Tag Archives: memories

The Memory Game

Warning: this post may contain triggers for sexual abuse survivors.

“What do you do with all the good memories of your dad? That would be weird.”

Someone asked me this after hearing about my story. Or at least the parts I’ve shared. It’s actually an easy answer.

There aren’t any good memories of him anymore.

Everything was a sham. He was a fraud. I have no good memories of my dad anymore, because all the things I thought were good, well, they were lies.

When I was little, he got rid of our tv and we played games every night. It used to be a fun memory. Family Time. But now, I see it for what it really was: grooming.

That’s a word I didn’t even know before I remembered my abuse and heard a detective use it. And then I started to realize how much of my childhood was a chapter from a textbook.

We acted out plays of Bible stories. Under big sheet tents and forts in our living room. He would tell me what to say and do, paraphrasing the Bible, and we would all laugh and eat popcorn.

Fast forward a few years, and very different things were happening under those sheet tents.

But he had groomed me. That horrible word with an even more horrible meaning.

And I had learned that he was in charge. And I couldn’t question, because I wasn’t the one holding the children’s storybook Bible and calling all the shots. He no longer had the Bible, but it didn’t matter. He was still in control.

He had already had two affairs when he got rid of our tv. Of course we didn’t know that. We thought we were a happy, healthy family. I remember him telling my mom that the tv was just a distraction from family time, and we needed to spend more time learning about God and having fun together.

All of it was a lie.

He controlled me for decades. But it all started with little things. And sexual abuse often starts with spiritual abuse.

And taking away your daughter’s Mister Roger’s Neighborhood so you can be the center of all the attention and the sole provider of entertainment in your household is messed up.

In college, it was still a great memory. I shared it in a Comp class. This really gorgeous guy who sat a few chairs down said, “That sounds like crazy shit. What the hell was he trying to do playing with all those sheets all the time? I woulda run away fast.”

I was so embarrassed, but came to my dad’s defense. Because I was a good daughter and he was a great dad. I stood up for him.

If only I could’ve remembered then. And I wonder if gorgeous-guy-whose-rough-drafts-were-painfully-exhausting-to-edit will read this and think, “I was right.” But no one takes pleasure in being right about these things.

All we can do is look out for the next group of kiddos growing up with the fake dads who are very good at being evil. And see if we can be their voice, because they don’t even know that they should be running for help. Abused kids will often speak up only once.

I waited years for my moment to speak up, and then chickened out. Then blocked it all out. Then had to remember everything in waves.

But it’s easier to relegate the things I do remember to the evil pile than it is to move the things that seem good to that same pile. Because the stuff I forgot was so bad it can’t even be justified. But the rest of my life falls into gray areas.

So I chop photographs. I toss birthday cards. I remove him from stories. I won’t ever pretend he never existed, but I keep him separate from the actual good things of my childhood. Which is easy. Because almost all of them didn’t involve him anyway.

I have more great memories of my mom and siblings and friends than I have horrific memories of him. I can’t throw away 30 years of my life for one narcissist. But I can’t ever become so far removed that I forget to watch out for the next generation.

There are no new sins under the sun. Only new sinners. Who think they’re smarter than the rest of us. But they’re just repeating what’s already been done. And I know the tricks now. So I have an obligation to keep my eyes and ears open. While, somehow, still protecting my sanity. And holding onto the actual great memories with the people I love who were real and really loved me.

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Photo credit

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Looking Back

Most days, I love the look back option on social media. Showing me mini time capsules of this date in our history.

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2012: Watching a pre-release of VeggieTales' League of Incredible Vegetables

“Adelaide ate her first chocolate sprinkles, Graham went down his first wet inflatable slide, & Dave ate his first crawfish boil.”

From a friend’s birthday party in 2013.

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2013: Playing with a 15 cent yard sale find

And the pictures. Be still my heart. I love seeing my kiddos so small.

Inchstones.

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2013: Adelaide scooted backwards into the kitchen for the first time

Milestones.

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2014: Adelaide rolled something for the first time while crawling

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2014: She was so proud of herself

Everyday nothings.

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2014: Big girl booster seat at Great Gma Tracy's house

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2014: Miss Bess navigating the furniture

Other times, I just cry and cry. So many memories with my dad-in-law. We spent just about every Sunday together. And so many other days in between.

“Watched Miss Universe for the first time. My father-in-law, Bob Plummer, called it from the opening sequence. I thought it would come down to Mexico and Jamaica. We are now going to star in our show about private citizens who help the police with their uncanny ability to call pageants before they start. It will be called Psych! We will make a lot of money with this idea!”

2009.

He was always calling the pageants, predicting baby genders, and could tell you who would win American Idol from the auditions.

Miss him so much.

And last year, we ate baked chips and he played with Elizabeth’s feet. But he asked me not to take any pictures of him.

And I wish I would’ve taken one without him knowing.

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Five Minute Friday {together}

Thursday, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to hold it together. I am on three hours of sleep since Tuesday morning. Bess is sick and having a tough time with the drainage and discomfort. She is also still just adjusting to life outside the womb. So many sounds and lights and crazy faces from Graham…who vacillates between trying to injure her and love her to death. Both are dangerous and are making me a nervous wreck. Adelaide is teething nine teeth. And she is trying to army crawl. That is a blessing. It is just hard watching her try over and over again. She is determined to crawl and I am so proud of her. I still have that pain from knowing in my mama heart that it will take a long time. Keep going, baby. You can do it. Don’t give up. Don’t go back to rolling everywhere.

I got in the shower while Bess slept for 12 minutes. And I cried. The tears of a tired mom who just isn’t sure how she is going to keep going without either 12 straight hours of beauty sleep or the world’s largest Coke Zero. Since I don’t do caffeine until they wean, sleep is my only option. Bess is still nursing every two hours. And she has needed to be held for two nights in a row. All night.

This Mutemath song. This right here.

“I just can’t hold it together.”

I am off to get in a few minutes before Bess wakes to nurse. Or Graham wakes and asks to sleep in our bed. Or Adelaide cries out with teething pain.

I hate Halloween, but I am glad I will be able to get some clearance candy soon. I consumed the last of the freezer chocolate today…

Time’s Up…

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

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Five Minute Friday {laundry}

Eight loads of clean laundry, just waiting to be folded and put away.

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First time since March that all laundry isn’t washed, dried, folded, and put away. Twice a week. Tuesdays and Fridays. It was a good run while it lasted. {Much like that time when I said I was going to shave my legs every other day. Then, I woke up this week and realized I hadn’t shaved since before I went into the hospital to deliver a baby. One month ago.}

I am so bad about expectations and resolutions and goals and purpose and maintenance.

I am remembering what my mom said to me before Elizabeth came into this world. “You will need to give up on certain things for awhile. It is better to be a healthy mom than have all the laundry done. It is better to be a happy mom than have a clean kitchen.” She went on to tell me that the transition from two to three is tough. And I would wake up some days just bawling from being completely overwhelmed. I still haven’t fully experienced that, since another adult is with me at all times. I cannot lift or carry Adelaide. At all. So, I am never left alone with her. I have yet to care for the three kids all by myself. The first day that happens, I know I will bawl. And we will still be digging clothes out of that pile. That pile keeps growing, but I keep choosing ‘eat something’ or ‘shower at least twice a week’ over ‘fold the laundry’…a mom’s mental checklist is never completed.

Graham keeps asking me why our house is such a mess. I am trying. I (somewhat) clean up the toys that are left behind after Graham cleans, I sort and wash and dry the laundry, I wipe down the bathroom fixtures with a baby wipe, and I hide all the clutter that keeps amassing from lack of attention in a blue container in our hallway.

And for now, that is good enough. And clean enough. And there will be plenty of time to clean when Bess sleeps more than 2 hours at a time. And well after I have my there-are-more-kids-than-I-have-hands breakdown…

Time’s Up…

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

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Family, Fries, & Fun {and the corniest blog post title so far…}

Dave surprised us with a trip to Chick-fil-A. It was our first Joplin outing as a family of five. Elizabeth Mae slept the entire time. And I am convinced that those waffle fries were the best I have ever eaten. And we had the entire playground to ourselves…

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Five Minute Friday {true}

I was engaged before Dave. His name was Juan Carlos Bautista. It was kindergarten. It lasted one whole week. I called it off because he and I had very different interests. And I was in love with someone else.

 

“Juan Carlos, I don’t think I can marry you.”

“Why not?”

“Because I love Larry Mullen, Jr. from U2. I have loved him my whole life.”

“What is that? I never heard of that.”

“If you don’t know who U2 is, then we definitely can’t get married. I am sorry.”

 

And I unintentionally made a five-year-old boy sob on a playground in Denver.

True story.

 

Fifteen years later, I ended up meeting a different drummer. He would play airdrums and we would sing Where the Streets Have No Name as we blasted The Joshua Tree and traveled on I-44 the summer before we started dating. The next year, we were engaged. And then he went from fiance to husband on a gorgeous summer day in 2006. And now we have three children. And our 10 year history is riddled with U2 memories. And there will be so many more in our future. Sometimes, I just watch him playing the airdrums in our minivan full of carseats and it takes my breath away thinking how blessed I am to be Mrs. Drummer. And then I breathe deeply and belt out a chorus with my love and our adorable backseat backup singers.

 

 

Time’s Up…

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

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Five Minute Friday {small}

A decade ago, I knew I was going to marry Dave Ballew. This summer marked the ten year anniversary of when we first met. Our first date. Our first kiss. As a 20-year-old in college, I would often think about what life would be like when I was 30. I was studying to be a special education teacher. But I knew I would eventually stay home to teach our children. I figured we would have 2 or 3 by now. I didn’t know if I would birth them, or if we would adopt. Or both. I just knew that I was going to be a mom. I have known since before kindergarten. Our third child will be here in 5 weeks. Graham is starting homeschool this autumn. And today, something small happened that has always been a daydream. Just waiting to become reality.

My precious girl played with a dollhouse. For the very first time. Although the situation is not what I had ever envisioned, the feelings were exactly what I had hoped for. All those times of dreaming and praying. As a young girl, and a young teen, and a young 20-something, I often thought about the day my daughter and I would play with a dollhouse. And here I am, a 30-year-old mama playing with little furniture. And my daughter’s petite hands were lovingly placing those beds into the house. And opening doors. And eventually sticking everything in her teething mouth. Because she is 20 months old and chews on tiny chairs. It was a moment I will never forget. Such a small blip in the history of both our lives, but a dream lived out. A dream 25 years in the making.

Time’s Up…

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Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

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