I didn’t raise my kids

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, The Prophet.

This is a true story of overcoming.

October 22, 2015, the headlines read:

‘Teen Mom 2’ star Leah Messer loses custody of her twin daughters.

My intention with this blog/book began with spilling my guts about # I Didn’t Raise My Children. Not very long after making my intentions known, a very big moment came to pass in my life.

Sometime in the mid-’80s, I was looking for work and staying with my only sister, her husband, her 4 or 5 kids; and the house was full. After a few weeks, she kicked me out without explanation.
STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
I was brokenhearted. She told me she hated me and always had. The last thing I said to her as I left was, ‘Call me when you’re ready to talk.’

I called her in August 2015, some 30 years later, and she tactfully struggled for 45 minutes at communicating with me rather nicely. I knew it wasn’t easy for her and she had questions which were good signs. She wanted to know stuff, too. So did I. I also wanted to say, shout, scream, WRITE stuff, to clear the air finally. I was thrilled.

But it all connects. Family connections are, at best, complicated.

When I was 10 my father told the driver of a telephone company van parked on the side street that if he turned away my father would take the phone and cable needed to install a new phone. I believe that phone, painted white, is still there in the old homestead. Dad told me then, “It’s not stealing if you don’t get caught.” Another time there was some doubt I was telling the truth and Dad asked if he should grill me. In the ceiling of the dining room, there was a light that pulled down to be lowered over the dining table. He wanted to sit me under that light with my hands tied behind my back. When I told the truth I was not believed and I would invariably be punished, but when I lied there was a pride that showed in Dad’s eyes. One evening I came home from visiting my cousin whose husband had volunteered to drive me home because a late snowstorm had blown in on top of a warm April spring day. There was over a foot of snow and I was wearing sandals so I grabbed at the chance for a ride home. A block from home, he parked and said I could agree to his demands or walk. I had such low self-esteem I never considered I was worth fighting for so I agreed. As I entered the back door Dad and Mom were waiting and claiming I was late. Mom detected whisker burn on my face and called me a home wrecker. Dad wanted me to move out because I was a shame to them. I did not try very hard to explain what had happened. I packed a suitcase to leave but as I got to the door Dad spat in my face and told me to stay. I was always waiting to pack and leave on a moments notice.

When I was 12, I asked our mother why she didn’t like me. She said, “You ruined my waistline.” That was the same year my father told me he would no longer be buying my clothing and I should go to work to buy my own clothes. That was also the same year I received the worst childhood beating, forced to place my hands on the hot stove and take a leather strap against my back because I was a half hour late for supper; I lost control of my bladder.

Walking home from school one day, I found my father in a rare position in the lane between our house and the one next door with the hood of the car raised. He often worked on our car but never in this particular place where no one could see him. As I passed by toward the back door he motioned for me to come over. He would not take no for an answer but my instincts were suspicious and I disobeyed risking another disciplinary action. Much later, I discovered his plan had been for me to accidently fall into the fan blades and cut enough to bleed to death. Another time, we had all been finishing supper when an opportunity arose for me to ask for lessons on how to use the wide variety of tools Dad possessed. He readily agreed which surprised me because he normally felt this sort of thing for girls was a waste of his time. We went to the basement where he kept old jam jars, their lids nailed to the ceiling, filled with many small curious objects. When I asked him to teach me about all the stuff in jars he shook his head. On one wall was a peg board where he hung hand-held tools. I desperately wanted to know how to use a hammer and a screwdriver. I picked one from the peg board and he told me to put it back. We were not going to do that either. He started up the electric table saw and got a piece of wood lined up on the top of the table. He wore safety glass as a habit and so I asked for my safety glasses. He refused and my instincts went up 100%. I was suddenly terrified and wanted out. I asked for work gloves like the ones he was wearing and again he refused. I was reaching panic and could not have put into words what it was. At that moment we could hear my mother coming down the stairs and I yelled as loud as I could something my mother would hear. She did hear me and I was released from the table saw duty. I knew he had planned again for another accidental death.

Mom and Dad had a meeting with the police and children’s services and then told me they were angry and disappointed they could not get rid of me by putting me in juvenile detention or a foster home. I asked why meaning why did they want to get rid of me but their answer was that I had done nothing wrong. They were legally bound to have me until I was 16 years old and then I could quit school and go to work. I secretly planned to go as far as I could in school. They said I could stay if I paid room and board.

When I was 11 years old, doctors found a curve in my spine serious enough to cause my death so I had 10 discs fused with bone graph while wearing a plaster cast from neck to knees. I spent 7 months in bed and then got the cast removed up to the pelvis so I could learn to walk again. During that time, I developed breasts and started menstruation. My mother cried when she saw the blood. I asked her how babies were made and she answered, “When you find the right man he will ‘fit’ there.” In my 12-year old mind I translated this into something I am sure she did not mean, but as soon as I could I began to try to ‘fit’ my prospective father for the two children I was planning to have. I also wanted a very early start in my life with this goal because I did not have the certainty of longevity. I became a slut. I set a personal goal to have my first child at age 16 and then the last and final child by age 18 at which time I figured I would die.

I  was the first born. The second born was my sister, Pamela – I think she doesn’t like Pam (It sounds like an oil spray), but I always slip and call her that. – told me things, lots of stuff I didn’t know, some I had guessed, and some were just misinformed and enlightening for me to hear what had been assumed. She said, ‘You left your kids. You abandoned them.” This was not true, but how was she to know any different when we had never talked about anything for decades. I thought she was surprised to learn I do not have a criminal record. I was once arrested for fraud but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave me a pardon. I think many of my family members would be surprised to learn I am not a drug addict, a thief or a liar and never have been. I had an epiphany in my early twenties that everything I had learned about life from my parents had been incorrect and telling the truth was the first thing I enjoyed more than trying to live up to their expectations of phony facades.

I would love to see Pam, hug her. I am thousands of miles away and tied to my location for now by medical and legal obligations. That will have to wait.

That phone call with my only sister was like a visit from Santa Claus for me, big time. I was pleased. I was elated. My dreams had come true.

I have not seen my children in decades and was told they are little bitches. So, they didn’t turn out perfect or maybe even well, but I had hoped. Much later I learned my husband, Robert Thachuk, and his brother, John Thachuk, sexually molested and used my daughters for their own deviant pleasures. Children need their parents throughout their lives as guideposts, sounding boards, examples, sources of knowledge, comfort and love; and mine didn’t get those ideal things and neither did I. This broke my heart again, but I will not stop. I will go on.

In 1971, my young husband had finished his schooling and landed his first big job in the city. Soon we bought our first home and moved in with our two little girls. That same year I chose to fast and meditate for 2 weeks. At the end of that time, I died and went through the typical Near Death Experience (NDE), black tunnel toward the light. I saw figures of those I knew who had passed over. When I was at the bright light which I called God, I explained that I did not want to die because I had children and a husband who needed me. God opened his arms, shrugged, smiled, and allowed me my desire. I woke up in bed struggling to take a breath to get my heart pumping again. I did not fully comprehend the meaning of this. Nine months later my children were no longer being raised by me.

We lived in York, Ontario, Canada across from the Grand River. We owned a complex of a two bedroom home with swimming pool and garage which included a large rental apartment upstairs and a little country General Store in the front. We thought we were pretty special and blessed. My parents and my little brother, Brad, came one weekend to help us clean up the store so I could begin to work there. The customers were mostly from the little town of York, but some stopped by on the highway going to other places like the Cayuga Speedway Park in Hagersville.

Not too much time had passed before Art Padbury and Eve came in to buy supplies. They began coming and staying longer. Art brought a guitar and sang Christian songs because he knew we were very dedicated to the Lord. Soon it was a habit that Bob would come home from work and drive them back to their campsite in the evening.

In May, there was a holiday weekend when Art and Eve invited us to come camping where they stayed on the Grand River on an island about a mile upriver. We arrived with our little girls and tent and sleeping bags. Art met us with his canoe and ferried us across the river. It looked like we were going to have a wonderful time roughing it without running water or electricity. We were looking forward to fresh caught bass from the river. Eve was going to show me how to gather and cook fiddleheads and lambs quarters which turned out to be delicious.
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That night my husband and I were drugged, mickey fin in our coffee while our children blissfully slept in their sleeping bags undisturbed. My husband slept long and hard that night.

That first night in May when it all went to hell in a hand basket, I was raped and threatened. If I told anyone, I would be killed. He had a gun.

First thing in the morning when I saw my Bob, I asked him to come for a short walk with me alone while I told him everything. I finished with a request. Please, take the children away from here. I wanted their safety above all else. Then maybe I could think and plan what to do to escape with my life. Bob left immediately with the girls, Art paddling them away to the riverside. I expected Bob would be back the same day with the authorities, but I guess he saw his opportunity to once again run around. I didn’t understand why Bob brought the girls back to this hellish place in the middle of the summer except that Art made me promise to tell Bob that I missed my little darlings. By that time I would do just about anything he said to avoid the torture. I didn’t know that my ordeal would continue for a year and a half with this couple.

Much later I learned Art had been legally sentenced to a hospital for the criminally insane, but I never discovered how he was walking free. His tortures of me rivaled Auschwitz and some I still have never been able to speak about. Other tortures I have learned not to speak about because it frightened people away from me.

Art told me ugly stories about how he threw Rosie Kerchek, a model from Toronto, down a flight of stairs and broke her arm. He told me about the death of his mother and how he was responsible. He also revealed that he had been tried for being a hippie, but what he didn’t tell me was it involved sex crimes with minors. He detailed the murders of his beloved wife, Marie, and their twelve-year-old son. He took them in a boat to a deep fishing hole he knew well, tied heavy chains on them and threw them into the water. This murder admission was told to my daughters and me while in the canoe in that same deep fishing hole. Neither of them could swim nor could I, but my mind raced with a mad plan to somehow get them from the water to safety if he should throw us overboard. I remained silent and he slapped the front of the canoe with the paddle where I was sitting ahead of my innocent little girls whose eyes were big and round with terror.

Once at the campsite bathroom, my youngest daughter had an accident which was actually my fault because I had instructed her wrongly. Art was furious and wanted me to hit her, but I argued that it wasn’t her fault, moreover, I didn’t hit them. He grabbed me by the throat, lifted me up, body-slammed me to the ground and put out his cigarette in my eye.

I learned to smoke homemade cigarettes and how to roll them. When I was allowed to go to the city with Art and Eve, I learned how to cherry pick the old butts thrown down by smokers who left them for us on the ground. Sometimes Art would spot one and indicate I should get it. If I chose by myself, sometimes he would grunt indicating no for some reason. I was always confused.

Art took me to his bed because somehow he knew Bob was not returning. He was wearing a watch with a steel expanding bracelet. He made a huge fist with that hand and shoved it into my vagina explaining and complaining how he could go all the way to the elbow in his precious Marie’s, his former dead wife’s, vagina. I instinctively knew to bury my emotions and made no response. Afterward, I bled and maybe died a little inside. Art’s wife, Eve, was instructed to provide sanitary products.

I much later discovered that I was constantly being drugged either awake or asleep because they did not want to stand guard against me running away. I was so naive or I was so drugged that I didn’t realize what was happening most of the time. I once hallucinated a man on the island and told Art. I saw a black man in a black cape and broad-brimmed hat in front of a large tree and then he disappeared. Art scoured the island and found footprints of the guy who obviously had a large dog. I had not seen the dog. Eve pointed out the spot of the footprints was exactly where Art had been fishing the night before along with their dog, a golden labrador retriever named Kabowa. Nothing further was said about the black man I saw.

Art sent me and Eve to York to break into my own store for groceries. I was very afraid of him and worried what would happen if we didn’t return quick enough or with the correct unnamed objects. I recall he was so angry about a dozen eggs which we had brought back that he threw them off a cliff and threatened to throw me as well. He wanted to know if I had taken a shower while there because his odd sense of jealousy had arisen. We had taken too long to return even though we had gotten a ride hitchhiking.
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In September, Bob shot Art in the upper thigh just missing his most precious possessions with a 4006 mushroom-head shell.   At the sound of the shot and Art’s scream, we went running. As I stood chest deep in the Grand River, my husband turned the gun on me and said I was next. I don’t know what possessed me to call him honey and explain to him that he did not want to shoot me. Then he turned the gun on Eve who was running passed him. I don’t know what stopped him. According to Mom, my father was sorry he had told Bob to shoot us, but Dad could never bring himself to tell me he was sorry or even talk about it. Immediately after the shooting, I found a tape recording in our car made by Bob on which I heard first my daughter, April, pleading for her life, followed by a gunshot. Then I heard my youngest, Sue… and the world came to a halt. I believed my little angels were dead. I was screaming inside Dr. Paikin’s office, looking for I did not know what. Dr. Paikin wanted to tranquilize me but I refused. The police told me they even searched our food freezers and gardens but could tell me nothing. In retrospect, I damn the child custody system for that torture I endured. Eve was always there reminding me of my affiliation to Art. I went to see Bob in jail and begged him but he would tell me nothing. He smiled, enjoying my pain looking for my girls.

When it was over for me on the outside, my torturer died. On the inside, it was never over. When it was over for others was when I walked free a year and a half later. People did not understand that I was not free, I was a mess inside and no one helped me with that. I was unable to hold a job. I lived at the YWCA in a little single room with no cooking. I had no friends. No one called. No one wanted to talk to me. I had no conversation to offer anyway. I was frozen, in limbo, in a permanent state of disbelief that life had twisted me around as it had.  I suspected my family was afraid of me. Their distancing was a great source of pain that continued, both the distancing and their fear.

On the island and after Art was shot and we got an apartment near the hospital, I failed at escape attempts. I decided I wanted to die. My plan was to starve to death and it pleased me. I became elated at the thought. A few months later I weighed about 30 pounds less but I was still alive and hoping for the end.

Art kept a loaded shotgun by his side 24/7 and I contemplated running every day but imagined him shooting me in the back.

When we lived in the city, I was told I would be followed by Art’s friends if I was sent out which didn’t happen often. I was waking earlier from the sedation drugs and learning to stay still and listen, to take my time before rising because life was hell to face. I heard their dope dealer come to visit. Dr. Paikin brought speed for Eve’s narcolepsy. He told them he had just come from the hospital emergency where he had had to remove a man’s eye. Dr. Paikin had only one good eye. It was then that Eve and Dr. Paikin had sex. I knew I had to be insane; my world did not operate this way.  I had some kind of nervous breakdown and could not stop shaking. At first, they let me lie on the floor under Art’s bed and hang onto the metal bracing to try to stop shaking. After a while, I was forced to drink a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I don’t remember how that remedy worked.
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I watched a documentary about the Lost Boys from Africa, thousands of boys walking for years alone without family until it was over and most of them immigrated to North America. One of the strong survivors in that documentary said, “God has forgotten us.”

I felt God had forgotten me. I was unable to hold a job, so I went to college and wrote a paper called Belief in God is like Belief in Santa Claus.
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My husband divorced me. I didn’t get custody which I justified over his much larger income, but I believe my obvious state of mind, my state of being was so abnormal that it was better for all maybe. I tried the weekend visitation, but that did not go well. The first visit, I had to take a bus 100 miles and stay overnight. Bob invited me to stay and I volunteered to sleep on the sofa. After we were all tucked in, he came to invite me to sleep more comfortably in the bed with him. I agreed if he promised not to touch me. I could not stand anyone touching me in those days, my skin felt like bugs were crawling on me. Bob promised he would not touch me. We were not in bed 5 minutes before he threw his arm over me and forgot his promise. I panicked. I ran to the bedroom where my daughters shared a bunk-bed. I turned on the light and to make a long story short, I found myself carrying my suitcase about a mile down the highway to the local bus stop. It was midnight when the police stopped to explain that I could not wait all night in the snow because there were no buses until the morning. I hitchhiked home without a care for my own safety. I was still frozen.

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My mother handed me a document about Patty Hearst and the Stockholm syndrome, but it made little difference. I was frozen. Eventually, people took pity on me because I was pathetic. Those beautiful souls just accepted me into their lives and allowed me to be. They did what they could to include me and eventually, I began to heal. I began to act like a human being. Thank you, God, for that gift. Those people were in my life for a few years and then gone, unconnected, but they meant and still mean a great deal to me. Thank you all. I will name them here, Barbie, Henry Matola, Jim Burton, John, Marianne who knew sign language, Brian a Maori from New Zealand, Pat Hebblethwaite, Mary Anne a runaway Hutterite whom we taught to ride a bicycle, Rick who worked at the liquor store across the street, as I remember the names from 40 years ago with much gratitude and love.
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I did eventually go on to further my education, a student loan was my solution to not being able to hold down a job. I got a University degree. Then I got another. It made no difference. I was frozen. Eventually, some more kind counselors came to peel away my layers and look deep inside enough to let the mind and spirit begin to connect to life again, or for the first time. Thanks to all of them, especially Marion Boyd and Margaret Rossitter who got me cracked open and started. I signed up with a psychiatrist, Dr. H. L. Hussman, and spoke with him every week for a year. I asked him for a hiatus for a year to try something different. I learned a lot and met some beautiful women who were healing like myself at the Sexual Assault Center in London, Ontario. When I returned a year later to continue my work with Dr. Sussman, he refused to speak with me. I never remembered the first 10 years of my life. My cousin, Wayne Ford, had the same affliction, he didn’t remember the first 10 years of his life. Our Aunt, Mrs. Nielsen, one of my father’s many sisters, told me she had a secret. Her father had sexually molested her, and I was the first person she told 50 years after the fact. Family connections are complicated.

STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

You look back on a life and wonder what will you take with you into death.

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