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 his 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.

- - -

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.