The Story of My Sexual Assault

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The Story Of My Sexual Assault

*in case the title isn’t clear enough, here’s your trigger warning. This story is about sexual assault, abuse and harassment.

I was reading comments online spurred by the current GOP presidential candidate bragging about sexually assaulting women. They ranged from intelligent commentary about why sexual assault is such an under reported crime to complete and total denial that we live in a rape culture in which men are entitled to control, comment on and use womens’ bodies.

One commenter mentioned that the “one out of five” women being a victim of sexual assault number seems low” and wonder if it’s because they “weren’t comfortable reporting it.” Not to quibble, but I’ve read “one out of four” and my personal experience being and talking to women indicates it’s much higher than that.

In concurrent threads there are people who deny these numbers, deny rape culture and say that the women now stepping forward about said candidate are liars who are just looking for attention. It is vital that women step up and speak out. We can no longer be silent and we can not let this stand.

So here’s my story.

1965 – I don’t remember the first time I was sexually assaulted, but it was by my step “father” who conned his way into my mother’s life when I was three years old. I became aware that he “make me feel icky” when he touched me when I was about nine or ten years old (and I felt guilty for not loving a “step” like a “real” “parent” like the Brady Bunch told us we were supposed to. I figured it out when the memories made sense at the age of 16 (when I, for the most part left the home) My mother’s reactions to this ranged from “we don’t talk about things like that” to violently abusing me herself while under the influence of alcohol. I grew up being told never to talk back to or upset him as he had high blood pressure, or he would have a heart attack and die and that it would be my fault. How sad I was to find out that was a lie. As a teenager, after witnessing him hitting my mother so hard in the face that her bridgework flew out of her mouth I pulled my 22 rifle out of the closet and told him all of the horrible things I’d always wanted to say to him as a child and told him that I’d kill him if he ever touched me or my mother again. He didn’t have a heart attack and didn’t die. I was disappointed.

1967 – I was five years old, in first grade. It was after school and I was walking past the bike racks to the car where I was being picked up from school. A 6th grade boy grabbed me, threw me on the ground next to the bike racks while another boy on a bicycle told him, “spread her legs” as he grabbed my ankles, adorned with those little lace trimmed bobbie socks, the boy on the bike tried to run over my genital area with the front tire of his bicycle. No one helped me. I kicked, screamed, raged and got away. Later when I was questioned by the principal about it, they had a suspect that I was to name. This means there were witnesses that did not try to help me, and/or that he had assaulted other little girls and was still allowed to be at school.

1973 – at eleven years old while playing football with the neighborhood kids, one of the boys pinned me down and violently groped my crotch. The response when I told an adult, “Boys will be boys”

1975 – at thirteen years old while walking home from school, a boy commented on how “small” my barely developing breast were and grabbed them. Again, “Boys will be boys”

That same year, another older boy tried to rape me in the projection booth at a local movie theater. I fought him off and never went back to that theater. Big surprise here. It was my fault for going into the projection booth (I was interested in the projector).

1976 – I was 14, a boy followed me home from school and assaulted me. I punched him. He did not get in trouble, but I was pulled aside by one of the fathers in the neighborhood, grabbed by the shoulders and told to “calm down” and that I “was not a normal girl” and was “too aggressive” (because obviously, normal girls just take abuse and don’t fight back)

1977 – I was 15 and thought all of the horse play and wresting stuff with our church youth group leader was just innocent fun, because I was a tomboy, super naive and somehow, still believed the best of people. I discovered after the fact that it was apparently well known (to everyone but me) that this adult male in a position of trust, in a church was hot for me and behaving inappropriately; he quietly disappeared.

1980 – I was barely 18 years old. The “neighborhood rapist” who I found out after the fact had already raped seven women at knife point attacked me while I was out running in the early morning daylight. I was the “lucky one” who fought him off (and broke a few of his fingers, I was so filled with rage, I’d have killed him if he hadn’t run away with his sweat pants hanging down around his knees). I was only the “lucky one” until the questions started, “What were you wearing?” “Why were you wearing shorts instead of baggy sweats?” “Why didn’t you get a better ID on him?” “why didn’t you incapacitate him?” “Why were you out running at all?”

1987 – I was repeatedly harassed and groped by a supervisor when I worked for the US Forest Service. He was not disciplined and I was not believed and was vilified by The Fire Management Officer who had on a separate occasion told me, “A pretty girl does not belong on the fire line, she is a distraction to the men.”

1988 – I had men (who I was physically stronger than and was a better medic than) who refused to have me as a paramedic partner because women didn’t have any business doing that job. They were allowed to do this.

1989 – I had a helicopter pilot refuse to fly with me as flight crew/medic because I was a woman. He was allowed to do this so my work schedule had to be manipulated to placate his misogyny.

1996 – The National Historic Site I worked at on a temporary detail, told me (the only law enforcement officer on site) that I was never to handle a confrontation, that I was supposed to let the maintenance guys handle it. When I balked at that, as well as being told to leave the site during an emergency (flood) while the men stayed, when I was the person charged with public safety, I was brought up on insubordination charges and was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. I couldn’t get out of St Louis and back to Colorado and a real park fast enough after that.

1997 – The National Monument I worked for used a convict labor crew to do work in a very busy monument with small cities at each entrance (this was not a remote area) They were very poorly supervised and were allowed to wander freely around the maintenance area which was adjacent to the house area. When I wasn’t wearing my uniform and duty weapon they would yell and catcall me when I was in my back yard or at the mailbox. One of these criminals, got away from the crew and got inside a maintenance garage alone with me. After I complained and they were forced to stay in the van while fueling and the Park Service was forced to supervise them properly, I was literally “set up” by one of them and was brought up on charges. When I filed a formal complaint for this, the first investigation was “lost” and I had to go through the entire process again; this time with an interviewer from OPM who was very much into victim blaming. Everything that was said about me in that report was terrible and degrading. My “running shorts were too short”, I was “too aggressive for a woman”, even the french braid I wore my hair in was “too tight and made me look like a bitch.” I felt terrible for my Chief Ranger who was a stand up guy. This all came down from the Superintendent who was a sexist, misogynist bastard who constantly degraded women and a system in which sexual harassment and disrespect of women was deeply ingrained.

2002 – I was running in the park at lunch time, training for the Seattle Marathon. I was attacked by a guy in the park who jumped out of the bushes and tried to tackle me, once again, I fought him off (and threatened to kick his ass) and of course the questions were, “What were you wearing” Because apparently running shorts and a sports bra in 90 degree weather is an open invitation to be assaulted

2016 – At nearly 54 years old, I can’t walk two blocks to the grocery store without being catcalled and harassed. My recent “favorite” was the guy (young enough to be my son) who drove by me twice, turned around, pulled over at a stop light and yelled, “HEY! Little Girl, Come Here!” Let’s just say that encounter didn’t end well for him as he ran the red light to get away from the crazy lady.

These are just a few “highlights” of my life experience with a culture that allows men to see women as objects and vilifies women for their own assault and harassment. If I tried to recall even 10%, I’d be here for weeks writing a book about it.

Sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination happen every single day.

These acts happen to a hell of a lot more women than “1 in 5”, “1 in 4” or whatever ridiculously under reported number gets thrown out there.

So when someone says, “Rape culture doesn’t exist” or “They’re just words; get over it” you’re discounting the very real experiences of 50% of the population because while not every woman will report being sexually assaulted (even if she has) we have all been harassed or discriminated against.

Do you know why women come out en masse after being raped or assaulted by a famous and/or powerful man decades after the fact? It is because it’s taken that long for them to feel that they “might” actually be believed.

Rape culture is real and the current GOP candidate is turning back the clock and giving his misguided followers implicit permission and encouragement to be misogynist, racist, homophobic, bigoted and violent towards anyone who challenges their narrow, ignorant and selfish world view.

Not only do women need to tell their stories, but men, good men (the vast majority of men are good men) need to stand with us, to stand up and say that this behavior does not represent their gender.


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Family, Love, Loss and Magic at Christmas

Tis the season.

The season of love, joy and family.

It is the season of shared traditions.

For many, it is the season of melancholy.

Many (far too many this year) are spending their first holiday without a parent, loved one, beloved pet or child who has passed from this earth (losing a child to an early, unfair death or suicide… I can’t even imagine)

I was reading a Facebook post of a friend of mine today who asked if she was the only one who felt melancholy at this time of year.

She mentioned that she wished she had known as a child how precious those holidays with family were despite the fact that even though they were Jewish, they gathered at Christmas when they were free from work and school obligations and spent quality time together.

As many of us are wont to say, “Hug your loved ones; tell them that you love them, for you never know when it will be the very last time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I do my best to distract myself from the fact that I have no immediate family (I do have some cousins in other states) and that due to my own abusive, dysfunctional, upbringing in an alcoholic household, I have been unable, as an adult to form a lasting functional romantic relationship/partnership (Wow, do I ever “pick wrong”)

I host holiday gatherings with chosen family (which in cases of severe dysfunction, neglect or abuse can be preferable to and healthier/safer than blood family)

I try to make sure that anyone who finds themselves alone at this often emotionally challenging time of year for whatever reason, knows that they have somewhere to go.

I cook, bake, decorate, send out cards and letters and try to give back to my community.

But in the end, there is still, always, that sense of aloneness, of being different-not in that cool, quirky, creative way, but in that “there is something wrong with me kind of way”.

Tonight, I will be cooking a holiday feast for friends/chosen from all walks of life, relationship statuses and faiths (or lack thereof)

I am going to hug them and let them know that I love and appreciate them, because we never know what someone else may be going through inside and because we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance.

I encourage everyone to do the same.

Family eating Christmas dinner

And just to end this rather serious reflection on a positive note, I offer up one of my favorite, past Christmas experiences.

“One Perfect Christmas Moment in Tacoma”

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Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.
I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

One Christmas morning, many years ago whilst living in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.
Music, bells, magic.

Stadium is an historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

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Fatherless Day

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A couple years ago, I sincerely wished my friends who are fathers or who have/had fathers a “Happy Father’s Day”.

When I did the same last year, a friend jokingly commented on my Facebook post asking if those who were “immaculately conceived” need not apply.

I simply explained that some of us never knew our fathers; we were never given the opportunity so the observance does not in fact, apply to us.

I don’t want to put a damper on the celebration or happiness of others, so I generally keep my experiences/feelings/pain surrounding this particular holiday (as well as mother’s day) to myself.

Then other people started sharing their stories of divorce and being kept from their fathers.

Still more started sharing their stories about having their children kept from them.

It was then that I was reminded that while I don’t want to ruin the day for others, there are many others who need a place to vent and share there feelings.

In addition to not having, been kept from or losing a father, some were abused by fathers or step-fathers. Yeah, I got the double bonus in the “father” department; one I never knew and one who abused me.

People who were abused as children feel a wealth of pain and anger, and even guilt for being estranged from/not loving their father.

This is a difficult and painful day for so many people; many of whom are spending their first Father’s Day without their fathers or the fathers of their children.

Yes, they may have happy memories, but to them, this day is a painful reminder of their loss.

I have no words that will comfort those who are feeling pain and loss today. I have no words at all other than.

“You are not alone”.

I do however have words for women who are keeping children from their fathers. Actually, they are words for anyone keeping a child from a parent.

Unless the child is in danger/being abused, there is no excuse to keep a child from their father just because you think he’s an a$$hole.

My mother left my father when I was barely three years old.

I have no memory of him at all.

I never even saw a photograph of him.

When I would ask my mother what he was like, she snapped at me, “You don’t want to know what he was like, he was a terrible person, all he cared about was money. He is incapable of loving anyone, he didn’t love or want you or me.”

We moved a lot and she always made sure that we had an unlisted phone number and could not be tracked down.

I finally found his family when I was an adult; I found them too late, he had died two years prior.

I remember curling up in a ball in my kitchen and crying because I was too late. Yeah, I felt guilty for not trying hard enough.

I did finally meet his/my family. The letter I received back was from my step-mother, who had me come visit her.

She gave me some things of my fathers and told me that he did want me and did try to find me. My name was listed in his funeral program. I visited my aunts and met my grandfather before he died. They gave me a few photographs, something I had missed and craved my entire life.

Part of me was comforted by that, and part was very VERY angry for having been lied to my entire life.

I have had to do a lot of forgiving of my mother in regards to this, and other situations. It is a challenging and ongoing process. After she died, as I was going through her things, I discovered the true, terrible depth of her lies. Trust me folks, if you keep a terrible secret, it will be found found out eventually.

I share my story, not to bring anyone down or to ruin the holiday for those with reason to celebrate.

I share my story in hopes that some parent out there will make a different, better choice than to keep a child from their parent.

For those of you who are keeping your children from their other parent (for reasons other than the child would be in real danger) I have these words.

Taking away a parent, even photographs and stories, takes away half of a child’s identity.

Telling that child that one of their parents in a terrible person, teaches them that they are also a terrible person because it’s half of who they are.

Telling a child that one of their parents doesn’t want or love them teaches them that there is something wrong with them and that they are not worthy of love.

Lying to a child, teaches them that they can not trust anyone.

Please don’t do that to your child. They deserve better.

the above photo is of my grandfather and grandmother Lawrence, my father (the one who looks like trouble) and his five sisters/my five aunts

~L


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What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with our culture?

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It was pretty difficult (OK, impossible) not to know that there was a “big game” going on yesterday afternoon for anyone who is plugged in to social media (or who left their home)

Over the course of the day (well, the short amount of time I was either at home or plugged in on my smart phone) I saw many internet memes regarding it…

While I don’t care to waste my time/energy by acknowledging things I have no interest in and actually have disdain for, I did think a couple similar to this were cute and posted one (cute owls and a play on words, what’s not to love)…

I was tempted to post this one, but didn’t feel like expending all that much negative energy since several football fan friends of mine were getting quite upset at the “posers/intellectuals/pretentious folks” posting anti-football rhetoric online.

But to be honest, it’s pretty much the way I felt.

I wasn’t going to speak of said spectacle because I’d prefer to spend my time and energy thinking/talking about other things, but I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting things online today.

In addition to the advertising (much of it extremely sexist if not downright misogynistic) I discovered that Super Bowl Sunday is the number day for sex trafficking; I’m not talking about prostitution here between consenting adults making a business transaction, I’m talking about the sex slave trade including minors. You can read about sex trafficking and the superbowl here

While that sort of horrific thing is going on, I’m reading posts from people who want to boycott GoDaddy.com and have their ads banned because the are “offensive”.

Really? Are those ads as offensive as selling 12 and 14 year old girls as sex slaves?

Even if some of the ads are so offensive as to make banning them and boycotting advertisers something worth doing, the issue runs much deeper than that.

The problem my friends, is not any one advertiser; it’s the culture that surrounds this event.

This is a primitive, testosterone laden ritual where badly behaved “men” are paid obscene amounts of money to play a game and held up as heroes.

Hey, here’s an idea, lets pay/hold up as heroes those who are actually deserving of such praise such as teachers, emergency workers, etc…).

This stuff starts in college, when boys are given scholarships to colleges, don’t do the work and instead get passing grades handed to them because they can throw a football.

What does that tell the kid who is working hard to get an education and be a contributing member of society whose place/scholarships if they need it are being used on someone who could care less about an education?

Even worse, those who engage in criminal activity are often excused from having to pay the price because it’s so much more important to throw that ball around and make the team owners big bucks.

What on earth kind of message does this send to our next generation? Crime pays? You can harm anyone anything you want as long as you can throw a ball?

Not only are these guys paid obscene amounts of money to play a game and often be a bad example, but have you seen the price of advertising? 3.8 million dollars for a 30-second spot.

Imagine if all that money was put towards job creation or social structure…

Women of course, are relegated to prancing around in costumes that are barely there for the pleasure of the men both on the field and in the advertising. (great message to send to your daughters guys… “go fetch daddy another beer sweetie and don’t worry about picking up your dignity or self esteem on your way to the kitchen.”

Did you know that due to the combination of testosterone, aggression and alcohol, this day has one of the highest rates for domestic violence calls to local EMS agencies?

I cringed when some acquaintances tried to get me to join their “Women Who Love Football” group (which was pretty much just an excuse to drink) I had to explain to them (and the multitude of friends who invite me to Super Bowl parties every year) that not only do I not “love football” that being in a room full of alcohol fueled fanatics with a too loud big screen TV, eating crap food, glorifying these guys is kind of my idea of hell. I’ve been told by this specific “the women who love football” group, it’s not about loving football, it’s about meeting men and looking at cute butts. (which I can better find on any given day on a man who is out running, cycling, hiking, etc…)

I am perhaps most amused/perplexed by “the women who love football” group in order to “be cool and meet men” is that what they are supporting in an effort to attract men/get men to like them is so incredibly sexist. (and really, I’d rather attract a man who is out doing something healthy instead of one whose idea of a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon is sitting on his butt getting fat and drunk watching a game)

With that said, those who are on my side of the fence in thinking this is ridiculous and who have better things to do (and who have the audacity to defy social convention and say so), are also regularly accused of thinking we are “too cool” and being called “judgmental” (among other things). [edit-I have received more passionate/angry responses to a blog about not liking football, than I have to all the blogs I’ve posted about religion, politics, war, drugs, abuse, gun control and other hot topics, which pretty much makes my point about priorities in our culture]

As a woman, my disdain for the event can be written off as “Oh, the poor little girl just doesn’t understand the game (now go bring me another beer sweetie).”

It’s even harder for the men who don’t care for it, because face it. In this football crazed culture if you don’t want to get all testosteroney and root for your team, you are not considered a “real man” (oh, that man who doesn’t sit around watching sports on TV and is instead out doing something? that’s MY idea of a “real man”).

It does make me wonder how many people feel the same way I do, but are afraid to speak out, lest they be labeled “un-American”, “not a real man”, etc…

At the risk of sounding “pretentious”, I chose to spend my day with my trail running group (actually participating in a sport rather than watching), then working with youth on a community project and finally enjoying dinner and good conversation with a friend.

I refuse to pretend to like something that I actually hold in such disdain because it is primitive, sexist, misogynistic and sending all of the wrong messages to our youth.

If it’s your thing, enjoy… just please leave me out it, and don’t talk to me as if there is something wrong with me for refusing to waste my valuable time and energy on it when I have so much else I could be doing.

If you don’t like any one aspect of it, perhaps it’s time that you take a look at the entire culture surrounding it and decide if your support is part of a larger problem.

~L



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Strawberry Girl

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In lieu of my normal light hearted rant for WTF Wednesday, I offer up the following…

Strawberry Girl (a postmodern fairy tale)

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl who grew up near the sea and frolicked amongst the strawberry fields.

When the sunlight hit her sun blond hair it glowed fire red, garnering her the name “Strawberry”.

Strawberry girl had a mother and a step father. Her parents divorced when she was only three years old and she did not remember her father.

Her mother cried and drank a lot and her step father drank a lot, hit her mother, and did things to strawberry girl that made her very uncomfortable.

She knew it was wrong not to love her step-father. She watched the Brady Bunch and knew that “steps” were just as good as real family and that everyone was supposed to be happy and love each other.

Strawberry girl was certain that something must be wrong with her, and she chastised herself for being “bad”, so she never told anyone that she did not love her step-father like she was supposed to and that home was a sad and sometimes scary place.

All of her friends had grandparents, and cousins and big family gatherings. Strawberry girl only had one grandmother who she saw a handful of times growing up. Her mother did not have a close relationship with her own mother so Strawberry girl rarely saw her.

Strawberry girl had cousins, but she only saw them once or twice. It was something about her mother being an “accident” and her sister who was 12 years older, having to raise her rather than enjoying her youth.

She looked longingly at her friends who had big family gatherings complete with grandparents and aunts, and uncles and cousins and who went camping and did cool things as a family. Whenever she could, she spent time with those friends and their families.

Strawberry girl would ask about her real father.

Her mother would never answer except by saying:

“He was a terrible person”

“He is incapable of loving anyone”

“He did not/would not want anything to do with or accept you”

No matter how many times Strawberry girl asked about her real father, she got the same answers and it made her sad.

She did not look nor act like her mother.

She desperately wanted to know who she looked like, who she acted like and why she liked certain things.

She was sad that her mother would not tell her these things, and told her that the person who contributed half of her DNA was a terrible person.

Strawberry girl thought that this must be why she was a bad person. She tried to be a good person, but it was hard.

Strawberry girl grew up and tried several times to find her real father, but it was a dead end each time, ending in the house they lived in at the time she was born, knowing he didn’t live there anymore.

One day, she was sitting around a place that had access to information. The person sitting there with her, ran a check. It was the same address, but there was an asterisk and a note to check another state. They checked that state and found a new address in a strange place called Sequim in a state far to the North of her beloved Sierra Nevada Mountains and California coast.

Strawberry girl had someone take a picture of her in front of her ambulance. She wrote a letter, being very careful to explain that she didn’t want anything other than to know where she came from. She had been told that her father would be very afraid that someone might want money from him and that’s why he’d never respond to any attempt at communication.

She waited and waited and waited. Then she gave up.

A few weeks later, a letter came, from Brigadoon Drive in that strange placed called Sequim where the trees grew right down to the sea.

The last name was different.

She opened the letter and found a funeral program and a letter.

She was two years too late.

But she discovered her name in the program. Her father did acknowledge her.

The letter was from her step mother who had since remarried and was living in the same house.

She felt guilty (she always seemed to feel guilty) that she didn’t find him in time. She sat down on the kitchen floor and cried and mourned the loss of her father for hours; she didn’t leave her house for days.

Soon, she went to see her step mother and her jolly husband (her “step father in law”) Lou.

She learned a bit about her family and was assured that her father did want her and did try to find her. This made her feel better, but wonder why her mother would say those things. She did not know who to believe.

When she spoke with her mother about this, her mother stuck to her story, “He’s a terrible person, he doesn’t love anyone including you.”

Soon, she received a call from her Aunt Fran. One of her father’s sisters.

She discovered that she had FIVE aunts and a grandfather who was still alive.

She went to Ohio and met dozens and dozens of cousins and attended a family reunion of people who had the same last name she did. She met the two cousins she would have hung out with growing up, Pammy Sue and Micky Lynn; they were just like her.

She finally felt “normal”.

The family assured her that her father did try to find her.

She, now being close to 30 years old asked her mother about what her stepfather did to her. She did not want to talk about it. She said, It’s over and done; there is no reason to talk about it.

She also stuck to her story about Strawberry Girl’s real father not loving or wanting her.

Strawberry girl was sad about never knowing her father, but was comforted by finding the other half of her family and the people she looked and acted like.

She tried not to be angry with her mother.

Strawberry girls also made note of the fact that she had never been able to find a suitable life partner that was trustworthy. She is certain that she never will.

She was glad that she’d never accidentally (she had been careful) conceived a child that might have gone through what she did.

Many years later, Strawberry girl’s mother died in a traumatic, and completely unnecessary way after months of stress and drama.

The last words she (or anyone else) heard from her mother were angry words.

She was sad.

This brought back terrible memories, anger, guilt and flood of emotions that were at times, overwhelming.

A year later, after a lot of work and soul searching, Strawberry girl had made peace with all of it.

She was going through her mother’s things. She was finally ready to see old photos, mementos and things from her childhood.

Most of the mementos she found were of her mother’s first husband (they never got over each other and wrote to each other up until his death in 1998) and first family.

That was when Strawberry girl realized that she was a product of what her mother settled for after her first marriage ended (she left because she could not produce an heir to the Watson (first family of Hollywood) throne. How ironic that her first husband never had a child and she did.

And then she found the letters.

Letters from her real father’s attorney to her mother’s attorney insisting that she honor the divorce decree and allow him to see her.

Letters wanting to know where she was hiding herself and his child.

Letters wanting to know where to send birthday and Christmas presents.

Letters wanting to know why child support checks weren’t cashed.

Letters begging them to come back.

Strawberry girl was stunned.

She had been told that he wanted her and tried to find her by her step mother, but did not truly understand the severity of the situation until she saw it in writing, in legal documents.

She had been lied to her entire life, by the one person she should have been able to trust (but never fully did for so many reasons) by the one person that should have protected her, but never did.

Once again, almost 20 years after finding her father and finding out she was too late, that he was dead, Strawberry girl sat on her kitchen floor and cried.

Strawberry girl had just met a woman at a wedding who had a similar situation. That woman found her father, 20 years ago, reconnected and they attended each other’s weddings. She was happy for this other woman.

She sat down and wrote this little fairly tale in hopes that those who are going through or have gone through a divorce might consider the following things:

If you tell a child that their other parent is worthless or a bad person, that child will think they are too.

If you keep information about a child’s other parents form them, there will be a huge hole in their life.

If you tell a child that they aren’t/weren’t wanted, they will think they are unworthy of love.

These things will affect a child for the rest of their lives.

And when you tell terrible terrible lies, they will be found out.

Strawberry girl is trying desperately to approach this situation with love, understanding and forgiveness.

She is telling her story in hopes of saving someone else the same pain she is going through right now.

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