Friday, October 31, 2008
He slept in the room across the hall with my mother and he was a monster. My stepfather haunted me for years. He had a menacing stare and invasive hands. He just seemed to be everywhere I turned in the house on 250 Maryland Street. I fell in love with journaling, books, and music by locking myself in my room. I became my own best friend. I felt fortunate any day I could escape his presence and his hands. One night he stood drunk in my bedroom doorway and urinated. I blocked the memory of what he did to me out until I was 22 years old.
It was usually around 3 am when I felt that familiar cold spot spreading beneath me. The stench of putrid urine would assault my nostrils and I could easily smell what I had done. It had happened before so many nights, but each time it did I wished I could spontaneously combust with that soiled mattress. Bedwetting was a constant source of shame and embarrassment in my life. There was no one I could adequately communicate my fears about the monster except my sister. Going to sleep dry and waking up in cold piss was humiliating. I learned early on to cope with my bedwetting. I would get up, try to clean my mess in the early morning hours and catch the last few moments of sleep before school. Just a little girl but with remarkable strength, I could flip a full sized mattress over. I even learned how to operate the washing machine.
Every time I woke up in my wet bed my self esteem sank lower and lower. Material possessions were the duct tape that masked the darkness I lived with. I was afraid. Some nights I’m still afraid. He always wore a white tee shirt and blue jogging shorts with white stripes. He was a functional alcoholic until his alcoholism became dysfunctional. I was only a child when he first started coming to my room. By the time I had become a teenager I rationalized his inappropriate behavior was on account of me looking so much like my mother, and maybe he thought I was her. Rather than get up and go to the bathroom, I would lie in soiled bed sheets because I was scared every time I opened my door the monster would be waiting for me. I could never go to the bathroom in peace because I knew he would be posted outside the door. He would literally stand outside trying to glimpse my pubescent nude body through tiny cracks in the door. It was shameful how my sister and I took turns guarding doors and placing towels over the hinges in our house just so we could maintain a little privacy.
I remember the first bath I ever took in my own apartment. I felt so liberated like a newly freed slave. Remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show? I love the opening theme when Mary throws her hat up in the sky? Well I was Mary only with water and bubbles. I finally learned to sleep in the dark. The nightmares have subsided because I know the monster has no power to hurt me anymore. Now if I have an “accident” I can get up much like I did all those years ago but there is one difference. Just as I learned to wash away the remains from a urine soaked bed, I learned forgiveness washed away much more. Victims have choices too!