In the end, about two weeks after the trial started, the jury found my mother not guilty, she was the first case of battered women's syndrome, in our State, before it actually had a name.
That day, in that Court room, were all of the people in my life that I loved. My mother, My grandmothers from both sides, aunts, uncles, long time family friends and of course, some outsiders, media and such. When the verdict was read, as a child I can tell you that I felt so torn. I saw half of the people I love break down in tears, crumble, defeated, others, screaming, cursing, yelling, calling her a Murdering Bitch, and that was the side I was sitting on.
Not by choice mind you, at that point, my grandmother had taken physical custody of my brothers and me. Then the other half of the folks I loved, crying just the same, but tears of joys, sighs of relief filling that side of the room, hugs, and smiles. I have never again been surrounded by such a physcial presence of emotion, in total conflict. I remember the room feeling as if every bit of the oxygen had been sucked out of it. I remember being relieved that my mother had been set free, but at the same time feeling anger and resentment towards her because during all of this she had changed, I felt she had abandoned us.
I thought when daddy was gone, everything would be better, we would be with mom, and live a normal life, one without fear and eggshells. Instead, it was as if my mother had become someone I did not know. She looked as if she had aged a decade in mere months. Aside from when I saw her in court, she was always drinking. That day, part of me wanted to go home with my mom, wanted my life back with her. The other part of me did not because I feared the things that happened to us now in mom's new world, they men, what they would do to us. Not that they were any worse than my father, but I knew what to expect from him. All of the sudden though, as I wrote about before, there was Hank, being mean to us, threatening us, locking my brothers in tiny dark closets, us spending the weekend at their home, no heat, no one watching us kids, no food being prepared, while the adults all stayed shut up in this one big room that had the kerosene heater in it.
I remember calling my mom into another bedroom one weekend and flipping out on her, tearing the room up, slinging things, asking her why she was the way she was now. But even at ten, I could tell by the glazed over look in her eyes that she was not capable of answering that question anymore than I was.
After that day in court, aside from a handful of brief visits, where she would show up intoxicated, smelling of cheap beer, I never saw my mother again until I was 16 years old. When I found her at 16, she did not even know who I was at first. Those years broke me and I have never been repaired. Now, that all this time has passed and she has changed and we have a great relationship, the hardest thing for her is knowing what happened to me while she was gone, while she left us with my grandparents. I think she blames herself for what he did to me all those years, for what he stole from me, For the mental and physical fortress that no man has ever been able to penetrate that he built in me everytime he touched me.
Oddly enough, I do not. Because as I have grown, I realize that she was broken too, she was programmed to follow, and not think for herself, and why I thought that would change once my father was dead is beyond me. It certanly did not "fix" me once I was away from my grandfather. My mother was as broken as any person can be. When we fill ourselves with self loathing there is only one direction that our lives can possibly take. It is not something you can take a pill to correct, it is not depression, it is not anxiety, it is not mood swings, it is a hatred of yourself, a shame that you wear like a shaw, that wraps itself around you and fits like a glove, as if it were tailored, just for you, because it was. It was created just for you.