I think I was about 12 when my father started to come out of jail, every 3 months. He didn’t have a good relationship with my mom anymore. She would almost never go see him anymore. I think he had a girl friend who would visit him in jail. However, again, he was able to visit us at our home every 3 months or so. He would spend a few days with us. My mom and sisters were always gone. The first time he was alone with me at the house, on Martial St., in Montréal-Nord, he told me that he needed real sex. That my mom didn’t give it to him and he didn’t know what he would do to her if I didn’t give him any…that he needed to have it real bad…
This went on and off until I was almost 14. When I was almost 14, I started to make sure I wasn’t home when he was. I would stay at friend’s house. At one point I ran away from home; because I didn’t want to live where he would come back.
Finally at 14 and 2 months of age, I met a handsome Italian Mafia guy. He was only 19, but for me he was way old enough and strong enough to take care of my dad, plus he had a gun. I didn’t want my dad to be killed; I just wanted him gone, far away. I was afraid to tell my new found boyfriend what had happened, but I did. With his strong Italian temper, he wanted to kill him and have others dispose of his body. I begged him not to do that. He did however, came to my place. He pointed the gun to my father’s face and told him to leave far away and to never come back or he would kill him. Two weeks later, my father was gone from Montreal to Quebec City, which is about 4 hours away. This was in the 70s; and for us at that time, hours away seemed very far. I was happy.
My Italian boyfriend was good for me. He was truly protective. I felt very safe with him; and he truly loved me. He took me to meet his family in Italy, which met he was very serious about me. However, the day we were getting the large event for our engagement party, with my mom there, he said to the man (another Italian mafia guy,) “I don’t know what to do, she isn’t a virgin; I want to marry a virgin.” He knew I wasn’t a virgin because of my father; but he crushed me when he said those words. I felt like my life was falling apart, my hero, my prince charm was leaving me and putting me down…all in front of my mother. At that time, my mom didn’t know anything about nothing. The only ones who knew about what my father had done were 2 of my sisters. Both told me “don’t say anything to mom, it will kill her and she will kill him. Plus they will place dad back in jail.” Because of that, I did say anything to my sisters about what Sylvio (my Italian boyfriend) had done to our father. They didn’t know he pointed a gun to his head; and I think they still don’t know.
Sylvio and I never did get engaged. We did date until I was 17 years old. At that time, I am the one who left him. Two weeks later, I went to Jamaica with my mom for a vacation and met the man I was going to marry (an Italian from Chicago.) I guess I was looking for Sylvio again in a way, but Carmen was nothing like Sylvio. I mean no mafia, no protection, he didn’t even speak Italian. Carmen was simply a good American man. I felt in love with him, within one week. I met Carmen March 28, 1981, I went to see him in Chicago in April 1981, and he asked me to marry him. He came back to Montreal with me for the Memorial weekend, so the end of May 1981. We told my mom that I we were going to get married and that I were moving to Chicago. By June 18, 1981 I was moved to Chicago; and by August 28, 1981, I was married to Carmen….
I thought I was fine. My past was gone, over, and far away. I was now Mrs. Zeno in a different country. I missed my mom and sisters, but I was happy there. Everything was new…I was married, I had a real job, and I was planning a family. All was great until the beginning of the 90s. My children were doing great. They were healthy and beautiful. They had a good father and I was a great mother for them. However, it seems that from one day to the next, I started to feel depressed, lonely, sad, and found myself thinking about my lost family in Canada…and what my dad had done to me.
This was the beginning of my life dealing with PTSD and DEPRESSION. I was even diagnosed with Bi-Polar for many years, until finally a smarter doctor discovered that I wasn’t Bi-Polar, but yes I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Now, I am 48 years old. I am on Social Security Disability because I haven’t been able to provide for myself. I did go back to school and received a degree in Radiology with honors…but I simply can’t go to work regularly. I struggle all my life to become independent, but I have yet to succeed. I know my children are strongly affected by this. I mean they wish they had a normal mother, a strong mother. They think I could do it “if I wanted too bad enough.”
I am sad and lonely. I miss my sisters and my mom. I get 740.00/month and 186.00 in food stamps. I wish I could change my life, but I have so many obstacles…so much is hard for me.