A Too Real Reality

I think I know what Chickadee is going through right now.  My mom stayed with my molester, too.

Chickadee, for anyone who doesn’t visit Gawker five million times a day, is Anna Cardwell.  She is the sister of Alana Thompson, the over-caffeinated, gregarious child who stars in the TLC reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Their mother, June, gives everybody in the family nicknames – her daughters are “Pumpkin” (Lauryn), “Chubbs” (Jessica), “Chickadee” (Anna), and “Honey Boo Boo” (Alana); her husband, Steve, is “Sugar Bear”; and she is “Mama June”.  They are ostensibly famous because June is the worst stage mother since Mama Rose.

Now June can be seen as bad mother for lots of reasons – she spends thousands of dollars to enter Alana in child beauty pageants; she has poor personal habits that she teaches to her children; and she can be quite rude – but the one thing that made her a good mother was that she fiercely loved her children.  Now one man has proven, unequivocally, that Mama June is a terrible mother.  He’s not the father of any of her kids. She apparently hasn’t even been with him in a little over ten years.  But now she appears to be back with him – the man who molested one of her daughters.

I never understood who my mother chose my abuser over me.  She didn’t know at first, but my father told her what the man she was with did to me.  And, what’s more, the man admitted to it when she confronted him.  But still she stayed for another 16 years.  Why?  How could you want to be with a the man who did that to your child?

For me, the pain from not knowing the answer was a parasite constantly eating me away inside as I grew up.  I felt other from my schoolmates.  I knew what sex was and it made me feel broken.  What boy would want to be my boyfriend?  Plus, my classmates had mothers who loved them enough to raise them.  They didn’t leave their kids for a sexual predator.  Those kids didn’t have to make due with a mentally checked out father and a grandmother who did her best to provide mothering, but at times made it feel more like smothering.  Why did they get a mother and their innocence and I didn’t?

I began answering these questions myself when was either 16 or 17 and read Bastard Out of Carolina for the first time.  [Spoiler alert]  The narrator, another daughter with a family nickname, never knows her real father, is sexually assaulted by her stepfather, and – even though her mother knows about the abuse – is left by her mother to be with her stepfather.  Her mother says that he needs her, but the reader can tell the truth.  It’s the other way around; the mother needs the stepfather.  I recognized something about my mother in that character: she is terrified of being alone.  And that’s probably why June is going back to the man that hurt her daughter.

By choosing these men, though, June and my mother also experience their own kind of abuse.  They are manipulated into thinking that these men love them unlike any other.  They’re told that their lives would be nothing without these men.  These men apologize and promise change – that they would never hurt another child.  And, like the pathetic chumps they are, they choose to believe these lies.

Yes, I have a pretty good idea of the pain Anna is feeling right now.

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