Ordinary Evil: Memoir of a Buried Life
The Sacred Monster
“Mother’s are only good when other people are around”
by Alethea Marina Nova (all rights reserved)
The true abomination of my childhood slowly began to make its way through time when my mother was diagnosed with a serious tumor and would need an extremely complicated surgery.
I surprised myself when I offered to fly across the country in order to comfort the woman who had caused me a lifetime of suffering.
I knew that I could carry my mental sword and shield with me to the hospital, and that I would survive the experience.
I had to, my mother needed me.
Arriving at the hotel in Maryland, I immediately knew this trip would be life-changing. I took my time checking into my hotel room, adjacent to the hospital, because after years of countless painful memories, the reality of having to face my mother was about to come to life.
Most of the patrons in the hotel were either ill or family members who came to be with loved ones who were being treated for a disease or having complicated surgeries. I could feel the emotional pain that lingered in my hotel room from the previous guests, and the room emitted sadness and despair. I made sure to pamper myself with comfort food like hot chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches. I also placed photos around the room that reminded my heart of home.
As I changed my clothes, anxiety rushed through my veins. I was supposed to call my mother in her hospital room when I arrived, but I needed more time before I could pick up that receiver.
After I finished my grilled cheese, I fidgeted around with my suitcase and surfed the television channels but I knew it was time to stop avoiding the inevitable. Soon I would be standing two feet from the woman who had systematically robbed my childhood of any love, and who had ripped my heart out with her silencing fist.
I reached into the depths of my spirit by remembering that there was no room inside of me for anger or hatred.
I guided myself to the telephone by pretending that my mother was a stranger who needed my help. This way I could remove myself from the situation and not be affected by her. I picked up the phone and called the hospital. I waited as the nurse said she would check on my mother.
I wanted so desperately to hear that she was sleeping and that I should wait a few hours before coming by. My heart dropped into my stomach when my mother’s frail voice came on the line.
“Oh honey, I am so happy you made it here safely. I am waiting for you. I’ll see you soon.”
Had she been as concerned about my safety when I was a child, she would have heard joy on my end of the phone, not disappointment that she was awake.
When I entered the main nursing station of my mother’s hospital wing, I approached the desk and asked the nurse where my mother’s room was located. She gave me the room number and directed me how to find it, but my heart was pounding so loudly in my ears that I didn’t really hear a word. I repeated the nurse’s instructions in my head, 206B, 206B. Okay, now I’ve got it, 204B. No, 206B. Calm down, she is just some woman who had major surgery and she needs my help.
Bullshit, it’s my mother, the woman who physically abused me and protected my rapist.
I called upon my inner warrior and reminded myself that I would be able to get through the next few days, and prayed that I would do so with grace. Before entering my mother’s room, I took a deep breath, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. The woman who had been as tall as the ceiling in my regressions, and who smacked me across the face with strength and conviction, had been replaced with a crumpled up elderly woman sitting in a chair. My mother looked like she had aged twenty years in the last five. She was weak and small, and would not lift her hand to hurt me. For now, my mother the sacred monster, had been tamed.
The tubes and machines attached to her fragile body were difficult to look at. I pretended not to be disturbed by their presence but my legs felt like two wet, limp noodles. It was clear she had been through a traumatic surgery. I smiled at her and even found myself walking over to squeeze her hand. She seemed genuinely happy to see me and this was the first time in my life that I felt like my mother wanted me around. She was vulnerable, and I felt nothing but compassion for her.
I sat with my mother as she told me how nice the doctors and nurses were. I listened patiently while she told me the woman who shared the room with her kept her up late at night with a noisy television set.
In turn, my mother listened to how my flight had been and what my hotel room was like. At one point I began to feel a bit uncomfortable, and nervous so I got up and wandered around the room. I tried to find comfort by slowly touching the now wilted flowers sent from well wishers and by reading the get well cards.
A very energetic and jolly nurse came by a few times to check my mother’s pulse and to flush the bile from her tubes. At some point I asked my mother if she would mind if I left her to get a bite to eat. She agreed that I should get some dinner. As I was about to leave I stood at the foot of the bed, and with a twinge of irony, she looked at me and pleaded, “But don’t abandon me.”
I had become the mother, and she the child. It was more than I could bear. I went back to my hotel room, got in the shower, leaned my head against the cold tile wall and softly cried.
The next day, my mother and I watched a movie at the hospital and I began to experience a connection with her. To my memory, this was the first time I felt any kind of feelings for my mother that were similar to love. I stopped myself from calling it love because I don’t think that’s what it was. It was more like empathy.
Part of this strange new feeling may have been because she was incapable of hurting me. She was pretty much strapped to a bed and impotent. I was safe. I had control and nothing to fear. In the simplistic way of a small child, Punkin felt content with my mother, but Athena stood by with her sword in case anything unsuspected arose.
A few days later, my mother was released from the hospital and we flew back to her home town where Kylie met us at the airport. When Kylie took my mother by the arm, I observed it as a symbolic gesture of Kylie taking over her care while I collected myself and took a breath.
I checked into a hotel, because even though being in my mother’s presence had not caused me any physical problems, I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in the same house with her. My mother’s guest bedroom was close to her own bedroom, which was too close for me. I absolutely had to have boundaries. Kylie would sleep in my mother’s guest room and I would spend all day and evening at the house, but would return to the hotel to sleep.
The hotel room became my sanctuary at night. During the day, Kylie and I cooked for our mother, changed her clothes, and cleaned the dressings on her wounds, and miraculously, I experienced no physical symptoms, and I remained mentally strong and emotionally calm.
I held my mother’s hand and took care of her requests. Punkin was content and Athena’s protection was not needed. My balanced self had become dominant throughout the entire experience —with one exception….
Kylie and I had been tending to my mother at her bedside and I noticed that blood from my mother’s incision was leaking onto her beautiful white quilt. When I pointed out the blood, my mother looked directly at me. Her tone was a mixture of accusation and condemnation, “What did you do!?” she scolded.
In that moment I was no longer in my mother’s bedroom in her well-kept home in the mid-west. I was a small child being blamed for something that was not my fault. When I was a little girl, she put the culpability for the sexual abuse on me, and now she blamed me for the blood on her quilt.
My mother’s mental state was perfectly coherent, and it was obvious the spot came from the blood which oozed from her surgery incision, but my mother chose to blame me. She didn’t look at Kylie when she spoke those piercing words. She glared straight at me, and Athena lashed out at her. In one second, and without thought, I pointed my finger at her,
“Don’t you dare blame me, mother!”
I can’t lie. It felt great to say those words. In that moment it was no longer about a blood stain on a lily white quilt, it was about standing up for myself against the woman who put fault for incestuous behavior on an innocent child.
Even though this was the only incident during the entire trip in which my mother affected me, it was a significant one. My mother had showed her true nature —the mother from my memories.
She had slipped up. Her facade’ was unveiled in that moment.
Something good, and unexpected, came towards the end of my trip. Abigail and I began to speak again. We had been forced to communicate about my mother’s illness, and although it was slow and uncomfortable for both of us in the beginning, a new relationship began in the years following my mother’s recovery.
Abigail and I did not speak about her decision to cut me out of her life nine years previous. She made it clear she did not want to talk about it. Although it was discouraging to not discuss what had happened, I still allowed myself to be satisfied with simply enjoying my sister’s company again.
“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”
~William Makepeace Thackeray
On Mother’s Day 2006 I woke up feeling like shit and immediately knew why. I hated Mother’s Day. I grumbled to myself knowing that I would have to face another meaningless conversation with my mother that always ended in my hanging up the phone feeling as though I was a lie to myself.
So, for the first time in my life, I decided not to call my mother on Mother’s Day.
What would be the point? I was certain she had received the flowers and card. I knew it would be the same trivial conversation where she would pretend that she had been such a great mother and was entitled to the phone call. In turn, I would pretend that she deserved the call just because she was my mother.
I never believed the Mother’s Day cards that told me I was supposed to express to my mother how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her. Those cards dripped of apple pie bullshit and I always refused to buy one. Instead, every year, I purchased her a card that had a nice picture on the front, but was blank inside.
It was so important to write what was true to me, and not sign my name to a card that made me want to vomit.
That Mother’s Day, I looked in the bathroom mirror and thought to myself, why the hell should I call her when this is a day to celebrate mothers and to thank them for the wonderful job they did? My mother didn’t do her job.
So I wished myself a happy Mother’s Day. I went shopping, treated myself to lunch, and enjoyed a beautiful day. Rain fell softly on the roof of my home that night. The drops of water were like a symbolic cleansing.
“If people aren’t going to believe fifty-three year-old me;
then who by God is going to believe a child?”
~Marilyn Van Derbur, Incest Survivor
In the winter of 2005, while using a restroom in a restaurant, I had an encounter with a man who had lost his wife’s sunglasses. When the man, wearing dark glasses and a baseball cap, abruptly entered the women’s restroom, a small case of panic invaded my bloodstream. Overriding the panic with common sense, I figured he was just a maintenance worker. I asked what he wanted, but the man ignored my question. His silence caused me to quickly leave the restroom. I went straight to the hostess and told her what had just occurred. She explained the man had been looking for his wife’s sunglasses, but I felt something stir inside me when the hostess acted as if it was no big deal.
The seemingly harmless incident immediately provoked my subconscious, and that night I began to re-experience dreams of feeling trapped and being unable to speak. The nightmares continued several nights a week and continued for three weeks. During the day I was on the edge of tears and didn’t care if I died. The incident with the man in the restroom had re-triggered the severe trauma from my childhood that had not been fully dealt with. Many symptoms returned; fatigue, depression, fear of the good being taken away, headaches, bladder problems, gas pains, hemorrhoids, and the false hunger. I woke at night not being able to breathe, and after months of being free from the rapid heart rate… it too returned.
I began to clench my teeth at night, and it eventually led to a destroyed nerve, and a subsequent root canal. My entire body was heaving out memories of trauma.
My therapy regressions kept taking me back to the feeling of being forced, being unable to speak, people not hearing me, feeling smothered, and being overwhelmed. The man who walked in the restaurant bathroom had prompted the index card of my mind which led back to the rape on the bathroom floor. My subconscious was letting me know that I had never truly faced the betrayal, feeling like a piece of garbage, and the physical pain of the rape.
Once in touch with the memory storehouse of my mind, I became a small child, who should have been playing board games with friends or maybe roller-skating. I should have been painting or creating a play. Instead, I was lying on a bathroom floor, unable to move, or scream.
I described the memory to my therapist.
“I can’t move my arms. I can’t move my legs. I’m trapped, being held down. It feels like a knife is being stuck in between my legs. I can’t breathe. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t scream. Someone else is holding me down. It’s my mother.”
I was pinned down by my father’s enourmous body, and held down by the Sacred Monster.
The tension in my body had been enormous. The pressure had to come out of my body somewhere, so I clenched my teeth during the rape. It was the only way that I could express the terror and anguish.
Athena made her way into the regression, and took my hand to gently help me off the floor. The walls of the past melted away and the sun shined on the scene in a light of emotional cleansing.
In my mind, I pictured Athena and my inner child walking hand in hand out the front door of the house and we turned to watch it fall into a pit. At the end of the regression, nothing was left standing except some hand-made signs that I imagined being posted by Punkin on the front lawn of my childhood home.
The signs read, “two child rapists lived here,” “I will not remain silent any longer. I am tired of the lies.”
After the age-regression ended, I felt as though I had been through a major surgery. My body shook and I was a bit disoriented. Remembering things which outwardly make no sense is a heavy burden to carry. Not only did I have to battle the system of denial that is ingrained in my family, and the denial embedded in society, but I also had to deal with my own denial system —the one that said to me, “but your mother was a good person.”
I had gone to great lengths to survive my life without having to remember that my parents were not who I wanted them to be. Yet my subconscious mind has always known. The truth was always there, hidden in the depths, where it remained for safe keeping, until one day, when the physical suffering became too much to bear, it had to be replaced with the memories.
I stopped clenching my teeth after that day, and the other symptoms vanished as well.
Coming soon, Chapter Eleven: The Sacred Monster Part Two
© 2016 Alethea Marina-Nova. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.