This Is Her Story

Debbie, your dying wish was for your story to be told. For years, I avoided doing so, in the belief that those words should only come from your own lips. I entrusted that task to my father for way too long. I have no faith that he took your story any further than those who already knew.

Today marks the 8th year since you left this world, I’m feeling a little lost today. Telling your story feels like an appropriate tribute. May you be resting up there with a glass of Captain Morgan’s and a Royal’s cigarette in hand, getting the peace you deserve.

Trigger warning: this post will talk about child sexual abuse.

Deborah Ann Kiernan, born 9th of August 1966, passed 16th of August 2012. She was born into a wicked family. I believe she had 4 sisters, one lost to suicide. They were all brought into a despicable and unrelenting world, never given the chance they deserved. Their mother the devil, the father a goner.

I always knew that something wasn’t right in Debbie’s upbringing, it was apparent from the beginning. She took to me instantly and saw something I was yet to see in myself. I knew that something was wrong in my home life as that wasn’t how the other children lived. I was only 8 years old when we met, it’s hard to fully understand that your own mother has rejected you so young.

But that didn’t seem to matter so much when she was around. She made such a fuss around me. The second I would be through that front door she would be feeding me and cosying up on the sofa with me – in her Betty Boop blanket that I always keep by my side.

From that first day, Debbie recognised what was going on at home, before my own biological father did. I guess that’s why she wanted to protect me so much, she knew the face of abuse all too well. This was an unspoken bonding point between us, we instantly took to each other. She naturally filled the mother role that I had so lacked before.

As I got older, I started to recognise what was really going on at home and how abnormal this destructive relationship with my biological mother was. I also started to get old enough to learn about her past…

She would have nightmares every night, she’d wake my father up from the kicking and screaming. My father is a monster of a person, but I am glad that he would provide her with comfort in those moments. He would always hold her until she fell back asleep.

The reason for those nightmares? Her mother.

Her mother knew that she was getting older and her body wasn’t what it once was by the time she’d had four children. But she still had her thirst to quench. She would go out on the prowl, getting drunk and taking strange men home. She believed that her body wasn’t enough to get these ‘men’ going so she would unleash them on her children.

Several times a week, she would lead strangers into her home and leave them to use and abuse her children unattended. When they had their fill, they’d go finish off with the mother.

This was the reality of Debbie’s childhood and her other siblings. One of them disappeared with time, which I understand. It must be so hard to be around your sisters when they are a constant reminder as to what once was. Another, she started to self harm just to cope with the pain. Suicide attempts soon followed and it wasn’t so long until she succeeded and took her own life.

The remaining two fell into alcoholism. I can’t speak for her sister, but I know that Debbie’s childhood only lead her to more abusive relationships in adult life.

She had a son, his father a drug dealer. She was with this man for many years whilst he would throw her around like a rag doll. I do not know many details about this man, it was clear she wanted him out her mind.

Then she met my father, he really was the lesser of two evils. In her eyes, he was her Romeo. After having gone through so much, emotional abuse and a short temper wasn’t so much in comparison. He was her saviour.

My father still subjected her to control and aggression, though with him, it involved throwing items – his favourite being a lighter. He wouldn’t hit her but instead he’d throw her favourite mug in her general direction. He wouldn’t hit her but he’d threaten to leave in the middle of the night with his own children inside the house. He wouldn’t hit her but he’d scream at her for having a joke with him.

I can see how she confused him for a knight in shining armour, emotional abuse isn’t so noticeable when you’re so used to physical abuse.

It was also with my father that she was diagnosed with cancer, only a year into them knowing each other. I was never told the name of it, I was only 9, but I knew it was a rare and highly aggressive form. It started in her leg, so they amputated her leg before even bothering with chemo for concern that it was already too late.

We were given false hope, she was clear for an entire year. My father proposed and we started speaking of the wedding and her adopting me. But those conversations turned to, when it’s summertime and I’m better we’ll do this for the wedding… once I’m better I can adopt you… when I’m better you can move in… and then if I get better…

The cancer had come back, this time she lit up like a Christmas tree. Over the next 2-3 years, she had 2/3 of her lung removed and many other surgeries in attempt to remove the cancer. By the end, they were asking to perform a mastectomy and to amputate her arm. I do not blame her for giving in. All of this going on whilst living with my abusive father.

She finally gave up on treatment, she was given two months to live. She died in two weeks.

Whenever people ask me who is my idol, who do I look up to? I cannot think of anyone else but this woman. Throughout the whole time I knew her, she never let me see her down. She always put on a smile for me and continued to look after me and make food for me, even when she only had the one leg (she never wore a prosthetic as she hated it and it was painful to wear).

Debbie went through absolute hell in her childhood, only to be met by more abusive men and a gruelling battle with cancer. No one is stronger than that woman. She gives me strength every day. Whenever I am scared, I think of her and suddenly I feel so brave. For if she could get through what she did on a daily basis, I can too.

Debbie, I love you more than words could say. I wish I had a chance to say goodbye to you and tell you how much you mean to me. Thank you for being a part of my life. I’m so sorry that you had to go through what you did but I am so glad that you are finally at peace. As much as it hurts grieving for you these past 8 years, I would never take the pain away if it meant losing you.

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