Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 17, 2009 Chapters:  ...50 51 -52- 53... 

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Valerie Learns another terrible secret

A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind

Broken Promises

by Sasha

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Sexually abused as a child, Valerie grows up with severe psychological damage. Despite trying to keep her children away from her family, she descovers her daugher has been brutally attacked by someon

"No one can be happy who has been thrust outside the pale of truth. And there are two ways that one can be removed from this realm: by lying, or by being lied to."

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Richard and the girls returned from their vacation two weeks after my release from the hospital. When he learned I had been in a psychiatric ward, his reaction surprised me. 

Richard was a well-educated, intelligent man, but the horrified expression on his face, told me he was ashamed and embarrassed.
When I informed him that Dr. P wanted to meet him, Richard refused. He made it quite clear he did not want the girls to know why I was in the hospital. However, Tina and Sarah were aware of my years of depression and alcoholism. While they did not know the reasons behind my anger with my family, they had witnessed numerous arguments. Despite Richard's protestation, I felt it was important that the girls know that I was getting help and trying to put my life back together. Without going into unnecessary detail, I told them I was seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication to help with my anger and depression. Both Tina and Sarah expressed their pleasure with hugs and kisses. 

The girls returned to school. I did my best to avoid anything that could possibly cause a relapse. I continued seeing Dr. P and, for a while, my life took on the appearance of normalcy. 

A large part of my outpatient therapy included no alcohol, no romantic relationships, and, until Dr. P felt I could handle the stress, no job. He wanted me to focus on myself. I applied for public assistance, and while money was tight, Richard's child support got us through the month. The number of hypnagogic episodes all but disappeared. The medication for my epilepsy eliminated the seizures, and, I stopped hallucinating. However, I continued to have nightmares and depression continued to be a problem. 

I don't know how they found out, but my neighbors were aware of my hospitalization, and their interaction with me was noticeably guarded. Everyone kept their distance. The girls continued to play with their friends but it was always at their house. The parents obviously did not want their children around me. The loneliness was terrible. I hadn’t spoken to my family in more than a year, and while I occasionally thought about them, I had no interest in contacting them. 

Despite Dr. P’s warning, I did seek out male companionship. Every relationship ended disastrously. 

* * * 

After breakfast, I told the girls to clean up their room. I chuckled aloud as Tina, and Sarah stomped off grumbling, “This is not fair. Daddy doesn’t tell us to clean our room.” 

I filled the sink with hot sudsy water and as I began to wash the dishes, the phone rang. I quickly dried my hands and answered the phone. 

My heart sank when I heard Mary’s voice on the other end of the line. She sounded upbeat and in a good mood. Only curiosity kept me from hanging up the phone. 

“Hi,” Mary said calmly. “I wanted to call you for a long time, but I was afraid you were still angry with me and wouldn’t listen to what I have to say.” 

Curiosity again kept me from hanging up the phone. 

“Okay. I’m listening.” 

The sarcasm in my voice was noticeable but I didn’t care. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I said when you were in the hospital,” Mary explained, “and, wanted to tell you I should have been more understanding. I miss the girls and was hoping you'd let them come over for a visit.” 

Her words fell short of an apology but I knew it must have been very hard for her to make this call. I was still very angry but I tried my best to be civil. 

“I appreciate how difficult calling me must be for you, but you made your position quite clear, and I have moved on with my life,” I said firmly. 

I paused for a moment before adding, “You knew I was telling the truth about Daddy but still called me a liar. Daddy raped me, and nothing you can say or do will change that. Other than to tell you that you are the last person I would ever allow near my children, we have nothing to talk about.” 

Without saying goodbye, I hung up the phone. 

In a single minute, an entire year of peace was shattered. I buried my face in my hands and started to sob. 

“Is that why you never let us see grandpa?” 

Startled, I looked up and saw Sarah standing in front of me. My heart sank. I only told Sarah and Tina that my father and I did not get along. I never intended for them to know why. 

Filled with panic, I asked, “What did you hear?” 

With a sad expression on her face Sarah said, “I heard the whole thing.” 

“I am so sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean for you to find out this way.” 

Sarah began chewing her bottom lip and fidgeting anxiously. 

“What’s wrong sweetie?” 

“I need to tell you something,” she said. “Something I was supposed to keep a secret.” 

At that moment, Tina came into the room and shouted at Sarah, “DON'T! You promised NEVER to tell anyone!” 

Concerned, I reassured both Sarah and Tina they could tell me anything. I told them both to sit down. 

After a long silence, Sarah finally began to speak. 

“Do you remember when Daddy sent us to stay with Aunt Denise after the fire?” 

“Yes, that was the original plan but your dad and I decided you would stay with him instead.” 

Sarah looked over at Tina who was staring down at the floor and said, “We didn’t stay with Daddy. We really stayed with Aunt Denise. The first night she took us over to Grandma’s house so she could go out with her friends.” 

The anger I felt knowing Richard lied to me raced through my entire body. I did my best to hide my rage so Sarah could tell me the rest of the story. In the calmest voice I could muster, I asked her to go on. 

“That night Tina slept on the bed in the loft and I slept on the couch beside her,” Sarah said. “I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the man who rents a room from Grandma on top of Tina. He had his hand over Tina's mouth and she was trying to push him off her. When he realized I was awake, he got up and ran back to his room. Tina was crying, so I went into Grandma’s room and told her what happened.” 

Shaking uncontrollably, I demanded Sarah tell me what Grandma did. 

“Grandma told me to go back to bed and she would deal with it in the morning.” 

Unable to contain my anger any longer, I shouted, “Son-of-a-bitch!” 

"Mommy, Tina cried all night. The man really hurt her." 

I reached over to put my arms around Tina, but when I tried to kiss her on the cheek, she pulled away from me. She got up from the table, and before leaving the room, calmly said, “It’s no big deal.” 

“Tina, we need to talk about this,” I said urgently. “This is serious.” 

“Mom, leave it alone,” Tina said defensively. “There is nothing to talk about.” 

Tina went into her room and locked the door behind her.     As I walked toward her room, I could hear Tina's sobs through the door.   I leaned my head against the door and started to cry.  My sobs quicky turned into rage. I picked up a cup from the counter and threw it against the wall. 

Sarah was still sitting at the table and she was now crying too. 

“I shouldn’t have told you,” she said between sobs. “I should have done what Daddy said. I should have kept my mouth shut.” 

I put my arms around her and said, “No, sweetie, you were right to tell me. You are a brave little girl and I am very proud of you.”
My heart was racing and my head was spinning. Richard, Denise and Mom had all conspired to keep me from finding out! I did not intend to let them get away with it. 

Suddenly everything began to make sense. Since coming home from the hospital, Tina had been moody, rebellious and very, very angry. We argued about everything. She clearly resented me for not being there for her. 

I put the girls to bed early and called Richard. I told him I had an errand to run and wanted him to stay with the girls until I got back. I intended to confront him, but I needed to talk to Mom first. 

The drive to moms’ house seemed to take forever. The closer I got to her house the angrier I got. By the time I pulled into the driveway, I was shaking with rage. 

Mom never locked her doors so I barged in without knocking. Mom was sitting on the couch in the living room watching television. Without bothering to explain, I turned off the TV and, in a voice boiling with anger said, “I have something to say to you so don’t interrupt.” 

Mom looked startled and confused, but she remained silent. I paced back and forth for several seconds trying to find words to tell her how much I hated her. 

“I just found out about what happened to Tina when she stayed with you after the fire,” I blurted out. 

Mom sat up straight and started to say something, but I immediately raised my hand to silence her. 

“Richard was given specific instructions to not let the girls spend the night with you. Denise told me about that son-of-a-bitch and that you knew he was a pervert! I will never forgive you! You had no right to keep that from me!” 

Finally Mom spoke. “Valerie, we didn’t tell you because you were going through a difficult time and we knew it would upset you.” 

“That’s bullshit!” I screamed. 

I was shaking so badly I had to sit down. 

“Don’t even try to say you were concerned about me,” I shouted. 
"You didn’t tell me because you were afraid of what I would do. I am her mother and I had a right to know! She needed me and you did nothing but try to hide it from me.  Your only concern was covering your fucking ass!” 

“I talked to Tina and she was fine,” Mom said. “Nothing happened.” 

“What the hell did you expect her to say?” I countered. “She is a child for God’s sake! Of course, she is going to say nothing happened! Did it ever enter your mind to get her help? For Christ’s sake, you didn’t even take her to the doctor !” 

“We thought it was best not to make a big deal about it,” Mom said calmly. “Tina seemed okay.”

I ignored her pathetic attempt to justify her lack of action. 

“What happened to the renter?” I asked, still shaking. 

“He disappeared that night.” 

“How could you allow someone like that to stay here knowing he was a pervert?” 

“But, I didn’t know…” 

“Don't lie to me! Of course you knew. Denise told me she went to you several times complaining about him.” 

“Yes, but I never thought he would hurt Tina,” Mom said defensively. 

“You can go to hell,” I screamed. “You will never see your grandchildren again. As far as I am concerned you are dead to me!” 

I stomped out of the house slamming the door behind me. I got into the truck and drove like a madman all the way home. When I pulled up in front of my house, I turned off the engine and stayed in the truck trying to calm down. A few minutes later Richard knocked on the side window startling me. I rolled down the window and yelled at him, "GET IN!" 

“Today Sarah told me about what happened to Tina,” I told him. “You had no right to keep that from me.” 

“We knew you were going through a rough…” 

I interrupted him. “Don’t even try to excuse your behavior by putting the blame on me.” 

“I am not blaming you,” Richard said softly. “I am just trying to say at the time we thought it was best not to add to the stress you were already under.” 

“Bullshit! What did any of you do for Tina?” 

“She knew she could talk to me whenever she wanted,” Richard said. “She seemed fine. Besides, nothing really happened.” 

“You are a fucking idiot!” I shouted. “What child goes to her father when she is raped?” 

“She wasn’t raped,” Richard said. 

“How in hell would you know? Did you take her to the hospital? Did you have a councilor who specializes in these types of cases speak with her?” 

“No. Tina said all he did was put his hand under her nightgown and when she pushed it away he left,” Richard explained. 

“Well, guess what, asshole! She lied to you!” 

I took a deep breath and looked Richard straight in the eyes, “If you EVER keep anything that has to do with Sarah or Tina from me again, I swear, I will go to court and make sure you never see them again! Do I make myself clear?” 

Noticeably shook up, Richard said, “Yes, very clear.” 

After Richard left, I went inside the house and sat on the couch in the living room in the dark. I wanted to confront Denise but I was so angry, I knew if I came face to face with her, I would physically attack her. I doubted I would ever calm down enough to be able to talk to her. 

Later, I went into the girls’ bedroom and tiptoed over to their beds. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched them sleep. My thoughts traced back to the day they were born. I swore I would protect them, but I had failed miserably. My heart ached knowing there was nothing I could say or do that would ever erase what happened to Tina. She would have to live with my mistake the rest of her life. I knew I would never forgive Mom, Denise or Richard, but I also knew, I would never forgive myself.

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Finally on the road to recovery, learning of Tina's rape sets in motion another breakdown. Valerie is riddled with guilt.
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