My gran was dead and it was all my fault…at least that’s what my 7 year old brain was telling me. You see, we grew up in a very religious household and went to catholic school, in fact we were the third generation to attend St Raphael’s Primary.
I knew that ‘God had a plan’. I didn’t understand life and death the way I do now. My understanding of life and death was that it came from God. That was it.
God took my gran away. Why? Not because she had emphysema, but because I wanted to tell her my secret. My 7 year old brain told me that this was God’s way of telling me that this was my cross to bear and that I should tell no-one. So that’s what I did…
My grand’s death was the biggest ‘game changer’ in my life. Often I still wonder what the ripple effect would have been should she have survived. Until my gran’s death I hadn’t put any blame on myself. I felt loved, confident and honored to be a child of God…that was all about to change…
After ma passed on, there were more family gatherings/meetings which intern meant…more abuse. Being at school, my knowledge grew about how wrong this was. It started making me hate myself, my body and those around me. In my head the voices screamed but on the outside…all I could do was either smile or cry. I came to be known as the cry baby of the family.
In my head, I was stuck. I couldn’t tell anybody, if I did surely they would die too. I didn’t tell a soul; not a friend, not a family member…no-one. I was so shit scared of their death, I didn’t even hint at it.
The anger continued to grow. I started getting angry at everyone around me: ‘I couldn’t tell but that didn’t mean that they couldn’t see. If you saw and put one and one together and died…surely that wouldn’t be my fault.’ Then I would be free.
No-one saw. I didn’t blame them…I blamed God. Surely, if he wanted them to see they would. God was distracting them with my grandmother’s death. We also had two babies in the family. Life and death was his area of expertise…wasn’t it?
During ma’s illness, mom left her job to look after ma 24/7. We loved having mom at home. After ma’s death little big brother and I begged mom to stay home. She agreed upon the condition that another member be added to the family. Of course we as kids agreed, we would let the stork know to drop off a baby at our big house in Mitchell’s Plain. I was willing to share my room with my sister. I already had tons of cupboard space, two desks…she just needed mom and dad to buy her a bed. Maybe, this was God making up for what I had been through. Aren’t we taught as kids, do bad and you will be punished…Do good and you will be rewarded? I kept quite didn’t I? Just as God wanted me too. I deserved this little sister.
Just over 13 months after ma’s passing, baby brother was born. Those were the days when most people didn’t trust ultrasounds and upon delivery doctors would say ‘Mom and Dad, here’s your boy/girl’. So dad called my aunt’s place, where little big brother and I were visiting while mom was in hospital, to share the ‘good news’. When I found out it was another boy, I was infuriated. I picked up little big brother by the throat and held him in the air till he was blue in the face. I would have held him longer, probably till he passed out, if some-one hadn’t intervened. How could God do this to me? Was there something I was missing? Was there something that I was supposed to do that I wasn’t doing? Was this the plan He had for my life? I know Jesus had to suffer to come to Him, did my life have a similar fate?
I can’t remember when I got the news that we were moving to my gran’s house; whether is was before little brother’s birth or after. Dick stayed there. My parents spoke to us about it. I almost think we voted on the move, I obviously voted for it. I couldn’t vote no without giving a reason. Still not understanding life and death, I couldn’t take the risk of killing my parents. (Scary, that I thought that way…but true.)
I don’t remember the move, but I will never forget the date though…1 November 1995.
We ended up being 11 people in a 3 bedroom house…basically, a family in each room. It truly felt like moving from a palace to the dungeon.
My parents were strict. We were only allowed to stay over by family and eventually our best friend (after they had met the parent’s several times).
What they didn’t know was that the devil was living in the room down stairs. How could they? Dick was the most well known and well liked person I knew. He was invited to every party, played in the music ministry at church, led the choir, always offered a helping hand when one was needed. He was the ‘poster boy’ for kindness.
Eventually, he moved out. The abuse didn’t stop though. Harry started his crap too, but only when he was drunk. I can’t remember when Tom started, but her completed the trio. (Tom, Dick and Harry)
Dad was diagnosed with severe depression, even hospitalized for it. Mum struggled with baby brother’s health. How could I put more on their plate?
I remember one evening I went to choir practice. Dick abused me right before. He picked on me in choir practice and eventually threw me out of the practice, and sent me to stand in the pouring rain. I was so confused, I just didn’t understand. Was this everyone’s life? Was it just me? Why me? How could he tell me these ‘sweet things’ and then put me out in the middle of a storm? (For those of you who have experience CPT’s winter months will know that the rain with the south-easterly winds are terrible) Dad was away for work, I think. One of my aunt’s were with me in the choir and told my mom about the incident and she went berzerk. She called Dick and gave him a piece of her mind.
I never saw a choir practice again. That day, mom did so much more than banning me from choir practice. I just realized…not completely sure, but I don’t think Dick touched me after that.
Not sure when Tom and Harry stopped either.
That day had several meanings for me: ‘God never left me’, God gave people freedom of choice and THEY chose to do the things they did, if my mom found out what was happening she would chop his balls off and serve it to him for supper. The emotions that I saw in my mother that day, scared the crap out of me. I knew Dick would be dead and I don’t mean that figuratively.