1960 THE SHADOW


We move again creating a lot of anxiety from within, those butterflies in the stomach, a jittery vibration throughout my body, my mind get fussy making it hard to read, constantly having to reread paragraphs over and over again before it makes any sense to me, interfering with my optimum functioning. I have to get use to another neighborhood, school, church and making new friends.

We now live on Lawn Avenue still in Pawtucket, R.I., on the other side of the railroad tracts, parallel to Mineral Spring Avenue. Right on the other side of our back yard is the pizza place where the kids hang out, dancing to the blasting jukebox music. I save many Dentin wrappers to go the Chuck Berry’s concert. Our neighbors who live down stairs are the McCarthy’s and the Mathews’. A few blocks west and south live my mother’s friend Monic, who is my Aunt Sis’s sister (who is married to my Uncle Bert). Next door are the Chin’s who own a Chinese restaurant downtown; my sister teases Frankie calling him Frankie Avalon, I become close friends with his cousin Ginny, and many years later I run into Frankie and we laugh about a Chinese boy being connected to a famous white boy singer.

We live in another triple decker on the 3rd floor, which is covered with fake looking dark colored bricks possible tar paper. I climb the back staircase to enter the flat. As I walk in there is a large dining room with windows facing west, letting in the setting sun in the evenings. This is the central area from which all others rooms are connected, the bedrooms are on the east side so the rising sun beams us awake; Barbara and I shared a room at the south end while mother’s is at the north end and in the middle room is Tina and Joanne. The kitchen is very small, connected by a door to the bathroom which is in the northeast corner of the structure, with another door leading to my mother’s room. The living room takes up the south end with windows on 3 sides, there is a door leading to the patio and the front staircase which we rarely used, mostly it is for storage. The banisters are worn carved wood where many hands had already hung on while going up and down.

I am in the 6th grade and attending Saint Edwards School. I walk east on Lawn then turned left going north on Lonsdale Avenue, then turned left going west on Baldwin Street then right going north to Hancock Street. At first I struggle with making friends because everyone has been here since the first grade and are a tight nit group of kids, besides I wear these popular cat’s eye style glasses which I get teased about so I stop wearing them. The nuns are very strict and mean without compassion or caring for our welfare, they are more concerned with rules and orderly conduct. They have a tendency to pick on the boys grabbing them by their ears and pulling them down the aisles when they are the least bit disruptive. I excel in most of my studies, especially math, while my weakest subject is English. My mother’s original language is French Canadian and she did not finish high school, so our sentence structure is a little off kilter.

I turn 12 years old and am developing new friendships. Barbara and I go to the Leroy Theater on Saturdays; mom drops us off, paying 25 cents to get in, seeing all of Elvis’ movies. Barbara is 10 and has made friends with the kids down stairs who are her age. Tina will turn 6 after Christmas, and is always on her tricycle wanting to follow me around so I pay her a quarter to leave me alone and not tell on me. Joanne is a cute little baby with curly dark hair spending many hours in her playpen.

This is when the horror begins; my mother’s boyfriend is starting to pay attention to me, I am uncomfortable and freaked out. I wake in the middle of the night from the sound of heavy breathing, the stench of alcohol invading the air and there is a dark shadow in the corner of the room. I become very still and quiet, frozen in panic. I decide to tell my mom about the night visits. She is at the stove preparing dinner, I approach her and tell her what is going on- her response is “well, he hasn’t touched you, so nothing is happening”. I can’t believe that she is not coming to my rescue, I am speechless and angry. I am also afraid of her so I usually do the right thing so I do not get into trouble. I decide that I have to look after myself and I will never bring it up with her again. She does intervene after that, some nights she calls out to him, while he stands over us, and he leaves. I no longer feel safe or secure and I am suppressing my feelings deep inside of me. Mother feels safe and secure with this man around the house. He had come into our life taking her away from us leaving me vulnerable and frightened.

American culture is changing all around me: at Harvard University, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert begin experimenting with psychedelic drugs while the Food and Drug Administration approves the first birth control pill for sale. More permissive attitude is developing in our country.

The American government is turning to the left. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act. John F. Kennedy: a staunch anti-communist, pushed for social reforms such as civil rights for African Americans and healthcare for the elderly and poor, narrowly wins the Presidential election over Vice-President Richard Nixon, he is the first Catholic  President, pledging to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. Lyndon Baines Johnson is elected Vice-President.

In music Elvis Presley gets out of the army and resumes his musical career by recording “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
Motown Records is created: with it’s first top 10 hit “Shop Around” by the miracles and peaks at number2 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is their first million-selling record. Folk Singer and activist Joan Baez releases her debut album on Vanguard records in December.

I love reading about nurses. Sue Barton is the central character in a series of seven novels for adolescent girls written between 1936 and 1952. The series follows Sue Barton through her nurse’s training and her work life. In Sue Barton: Student Nurse, Sue begins training as a student nurse. She meets her friends Kit and Connie in this book and also her husband-to-be, Dr Bill Barry. Sue manages to have a number of adventures as she trains, including falling down a laundry shaft and saving a feverish patient from jumping out of a window while recovering from appendix surgery. In Sue Barton: Senior Nurse, Sue finishes her training, which includes psychiatric nursing and obstetrics. She also becomes engaged to Bill at the end of this book. Sue Barton: Visiting Nurse follows Sue and her friend Kit as they venture to New York City to join the Settlement Nurses. Connie gets married in this book and Bill pressures Sue to marry him. Sue refuses, wanting a chance to repay the training she received from the Settlement Houses. At one point, Sue helps an elderly patient fulfill her dream of travel by using the money for her wedding clothes. Sue Barton: Rural Nurse follows Sue as she ultimately leaves the Visiting Nurses and returns home, only to find that a tragic accident has left Bill with the care of a disabled brother. He cannot marry Sue until things are settled. Sue sets herself up as a visiting rural nurse in the town of Springfield, New Hampshire and winds up in the middle of a typhoid outbreak. Sue finally marries Bill at the start of Sue Barton: Superintendent Nurse and then works as the head of the nursing school at the new hospital in Springfield. However, her marriage to Bill is not plain sailing and Sue questions her ability to provide a proper nursing training for her students. In Sue Barton: Neighborhood Nurse Sue suffers regrets about leaving her nursing career while she cares for her three children, each of whom has particular needs. She also helps a young teenager, Cal, to be more sociable and Cal’s mother, the artist Mona Stuart, to be kinder. Sue realizes that her role in her family and the wider neighborhood is also important. In Sue Barton: Staff Nurse (the final installment in the series), Sue returns to work to support her four children while her husband is in a sanatorium suffering from TB. He eventually recovers and the family is reunited once more, with the implication that Sue will return to her position as wife and mother.

I also read the Cherry Ames series stars a job-hopping, mystery-solving nurse. Cherry (short for Charity) hails from Hilton, Illinois was steered into nursing by Dr. Joseph Fortune, an old family friend. Cherry’s training at the Spencer Hospital School of Nursing is chronicled in the first two books. There, she meets the classmates who become lifelong friends. With the third book in the series Army Nurse, Cherry joins the Army Nurse Corps, and, after the war, she moves to Greenwich Village. Whenever Cherry isn’t working with the Visiting Nurse Service, Dr. Joe sends her on assignments in various parts of the country. Unlike Sue Barton, Cherry remains single throughout her career with an occasional boyfriend here and there. Cherry’s early adventures are set during World War II. In these early adventures, Cherry solves problems and captures criminals when men in authority have failed to do so, “demonstrating that women can succeed in the public, working world.”

As you can see there are many things in my environment such as current events on television, music, and books that influence me; creating visions and dreams for my future, while giving me a peek of a larger world view. What has contributed to your development?

These postings are being written in the present time. I have never written about this time period before so it doesn’t appear as polished to me as previous ones that is my perfectionist part of me speaking. I have verbally shared these painful memories; I have spent lots of time in these past experiences, feeling like I was in a deep dark bottomless pit that I could not get out of. I was stuck in this time, constantly wallowing in my grief, disbelief and anger about the loss followed by the abuse I had experienced.

I find myself procrastinating about posting it due to concern how I am coming across, how it will be interpreted resulting how others will see me. Since starting to write about it in context with what others things were happening helps me see myself differently, putting things in perspective.

I am anxious about sharing this for I know it will bring a lot of memories back that I have blocked causing pain and suffering and at the same time knowing I need to push through and share it in story form in order to move on.  I am fearful of the consequences of putting this down in written form for I will never be able to remove it from my history; it becomes a permanent record of my abuse. I pray that it does not contribute to future losses of family, like so many others have experienced when they have shared their stories of abuse. Spirit is pushing me to record it in order to see it in a new light, to not be attached to it, to no longer be concerned about how others see me, to let go and move on, to be an example of healing. As I write this emotions flood my being in all its aspects and I listen to the inner voice encouraging me on saying “It’s Time”, “It’s Now or Never”.

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17 thoughts on “1960 THE SHADOW

  1. You are very brave and resilient as you walk your path of healing the past….I can only imagine that your voice is helping others, too, to heal their past. Thank you for your deep sharing and I wish for you new beginnings and sweet presence as you continue to live your life with courage and love! May you always be so blessed…:):)

  2. As you know, I also was abused by a stepfather. My mother was also in denial. She used to tell me I was just like Terry wanting to break up her marriage that someday I’d be gone and she’d be alone. Both of them could not live without a man so we ( as children) paid the price. My escape was also in books. I loved all the Cherry Ames books. I was a regular at the CF library. I loved school so as his way of getting back at me for going to the police he made me quit school when I turned 16.
    I tried to tell your mom Tina was being abused but she didn’t believe me.

    • Auntie,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so openly. We have a great connection on many levels. You are my role model for it took great courage to go to the police even though it only resulted in you being punished. I spent lots of time at the old Pawtucket Library and it saddens me that you could not continue to use education as a coping mechanism. Instead you put your all into raising a family, creating a family lineage of caring and loving people, who will influence future generations through open communication and open hearts, that is a great accomplishment for one who has been through so much. Through your own healing you are of great service to humanity as the heart opens. My mother had severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even fugi states where she would have flash backs and literally believe she was in that time and space, this is a protective mechanism that the brain uses to prevent worse damage. My mother’s memories did not always match others and she believed what would not disentergrate her.Research is showing that if childhood abuse is not dealt with it shortens one’s life span and we know she died before turning 60 and you are going strong.Love surrounds you and radiates out to others, you are blessed.

  3. Maureen,
    I realize that you need to process your past to get over/thru your pain. But I do not think that you are considering the others involved. These memories for some are not memories that they want to share with others. These memories have not necessarily been share with our children and grandchildren, and I am offended that you have taken away my and my sisters choice to share or not to share. Maybe some of us want to protect our families. I realize you have been hurt, by both my mother and father. But you need to realize both have passed on, and can not account for the behavior/actions. I wish you would let them rest in peace. I wonder when you write these things and share them with half the world, you realize you are sharing a very private part of the rest of the families history. Do you rememeber that Joanne and I come from this relationship, we are part of this history, and it really hurts. We have tried over the years to move past all this, as we are not responsible, and that is how you make ME feel. Pam

    • Pam,
      I appreciate you reading my post and sharing how it affects you. I will only share my own experiences leaving others to do what they choose to do with their memories.I will not share any of my sisters stuff, even if I am aware of what they have experienced. I have considered how it will affect others in my life and am fully aware of my sisters feelings around these memories for you three made it very clear to me before Barbara”s 60th Birthday Celebration. The ones who have caused the pain have passed on and their souls know what they did so Karma will take care of that. While I carry it around my higher self is demanding that I put it out there to help heal myself and others. I am aware this may severe some family ties, I place it in Spirit’s heart to lead the way,You are not responsible for other people’s behavior and I am not responsible for how you feel, you are responsible for your own reactions. I am sorry you are hurting so much and send you love.You and Joanne are shining soul lights in this history. There is an old saying that says secrets cause history to repeat it’s self. We are in the new age of humanity of letting go of what no longer works so that Love, Peace and Harmony prevails,which doesn’t mean that we do not experience hurt and pain in the process.

      • Maureen,

        If we have made it clear to you, then why do you continue to put in out there in a public forum. It does impact us. I realize I am not responsible for my mother and father’s behavior, and that you are not responsible for my reactions. Many of my reactions are to protect the others around me. And please, I am not hurting, I am in a good place, sorry you can not join. Enough of this, move on……

  4. I understand that you need to heal. But what about the rest of US.
    You have No Children or Grandchildren that will be reading this. Write your book,Do you really need to e- mail it to everyone in your address book? Or post it on facebook for everyone to see.
    WHAT ABOUT OUR FEELINGS.

    • Barbara,
      What are you feeling? I have considered how my three sisters would react to this before posting it. I am very aware of where the three of you stand, for you were very clear about it in the letter you sent me before your 60th birthday celebration telling me what I could or could not talk about. I honored that request. I will only share my experiences, I will never share what others have shared with me about their experiences. This is the way I am writing my book, I am using what I have learned through the Transformational Authors Webinars: about the need to share my wound, that people are hungry for authenticity, and for healing and transformation. I am sorry if it is causing you any suffering, may healing light surround you with love, peace and harmony.

  5. So, what you are saying to your sister here is that hurting others in the process if healing yourself doesn’t really matter to you. As long as your ok everything is good with the world. Well, you have hurt others! You should see what the Sprit has to say about that.
    Please don’t forward these blogs to me or my children again. The hurt Pam and I hold inside has nothing to do with them. It was our father and their grandfather that caused this pain and I don’t want them feeling awful about it the way we do.
    We may not be responsible for what happened but for years we have had to hear about it. And you know what, I have tried over and over again to move on and get this out of my heart but you keep dredging it up.
    I resent the way you speak of Mom. Like she didn’t care. You are so wrong! Her and I spoke about this on several occasion and it broke her heart. My father my be burning in hell but I know in my heart that my mother is finally at peace.

  6. Jo,
    Thanks for reading my blog and sharing your reactions to it. I am not the one causing the hurt, others are still choosing to feel hurt when the issue comes up.The hurt you are still holding onto in your heart is affecting you and those you love even though you do not share it, it has its consequences for you and your loved ones.I pray to spirit for the healing of my sisters so they may feel light of heart and let go of the hurt. I did not say mom did not care, her denial and issues prevented her from intervening, When I visited her in her end times she shared her pain with me as I shared mine, it was a major healing for both of us.I have forgiven both of them “for they know not what they do” for we are spiritual being having a human experience, and presently the universe is giving us the opportunity to rise above it in order to create love, peace and harmony on earth.

    • Maureen,

      Like Barbara said, write your book. Get it out. But stop blogging about it. If you have carried this around all these years then you really should be seeing a therapist instead of writing a blog. Why wait and do this at 64 years old.
      I think what bothers me the most about this is that even though your family keeps telling you how hurtful it is to them you totally ignore our feelings. It’s all about you. Don’t give us analytical responses. I find it to be very condescending. You’re not our therapist, you’re our sister. So speak to us as a sister would. I know my other three sister would appreciate that too.
      We grew up with all of this too. Just as you did. We have spoken about numerous times over the years. I’m 52 years old now and I don’t want to hear about it anymore. Get over it! I’m not hurting my family by keeping this to myself. I’ve told my kids everything. But we don’t go over it again and again.
      You say you’ve forgive Mom and Hughie. But if you really had, why would you keep having to talk about it.

    • I agree with Joanne and Pamela. I am not in any pain nor am I in denial. I will not forgive him for what happened and I don’t blame mother. But I did move on and made a beautiful life with My family and My extended family too bad you choose to live in the past. I don’t think you have any Love, Peace or Harmony.

  7. Maureen, found you site when I was rummaging around on the web trying to find any survivors of my old school St Edwards. Looks like I found one. Sounds like you found a definite difference between going from St Mary to St Edward, and it wasn’t good. You would have graduated the June before I started I see. I actually thought it was an OK school for the first few years. I know now it was abusive, but it’s just that home was so incredibly abusive and dysfunctional that the school seemed OK. But even there, I found it to be an organized bore. I learned from reading the books more than I learned from the nuns and teachers. But by the fifth year and on, what seemed to be a refuge from home turned in to a hell on earth. Being at home with unstable alcoholic parents and an abusive big sister was actually safer that being at St Edward.. Was St Edward the place they sent all the psychopaths to teach? Something about that second floor… You found they were being nice to you those first four years when you got to the second floor and the nightmares began..

    • Gordon,
      Thanks for reading my blog. I especially appreciate you sharing your difficult time there. It takes great courage to share such details.
      Why are you looking for survivors? Is there some way I could be of assistance? Abuse is a painful issue to work through. Healing happens.
      Again thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.

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