Mr Gorman knelt on my arms and sat on me while, with his class rings on, he beat my face til I was unrecognizable. I was unable to fight him, but I began to scream and scream. He finally got some hold on himself, turned me toward my mom and said, here mother, its your turn, as though she might want to spank me. The look on her face I will never forget, the pure horror. He let me up and I ran to my moms room and tried to make a call but he picked up the extension. I then ran out the front door, in my pajamas and robe, across the apt parking lot to the apt where my dad's friend, Mrs. Walton, lived; they were at church yet. Patsy Walton opened the door and with a sigh and a smart remark let me in. I waited for my dad, the Detroit Police officer, to come back from church.
Dad and Mrs Walton came back, with all the accompanying drama, and then we went back to my Mom's, where of course Mr Gorman was nowhere to be found. My father, in his dramatic, passive-aggressive way, threatened to shoot Mr Gorman if he ever touched me again. Mom, as usual, didn't take my side. There was nowhere for me to go but to my Uncle Jim's house. I moved in for about 10 days. At almost no time was I given comfort, attention, loving care. I was made to go to school the next morning. My homeroom teacher, Mr Ditmar, took one look at my face and took me directly to the principal. They immediately knew Mr Gorman did it; they asked me if he did and I said yes. Did I want to press charges? I said no. They took pictures of my face and sent me back to class. That night my Uncle Jim came to me to tell me he had received three phone calls: the first from my Mom...was I ok. The second from my Dad...was I mad that I couldn't stay with him. The third was from Mr Gorman...was I going to press charges? No phone calls to me...no apologies...nothing. Ever since.
I didn't know about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years afterwards. I grew up, improved in character, went to college where I sang and was on the Dean's list for a 4.0 gpa. I got married and had two beautiful children and also acquired three lovely stepchildren. Life had become incredibly wonderful for me in spite of the traumas I suffered when younger.
Then two things happened in 1995: I was the fortunate recipient of a newborn niece who had no where to go after she was born. My brother Paul lived in the rooming house and the babies mother is schizophrenic, and wasn't able to care for the baby safely. My mother said NO...my step mother said...NO...but I said YES and very enthusiastically. In fact, I felt as though she were a gift from God and I, the luckiest aunt ever.
The second thing that happened, a few months later, is that we discovered my husband, Chris Russell, had Lou Gehrig's Disease, or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). That was August '95. By November my husband was sufficiently compromised by the disease that I had to turn the baby, Abigayle, over to my Mom to care for. She was willing by then because Abby had turned out to be a darling child. So, life changed again, and instead of caring for a 7 month old baby, I instead began to give care to my husband.
ALS robs its victims of the use of all their motor muscles...walking, grasping, speaking, smiling...over the course of the illness any kind of movement becomes impossible. Eventually breathing and swallowing are impaired, and then cease, so the person with ALS suffocates and starves to death. In handling him I encountered trauma after trauma that took such a toll on me that eventually something inside me 'sprang'. Because the crisis wasn't about me, I stuffed the reactions deep within, until I could get my van out at 3am and drive for miles alone screaming and crying. I began having panic attacks. We lost Chris February 27, 1997. I have never really recovered from his suffering and his loss.
After about four months I told my Mom I was ready to take Abby back. She hemmed and hawed and finally said that Dennis (my stepfather) wanted to adopt her. At that time Mom and Dennis had no children of their own, but they both had a history of neglecting the children they did have...Dennis to the tune of 9 children by at least 4 different women. I couldn't argue with her...I couldn't have argued with a kitten at that point. I was broken like I'd never been broken before. Abby stayed with them. I met my future husband online, and although I told him I didn't see how the relationship could work, he persisted til I gave in. We've been together ever since. I began commuting back and forth from MI to PA and back, about every 10 days to 3 weeks. My own children were in high school. I asked my brother Paul to come live at my home while I was away, to make sure there was an adult present at all times. It was all a huge mistake. He was a drunk, and on repeated occasions my son Ian had to throw him out. They never told me what they were going through....my parents were so glad Paul had a real home to live in that when my children complained, they told them....let her go...don't bother her...don't tell her. Again, I had suffered an enormous trauma and they all just 'let me go'.
Within a few years I knew I was going to have a real problem with my emotions and mental health. I had run as hard as I could from the pain, until it took over. By 2003 I sought help and found a wonderful therapist, Dr. Linda Mascetti, who helped me get through the next four years, when she retired after her husband was killed in a car accident. During those four years I learned that I was Bipolar, and not just manic depressive....my first major depressive episode was at the age of 11, and I had never had a truly manic episode; instead what I had was Bipolar II with mixed symptoms. The official diagnosis was (is) Agitated Depression. We also learned that I was exhibiting the 3 main symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: avoidance, hyperarousal, and reliving the scenes of horror from Chris' illness. I told Dr. Mascetti about the beating from Mr Gorman and she was certain that PTSD was a part of my illness, as well as generalized anxiety disorder. So, we went the medication route for a while. I lost 2004 while on lithium, crying and sleeping. I became suicidal on antidepressants. So I discontinued all medications, except for the xanax I'd been prescribed originally in '95 when Chris got sick.
Until this month I have not sought help for the ongoing symptoms I have been experiencing for almost 20 years, except the .25 mg xanax I'd used over the years successfully. Depression to one degree or another has been my constant companion. An exaggerated startle reflex; high levels of cortisol leading to digestive difficulties. I held one job or another until August 2013, when I retired. During the last 2 years of work my condition continued to deteriorate so retirement was a relief.
My mother, brother Paul and his daughter Abby, now 19, all live together in Redford MI. Dennis died in Jan 2012, so my mother is a recent widow. She is 74 and recently learned she has diabetes. A slender woman, she brought us all up on sugary starchy food, and a lifetime of consumption, as well as raging alcoholism for about 20 years, had begun to take its toll on her. From March to July we cajoled, begged, did everything we could...all of us I thought...to get her to eat better and take the insulin. I live 500 miles away and am not able to be much help unless we are in town visiting. In the past year my husband has given them the equivalent of 200.00 a month in help. Some was a gift, some wasn't. In my mothers poor health situation things began to disappear: prescription pills...$400.00...no one seemed to know why. No one seemed able to help Mom with decent food and taking the insulin. She finally ended up in the ER where the doctors apparently were able to scare her into giving herself the shots. She has been doing so ever since. Her mind is starting to get clearer. We went to visit, and every day tried to pitch in to make a difference: John fixed their electricity which had completely gone out in the kitchen. I went through the entire yard and pulled weeds, from the lawn, landscaping and the cracks in the driveway and patio out back. We went grocery shopping for them. We brought bulk dry paper goods which their food stamps could not cover. Anything we could do.
On Sunday morning, July 20 I got a call from Paul. He was trying to walk to the pharmacy for Mom's pain pills and couldn't make it all the way...would we come get him? Paul has emphyzema. He has a bad heart. He doesn't do much but lie down and sleep. I said where is Moms car? He said Abby has it and she is not answering the phone. Great. I called her phone and left a blistering message. She was in the habit of taking the car for days at a time, and not responding to the folks at home. We drove over, picked him up, got the prescription, and got back to Mom's. She was fast asleep on the couch when we came in. I asked Paul... is there auto insurance on the car....he said no. We said do you know that's a felony if she or anyone gets caught driving it? He said Oh my god, and then called her again, leaving a message because she wouldn't pick up. So we all talked about Abby, and we discovered the lies...That her boyfriend wasn't thrown out of school for marijuana...he was expelled for making a bomb threat and Abby and Paul had him hidden at the house for months til he went to turn himself in. My mother's house. Over time he became so unpleasant that even when he tried to get it together, they had to ask him to leave. That was January this year. The day he moved out, Abby slapped my mother. My 74 yr old mother.
After Paul unloaded the truth about Abby and Mike and the exploitation of the car and Abby's accident which had made it financially impossible to obtain new car insurance, Abby finally called her Dad back. I could hear her nasty tone and rude manner so I asked for the phone and told her to get Moms car home immediately. She hung up on me. John and Paul went in our truck to go get the car, because no, she wasn't really at a friends house, she was at Mike's and Paul knew it. They left and about 5 minutes later Abby pulled in. I went to the front door and told her to pull the car in back. She began to scream obscenities at me, but pulled the car back just to the rear gate. I went out back and told her to pull it in the back to the garage. She walked past me and went in looking for her dad. I demanded the keys, she refused. I followed her back out demanding the keys, which she refused to hand over. I made the move to take them and she shoved me, so I shoved her, and she reached back and punched me with all her might in the right side of my head, just where Mr Gorman had attacked me from. We had a mutual brawl in the back yard, which I barely remember. Somehow I got her in the house, while she kicked and punched me I grabbed her by the back of her hair and bent her all the way over and whaled a spanking on her. She got away, kicked me to my knees from the kitchen to the living room. I got up and she looked me, took my new glasses off and snapped them in half in my face, then threw them across the room. I put my hand to her throat and held her against the wall. Then I just quit. She ran out, told the neighbor I was trying to kill her and had the neighbor drive her back to the bomb terrorists boyfriend's house. John and Paul got home then, and I tried to explain, but then Abby called Paul and said I don't know what, so Paul decided to blame me and John lost his temper and said we are out! I went out back and Paul said ...you lied to me...and I told him, I am done with you, and we left. Both Paul and Abby as well as Michael, harassed me all evening online until I could finally block them from communicating with me. I was numb at first. We left the next day. The week got worse and worse for me, I had eleven bruises and knobs on my body, but the damage to my heart and my emotions were far far worse. It took me 3 days to put together whether I had started it, but when I looked up the definition of assault, verbal assault was equal to physical assault and it wasn't me that started screaming obscenities and punching. I wanted the keys. She was driving illegally and didn't care what it might mean to my mother and their home if she had another accident that totaled the car or hurt someone else. She didn't care that Mom almost had a diabetic stroke while she wouldn't answer the phone and had the car away from home for days. Paul had been walking to get Moms pain pills so he could take them...Mom didn't know what they were and after he gave her one he walked away with the bottle even though the rest of her meds were lined up on the table right in front of the couch where she had been sleeping since coming home from the ER.
I waited a week, then when I called my mom to see if she was ok, Paul got on the extension and began screaming and screaming and screaming, at me, and at mom. Mom was a mess, again. He tried to tell me that I wouldn't see her again, and Mom told him that was not true so he turned on her and began to scream even louder. We waited a couple more days then called again and they didn't guess it was us. I have since made an appointment with James Lewandowski, an attorney in Plymouth, to get durable power of attorney for both Moms health and her finances, with her consent. That appointment is 8/12/14 at 2pm.
Paul was screaming at Mom, you lost 2400 dollars and its all your fault and we are behind, etc...while she is trying to recover from almost dying. Yet I saw them give Abby the credit card and the pin numbers. $400 missing in the house? It didn't get up and walk away. Neither of them care about Mom. She had insulin for 3 months there in the house and neither of them could be trusted to help her get it in her body.
Exactly one week after Abby assaulted me, on Sunday July 27, I started having suicidal thoughts. John took me to the hospital we had been advised to go to in case of such an emergency. I have been suffering from worsening depression for 2 years, mostly because I am too far from my family that needs me. Recently it worsened and we were following advice from our family doctor. He'd said there was a mental health clinic there 24/7. Not true. After being brusquely handled by the male triage nurse I had to undress, get into hospital garb and sit in a room with just 3 long padded benches against the walls, door open, being watched because I was suicidal. 7 hours we were there. We had to ask for water and a bite to eat. Danville had no beds in their psych ward, so they wanted to send to me a psychiatric hospital. Since I'd voluntarily signed myself in we declined, and they threatened to 302 me (commit me against my will). John immediately told them what was what and we finally left with no help whatsoever and got home at 2am.
In the end it's just you, along with your issues, who has to help yourself. It seems to me there isn't a thing in the world that can help me. I am so disappointed, in Paul, in Abby, in the medical system, in my mom who'd been playing all of us against each other until she got so sick she couldn't function. Disappointed in myself, who went a lifetime until the age of 55 without ever putting my hands on someone in violence. Even my children were shocked...Ian said ...my mom only ever spanked me 5 times in my life and 4 times I deserved it. Lissa maybe once. My kids were angels. What happened to Abby? I am sick at heart almost all the time, with disappointment with Abby and with fear for my mother. Trouble sleeping. Not much appetite. Exaggerated startle reflex acting back up. Agitated daily and going through xanax...the only thing that touches that dangerous agitation...going through it like never before. My rock is my husband, who after another week of perseverance finally coughed up a PTSD doctor that I now have an appointment with on Sept 19.
This is not over, but it wont take me down. They will not continue exploiting my mothers condition with impunity. My patience is exhausted, as well as my body and my spirit. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.