Excerpt from an unknown letter: Part of me feels like since you will never see this anyways, maybe I just aught to unload the whole truth of everything right now. Do away will all these notions that no one will ever see Me. I know, as life has taught me, that if I don’t keep it secret, somehow it will be damaging,. somehow it gives someone the upper hand. Everything until now has been secret, everything shadows. People would think, ” She’d have to have walked away pretty messed up from all that.” And maybe I did, but I know I’m not crazy. My thoughts have always been elaborate and over developed, now maybe just more so. I have always been this sort of abstract anomaly, across the boards– oddities in others have always been very attractive to me, like multicolored plumages. Thinking back, thats maybe how I ended up in that secret situation 2 or 3 times now..
Sure, why not.
To start, growing up there was always a lot of tension in the house. The kind that you could feel as soon as you stepped in the door. My father had a large drinking problem that he has inherited from his own father. My mother was prone to chronic bouts of depression, that maybe initially stemmed from the alcoholism that possessed her husband. Consistently there was screaming and crying going on, and while they where busy fighting amongst each other I was pretty much on my own from the beginning. Now let me pause for a moment here to say that I no longer hold any qualm or resentment with my parents for anything aforementioned. With age comes the understanding that even parents are, in the end, only human and humans will make mistakes.
I remember clearly that I seemed to spend a great deal of time playing with my dolls, and horse figures. Almost as much time as I spent watching my mother lock herself in her room and cry till all hours of the night. Dad would come home during the week sometime between 3 and 4 in the morning, bar close time. By then he was usually fully loaded and came stumbling in our house laughing and boisterous. Maybe it doesn’t sound all that bad given that he normally came back in a good mood, except that it was an every night ordeal. And not every night was drunken laughter. There where a good many occasions the house phone would ring around the same time, and we’d be leaving to look for him and pick him up because he didn’t really know where he was. On one particular evening we got a phone call from the City Jail. He and his friends had gone out as usual after work, but this time had decided to take a baseball bat and knock down stop signs for several blocks in a row before being picked up for Disturbance, Public Intoxication and Property Destruction..
At the time I was maybe all of 8 years old, but even then I wasn’t just enjoying bike rides and swing sets and slides like most of my friends. I was already getting in between my parents arguments, trying to solve problems an 8 year old girl doesn’t understand and trying to play mediator. It never really came to fruition, all my efforts. It somehow usually landed me being yelled at as well, then locked in my bedroom for the rest of the night after being struck a few times.
A few years later when my younger brother was born, the drinking and yelling was still going on. Looking back I don’t know when they would have gotten along long enough to have another baby. However it came about, it happened. Things slowed down while everyone was still in awe with the new baby, and I was so happy for him to have finally come. I had a sibling, which was a new experience for me. And his presence in the world seemed to make my family finally get along where I had failed to mediate. Eventually it all started back up again once the novelty wore off, and it actually made things worse because there was now a baby involved. There after I did a lot of taking care of him while the battles continued to rage on. I learned how to bottle feed, and change diapers, and change clothes fairly quickly when that responsibility seemed to fall on my shoulders. It was much easier to take care of a newborn then try to solve my parents problems anyways. The fights would get so loud and so out of hand, and sometimes went on for hours– and I hid him from all that as best as I could. Someone was always leaving or crying, and I suppose it was then I just realized this part of my family wasn’t going away.
Into my eighth grade year this continued to happen and because of all this my mother found someone on the side that she became involved with, She’d felt unloved and second best for many many years and that is how she reasoned with it despite her strong Christian admonitions. She’d often said that she never would have been led astray if she’d felt like she even had a husband, but instead she felt like she was tolerating living with someone she hated. When my father found out about this other person things got brutal and unraveled very quickly. I hated coming home from school because the anger had tightened on the whole house. We had just moved into another city close by, and I had no friends houses to go to there. My refuge was my school.
At one point my father had pulled the phone out of the wall and hidden it on her so she couldn’t call her ” boyfriend ” from his house. He was out drinking again, and she scavenged the house to find it. Her tenacity was successful but when he came home and she was on the phone, she panicked. She passed the phone off to me once she’d hung up, and told me to hide it for her. Told me to cover for her if I loved her and lie to my father. Of course I hid it, everything happened so fast and I loved my mother. I also hated what was going on, but I had no idea who was right or who was wrong and only knew I loved both of them and didn’t want the fights. He found out somehow that she had found the phone and had gotten me to hide it for her.
I’ll never forget that night– my own father seemed like he wasn’t even there. I was being physically abused. I remember how hot I felt, and screaming and crying and begging him to stop, but it didn’t. And I remember seeing my mother standing in my bedroom door way watching all this. She didn’t say a word or make a move to stop it. She wasn’t there either anymore. Once that line had been crossed, the beatings started coming regularly and lasted into high school.
Like I’d said, during 8th grade, my refuge was my school. I was a good student. I was in cheerleading and basketball and track and volleyball. Anything to keep me late at school so I wouldn’t have to go home when the bell rang at 3pm. I buried myself in my text books and had stayed in honor student throughout the last few years. No one came to any of my games that year, and no one praised me for my academic success.
When graduation time grew close, I remember crying in my teachers car. This teacher had been close to me for the last 2 years and had a fairly good knowledge of the things that where going on in my home life. I’d told him, in tears, that I wasn’t going to the graduation ceremony. I didn’t see the point when it didn’t matter to my parents, and I would be the only one there without my family. He’d given me a big hug and told me that he would stand up for me, and be my family. He’d reminded me how much work I had put in to get to this point and that I owed it to myself to be with my classmates that day. He played me a song by Collective Soul that had reminded him of me when he’d heard it. He’d said, ” You’re such a good kid. A strong Kid. I believe in you, and if you ever decide that you need help, all you have to do is ask.”
I’d come to school with bruises so many times. One infamous day I had just finished practice and was waiting in the gym to be picked up. I was the last one there for some reason and the rest of the school had cleared out a while ago. I don’t remember entirely what happened, but Dad had found me in the gym and gotten upset at me about something. I was again, abused and screamed at. My best friend and her mother saw it happening, or so I found out later. Right about the time she told me she wasn’t able to hang out with me anymore after school because her parents where afraid for her to be around me and my family.
That particular memory is one that I have managed to block out for quite some time.
After that I was sent to a public high school in our new city, after 8 straight years of being brought up in the private Lutheran school. Needless to say, I didn’t have any friends attending the same school now, and I didn’t know a single person there. Our new city was a very small one, with a population density of somewhere abouts 1500. In those types of places, everyone seems to know everything about everyone somehow. And once people form an opinion on you, thats the end of it.
My parents where separating at the time. Mom and my brother and I continued to live in the house, and my father had moved back in with my grandmother. Everyone in my school somehow knew about my current situation in regards to my family. And being a aloof new girl , they liked to say things that weren’t very nice behind my back just loud enough for me to hear and be stung by. With everything else, I just couldn’t deal with it, when a month into the school year it was still going on. I stopped going to classes, and for a while I still went to school but just hid in the bathroom stalls for hours at a time. Eventually I figured out the exact route and time my mother left for work every day. Conveniently there was a park with a hiking trail through the woods along this very same route. I hung out on the trail under the guise that I was walking to school now, and waited until I saw her car leave for the day, then I’d go home. The life of a latch key kid. I’d erase the voice mails the high school left on our answering machine about my absence. I had the system down. I don’t know that I thought I’d get away with this forever, but at the time I didn’t really care about the potential consequences. Anything was better than going back to that school. Kids can be ruthless.