Who broke the Window? --- TRIGGER WARNINGS ---

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trigger warnings: childhood sexuality, physical abuse, maternal incest, child manipulation, abandonment

Here is a word picture that describes me growing up: There's a window. It represents my whole and complete person, only the window is smashed through, broken. Sitting on the floor in the middle of the window's remains is a chubby toddler, fixated on the beautiful, delicate, dangerous shards laying all around him. He's in pain and he is knicked and bleeding, but fascinated by the glass all the same.
I was born to a couple on the fritz. My mother and father really had no business being together except that they were broken people in their early 20s. Shortly after I was born, My parents divorced. I don’t know that they had even been married a year. I found out later in life that my mother didn’t even want to have me, but she felt guilty for not wanting to give her husband a child, so she acquiesced.

My whole childhood was marked by two things: serial abandonment and as I see it now, covert maternal incest.
after being here at MS for a while and getting feedback from other survivors, I have to say I honestly don’t know how early the abuse goes back and there is a possibility that she could have physically sexually abused me, but I have no memories that indicate she did.

What I do know is that as early as I can remember, I lived with my father and I would see her every other weekend. Every other Sunday night as a little kid, it was a gut-wrenchingly tearful parting with my mother saying that there was nothing she could do and that this was the way it had to be. She would abandon me every other week. I heard a story from a family member later in life that one time, when she dropped me off, she sent me back into my father’s house with an older step-sister who explained to my father and his wife that my mother said to me I couldn’t stay at her house after the weekend because I was a bad boy and needed to go back to my father. I was about three years old.

When I was with my mother, she was very emotionally demanding and I soon learned to consider her feelings above all others in any given situation. It was very clear that her happiness was my job.

My father’s home was little better. My father was an alcoholic who liked to party. When he wasn’t drinking, he was completely shut off from any relationships and prone to be verbally and physically abusive. I had a terror of my father that I remember always having and it ran deep.

One morning, when I was about four years old, I think it was a Saturday, I went from my room to the living room to watch morning cartoons. I remember it was still and quiet; my father had had a raging house party the night before. There was a stranger sleeping it off on the couch. I knew I needed to keep the quiet. Thankfully he did not awake, but nonetheless, it was my first conscious entrance into the world of adults. When investigating the cabinet under the television, something caught my eye. A small paperback; on the cover was a cartoon drawing of a pretty woman dressed like a witch riding sidesaddle on a broom, only she had no top on.

The book as it turned out was a collection of graphically pornographic comic strips that parodied popular cartoon and television characters of the day (late 1970s). as I flipped through the pages, saw beloved cartoon characters I knew engaging in graphic sex with course humor. I could not yet read, so I assume the dialogue was raunchy as well, but I have no idea. The short comic that grabbed my attention immediately was a parody of the 1966 Batman series which seemed to tell the story of the Adam West Batman not being able to chase all the pretty, topless girls because Burt Ward’s Robin was constantly sucking him off. I still remember that comic as clear as day and the joy/lust on Robin’s face as he gleefully sucked away at Batman’s upright penis in panel after panel.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to see this book - and that I’d get in trouble if anyone found out, so I eventually pulled myself from it’s siren song of sex and put it back where it came from. (incidentally, I remember later going back to find it, but to no avail. An adult must have realized it was lying around and decided to get it out of a child’s reach. Too late.)

I want to say about a year later, at the age of 5, my mother’s side of the family was having a get together and one of my cousins (only about a year older than me at the time) mentioned that he learned what a blow job was from a Playboy magazine. He said it was when someone sucked on your wiener. He said it felt really good and that all the guys should try it. There were perhaps five or six of us cousins there. The primary people he was talking to were me an my half brother who was older than us by 3 years.

My elder brother declined, But because I had seen that book of pornographic cartoons, I knew exactly what he was talking about and jumped at the chance. I was in the middle of going down on him (again, I was 5 and he was 6) when our mothers, my mom and her sister, crashed into the scene and hauled us off to separate bedrooms screaming their heads off in panic and anger. For my participation, the punishment my mother gave me was a beating with a leather belt.

Sometime the next year, I was having a friend sleep over at my house and we were in the my parents room, together - again we were both 6 years old and he said to me that he learned about something he called “the business” that we needed to try, but it’s a secret. He said we should do it later when we went to bed and wouldn’t be caught. I knew what it was. I knew his secret. I had already done it with my cousin once. So I excitedly convinced him to do it with me right then and there and not wait. As it turned out, I was right. It was sexual activity including oral sex and attempts at anal sex, but we couldn’t get our little members into each other. We had no idea what we were really doing. My father’s wife happened to walk in on us as we were zipping up and we quickly offered some excuse about comparing our penises or something. To her credit, she did not panic but tried to have a teachable moment conversation about how it was normal for boys to look at each other’s privates and be curious about each other’s bodies.

It did however raid the red flag for her that we were up to something. So when we thought it was a clever idea to tell my her and my father that we were”tired” and wanted to go to bed early that night (said NO SIX-YEAR-OLD, EVER) she was onto us that we might be acting out in my bedroom under the fuse of going to sleep. Sure enough, my father came in about 10 minutes later to find us under the covers taking turns sticking our penises in each others mouths, to which he yelled, “HEY, are you two doing NASTY STUFF in here?!”

We sheepishly admitted our crimes and my dad made me sleep on the floor and my friend in the bed and that was the end of our “Business” for the night. However, our sexual relationship had just begun. We only saw each other a few times a year (his mother’s housing was constantly in flux) but every time devolved into oral sex and in the moment I loved it. I always wanted more. But like the hungover drunk who physically pays the price for his indulgence the next day, my days after were drenched in shame and disgrace. I remember feeling dirty and irritable and disgusted with myself all day each morning after.

In the midst of this ongoing on-again, off again, mutual acting out, another party entered into my life, My father’s wife’s nephew, who was my age came to spend the weekdays at our home during working hours. Sometimes he would arrive before I woke up and so, he’d climb into the top bunk of my bunkbed with me and snooze in the early morning hours. I don’t remember who initiated it, but at one point, these snooze-fests became opportunities for us to fondle one another’s penis and I do remember that it was me who said…”yeah, this feels good, but I know something that feels better.” He became the third boy my age I engaged in oral sex with. Thankfully, he only ever spent a couple of months with us during the day (honestly, he was really competitive with me for my family’s attention and did some cruel things) and so as the summer passed so did the sexual contact.

But the desire never went away. Oral sex, it turns out, profoundly imprinted on me as a way to be accepted and approved of. I never felt more accepted and affirmed than when I was going down on another boy - even though I felt awful and ashamed of myself the next day. It got to the point in my young life that I thought fellatio was the ultimate sign of friendship and would desire to do it with any boy I was desperate to be friends with. These boys were always straight, so I was never able to take that step, so I spent many frustrated days and nights longing for deeper intimacy with these friends and not getting it. I even pushed a few of them away at my childhood insistence (again 6-8 years old) that we stimulate each other and give each other blowjobs.

During all of this, while my father was checking out on booze and television, I was still going to my mother’s house every other weekend to be her “baby.”
It’s only in retrospect that I can see how inappropriate she was with me on a sexual level, but nothing direct so she never had to admit she did anything wrong. This, more than my childhood acting out, was the abuse. This is what gave me the need to constantly be accepted for what I could offer, not in and of myself. This fed the hole that created the desire to connect through oral sex. A few examples:

I remember being about 10 and going with her and one of her many, serial boyfriends to his condo, where she immediately pointed out the boyfriend’s stash of pornography and encouraged both myself and my 13-year-old, elder brother to go through them and “learn” about sex. (She would go on to pay for a subscription to Playboy for my brother at about the same age in a way to further his sexual education. She still swears “she did her part.”)

As a preteen, she once told me, in public, that she was sure I’d grow up to be “just like her when it came to sex: never able to get enough.” I had no response. I simply stared at her mouth agape.

Separately, around the age of 12 or 13 as I am remembering it more clearly, she invited me to have a sleepover in her bed when it was just us in the apartment, which I agreed to, not knowing any better, even though it felt weird that she would ask. The next morning she made a big deal about how I was all over the place and used her belly as a pillow.

Throughout my life she’s always identified me as “hers” and told me that she was and would always be my “home.” Despite any relationships, marriages or children I may end up having. She would mail me treacle-sweet Valentine’s Day cards professing her undying love, every year well into my 20’s. And from about 14-on I resented every. last. one of them.

I have seen her naked, I have been made aware of her use of a vibrator. I once promised her a diamond ring as big as a ring pop (remember those?) when I was five years old. She jokingly brought it up every year well into my adult life as though she were waiting for me to deliver. She became jealous of my fiancé at age 30 and faked a cancer scare to get us to change our wedding plans. All of this while making me responsible for her emotional well being and happiness with a constantly moving bar: no gift was good enough, no amount of time with her was long enough, no favor was great enough. I was expected to get it right and to pay for all that I got. And there is more. So much more.

Now at age 46, I am coming to grips with having lived with a full-blown narcissist. But deeper still, in putting the pieces together, I am coming to grips with the fact that may motor was my original abuser. I have always had a hard time trusting, loving and accepting women. My poor partner has suffered immensely for it. There are massive walls to conquer in gaining my trust if you are a woman and even bigger ones if you would like my respect and esteem. I thought this was because my mother was a narcissist. Now I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

My childhood was spent toying with the dangerously sharp blades of glass that remained of my sexual boundaries. I was always at a loss for how the window got smashed. Now I know it was my own mother who threw the brick.

This is my story. I am a survivor of maternal incest.
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