SHAME ON ME!
BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES
I will not speak to you girls again! Stop playing, and get the dishes washed and put up!
My sister and I were standing at the double sink, one washing dishes and putting clean dishes into the rinse water. I was rinsing the dishes, I was also, slipping dishes back into the soapy water!
My sister and I would giggle, she would tell me not to do that again! I was nine years old, she was two years younger than I. Of course, I wasn't going to quit. My sister was smiling and laughing at 'me'... for the moment she could 'see' me... and for the moment, I had become a person to her. I was going to entertain her for all I was worth.
My step-mother passed through the kitchen, I could feel her staring at me. I knew she didn't want me there, she found reasons to fuss at me. Now, I was giving her reason to fuss.... and I ... didn't care! At this moment, my sister loved me! Her eyes looked at me with happiness, and such laughter! I was fun to play with!
I was slipping a butter knife back into the soapy water, and she found it as she thought she was through washing dishes... 'oh, Gloria Faye, I thought I was through washing dishes!' We began giggling again, I was still giggling as..........................
I was on the floor, my giggles turning into sobs of pain. I was being slapped about my face, my back. My hair was being pulled, I was being jerked around. I could see my stepmother's mouth moving, I couldn't hear her!
Her brown eyes were flashing with anger ..at me! She slapped me until she must have become tired... she left me on the floor and walked away.
I was so ashamed of being beaten by her, I looked up in shame at my sister. No longer was she smiling and laughing at me.. she turned her eyes from me. I was nobody again.. I got into trouble.
I stood up and wiped the tears that were blinding me, and began to walk slowly to the bedroom I shared with my two sisters.
My back hurt from being hit in it, it felt like fists punching me in the back. Feeling the pain and at the same time, seeing Mary Ruth's eyes hating me so much... made me cry again.
It was so much for a little girl to take in. This little nine year old girl didn't know she was on the journey in her life to ... being abused, molested, and.....................and.
I cried, my heart was broken. I wanted my mama so badly. I got up on the bed and hid myself beneath the covers, hoping no one would find me. No one came to look for me.
I just couldn't understand why no one liked me. I had come there only a short time before being beaten by my stepmother.
She didn't seem to like me... though, at times she seemed to like me when I'd become hysterical, crying for my mama. I couldn't stop and would cry myself to sleep. She seemed to care ...then. I would hear her sometimes saying not to mention the word 'mama' to me, she knew I wouldn't stop crying.
This is the beginning of my world changing ... the time I found out that my 'father' wasn't my father, that the man who lived in this house... was my real father.
My real father didn't seem to like me... I remember his face looking at me, he didn't smile at me, nor did he seem to be glad to see me.
No, I don't think he liked me. Later, I would find out several years down the road, that at this particular time I'd done the 'unthinkable'................
I found out as this nine year old child, just meeting her real father... that he'd offered me candy from a little brown bag he had.... I found out that as this nine year old child.... I had asked him for that whole little brown bag of penny candy!
I had done something so awful... my father held this against me through the years when I left his home... until I came back at the age of fourteen.
I'll never forget his face as a fourteen year old girl, as he told me how greedy he thought I was as a nine year child... to want that whole little brown bag of penny candy. I remember standing there in shame and holding my head down to look at the floor. I wasn't any good, here I was as a greedy person... and I didn't remember it. Shame on me.
I lived there for a time and then, at Grandmother Lola's. She lived several blocks away. I never remembered my Grandmother Lola ever doing anything to hurt me in my whole life until I was an older adult, myself.
I've found out since... my Grandmother Lola was influenced to make decisions she would have never made.... she told me these very words .... 'I've made a terrible mistake, Gloria Faye'..... 'I didn't know'.
She also, told me other things that I knew I'd keep to myself. I don't try to hurt other people... though... God knows they've hurt my heart.
The strange thing about this... is how I found out how deceitful and dishonest my father's side of the family was..... betrayal. I grew up letting them make me think .... they were so perfect.
How could I have been so blind? They were no different from the 'family' he made me think were so bad...I smile now, thinking about it. Of course... my smile isn't a real smile.
Such betrayal...... all for thousands of dollars. I smile again... people will do most anything for the amount of money I speak of.
Why I knew a man whose father was murdered for three dollars... that's all he had in his pocket when he was beaten to death with a sock.... filled with sand.
My Grandmother Lola lived to be almost one hundred years old... she lived until she gave out of living... and was found on the floor of her home. My Grandmother Lola had died. It wasn't long before she died ..that she talked to me and told me what she did.
Not only did Grandmother Lola be influenced to hurt me, she was influenced to hurt Tommy, her first great-grandson and great-great granddaughter, McKenzie. She was elderly and I can understand now. I loved my Grandmother Lola. How could she have known? How could she known I was going to live..when my stepmother was telling her all along... I was dying?
I lived with my father for some time, twice in my life. I was always made to feel shame ... for being his daughter. I never remember one time seeing his face proud to have me, his first-born child, his daughter. I was smart, bright, and pretty... it didn't matter.
Looking back now.. I can't see what I could have done to change his mind. I know my stepmother was the reason... I forgave her a long time ago. She just didn't want to see the product of her husband's love for another woman.... I understand that ... now.
Strangely enough, I don't harbor bad feelings toward them, though I will say this to anyone of them... I 'know you'... now. I don't know one of you to be better or more perfect than, my mother's 'family. I think you all have alot in common. I think all of you could have been friends. I was the only thing.... standing in the way.
Shame on me!