The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I went to bed outraged and I woke up just the same.

The outrage is usually accompanied by an ache that feels like I have been bludgeoned from my thorax to my throat. It also makes my head ache and the sum total of my cervical strapping muscles seize. Over the counter medications don’t cut it much.

I sipped cold coffee and tried to explain to myself and B, the twisted agony.

Then it hit me.

I was in a boarding home this time of year on Christmas forty years ago (I’m forty four years old.) It seemed they hated only me. I and my siblings had been abducted by our abusive/alcoholic father who had later placed us in the care and keeping of an equally abusive Maxine and Junior.

I wet the bed every single night on account of cumulative and early trauma. (I had already lost my momma.) This was an uncontrollable behaviour that nothing seemed to remedy. I took little orange pills. My water was restricted. When that didn’t work, they made a public and protracted show of putting me in diapers and started their shame campaign.

Their public relations internal and extensive. One tactic was to put a letter to Santa Claus that the put on the fridge that stated,

Dear Santa,

Please do not come to Lori Anne.
She pee’s the bed.”

— Maxine & Junior

I couldn’t even read, but I knew what it said.

Every morning, they placed me naked on a wooden stool and took the urine soaked sheets and placed them over my head so that I could be used as a human drying rack. If humiliation could change a human, I would have been radially transformed. It did and I was. I was four, probably not much more than forty pounds, and fractured.

One morning I did not pee the bed! They were thrilled with me, and I was thrilled to be thrilled with. I was wearing a little nighty, and their large Newfoundland dog sniffed my unclothed crotch while I squatted by the Christmas tree. This dog’s actions were blamed on me. A frantic pursuit ensued with Junior chasing me around the house and it ended with me thrown stark naked out into the crusted snowbank, over the top railing of the deck.

I was indignant and outraged. I didn’t do anything wrong and I knew it. You see, while I hated the “treatment” for my bed wetting, I could see how I deserved it even though I knew I couldn’t help it. But I was NOT going to sit on that stool again for something I did not do. So I got thrown out naked in the cold instead.

In the same time frame, it was one of Maxine and Juniors own children’s birthday, and they ordered Kentucky Fried Chicken for all (I loved KC) — for everyone but me. I didn’t know I was not invited to the celebration until my meal was served on the floor, with the dog, in the front hall.

Christmases went downhill from there.

As I recounted all this too B, hot, festered tears drained down my cheeks as the vice grip of victimization loosed a bit. The old ache of early atrocity resurfaced yesterday with the new PR campaign update.

And so comes the ghosts of Christmas pasts. I find Christmas a time of heightened mourning and misery. I think that apt. It is why we have Christmas — it is why we need it. Like most survivors, I am acquainted with being assigned blame for things I couldn’t control; not only being eviscerated, but exiled; not only punished but brutally banished for being.

I didn’t like it then and I like it less now. It’s not only devastatingly dehumanizing — its deeply diabolical.

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