EMIL, THE FOURTH HUSBAND, PART 4

The stables where the horses were boarded was around the corner within walking distance of the townhouse.  Every evening I went to the stables with Mom to help feed and water them. 

After the horses had been fed, I often went into Jazon's stall and brushed him while he ate.  I loved to kiss his soft nose and inhale his sweet, horsey scent. 

With his beautifully arched neck, gray dappled coat and white silky mane and tail, Jazon was a handsome and flashy horse.  Each time I looked into his intelligent eyes, my breath caught in my throat.  He was just that beautiful.   

As I ran the brush over his coat, I thought of Sunshine with sadness, and I hoped she hadn't forgotten me.  I really missed her, and I hoped I would get to see her again someday.

Sometimes, if it wasn't too cold, Mom saddled up her horse, Quazar, and rode in the fields around the stables.  Each time she rode, I watched her enviously wishing I could ride, too.

One day shortly after we moved, as I stood in Jazon's stall brushing him, I suddenly knew without a doubt that I could ride this young and spirited Arabian. 

My fear of horses was gone.

- - -

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When I told Mom that I wanted to ride Jazon, she looked at me skeptically, no doubt remembering Sunshine and all of the trouble she had gotten us in to.  Jazon was a young horse, hot blooded and temperamental, and he required a skilled and confident rider.  At nine years old, I was small for my age, but I was not the least bit worried about how I would handle him.

Finally Mom shrugged her shoulders and saddled Jazon up.  After I got on his back, happiness and excitement washed over me like a warm and comforting blanket, and I couldn't stop smiling.  Finally I was riding again! 

Even though Jazon's saddle was too big for me and it made it hard to hang on when he spooked and tried to run, which was often, it didn't matter to me.  I just hung on tight and laughed out loud at his silly antics.  Nothing Jazon did scared me.  He was a powerful horse and a challenge to ride, and I enjoyed every minute of it. 

I loved Jazon with all of my heart, and I thought of him constantly.

- - -

Mom and I rode as much as we could that winter in the fields around the stables.  Mom seemed happy to have a riding partner again, and I, of course, was happy to have a horse of my own to ride.  

I loved to gallop Jazon through the fields around the barn.  The wind rushed through my hair, my eyes watered in the bitter cold and the relentless wind gave me painful earaches, but that didn't matter to me when I was riding.  Adrenaline surged through my veins and happiness washed over me as I leaned over his neck urging him to go faster, faster, faster.  I felt on top of the world!

I couldn't get enough of Jazon.  In my eyes he was the smartest and most beautiful horse I had ever seen.  I couldn't believe he was all mine!

- - -

When I was riding, I was able to forget about the turmoil at home.  From the moment I got to the stables, my depression and anxiety lifted, and I felt at peace.  This rare feeling was addicting, and I wanted it to last forever.  Unfortunately, as soon as we left the stables, the depression and anxiety once again weighed heavily upon my young shoulders.  

I thought of Jazon constantly when I was not with him.  When I was feeling particularly sad, I tried in vain to bring back the feeling of happiness and peace that I felt when I was riding.  But each time I thought of my horse, I smiled, but the sadness remained.

Why did I feel so terrible all of the time?  I must have done something very bad to feel like this.  I just wish I knew what it was so I could fix it.

EMIL, THE FOURTH HUSBAND, PART 3

Thirty minutes later Emil turned in to the entrance of a townhouse complex in New Berlin, a city 20 miles southeast of Milwaukee.  Our new house was on the right, second from the last, in a long row of brown two-story townhouses.

After Emil parked the car, we got out and walked up the sidewalk to the front door.  While I waited for Emil to unlock the door, I looked up at the gray, overcast sky and shivered in the damp chill.  Since we had arrived in Wisconsin, the sun rarely shone.  The lack of sunlight and the bitterly cold weather added to my depression.  I really missed California.

After the door was unlocked, we went into the house.  As I stepped into the small entryway, I looked around excitedly.

Straight ahead of me was a narrow hallway leading to the back of the house.  To the left was a small kitchen with brown cabinets, yellow Formica counter tops and a linoleum floor.  Directly across from the kitchen was a dining room containing our table and chairs. 

Past the dining room to the right were two sets of open stairs covered in green carpeting, one set leading to the bedrooms on the second floor and one leading to the basement.  Opposite the stairs was a half bathroom.

At the end of the hallway was a small, dark living room with green carpeting.  Up against the wall to the right was our black leather couch flanked by the white leather chairs.  On the wall in front of the couch sat our console TV.   

Upstairs were three bedrooms and a full bath.  My room was to the left of the stairs, and Brother's and Mom and Emil's rooms and the bathroom were down the hallway to the right.

 - - -

Directly across the street from the townhouse was our new school, Hoover Elementary.

The next day Mom enrolled Brother and me in school.  As I stood in the office while Mom talked to the school secretary, I felt my knees go weak with fear.  The thought of going to another school and having all of the kids stare at me filled me with terror.

Mom continued to cut my hair as short as Brother's, and I still looked like a boy.  I was very embarrassed and ashamed of my appearance, and I was sure my new classmates would see how ugly I was and make fun of me. 

Back into the fourth grade I went for the third time that year and Brother the fifth. 

- - -

After Mom left, the school secretary escorted us to our classrooms.  

My new teacher's name was Mrs. Morrisey.  While she introduced me to the class, I shyly looked around.  My heart beat in fear, and my palms started to sweat when I saw all of the faces looking back at me.  I hated to be stared at.  But the one thing I hated more than that was not having a friend. 

As I looked around the room, I desperately searched for someone with a kind face that I could be friends with.  I knew having a friend would help soothe the aching loneliness that I felt on a daily basis.  I would do anything to make that uncomfortable feeling go away. 

- - -

That winter Mom became very depressed, and she cried often.  She missed Emil terribly when he gone during the week, and she hated the bitterly cold winter and the lack of sunlight even though she had grown up in Wisconsin.  And to make matters worse, Mom couldn't ride her horses as often as she would have liked because of the cold weather, and that made her very crabby and short tempered with Brother and me.  I tried my best not to fight with Brother when we were around Mom because I didn't want to get hit or yelled at.  Mom really scared me when she got angry.

When I saw my beautiful mom crying, I cried with her.  I didn't like Wisconsin either, and I was also very depressed.    

- - -

It was not long after we moved to New Berlin that Mom and Emil brought me into their bed and started sexually abusing me. 

As I lay between them, I felt my body go numb with fear.  I stared silently at the window over their bed as I attempted to separate myself from the horrors inflicted on my body. 

As in California, I was once again admonished by Mom not to talk about what went on at our house.  So I kept silent.  That's just the way it was. 

I didn't know what else to do.

(To be continued….)

EMIL, THE FOURTH HUSBAND, PART 2

That evening after we found a stable for the horses to be boarded for the night, we went to a truck stop for dinner, then on to a hotel.  Brother and I slept in one bed while Mom and Emil slept in the other.

In the middle of the night I awoke to strange sounds in the bed next to us.

I looked over at Mom and Emil's bed illuminated in the sliver of light peeking through the curtains.

"Harder, Honey, harder!" Mom moaned as Emil moved on top of her.

Mom and Emil were having sex in the bed next to us.  

I stared at them in shocked silence before turning away.  Hugging my knees to the sickness in my stomach, I kept quiet as a mouse as I wept silent tears into my pillow.

- - -

The next morning I cried and cried and cried.  I knew Mom would get mad when she saw me crying, but try as I might, I couldn't stop the tears.

"Jesus Christ!  What the fuck's your problem now, Morrene?  You drive me nuts!" Mom said angrily when she saw my tear-stained face.

I knew I would get in trouble if I told her what I saw her and Emil doing last night, so I blurted out, "I'm afraid for Emil because he smokes."

That was all I could think of to say.

"I know, Honey, I know," Mom said as she gathered me in her arms.

Feeling the warmth of Mom's arms wrapped around me somehow did not take away the sickness in my stomach, but I did my best to swallow my tears and not think about what I saw them doing last night. 

I didn't know what else to do.

- - -

Later that day we arrived in Wisconsin.  Since we did not have a place to live, we stayed with our uncle until we could find a house.

 I slept in bed with Uncle while Brother and Mom and Emil slept in the two spare rooms.

- - - 

The next day Mom enrolled Brother and me in the school near Uncle's house.  Back into the fourth grade I went for the second time that year and Brother the fifth.

- - -

In class I stared at my teacher in hopeless confusion while she taught.  Some of the stuff I had already been taught when I lived in California, and some of the stuff I hadn't.  I had no idea how to catch up with my classmates.   I sat silently at my desk filled with shame and guilt, too embarrassed to ask for help wondering, once again, what's wrong with me?  Why am I so stupid?

- - -

At recess I huddled with a group of girls on the playground trying to keep warm in the bitter cold as I shivered uncontrollably in my thin clothes.  When I got home after my first day of school, I found some black and white yarn in my suitcase, and I started to crochet a scarf to wrap around my head when I went outside.  The bitterly cold wind gave me painful earaches and made it hard for me to concentrate in school. 

After a couple of days of feverishly crocheting, my black head scarf with white ties was completed, and I proudly wore it to school thankful for the warmth that it provided. 

Thank God Marion had taught me how to crochet!

- - -

At night I lay in bed next to Uncle in frozen and shocked silence as his hands touched the most private parts of my body.  I had no idea how to ask him to stop.

You don't argue with adults!  Nobody likes a tattletale! were admonitions I often heard from Mom.  I knew if I said anything about what Uncle was doing, I would get in to trouble.  So I kept silent.  I did my best to push the terror of what was happening to me into the furthest recesses of my mind.

I didn't know what else to do.

The sadness, the fear.  The guilt.  The shame.  The embarrassment.  And the overwhelming loneliness.  Always the loneliness. 

I couldn't wait to move into our new house.

- - -

A week later Mom and Emil had found a stables for the horses and a place for us to live.   

"Get your stuff together.  We're leaving today," Mom said.  

When I heard those words, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I would no longer have to share a bed with Uncle.

After we packed our stuff, we said goodbye to Uncle, climbed into the car and left.

I couldn't wait to see our new house!

(To be continued….)

EMIL, THE FOURTH HUSBAND, PART 1

While Brother and I were at school, Mom and Emil finished the last of the packing.  Boxes of clothes, household furnishings and furniture were loaded into the pickup truck and the trailer hitched to the car. 

Day by day our little house became more and more empty until soon our voices echoed off the bare walls.

- - - 

The morning before we were to leave for Wisconsin, I got up and got ready for school.  When I was done, I wrapped my Baby Beans doll in her little blanket, gave her a kiss and tucked her into bed.  Then off to school I went. 

- - -

When school let out for the day, Brother and I walked to Marion's house for the last time.  As we walked into her house, the aroma of yeast and freshly baked bread greeted us at the door, and my mouth watered in anticipation of eating my favorite after-school snack.   

At the kitchen table were plates of piping hot bread slathered in butter.  After I sat down, I eagerly picked up my bread.  As I sank my teeth into the crunchy crust, I moaned in happiness as the delicious flavors of melted butter and soft, spongy bread swirled around my tongue.   

When I was done eating, I wiped my mouth and hands and went outside to play.

- - -

Later that afternoon when Mom came to pick us up, Marion gathered me and Brother in her arms for one last hug.  As we drove away, she stood on the sidewalk with tears streaming down her cheeks waving goodbye. 

I had no idea as I sat in the car smiling and waving at Marion that she suspected Brother and I were being abused at home.  She cried for days after we left.   

That was the last time we ever saw Marion.

- - -

In the painful and frightening years that were to follow in my life, I thought of Marion often.  Her selfless acts of love and kindness had made a permanent imprint on my heart, and I missed her terribly. 

For years each time I smelled yeast and freshly baked bread, I thought of Marion, and I was instantly transported back to her warm and loving kitchen.  

- - -  

When we got home, I went to my bedroom to get my Baby Beans doll.  As I entered my room, I saw that my bed and dresser were gone.  All that remained were a few empty boxes on the floor.   

I walked through the house searching from room to room for my doll.  She was nowhere to be found.

With rising alarm and tears in my eyes, I went to look for Mom to ask her if she knew where my doll was.

Mom and Emil were in the garage arranging boxes in the trunk of the car.  As I walked up to them, Emil put his arms around Mom and whispered in her ear.  Mom giggled as she wrapped her arms around him and gave him a long kiss.

"Mom, I can't find my Baby Beans doll," I sobbed as tears rolled down my cheeks.  "Do you know where she is?"

When Mom heard my voice, she turned to me in annoyance.    

"Goddamn it!  QUIT feeling sorry for yourself and stop that fucking crying!" she said angrily before turning back to Emil. 

I did my best to swallow my tears as I sadly walked back into the house.

I never saw my baby doll again.

- - -

That night as I lay under a blanket on the floor of my empty bedroom, I thought about my Baby Beans doll.  My heart ached with sadness, and I desperately longed to hold her again.   Suddenly I felt the walls of my room getting bigger and bigger.  I opened my eyes and stared fearfully into the suffocating darkness as I felt myself getting smaller and smaller.  Terror raced through my body and adrenaline filled my veins as I curled into a ball and cried myself to sleep. 

- - -

The next morning we got up early and finished packing.  Afterwards we walked through the deserted house to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything.   

When we were done, Mom picked up Muffin, closed the front door for the last time, and off we went to the stables to pick up the horses. 

- - -

Brother rode with Emil in the pickup truck with the horse trailer while Mom and I followed behind in the car with the trailer. 

While Mom drove, I sat silently next to her listening to the radio and staring out the window.  I thought about Sunshine, my Baby Beans doll, Marion and my friends.   At times I felt so sad and lonely that my throat ached painfully and tears filled my eyes.  Each time that happened, I quickly wiped them away.  I knew if I started to cry, Mom would get angry.  I loved Mom very much, and it scared me when she got mad.

- - -

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were eaten at truck stops.   After we were done eating, Emil lit a cigarette.  While he smoked, he pointed at the other truck drivers in the restaurant and laughed.

"Look at that fat slob! 

"See that guy over there?  Wonder when he took a shower last?" Emil sneered as his fat belly shook with laughter.

Sometimes Emil showed me and Brother how he could wiggle his ears back and forth without moving his face.  Each time he did that, Brother and I got the giggles.

Emil was very funny!

- - -

Before we left, we walked through the convenience store in the truck stop so Emil could look at the many T-shirts for sale.  Emil loved T-shirts, and he rarely left a truck stop without buying one for himself.

- - -

In the evenings, Mom and Emil got off the freeway and drove the back roads looking for a stable to board the horses for the night.  

Once the horses were taken care of, off we went to the nearest truck stop for dinner, then on to a hotel for the night.

- - -

The closer we got to Wisconsin, the colder it became.  Soon a bitterly cold wind started to blow, and snowflakes filled the air.  Each time I went outside, I shivered miserably in my thin clothes from California as the wind stole my breath and made my eyes water.

- - -

A couple of days after we left California, we were sitting in a truck stop eating breakfast when Emil turned to Mom and said, "We need to find a place to live when we get to Wisconsin.  I have a roommate." 

"Well, kick your roommate out!" Mom said as she looked at him in surprise.

It turns out Emil's roommate was not a "him," it was a "her."  He must have forgotten to tell Mom about his girlfriend that was living in his beautiful house and driving his new car.  

Now we had to find a place to live.

- - -

A LETTER TO NEAL

 Hi, Neal - It's Morrene.  Since I have not heard back from you, I am going to make the assumption that you have talked to my mother, Helen. 

To give you a little bit of background, Helen and I stopped talking in approximately November of 2016 when I finally started to acknowledge the years of sexual abuse that I suffered as a child at her hands and the various men that she brought into our lives.  When I tried to talk to her about the first incident of abuse that I remembered, first she feigned ignorance, then she refused to discuss it.

As a healthy parent, if your child brought up allegations of sexual abuse against you, and you knew you weren't guilty, wouldn't you ask what happened?  Where is this coming from??  I don't understand.

Not Helen.  Not once did she reach out to ask me what happened.  She simply stopped talking to me.  She knows she is guilty.

Growing up with Helen as a mother was not easy.  Throughout most of my childhood, I was verbally, physically and sexually abused by my mother and the various men she brought into our lives.  While I always remembered the physical and verbal abuse, I had buried the sexual abuse in the back recesses of my mind.  Unfortunately, I suffered frequent flashbacks over the years, and the memories couldn't be buried completely.

There were six men in my life by the time I was nine.  My mother made some very poor choices in the men she got involved with.  We moved several times while I was growing up, state to state, city to city.  By the time I was in twelfth grade, I had attended eight different schools (almost nine). 

Constant turmoil, constant upheaval, constant commotion.  That was life with Helen.  She thrived on drama.

When I was nine, my mother married her fourth husband, a truck driver named Emil, whom she had known for less than two weeks.  Emil was a pedophile, as was her third husband.  Emil was definitely was one of the worst men she brought into our lives. 

After my mom and Emil got married, we moved back to Wisconsin from California, and that's when the serious gaps in my memory started due to the horrific abuse.  I believe my brother, Jon, has better recall of the past, but I don't believe he has faced it as of yet.  We haven't talked in years, unfortunately.

In 1975, when I was ten, and my brother was eleven, we spent our summer vacation traveling over the road in semis during the week while my mom worked.  My mom said the babysitter had cancelled at the last minute, and she had no choice.  I rode with her friend Elaine while Jon rode with Emil.

It wasn't until I was 52 years old that I started to remember that summer and the disturbing things that happened in that semi.  I had completely blocked it.  It was that horrific.  Although I have always had flashbacks of traveling in a semi with Elaine, I couldn't give a name to what happened.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the memories.

These were and are some very sick people that raised me (some have passed on).  It's shocking.

When I was 15 years old, I tried to commit suicide after Emil raped me.  Later that year I ran away from home.  I just couldn't take the abuse any more. 

While I always remembered the physical and verbal abuse, I had forgiven my mother.  (Again, I had not acknowledged the sexual abuse at that time).

I wanted a mother.  I needed a mother.  I desperately craved the love and support that a healthy mother should give to her child.  Unfortunately, Helen was not capable of being the kind of mother that I needed, or any child, for that matter.  But in my desperation for her love, I closed my eyes to the abuse.  I forgave, minimized and repressed her cruel words and actions over the years, something I continued long into adulthood.

While the memories of the sexual abuse were always in the back of my mind, each time I suffered a flashback, I kicked it out.  They were disgusting and repulsive.  I had no idea where these images were coming from and why they would flash in my head at various times.  They just didn't make any sense to me.  I knew Helen was not a good mother, but I refused to give credence to the many flashbacks that I suffered over the years. 

As the years passed, the flashbacks started pounding me with increasing frequency.  And each time they came in, kicked them out.

In November of 2016, I was at my lowest point, financially, personally and professionally.  My marriage had ended, we had just moved to a new house, my finances were in disarray, and I was no longer able to work as a court reporter, my profession for the past 30 years, due to the high level of on-the-job stress. 

My strength was at its lowest, and I no longer had the energy to kick the disturbing memories out of my head.  I had lost the battle, and it was time to face the past.   

When I finally started to confront the sexual abuse in my childhood, I was  filled with grief, shock and horror.  Again, I knew my childhood was dysfunctional, but accepting the fact that it was that bad was very, very hard for me to process. 

In January of 2017, more of the sexual abuse came to the surface of my memory, and I sought counseling.  At that time I was diagnosed with severe PTSD, something that I had been suffering for years, unbeknownst to me. 

For most of my life I also suffered from depression, insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks.  Those were some very tough years.

I am still missing large blocks of my childhood that have been deleted due to the abuse, but slowly the memories are coming back to me.  Recovering those lost years will be something I will be dealing with for the rest of my life.  

Somehow I was able to overcome the adversities of my childhood, go to college and become a productive citizen.  I believe I have some very powerful angels that have guided me throughout my life, and for that I am grateful.

But most importantly, the cycle of abuse stopped with me.  I have always worked hard to become the mother to my children that I never had.  I have no idea if you are a parent; but if you are, I would hope that you feel the fierce love and protection that a healthy parent should have for their children.  My children are my world, and I would do anything for them.

It wasn't until I started dealing with my past that I started to heal.  I have an amazing counselor and a couple of very close friends that give me love, guidance and support when I need it.  I would be lost without them.  I no longer suffer from depression, anxiety or panic attacks.

I have always been a loving and kindhearted person, and hurting somebody, especially your own children, is and was beyond my comprehension.  It will take me the rest of my life to accept what has happened to me.  I still shake my head in disbelief and wonder how I am still here.

I am starting to work with adult victims of abuse to help them come to terms with their past and learn how to lead a productive and peaceful life.  It is possible.  I am living proof of that. 

While my heart goes out to Helen for what she must have endured as a child to become the person she is, my compassion for her ends there because she did not stop the cycle of abuse.  There is no excuse for passing that sickness on to me and my brother. 

My brother is also a survivor, but I am not sure if he is dealing with the past as of yet.  I suffered years of physical and verbal abuse from him which went way beyond sibling rivalry.  I was absolutely terrified of him by the time we entered our teenage years.  I believe my brother's anger at me was the only way he could deal with his pain.  He was as powerless as I was to stop the abuse.

Unfortunately, I have not talked to my brother in years, although I have tried reaching out to him at various times to re-establish a relationship.  I hope he knows that I will always be there for him if and when he decides to confront the past.  It's not easy, but, again, he is a survivor, too, and survivors are very strong people.  Every day I pray that he reaches out to me, and we can unite and heal together.  He was as much of a victim as I was.

Lastly, Neal, please remember there are two sides to every story.   If you have talked to Helen, I am sure you have gotten an earful.  When you have time, if you could please read my blog, I would appreciate it.  Www.heartofsolace.com.  I have not posted everything that I have written, because some of it is very disturbing, and I am still trying to process it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Morrene Hauser

FRED, THE THIRD HUSBAND, PART 3

One weekend Fred and his father were hired to work a large carnival, and Mom had to go along to help.  

Early Saturday morning Mom, Fred, Brother and I left our house and piled in to Fred's truck.  Our first stop was to the stables to load the ponies and mules in to horse trailers and then on to Long Beach to pick up the rest of the equipment and the workers.  Then off we went to the carnival. 

After the popcorn and candy machines had been set up, the animals harnessed to the wagons and ready to go, Mom wearily crawled in to Fred's truck to take a nap.  Her chronic insomnia had not improved very much, and she was often exhausted and tried to sleep whenever she could.

Brother and I were left to wander around the carnival alone as usual.    

As I walked around the carnival, I slowly weaved my way through the amusement rides, the ferris wheel, the merry-go-round, the Tilt-A-Whirl and the roller coaster.  I stopped often to watch the kids on the rides screaming with laughter.  I stood there silently wishing I had money to buy a ticket so I could join them. 

Soon the intoxicating aroma of fried food, hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn and corn dogs coming from the food trucks caught my attention, and my growling stomach painfully reminded me that I hadn't eaten breakfast that morning in Mom and Fred's haste to leave the house. 

Suddenly I spotted a table laden with cupcakes, brownies, cookies and other baked goods.  I absolutely loved sweets, and my mouth watered at the thought of sinking my teeth into one of those yummy treats.

As I stood there staring at the food, the lady behind the table asked me if I would like to buy something.  Everything cost 15 cents.

"Let me go ask my Mom for some money," I said.

Slowly I walked back to the truck where Mom was sleeping trying to figure out a way to ask for money without getting yelled at.  I knew she would be very angry if I woke her from her nap, but I was getting light headed from hunger and decided to take a chance. 

When I got to the truck, I carefully opened the door.  Mom was laying stretched out on the bench seat sleeping soundly.

"Mom, can I please have 15 cents so I can get something to eat?  I'm hungry," I asked in a timid voice.

Mom groggily opened her eyes.  When she saw me, anger distorted her features.

"Goddamn it, get out of here and let me sleep!" she yelled.

I closed the truck door and walked away.

Now what was I going to do?  I couldn't ask Fred because if I bothered him while he was working, I knew I would get in big trouble later on.

I walked back to the table of baked goods and told the lady that my mom didn't have 15 cents. 

"If you can get a penny, I will let you have a cupcake."

I stared at the lady in humiliation.  I had no idea where I would get a penny. 

"Can I please have something to eat?  I'm really hungry," I said as I looked down in shame.  

After a moment, the lady reached over and handed me a cupcake.  After thanking her, I walked away gratefully eating my sweet treat.

At the end of the day, the animals and equipment were packed up, and Brother and I piled into the bed of one of the pickup trucks with the workers. 

Cold and tired, I curled up under an old tarp for warmth and took a nap during the long and windy ride on the freeway back to the stables to drop off the animals.     

- - -

I never told Mom about that cupcake because she would have been furious.  Mom did not like beggars.  At all.

Since Mom didn't like to cook, Brother and I did not get fed regular meals, and we were often hungry.  When we would ask Mom for something to eat, her usual response was a vague, "Later."   I patiently tried to wait until Mom got hungry so we could eat.  I didn't want to make her mad.

Brother was not as patient as I was, and his cries for food got louder and louder and more persistent, and that made Mom very angry.

Turning to Brother, Mom yelled, “GODDAMNIT, STOP YOUR FUCKING BEGGING!  What do you want from me?  I owe you NOTHING!"  

Not deterred by Mom's anger, Brother continued to cry for food.  Finally in anger and frustration, Mom started slapping Brother repeatedly in the head until he was sobbing hysterically.

Hiccuping and trying to catch his breath, with tears streaming down his cheeks, Brother continued to cry for food.

"Oh, JESUS CHRIST!" Mom yelled, and she finally went and got us something to eat.   

- - -

Brother and I were babysat by a very kind and loving woman named Marion Cox.  Marion was a petite strawberry blond and wore glasses.  She was a stay-at-home mom to her three children, LuAnn, Cheryl and Brian.  We rarely saw her husband, David, since he worked during the day, but he was always kind to me and Brother when we did see him. 

Brother and I spent a lot of time at Marion's house playing with her children during the school year and summer in the cul-de-sac where she lived.  I was learning not to trust the adults around me, but I loved and trusted Marion. 

After school Brother and I walked to Marion's house.  Upon entering her house, often we would be greeted by the smell of freshly baked bread.  My mouth watered at the thought of that soft, warm piece of bread with butter on it that would be waiting for me at the kitchen table.

To be continued….

FRED, THE THIRD HUSBAND, PART 2

After Mom and Fred got married, I started riding one of Fred's Shetland ponies named Sunshine.  

Sunshine had brown hair, blond mane and tail and soft black eyes.  I absolutely adored her.  I loved to wrap my arms around her head, rest my cheek against hers and inhale her sweet horsey smell.   I thought of Sunshine constantly.  

In the evenings after the horses had been fed and watered,  Mom would put Sunshine’s bridle on, and I would hop on her bare back and ride her around the stables. 

Sunshine was very headstrong and stubborn and would rear if she didn't want to go in the direction I wanted.  I quickly learned to let her take the lead and go where she wanted after she bucked me off one day and ran back to her pen. 

- - -

Sometimes Mom let me stay home on the weekend, and she would trailer our horses to Griffith Park or Whittier Narrows to go horseback riding on the miles and miles of beautiful trails.

After Mom saddled up Sunshine, I put my foot in the stirrup, threw my leg over her back and settled in to my little black saddle.  When Mom was done saddling up Jazon, off we went on our ride. 

As I rode next to Mom and her horse in the soft dirt of the trail, I listened to the gentle creaking of the saddles and felt the sun warm on my face, happiness washed over me as it usually did when I was riding.

Unfortunately, the peace didn't last long because Sunshine always got us in to trouble on those rides.

Mom had no patience for Sunshine's stubborn and willful nature.  Many times during our trail rides Sunshine would plant her feet and refuse to walk if she didn't want to go in the direction Mom wanted to go.

With fear coursing throughout my body and saying silent prayers to Sunshine to be a good girl and walk in the direction Mom wanted to go, I would frantically kick her sides to make her move her legs.  Sunshine paid absolutely no attention to my frantic kicks.  Or my silent prayers.

"Hang on, Morrene!" Mom would say as she got out her whip.

WHAP! Mom's whip would land on Sunshine's butt.  Sunshine would take off down the trail running and bucking with me clinging to her back screaming in terror.  Eventually I would get her slowed down, and Mom and I continued on our ride.

Riding through streams on the trail always proved a problem for Sunshine, because she couldn't resist laying down in the water to cool off.

Midway through the stream, Sunshine's legs would start to buckle.  

When Mom saw what Sunshine was doing, she would yell, "Morrene!  Keep her moving!"

With my heart thudding fearfully in my chest, and once again saying silent prayers to Sunshine to be a good girl, I frantically kicked her sides to keep her walking.

As usual Sunshine paid no attention to my frantic kicks, and once again she felt the sting of Mom's whip on her butt, and off she would go running and bucking down the trail with me on her back screaming in terror.

Time and time those scenes were repeated throughout our ride.  Poor Sunshine never seemed to learn her lesson.

- - -

After Mom married Fred, she decided that she wanted to cut my hair short again.  My hair had just started to grow out, and I loved the feel of it on my shoulders.  I finally looked like a girl and was no longer mistaken for a boy.

After much coaxing from Mom, I finally agreed to let her cut my hair.  I loved and trusted my beautiful mom, and I didn't want to disappoint her.

Sitting on a couple of phone books piled on a chair in the  kitchen, I watched as long slices of my hair slowly drifted to the floor around me while Mom snipped away. 

After Mom was done cutting my hair, she took out a pair of old thinning shears and quickly made cuts through my hair to thin it out.  Tears were brought to my eyes when pieces of my hair got yanked out after getting caught in the dull shears.

When Mom was done, I went to look at my new haircut.   

As I stood in front of the mirror in Brother's hand-me-down clothes, I stared in sadness at my short brown bangs and hair that ended just below my ears.    

Once again I looked just like a boy. 

To be continued…

FRED, THE THIRD HUSBAND, PART 1

Shortly after I started second grade, I came home from school one day and saw a man I did not know sitting across from Mom in a living room chair. 

Mom looked at me and said, "This is Fred, and we're getting married."  

Mom was dressed in a bright red corduroy pantsuit with  matching short jacket and two skinny white belts encircling her slim waist.  With false eyelashes enhancing her brown eyes, black teased hair and wig, high cheekbones and beautiful smile, Mom was a stunning woman.  

Excited to meet Fred, I sat on the floor beside his chair and proceeded to tell him about my day at school.

"Morrene, be quiet!  Nobody wants to hear about that!" Mom said.

"Well, why do you think anyone wants to hear what you have to say?" I shot back.

When I saw the furious look on her face, I started to crawl away in panic.  I knew I was in trouble.  Fred grabbed my leg, dragged me back to him and spanked me, and I was sent to my room crying.

That was my first introduction to Mom's third husband.

- - -

When Mom met Fred, she was working as a secretary for Congressman Hanna, a job she hated.  Mom could barely make ends meet every month with her low salary and the money Dad gave her for child support.  The financial stress intensified Mom's chronic insomnia and made her crabby and short tempered with me and Brother. 

Mom was tired of struggling, and she felt Fred could give her the life she wanted, to not have to work, free of financial worries, someone to help watch me and Brother and plenty of time to ride her horse, Jazon. 

After Mom and Fred got married, she bought a young Arabian Thoroughbred stallion named Quazar, and she started breaking him to ride.

- - -

Brother and I frequently fought as siblings often do, and that made Mom very angry.  Although I tried hard not to complain when Brother hit me or called me cruel names, sometimes the injustice was too much, and I would cry out in pain and anger.  

"Goddamit, SHUT UP, YOU FUCKING LITTLE BASTARDS!"   Mom would yell furiously when she heard us arguing.

Sometimes I made the mistake of trying to tell Mom what Brother had done to me, which only made her more angry, and she would start slapping me and Brother in the head repeatedly until we were both crying hysterically.  

I didn't like it when Mom yelled and hit us.  I loved my beautiful mom very much and didn't like to see her upset, so I tried not to complain when Brother called me names and hit me.  

- - -

After Mom and Fred got married, Fred and his dog, a German Shepherd named Jasper, moved in to our little house in Anaheim.  Shortly after Fred moved in, Mom quit her job.  Happy to have time to herself to do as she pleased, Mom's mood seemed to improve. 

- - -

Fred and his father, Fred, Sr., a tall, elderly white haired man, owned a company in Long Beach called Taylor & Son Decorating that manufactured cheap plastic holiday wall decorations, Santa Clauses, reindeer, Easter bunnies and garland for Christmas trees.

Fred and his father also owned popcorn and cotton candy machines, several ponies, a couple of mules, a stagecoach and a wagon.   On weekends Fred, his father and the migrant Mexican workers who worked for them  loaded up the animals and equipment and worked at various carnivals, company picnics and other events around Southern California selling popcorn and cotton candy and giving people rides in the stagecoach and wagon that the mules and ponies pulled.

Many weekends Fred and his father worked at Calamigos Ranch, several acres of land located in the hills of Malibu. 

Mom often sent me and Brother to work with Fred and his father on the weekends, and we would wander around alone at the events.  

While we were gone, Mom was free to do as she pleased and often spent the day at the stables with her horses where she was the happiest. 

- - -

Fred was a tall man of medium build, dark thinning hair combed straight back, and he wore black rimmed glasses.  He had cruel dark eyes and an angry downturned mouth.  He did not live with us very long before we all felt the impact of his anger and cruelty.

Our little dog, Muffin, did not escape Fred's abuse after he stepped in a puddle of her urine on the living room carpet one day. 

"Bad dog!  BAD DOG! BAD DOG!  You do not piss on the floor!" Fred yelled at Muffin.

Poor Muffin looked up at Fred with terrified eyes as he towered over her, her little body shaking in fear and urinated on the floor where she was sitting.  Incensed, Fred grabbed her by the neck and roughly threw her in to the back yard.

Fred did not like me at all, often cruelly mocking me and laughing when I talked.   My very existence seemed to annoy him to no end.

Brother and Fred seemed to get along well, and Brother escaped his abuse.

- - -

 Mom didn't like to cook, so we often went out to eat in the evenings when we weren't at the stables. 

I absolutely loved eating in restaurants.  My usual dinner of choice at that time was a hot fudge sundae.  When I found out where we were going to eat, I would excitedly say, "I'm getting a hot fudge sundae!"

When Fred heard me, he would turn to me with hate in his eyes and angrily say, "Shut up!  Nobody asked what you wanted!"

Needless to say, it didn't take long until I was absolutely terrified of Fred. 

It was not long after Mom and Fred got married that they brought me into their bed and started sexually abusing me.  Child abuse was not talked about when I was growing up, and I had absolutely no idea that the uncomfortable things that they did to me were wrong.   Each time they brought me into their bed, I did my best to put it out of my head and not think about it. 

Mom frequently warned me and Brother not to talk about what went on at our house.  Brother and I were also taught from a young age to always obey and respect adults. 

So I kept silent.  That's just the way it was in our house. 

 TO BE CONTINUED…

THE BEST PART OF MY NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, by Morrene Hauser

Now, before I tell you the best part of my nervous breakdown, let me get something straight.  I am not and never would make light of a mental health disorder.  Never.   I suffered a nervous breakdown and was voluntarily hospitalized for one night in January of 2017.  I know the pain and the fear.  Trust me.

As I was saying...

Right before the first set of repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse came to the surface of my memory, for a period of about three weeks, I laughed and laughed.  I laughed until I was bent over double leaning against a wall, tears rolling down my cheeks. 

Laying in bed at night trying to get some sleep was difficult.  Because I couldn't stop laughing.  Night after night I lay in bed curled in to a fetal position hugging my knees laughing silently in to my pillow until it was soaked with tears.  Now, that does not make for a good nights' rest.

When I wasn't laughing uncontrollably, I got the giggles.  Putting my hand over my mouth to try to stop them didn't work.  It just made me giggle all the harder.

Forget trying to talk to me about anything serious during this time.  It just didn't happen.  I couldn't have kept a straight face if my life depended on it.

Going to the grocery store, the gas station, a visit to my doctor's office was difficult.  Again, I just couldn't control myself.

I always tried to warn whomever I was talking to that I was a bit loopy because I was getting a dissolution and please forgive my laughter.  Of course, my words of warning came out in bits and spurts between bouts of uncontrollable laughter.

I completely stopped working during this time.  Working in court, a hearing, an arbitration or a deposition is serious business.  And it would not look good if I, as the court reporter, was in hysterics.  I simply didn't trust that I could conduct myself properly in a professional setting.

Being self-employed has a lot of perks.  But no work equals no pay.  And that hurt.

Anybody that knows me well knows how much I love to laugh.  But, really, this was a bit over the top.  Even for me.

But I never questioned why I felt the need to laugh so much.  I just accepted it and enjoyed the ride.  I thought since I was able to laugh that I was finally coming to terms with the difficulties in my personal life.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Sure, I had a few problems.  Nothing these broad shoulders couldn't handle. 

My marriage had ended.

Living with my soon-to-be ex-husband was very stressful, to say the least.

My children were hardly speaking to me they were so hurt and angry at me for leaving their father.

I was suffering extreme burnout professionally.

We had just moved to a smaller house, a decision that I alone made with no support from my husband.

Major financial stress.

And, unbeknownst to me, the repressed memories of my childhood abuse were coming at me like a speeding train that would ultimately knock me off my feet.

A year and a half later, as I write this article, I can finally put the laughter in to perspective.  I now realize how good it was for me.  I desperately needed the release, and laughter provided that. 

The events leading up to my breakdown and the year and a half it has taken me to finally feel "normal" have been eye opening, to say the least.

And that, Reader, is my firsthand account of the best part of my nervous breakdown.