fought about money and they fought about my brother. Other reasons I was never privy to, but as the fights got worse, so did my mother’s drinking. As her drinking got worse, so did her violent temper. I remember hiding on the floor in my bedroom closet, covering my ears hard with my hands, and sobbing my heart out.

When my father finally left, it was a great relief. The tension had been so bad whenever he was around, that I ignorantly assumed it was due to him. My mother seemed happier for a time; she bought a little Chevelle and got a job. I was just relieved. The reprieve didn’t last long however because my mother’s drinking didn’t stop. Nor did her drunken outbursts. All the rage that had been pent up and directed toward my father needed another target. Unfortunately that target was me.

It got to the point where I hated being at home. My mother would get so drunk that she could hardly stand up. When she got like this, all of her own hurt and anger would begin to boil. It would start as a tirade about how hateful my father was. It would end with what has now become an indelible memory; the nasty tone of her voice bitterly echoing in my head, “You’re just like your father. You’re just like your father.”

Most of the time the abuse was just verbal, but on occasion she would throw things at me, like books or dishes. One time she chased me around the house and into my bedroom waving the steam iron in her hand. I cowered on my bed and covered my ears, trying to protect them from the unrelenting profanities spewing from her mouth. I don’t recall if I begged her to stop or not; I know that’s what I was praying for. I do recall that she hurled the iron at me before slamming my door to shut me up in my bedroom. She then took the kitchen phone off the hook, so that I couldn’t call out from the phone in my bedroom. We didn’t have cell phones or separate family lines in those days.

Fortunately she hadn’t hurt me physically, but the mental and emotional pain was too much to bear. Many a night I cried myself to sleep. Many a night I wished that I could die. Being a rather timid person, I never attempted to fight back. The one time I did accuse her of being drunk, she stood there wobbling in the doorway with a drink in her hand and denied that she’d ever had a drop!

It never occurred to me to tell anyone or attempt to find help. The situation was simply too hopeless and I was its prisoner. The only thing I could grasp on to be thankful for, was that it was me who was the target rather than my little brother. I thought that it was better that I took the brunt of it and that he was spared.

Of course, alcoholics are neither reasonable nor logical, but understanding this intellectually doesn’t automatically erase the emotional scars and baggage. It wasn’t until years later, after I truly understood what it meant to be forgiven myself, that by the grace of God was I able to forgive my mother. But that’s getting ahead of my story.

My parents’ divorce was not a happy one. They fought bitterly over custody of my brother. When I inquired about this, my mother told me that they just assumed that I would want to stay with her. Nobody ever actually asked my opinion about this however.

When I was about 17, my mother began dating a man she met in a bar. I didn’t mind that so much, he seemed nice enough as did his three teenage sons. What I resented was that he would spend the night with her in our home, while my brother and I were there. I can’t tell you how much that offended me, though I never said a word about it. So, when it became time to pack up and leave for college, I did just that. And I never went home again.
Content copyright 2008 by If you find it anywhere else, it’s been stolen.
Click here for part three.

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