My mother was still on a quest for status and it had occurred to her that one of the most prestigious things that she could do was to buy a racehorse. She envied the people that could enter the members’ only part of the racetracks and she wanted to be hob knobbing with the upper class. Unfortunately for my mother, she did not end up getting to know this elite group of people, she fell into the company of the trainers and the people that took care of the stables.
I guess in hindsight, as I write this, this must have been about the time that the settlement for the divorce had come through. New house, racehorse, she was swimming in money and had decided that she would spend it however she wanted to. With little or no consideration for the fact that she did not have the earning potential to sustain this type of lifestyle, she went full force into flashing her money around.
I don’t think that I need to connect the dots here, but I’ll set the stage. You have a newly divorced woman that has no understanding of money and how to manage it. She is desperately seeking validation and trying to impress people. She falls into the wrong crowd and bam…..
She could not have chosen a worse group of people to befriend. Among this group of characters there were about a half dozen men. Most of these men had been to prison. They all did hard, injectable drugs. Not just drinking and smoking pot, but lets really get wasted type of drugs. The one man had gone to prison for wife abuse. In the 1970’s this was unheard of. Looking at this situation from the perspective of the year 2011 does not do it justice. Men could hit their wives then. The whole “rule of thumb” was a recognition that you could use a stick to hit your wife as long as it was not larger than your thumb!!
My mother had always attracted attention and sympathy by being the sick little girl. Born with a deformed right foot and the youngest girl in a family with nine children, she had been made feel special and cared for by the fact that she required help to get around. I heard stories of her being pulled around in wagons, walking on crutches, needing braces and I remember multiple surgeries to help build her foot up, when I was a child. She apparently won a beauty contest in high school partly by playing the invalid card.
She used to demand attention from my father by being ill and she had learned how to fake a heart attack, long before medical tests could prove otherwise (as far as I know). I actually believed that my mother had suffered multiple heart attacks, which I know now would likely have killed her. She would go to the hospital often because of migraine headaches and would count her friendships by how many people came to visit her during her various stays.
My earliest memories include my mother being in bed and my knowledge that I was not supposed to wake her. At one barbeque, that was put on by the refinery that my father worked at, she made a particularly embarrassing scene. Everyone was there. We were at a beachfront park that was huge. These events had hundreds of people at them and the entire picnic area had been reserved for this gathering. Six people were all sitting at a picnic table. I was sitting beside my mother and I believe that Vicki was on the other side. The three people on the other side of the table got up at the same time and the three of us fell back wards when the table tipped over.
I got up and laughed. It was outrageous that this had happened and everyone was joking and apologizing and my mother would not get up. She started to make distressing sounds and would not let anyone move her. She lay on her back, at this picnic, with her legs in a peculiar position, until the ambulance came. I do not think that anything was wrong with her. She just saw the opportunity to elicit a lot of sympathy. I wanted to run away and pretend that I did not know whom she was.
This particular pattern of attention seeking turned out to be quite dangerous for me. One evening, she had invited her “friends” to the house. I had plans with my friends to go out to a dance, just outside of town. When her friends said that they wanted to come to the dance, they made the mistake of not begging my mother to come with them. She said that she didn’t want to go, but what she wanted was to be begged. They took her statement that she didn’t want to go at face value and went to the dance without her.
When I arrived home, slightly after her friends had already arrived at my home, I came in to find out that she had hospitalized herself for one thing or another. So, I’m a sixteen year old girl. It is late at night and my house is full of men that I wouldn’t want to speak to at all if my mother had not invited them in. I’m having trouble writing at this point. My heart is pounding and I just thought that maybe it would be a good time to make more coffee…..
But, I’ll continue. It became immediately obvious that I was outnumbered. I was already in the house before I realized that she was not home. None of these men were sober or reasonable. A flash of a worse case scenario zoomed through my consciousness and I immediately realized that I needed an ally. One of the men had made it known that he fancied me so I made it immediately obvious that I was with him. This was a good move. That took me out of “free game” and into a relative position of safety.
I went upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom and tried to sleep in there. I had a hope that they would all pass out or forget that I was there. It never occurred to me to go somewhere. Where would I go? The guy that I had aligned myself with started to bang on the door and I down played it and told him to give me a minute. Worried that he would crash through the door, I came out.
I went into my room and he followed me. Nothing I said would discourage this guy’s advances. He had obviously been with a woman that liked to play hard to get and took it as a game of me saying no and him pushing forward. At the decision moment when I was looking at being penetrated by this guy, I chose to bite his shoulder hard. I was rewarded with a right punch to the side of my face that resulted in a black eye, but he stopped. I guess the pain in his shoulder was severe enough to cut through the alcohol and drugs and convince him that I was not a willing participant in this adventure. He stayed in my bed for the night but did not try anything else.
The next day my mother came home from the hospital and made a comment that the black flies were so bad this year. She could tell that because I had a severe reaction around my left eye. She never asked. She just stayed with this explanation.
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