It's no secret that I've had a difficult childhood. I've skirted around the issue before, touched on it briefly, but I'm not sure that I've ever mentioned any of the gritty details. That's not to say that I'm trying to avoid the subject or that I've banned the subject from this blog, it's just that for the most part I like to focus on positive aspects of my upbringing instead of the negative (in order to move past these issues. Even though I don't speak of them, the things I went through eat away at me, really).
It's something that's been on my mind for awhile. I've been thinking a lot about childhood memories. Not my own, I'm trying to focus on making special memories for my children. Part of this reason is because so many of my own childhood memories are things that I'd rather not remember. I have so many negative memories that it's beginning to erase the good ones that I have. When I think of my children all grown up thinking back on how I raised them, I'd like for there to be so many strong memories of a loving and supportive family that had fun together. They enjoyed spending time together, laughing, appreciating what we have.
But today is one of those days where I feel like looking back. Tomorrow will be another day, but today, I will relive one of my strongest memories of childhood. One that changed my life and I really do believe ended my childhood. It isn't my worst memory of my childhood, not by a mile, but it's one that makes me mostly feel sad. It was really the beginning of bad things to come.
I was maybe 11. Things had been difficult in our house for awhile. My mom had already moved out. She was now living with Greg, my dad's former best friend and fishing buddy with whom she'd had an affair with. This was before the divorce proceedings took place, but not by much. It was springtime. I was glad that the arguing between my parents had stopped, but everything felt a bit weird, off-balance.
It was spring time and my dad had cleared space in our garden to have raised flower beds. We were going to plant our own vegetables in them. My mom came over for the morning to help. I hadn't seen her in two weeks. My parents, my brother and I spent all morning planting cauliflower seeds, broccoli, carrots. We hadn't done anything as a family like that in ages. I remember thinking that if it wasn't all of us together, I'd have complained or gone inside. But I didn't. I stayed and I had a great time. We all did. We laughed and joked with one another. We sprayed each other with the water hose. I remember around the garden with my brother. It was beautiful weather for gardening.
My mom didn't stay. After the vegetables were planted, she went inside to wash up and then she left. It didn't matter. Those few hours she spent with us were enough. I was happy. During lunch, the three of us left sat in front of the television and watched A League Of Their Own. I don't remember if it was on the television or if we'd rented it and were watching it from a video. I suppose it doesn't matter.
I'd seen the movie before. It was one of my favourites. Even then, I really enjoyed watching sports movies. I remember my dad had a thing for Geena Davis. Whenever I watched it, I thought about how nice it would be if I'd had a sister. I can no longer watch A League of Their Own. I was sitting there, happy, eating my food, watching the film, when it happened.
I'm hazy on the details. I think I've tried to partially block it out, but a swarm of police officers descended on our house. It definately wasn't one cop, or even two. But they came and they were prepared for some sort of altercation that never happened. My dad is a big man, he has a temper, a loud voice, he could easily and truthfully be called a 'crazy vet' but he was soft-spoken and gentle when he opened the door. He didn't protest or offer any sort of resistance. The way the police officers were dressed seemed ridiculous at the time. They could easily have left our house and patrolled a violent protest and they would have been fully prepared already. My dad wanted to send my brother and I out of the room so we wouldn't have to witness what happened, but we didn't move. It was horrible.
My mother had called the police and accused my dad of raping her. A woman officer spoke to my separately, and all I remember is this huge feeling of confusion, betrayal. The officer heard my story of what had happened and it matched with the story that my brother told a different officer, and the one that my dad told to yet another. The main point being that my mom and dad were never alone together, not once. The officers trooped out of there soon after, my dad wasn't charged with anything.
What hurts the most is that my mother took my beautiful family gardening morning and turned it into something awful. Something cruel and nasty. I will never be able to understand her motivations for this. I felt so betrayed after the police had left. Betrayed by my mother. Because it didn't just stop at accusing my dad of a crime he didn't commit. She dragged me through the mess too. Whatever attempt I was making at avoiding the conflict between my mother and father was for nothing. I feel like I lost my innocence in that afternoon.
It was just the beginning. I was pulled into the divorce proceedings. There were other allegations that went through the police station. There were restraining orders taken out. The gardening day though, that was the beginning.
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