I remember the fire ants, not really because of the memory itself, but because it was an event that was added to my mother’s abuse litany as proof of how she could not trust me, of how she could not turn her back on me, of how irresponsible I was, of how I hated my little sister

As I read mother’s description in her letter to father post marked June 17, 1957, I can still literally, physically feel a cringe of fear as it is still stored in my body connected not only to her response that day Sharon sat (or fell?) on the ant hill, but also from all the many, many, many this event was brought up over the whole of my childhood and added to the ‘cause’ of any particular beating my mother was pursuing on any particular occasion.

The length and ferociousness of my mother’s beatings were extended every time she beat me by her ‘adding on top of’ any present moment crime all those I had committed in the past.  Her beating fervor would thus be amplified, the beatings continued longer and longer the older I got and the longer the litany had become.  At least I suppose the strength of my body, and my physical size meant that I had a matching increasing ability to withstand these increasingly severe beatings over time.

While I do not remember what happened that day after mother discovered Sharon had been bitten by her screaming, I can see the back of the house from outside, the sidewalk, the bare dirt of the yard off to the right, and I can see the large fire ant hill.


This is what mother wrote in her June 17, 1957 letter about the incident:

“I spend every spare minute packing and sorting.  This house is so nice and well laid out for a small house.  It has many nice features that our others didn’t have.  Oh, to be able to build a house of our own and incorporate all the features.  I am going to buy some chicken wire to put across part of the back as there are so many ant hills out there.  I mentioned to you that Sharon sat on one.  Linda was to watch her in the yard and I had bought them a beach ball.  I think Sharon caught it and sat down on the hill.  She screamed! They were small red ants and each one was doubled over and seemed to have their stingers in her.  I had to actually pick them off of her.  She stopped crying when she knew I was fixing her and said over and over, “bite, bite, bite.”  I didn’t even know she knew the word “bite”.  There must have been 30!  They swelled and got all red.  They’re almost gone now.  Everytime [sic] we go out back, , needless to say she hasn’t gone out alone since, she walks around looking on the ground and says “bit, bite, bite.”

This morning while we were drinking coffee at the table and she was playing she came running in with my ‘snow scene’ saying “Daddy, Daddy”.  I couldn’t scold her for getting a chair and climbing to my bureau to get it when she remembered what I told her a week ago.  I told all of them it reminded me of the fun Daddy and I will have in Alaska next [wrote in winter] week and cheered me up until I see you again.  {Linda note:  She didn’t say fun Daddy and she and kids would have – which is OK, but……}  I let her see it and soon put it back.  She said “I’ll get my chair” and get it.  She says whole sentences – just so much now.  You’ll be surprised!  [Linda note:  This was written a month before Sharon turned 2, and 2 months before I turned 6]”


She certainly does NOT tell the whole story as she left out the incredible violent rage she let lose on me.  I was blamed (and blamed again and again, for many ongoing years) for DELIBERATLY allowing Sharon to sit on the ant hill.  In fact, I had cruelly and viciously (according to my mother’s account of my actions in the world she had created regarding me) INTENDED that her poor baby Sharon had sat down on that ant hill because I WANTED her to get bitten.  After a few years had gone by, the story that my mother continued to beat me for was that I cruelly watched as my little sister sat on the ant hill and played for an extended period of time — as she was being bitten.

That makes absolutely no sense now that I think about it today.  According to logic, and to mother’s description in her own words, as soon as Sharon FELL on top of the ant hill, the ants began to bite her and she screamed immediately.  Why would I let her sit there and scream as she was being bitten over a period of time?  Yet that WAS the cruelty my mother invented for me, that she beat into me, and that I could not question.

That is not what she is saying in the letter.  She sets the scene that I was paying attention to her.  In fact, I was playing ball with her.  But when it came to any possible (and many times over the years impossible) situations that Linda could be blamed for, I would be abused as if I had the power to cause everything bad to happen in our family that ever did.

The Fire Ant Incident, as my mother wrote it in this letter to my father (we were in L.A., he had already left and was in Alaska working and finding us housing), is an example of how my mother in fact often lived in – and could expertly create – alternative, parallel life spaces that she enclosed, encapsulated, captured and severely abused me within, that she never made PUBLIC to my father.

This is also what I suspect triggered her panic at us having to stay with my grandmother (besides the fact that mother had borrowed money from her mother and did not pay it back when she said she would).  My mother was not able to pick and choose, select what she was going to ‘show and tell’ her own mother about her private life – particularly with me – while she was spending those weeks before Alaska at her mother’s house.


As I continue my work of banishing my mother from the WHOLE of my life, parts of letters such as this one allow me clear opportunity to negate her version of Linda as I work at decontaminating my own mind from her influence.  I am working to extricate myself from her grasp on all levels, to free myself to be MY SELF as I truly am, not as she psychotically imagined me to be.

When I read her account of this event as she wrote it to my father, I can see a part of how she excluded from her story the part of it that she created just for me.  She in fact isolated me from any possible support I could have had:  “What others did not know did HURT ME”.  While she alluded to her own “Blame Linda, she was responsible” mode in this letter, she did it so subtly that my father would never have suspected what lay under, around, between and within that line, “Linda was to watch her in the yard….“


But I know.  If I can give my permission to know what I know – I KNOW!  That is the struggle for me, allowing myself to KNOW what I KNOW.  My brain-mind-self was so violently and consistently formed by my mother that ONLY her reality was real, not mine own reality.  I am fighting to know my OWN reality.  I am fighting for my own life.  I am fighting for ME!


The rest of the new 1957 letters I transcribed today, 060909, including the fire ant letter, can be seen at Take Care of Mothers.

These files are in a temporary location, but can be seen after they are filed on that blog in their permanent location.


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