On the backseat of a station wagon

by: Debby Willett


At the ripe old age of eleven-years my life began on the backseat of a Rambler station wagon. My dad had his hand in my pants; his leg and arm secured me to the seat. His hot breath in my ear begged me to enjoy what his hand was demanding of my body.


My mother was driving, and brother was sitting next to her in the front seat of that car and we were moving from California to New York for my dad’s new job. All she had to do was look in the rearview mirror to see what her husband was doing to her daughter, but as I later realized, she always chose never to see.


It wasn’t until after being stranger raped in 1987 my childhood memories started coming back. Up until that time, the first eleven years of my life was a total blank. Then, memories began to flood back to me. Some of them were in dreams, some were in my daily walk, and some were body memories. It was then I sought professional help.


During therapy sessions, I had been diagnosed with PTSD, ADD, and Dissociate Amnesia. Still, there is a plethora of blanks in my memory – from my childhood through my high school years, and through my adult years. People have approached me and reminded me of parties we attended together, or just say ‘hello’. I would never have any idea who they were.


The memories that flooded me came so disorganized … it has taken me years to put them on a timeline and have some semblance of understanding of what really happened to me.


At one point, it became too painful and stepping back became my only mode of survival.


My dad liked to go camping in the mountains of California. Usually in rural areas, this time around many other people. Somehow I managed to get lost in the woods … how did I get there? All my screaming, all my tears, the man who reclaimed or rescued me … how did he know where I was, or how to find me? He didn’t have a face. When he returned me to my parent’s camp … my dad took me into a tent and things went dark. Which was typical for me after his incesting.


As a young teenager, I went to the movies with a group of girlfriends. It should have been a rather benign activity. Somehow I sat in the end seat … and even left an empty seat right on the aisle. Why, who knows. Yet, a drunken man sat next to me during the movie and put his hands all over me. I did not have a voice to stop him. I could smell the liquor on him every time he kissed me … my girlfriends never knew. He left before the movie was over, but the trauma he left behind only added to what my parents had been doing.


There were so many difficulties in past relationships. Divorced twice, there seemed to be a multitude of failed relationships prior too and between. Men. They always expected sex from me – to be touched by me. Little did they know I couldn’t even touch raw meat bought from the grocery store.


Yet, I kept trying. A third marriage, and a second precious son. I have been very blessed despite the rough beginning.


The worst relationship I ever had was with my mother. Why she never protected me from my dad was a question I needed an answer to. Finally, after years of traded words, letters back and forth, I had my answer.


My question to her had been, “Why did she sacrifice her daughter?” She was raised during the depression and believed the end justified the means. “I did what I had to do to survive.”


More than that, I have come to believe she is a sociopath. Today, she is content to have nothing to do with me, her only daughter. She would rather replace me with strangers, or step-relations. In reality, I am better off. She was toxic to me and certainly would have been to my children.


Before he died, my dad apologized for the things he had done to me. While it did not take away the damage, he recognized his responsibility. Something my mother has never done.