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…

AHHHH, SLEEP..., by Morrene Hauser

AHHHH, SLEEP...

I hope I am not out of line or going to embarrass myself (yet again) by sending you this letter.  You rarely answer me when I reach out to you for help, but I will try, and hopefully you will respond this time.

I am begging you, Sleep, to please read this letter to the end.  Throw it away, burn it, rip it up when you are done.  I'll leave that to you to decide.

I will try not to bother you after this letter, but I cannot promise.  I have no pride where you are concerned, Sleep.  None.

Please do not feel I am attacking you, but, Sleep, my friends tell me that you are sleeping with them.

"I slept with Sleep until 10:30 this morning!"

"Me and Sleep slept like a rock!" 

"I took the most wonderful nap with Sleep today!"

Smirks on their faces, laughter in their voices as they look in to my eyes knowing of my obsession for you.

And, yes, a little voice in me says go to hell! 

Go to hell.

But that doesn't last long.

I am a lover, not a fighter. 

And a forgiver.  Always a forgiver.

I awoke with another panic attack at 2:00 a.m. this morning, Sleep. 

Whose bed are you in at this very moment?  My heart pounds.  My mind races.

When I find out whose bed you have slept in, I feel as though somebody has punched me in the stomach.   

Sleep, the days on end where I have to go to bed at 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. even on weekends because I know I need to get some rest before I wake up at 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m. and be awake for the rest of the day.

Thinking of you

Loving you

Longing for you

Ahhhh, Sleep...    

The ruined weekends.

The ruined evenings.

Gritty, aching eyes, pounding headache, the mental and physical exhaustion that haunted my days while I tried to work and care for my babies when they were little.   I learned to lay in bed awake for hours with eyes closed so at least they would not hurt.  

Sleep, I am so very tired of disappointing my children because I am just too exhausted at times to do the things they want to do.

My kids would say, "Mom, you just don't want to spend time with me!"

"You don't care!"

Not true, my babies, not true I would say to myself all the while knowing they would not understand at their young age if I tried to explain. 

The missed soccer games.

The missed parties.

The missed school events.

The activities that I did do with my babies all the while concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

You can do this I say to myself.

Adrenalin was my drug of choice to get me through those long, difficult days.

The guilt, the shame, the depression, the sadness over disappointing my little ones.  I am so very sorry.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.  The gift that keeps on giving.

Ahhhh, Sleep...

The one-night stands we have.  I never know when you are coming, and that is the best!  I wake up the next morning, and there you are, Lover, sleeping next to me.  It would not be appropriate to write down on paper the pleasures we share in those moments.

The next morning I am endlessly happy!  The sun shines brighter, the birds sing clearer, my obsession for you goes away!

But, Sleep, you cruel, fickle, heartless lover,  the next night you again sleep with one of my friends.   And when I find out who you had slept with, I am crushed.   The depression and sleepless nights return in full force.  Once again, I lay awake in bed wide awake 

Thinking of you

Loving you

Longing for you

The sun does not shine, the birds no longer sing, my obsession for you continues.

Damn you, Sleep.  Damn you

And, Sleep, you must have adored my pregnant body, Lover, because you slept with me night after night.  And, oh, yes, the naps we would have!   

Perhaps you have forgotten. 

But, Lover, I have not. 

But as soon as my babies were born, Sleep, you left me without a good-bye.  Cruel, heartless, fickle Sleep. 

Even when my baby girl was born still, you left me. 

Thank you, Sleep, for at least staying in the hospital with me during that long, difficult birth. 

Again, I am a lover, not a fighter. 

And a forgiver.  Always a forgiver.   

So I forgave you yet again.  Again and again and again...

Ahhhh, Sleep...

please come back to me. 

I beg of you.

I will take one-night stands.  I will take anything.  Join me in the middle of the night, early morning after you have left another's bed. 

I don't care, Sleep.  I am that desperate for your love.

I have not slept with you in several weeks, Sleep.  And I am very, very tired.

Ahhhh, Sleep...

 I beg of you please come back to me.

Please come back.

THE SILENCE OF CHILD ABUSE THAT FOLLOWS IN TO ADULTHOOD, by morrene hauser

When I was a young child, I was taught from an early age to not talk about what went on at our house.  Ever.  For years I heard those words over and over.

"You do not talk about what goes on at our house!" said Mom.

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So that's what I did.  I kept most of those secrets throughout my adult life without even thinking about it.  That's just the way it was.  Silence!

Sure, I talked some about all of the husbands and boyfriends my mom had, the moves and the number of schools I went to.  Even when I did talk about the past, at times I felt some guilt.  I was giving away family secrets.

I did not talk about the sexual, physical or verbal abuse.  I repressed most of the horrible memories.  File the ugliness away in the back recesses of my mind.  Just don't think about it.

Until I turned 51.  That's when the floodgate of my sickening childhood started spilling out.  I will talk about my subsequent nervous breakdown when the memories surfaced.  Just not now.  Now I want to focus on silence.

When I started recovering my repressed memories, my friends tried to be very helpful.

"Just don't think about it!" 

"Don't think about the past.  Look to the future!" 

"Forget about it!" 

"So you're sitting home feeling sorry for yourself?" said an ex-friend.

As in my childhood, my friends were encouraging silence.  Ouch. 

For years I drank too much.  I suffered panic attacks at night.  I had severe insomnia.  Depression.  Anxiety.  And the list goes on.

All because I didn't think about it.  I couldn't think it.  It was just too frightening and painful.

My friends, don't you see?  In order to move forward with my future, I have to deal with my past.  Facing the grief, the horror and the sadness of my childhood has helped me immensely, as hard as it is.  For 18 years I was abused to varying degrees.  Now, that's a lot to process.  I will be dealing with that for the rest of my life.

Thankfully, I rarely feel a need to drink now.  The anxiety and depression that were my constant companions almost on a daily basis for years have significantly decreased.  Panic attacks at night are minimal to non-existent.

I still struggle with insomnia some nights.  But it's much better.

If you know of someone that is dealing with abuse, whether present, past or both, please do not tell them not to think about it.  That is one of the most painful and hurtful things that can be said to a survivor who has suffered in silence most of their life.