45 Years of Surviving Trauma
I have a long history of surviving trauma, and my healing journey continues.
At the age of 8, my mother’s boyfriend started to sexually abuse me. This lasted for years. At one point during my childhood, he even allowed a family friend to abuse me as well. I remember him telling me, “Do not tell your Mom. She will lose everything.” My mom worked all of the time, and he took advantage of her generosity. I lived in FEAR for a very long time-- fear that the door would creak open, fear that I would somehow hurt my mother by compromising their relationship. Eventually, people started to question him. They asked me if he had hurt me. I, of course, said “no” out of fear and worry for my hard-working, loving mother. Luckily, he didn’t stay around much longer... and that chapter was over.
My mother soon met another man. She quit working as much, and their relationship moved very quickly. I imagine she thought he was the great love of her life. I was 12 years old at the time, but I knew right away that he was an alcoholic. My mom knew something about alcoholics—her father and brother dealt with addiction-- yet she forged ahead. They married. It was July of 1987. Just 10 days later, my mother tragically lost her life in a motorcycle accident. I vividly remember the day. She left me a note to watch my sister, which I frequently did. My neighbor friend came over and we played. We went on a walk and came upon all of the flashing lights. I wanted to investigate, like any curious 12-year old would. My friend convinced me to leave. I did not yet know my mom was in the middle of those flashing lights. Little did I know up until 10 years ago, because it was too traumatic for her to tell me... Cheryl (Richardson) Mlcoch was walking with a classmate and she saw the accident. She and her friend stayed with my mom and her husband until the emergency services team came to assist in the situation. I know this is why our bond is so strong, she is always been so supportive and loving. We got back to the house and a neighbor came over and said, “We need to stay with you.” She then broke down and told me my mom was killed in a motorcycle accident and her husband was sent to a trauma hospital. That was the last night I ever spent in the house my mom worked so hard to keep.
My little sister was sent to stay with my mother’s parents. My father, whom I barely knew, decided I should live with my Aunt and Uncle. I felt orphaned for years. I eventually moved in with my dad’s mother—my Grandmother. Living with her was joyful, and amazing and we made up for years of lost time. But, I always yearned for my mom. I just figured I would be sad. I would write to my friend Cheryl. She would send me cheery letters. I would talk to her about break ups, she would tell me about her time at college. I still have some of the letters. She got me through it all.
After high school graduation, I had a loving boyfriend, and a plan to move out of our small town once he graduated from college. I was so happy. I thought my mom was surely looking down on me and watching the blooming of what would be a beautiful love story. We found a little place in the big city. It was wonderful. It was everything I wanted. In the early morning hours of October 12, 1994, though, a familiar pain returned. I was startled awake by a man bursting through my front door with a knife. He held the knife to my throat. He told me to stop screaming. He told me not to look at him. He put a pillowcase over my face. He gave me orders and told me what I needed to do if I wanted to stay alive. He took several pieces of property including my engagement ring and necklaces. He took pieces of me that no one can ever give back.
Once it was over, and I was alone, I made calls to people that could get to me quickly before the police. They held me to together. I had a wonderful detective and prosecution team and as a result of their hard work, the man who raped me was arrested. My testimony and the testimony of many other victims sealed his fate- 350 years in the Indiana state prison system.
That loving boyfriend, in spite of the horrible circumstances, became my loving husband. I could have never made it through... the waiting... the trial... the tribulations without him, and his family. Even though my case was on the local news, I chose to keep things private, even from some of my family. But he was always there, unwavering in his love and devotion.
I have spent years working through my trauma. I read self-help books. I meditate. I spend time with my family when I’m lonely or sad. I process my story. I process my pain. I have done this little by little for the better part of my life. I am now a “Grammy” and a mother to two beautiful daughters. My supportive husband and I have been married for 25 years. We make each other stronger. I have learned, through a lot of emotional, difficult work, how to work through “the hard stuff” in life, and it has strengthened me in every way. I still carry scars—intimacy is difficult for me—even with my incredible husband. I miss that the most, but my journey’s not over. I have time to heal that too. And if I don’t, I’ll forgive myself for that. I’ve earned it.
Life has taken me for a loop, but I will not let its “unfairness” drag me down any longer. I made a decision; I will not suffer on Oct 12th. I will celebrate being alive. I lived through that day, and so many difficult others. I live each day with a grateful heart and a determined spirit. I hope you will too. Thank you for reading my story.