Childhood Memories: Yearning for More

DISCLAIMER: This post details Domestic Violence. If you cannot handle reading about it, please stop here.

My friend Cecily Kellog posted about childhood memories of her own and the memories her daughter, Tori, will carry with her. Which just made me sit here and ponder my own memories of childhood. I have them, but the ones that I should remember are not there. They are blocked by the ones that shouldn’t be there. I couldn’t even speak about my parents separation until I was 25. I am 38 now. Emotionally, it still wrecks me. But today, dammit, I am going to try.

My parents separated right after Christmas when I was 10. The years leading up to that are filled with images of violence, of my father abusing my mother. Mentally and physically. The bruises, the broken bones. I can remember protecting my little sister so that she wouldn’t see it, even though I know she has some memories of it. We’ve never discussed it. I can remember the speedometer breaking on the car. A Ford Pinto. Because she was speeding and he was in our white Jeep truck, behind us, knowing it was broken. She was beaten. There are so many occurrences of that. My mom having a hysterectomy at 24 and not being allowed any visitors in the hospital. He was jealous of her having anyone visit. When my Grandmothers would give her clothes and she looked nice? Jealous. He would tear them up and then beat her. The last Christmas? The abuse was so horrific she couldn’t’ get off the living room floor on Christmas morning. That’s the Christmas memory of childhood I carry with me–I don’t have any others. We went to my Grandmothers (maternal) and she left not long afterwards. Taking me and my sister away from this monster we called “Daddy”.

Mom went on with her life. We lived with my Grandparents and Aunt and she went to nursing school. Life was good. The extended family we needed, but it was hard. I wanted my parents as a unit, but didn’t want the abuse. He tried to do spiteful, petty things. Like breaking into Mom’s car at work and stealing her textbooks. My Aunt Mimi took care of that, she’s fiesty and went to get them.  He also seemed to forget about us. I don’t remember much time with my Dad and when I did see him, it was more spending a few token hours, doing a few things for us and then leaving. We mainly saw him if we were at my paternal Grandparents. But it was more like “come look at my new car”, at least that’s the memories I have.

She served him with divorce papers and I can clearly remember my Grandmother taking me to see him and his crying. “You’re mother doesn’t love me. We aren’t going to be a family anymore.” A few weeks later, maybe a few months, my sister and I met his fiancée. His mistress. The woman he had been dating for years behind my mother’s back. The mother of the little brother I adore, but was not allowed to spend time with.

It had to have been not too long after they separated that my sister went to my Grandpa Radford and asked if she could call him “Daddy”. He was what we had always wanted in our father. Kind, loving, hard working, funny, and a million other adjectives. This is my second Christmas without him and I can hardly breathe for missing him so much.

My Dad? I have seen him once in four years come this Christmas, at Christmas. We haven’t spoken in two years. His mother, my beloved Grandmother, would be rolling in her grave. Four years ago, at Christmas, we had a stomach virus. Three years this Christmas, we went to his house. Last Christmas? I wasn’t invited. Who knows what this Christmas holds. I’m not holding my breath.

The thing is, he thinks we want his money or something from him. The only thing I ever wanted was a relationship. He’s never been able to give that to me. Ever. He loves me in his own way. My mom said that when I was born, he was grab strangers in the hospital to show them his baby. It’s stories like that, those are the ones that nearly 30 years after they separated, make me still want to give him a chance to be in my life.

Believe me, I want to be the bigger person, but I just don’t know how at this point. Am I being selfish? Yeah, I am. But, I’ve tried my damnedest to win his love and affection, without feeling that it’s reciprocated on some sort of contingency basis.

It sucks.

Mom? She remarried 6 years ago. I think it took her being single that long to realize her own worth, to know that it was okay to be loved and that there were men out there that would not hurt you. My step-dad? I love Steve so much. When I need a “father” to talk to, he’s the one. I call him Dad. He gives me the love I always sought, knowing that it’s never given without expecting something in return. I think my sister feels the same way. We’ve never really discussed it.

I yearn to break my memories free. To open them up, so I can remember Christmases past. For now, I am creating new ones with my son and husband. I cherish and glory in every Christmas memory I create during his childhood, brief as it is. These are the memories I wanted. As I sit here writing this, I realize that my husband, even though he knows my past, probably doesn’t realize why I get so pumped up about the Christmas season.

Emili has known me since I was 12, and she is going to sit here, reading this, wondering how in the hell she didn’t know. Many people are going to sit here and read this, wondering how in the hell they didn’t know. I’ve always been good at putting on a “happy face”. My therapist would say this is therapeutic. My wonderful husband will high five me for getting this partially off my chest. Other people reading this might get angry that I dared share such a dark, hidden family secret. In my family, it’s no secret. My friends that read this blog are my urban family, so I am opening up to them. Sharing my life.

After all, it’s my reality. My Mommyality.


  1. Just one more reason I know I was meant to meet you. I have a very similar background and am working on my release right now where I will share the burned ashes of my past that led to beauty. I have started this story many times over the years then I saw Portia de Rossi’s interview with Ellen the other day….and once again her story was so similar……and it was the push I needed to go forward with my story.

    I am sorry and sad to hear you went thru this and I will not dare say “Things happen for a reason” but what I will say is that we (people like you and I) go through things so that we can share those events with the world to help prevent it from happening again or to help someone come forward.

    We go through these things to show “I am Woman. Hear me Roar” and watch and go see how I take these moments of my life and turn them into a beautiful web of love.

    I am so proud of you for sharing this.
    I love you Lisa.

  2. I love you too, Amelia. So much, sister of my heart.
    Lisa recently posted..Childhood Memories- Yearning for More

  3. Phbbbbbbttt to those who think this is a bad thing, you sharing with people. I’m glad that you shared this. You are awesome and I am biased because you are family. Show me the “evil ones” that I may smack them into reality. Love you!
    Amanda Jaynes recently posted..Thanksgiving Thoughts

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