“I remember the night my Mom woke me, my brother and my two older sisters up from a dead sleep.”Wake up,” she whispered shaking our shoulders as she hovered over the double bed where we were all huddled together sleeping. “Hurry, get up, we’ve got to go.”
Half asleep, squinting from the harsh ceiling light invading my eyes, I heard my sister ask, “Where are we going, Mommy?”
Mom didn’t answer because she had no idea where we were going. Actually we had nowhere to go. Mom was an only child and she couldn’t call grandma for help. That was made clear the day Grandma stuck up for her daughter and left her handprint on Frank’s cheek, it was him or her; Mom couldn’t have both of them in her life.
My brother, sisters, and I were so accustomed to Mom and Frank screaming and fighting, that night we had slept right through the swearing, shoving, and hair pulling. We didn’t even hear Frank slam the car door and peel out of the driveway so fast he left black skid marks in front of our house.
Mom used our shoulders to guide us as she herded the four of us, half asleep, down the driveway. The cool fall air washed over me and woke me up completely. The houses were dark on our middle class suburbia street. I glanced up at Mom just as we were walking directly under a street light. Her lips, usually lined in apple red lipstick, were pressed together. She was trying not to cry but tears leaked out, mixed with mascara, and left black stripes down the middle of her cheeks. I knew he hurt her by the way she favored her left side and her right shoulder hung downward.
Each time a car drove by and the beam of the headlights lit us up we all froze with fear. We were petrified it would be Frank insisting we get into the car and go home with him so he could give us all a good beating. Mom said that’s why we had to leave, “When he comes back he’ll be drunker and meaner. I’m afraid of what he’ll do to all of us.”
I don’t remember how many doors my mother knocked on before someone invited us in. I do remember that my legs ached and I didn’t think my five year old body could take one more step when a kind, lady with her hair in pink plastic rollers, and a floral house coat on held open her door with a big smile and waved us all into her home.” –Excerpt from my book.
I wrote my story because I refused to believe that I grew up through domestic violence, poverty, abuse and neglect for no apparent reason. Ever since I can remember I was always ashamed of my childhood. Until I realized that shame can harm you as much as your secret.
My mother lost the house when I was in kindergarten and we moved to the projects. We never had much of anything; food, clothes, toys. I got teased at grade school because I wore the same few outfits over and over and they were often dirty.
Once I grew up, married and started a family of my own I felt obligated to share my story. When my first child was born and I became a Mom many of my childhood memories came flooding back. As I held my son all I could think of was how my Mother allowed me and my siblings, her babies, to be abused and neglected.
I refused to believe everything I went through growing up was for no good reason. So I decided to write and share my story under one condition. I had to find positive life lessons I learned as a result of growing up by parents, that I believe should have been fired. Throughout my book you will see hand written positive life lessons inserted precisely where they were learned. I call them “Sticky Notes”.
As a teen I looked for love and healing in all the wrong places; alcohol, drugs, from a boyfriend, or popularity in school. My self-worth was so low that I assumed everyone was superior to me. I cared more about what people thought of me, than what I thought of myself.
Luckily I also looked for love in some positive places; churches, temples, self-help books and spiritual books. I read and studied the Bible and a Course in Miracles in their entirety. It was the Gospel House, where I found God and myself while sitting on a folding chair in a basement during a service.
For a long time I associated my childhood as a negative part of my life but after doing my work I realized every experience I had strengthened and taught me valuable life lessons. Today I use my work and past experiences to help others. It not only gives me purpose it also uses the pain and abuse I endured to help others going through similar situations.
I would like to close with one of my favorite quotes by Brene Brown “Our greatest lessons come wrapped in our most difficult times. But they don’t get open in the center of commotion; instead we discover them after it’s all over.”
My name is Ruth Pollack. I believe my purpose is to help and serve others. I work as the manager of the Garfield Heights Family Resource Center where I am blessed to do just that. As far as my personal life, I married my High School sweetheart and we recently celebrated our 36th wedding Anniversary! I’m a Mom of three and a Nana of nine. I am the published author of my memoir titled, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in a Dysfunctional Family.”
Please check out my book trailer on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrH7sZLVDpE
Visit my website at http://www.ruthpollack.org
My Facebook Author page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Ruth-Pollack
Email me at Rapollack1@hotmail.com