Brianna Valenzuela
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Facade

A New Me Continued

Life during the case was horrendous. Everyone had a side of their own. We tried to pretend that we weren't all scared to death of the results of the case. The hostility was still there. When I returned home, things were different. I couldn't go a day without my mom showing fear towards me. She coddled me, but not for my sake, for her own. The social workers had threatened to take her kids away, but she was more worried about my brothers than me. After all, I had started this mess, would it be all that bad if they took me away?

My family feared me. Any word they said could be used against them if I told the social workers. I don't think they understood how badly I felt. They called me selfish for continuing my claims. To them, I was putting them through hell and I was fine. How could someone be so heartless? They acted as though I was never there. My mom would cry herself to sleep and my older brother would try to comfort her, but I could hear her screaming in frustration, asking him how I was smiling and acting as though nothing was wrong? She was right. I was acting though nothing was wrong because if I ever tried to apologize I'd be told that it didn't matter because what I had caused was already done.

All of this started my depression and anxiety. I couldn't trust anyone. My friends tried to comfort me but they couldn't understand what I was going through. I tried hard to gain some sanity through the mess. I didn't fully let it get to me while I was going to school. My grades weren't the best but they were pretty average. There were days where all seemed well and we all ate and smiled through the pain. There was always something missing though: my step dad. He'd call my mom every once in awhile in case the social workers had gotten ahold of their phone bills. She'd cry and tell him that she kept trying to get me to drop the charges. She'd say she missed him and never knew when things would go back to normal but that she'd pray to God and hope he'd hear her prayers.

My mom got us a dog, Luna, saying that she'd help us with what we were going through. She did. She'd distract us of our everyday lives and fill us with joy, yet we struggled with having to house train her.

Social workers came and went at our apartment. My step dad could see his child with the supervision of a social worker, later cutting it down to another adult relative. His rights were stripped from him. He continued working to pay for whatever we needed and also for the place he was renting. Once he sat down and asked me why I was putting him through this. I couldn't give him a response. I hadn't meant any of what I caused. I wanted to believe with my heart that he hadn't intended anything that I had remembered, but I couldn't. Every time I shut my eyes I could clearly see those memories. Was I to believe my parents or my own memories?

The harshest part for me was staying with my dad during Christmas vacation. As I said earlier, my mom and the rest of my family spent Christmas in Las Vegas while I was with my dad in Bakersfield. My dad was not the best emotional support. He had asked why I never told him what had happened but I knew that he wouldn't do anything about it. When he found out about the abuse with the friend of my step dad's friend, he said nothing. I didn't know whether it was because he didn't know what to say, didn't want to make me feel uncomfortable, or just didn't care.

My dad lived with my aunt and my older brother and I visited every other weekend.

There had been an instance where my uncle, his older brother, was staying over. I had left the room my brother and I were in to get water when my uncle appeared and started talking to me. For some reason I felt immediately uncomfortable; then he started kissing me all over my face, ending with him kissing my lips. I freaked out and called my mom to pick me. When my dad found out, he asked the same question and, again, I knew the result. Years later, my uncle kissed me on the lips again, and this time I felt dead inside. I was so used to feeing violated that I just didn't care anymore, but I still cared enough to finally tell my dad what happened once it did. His response was I expected. Maybe I took it the wrong way, he said, I was just overreacting. That's when I knew I couldn't confide in my own father.

I digress. When staying with my dad, I felt lonely. When my brother came to visit he had told him not to sleep with me in the bed that we shared because then I might put an accusation against my brother too. If that wasn't hurtful enough I had caught my brother on the phone with my mom as she was telling him that she didn't want me back in the apartment. She didn't want to see me, much less put up with me with what I had put her through. It was as though she was hoping for me to hear her.

That was the year Frozen came out. I watched it about three to four times in the theaters. It gave me hope that with love, everything would heal. My heart ached every time because I wished that I could experience it with my mom, but I was alone. I'd put myself in the very position that my mom tried to protect me from when I was six years old. But I wonder, if she had, would I have imagined those memories with my step dad? Would me going to therapy to talk about my initial abuse have saved me, saved us, from the case? Was this completely my fault? I'd later learn that whether it was my fault or not, the only way to move passed a trauma, is acceptance, but that'd be a long way from then. The case ended July 23, 2014. They were free, but I continued to live with my depression.

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