When your start telling a story, little tiny other stories pop up that want to be told. Like I remember touring the Tower of London for school and seeing the ravens hoping around the courtyard. I remember one day while driving through the British countryside we stopped on the side of the road to pick berries. I remember going to the beach and it was so cold. The shore was just rocks, bits of seashells, and the water freezing. I brought home shells from that trip and kept them for years until they broke in a move. I remember being apart of Missionettes and Royal Rangers. I liked the Rangers best because they go camping. I remember a teacher giving me a book to try to encourage me to learn to read. I remember going to a New Year’s Eve party and my parents realizing children were not supposed to have been there. The officer’s wife put on Beauty and the Beast for us and I decided I would become like Belle.
I remember being in Girl Scouts with my best friend and earning lots of badges together. I still have my sash to this very day. I remember refusing to dissect a chicken leg with my hands. I refused to touch a single part of that thing and yet I won the contest to identify all the parts first. I remember doing a class assignment about the zoo and read about the Columbus Zoo. I wanted to become a zoo keeper and was lost when I gave up that dream. I remember putting on rain boots to go stomping through the marsh near our home looking for crawdads. I remember being let out of class one afternoon so that we could all watch a solar eclipse but since I was a kid, I was more interested in talking with my friend. I remember doing Civil War reenacting with my family and more than once hated the experience. I still have my finger-less lace gloves that I used to wear for it. These were the last of the good memories until my sister was born.
I used to have braces, but they were not maintained and broken in many spots. My mother when upset would grab my jaw and squeeze causing my mouth to fill with blood. My cheek is still scared in several places from being grabbed so often. I remember the first Christmas without my father. Our class was making Christmas ornaments for a tree to be donated to charity. All classes in my grade were doing this. I went to my teacher and begged for one of those trees so we could have one. I got my wish and still have one of the ornaments from that tree. I remember trying to make a friend but gave them up when they threatened my brother when I refused to try smoking. I remember refusing to ride the bus because of bullies and would bike ride the miles uphill to and from school as long as the weather was clear. Our second holiday season brought no Thanksgiving dinner until I begged a local church for help. That same winter a ice storm hit and the city was without power for a week. We lived in homes owned by slum lords and shared a home with over 60 mice. I remember the number because that is how many we killed with traps.
I remember getting my two Yorkies back after the divorce was final from my father. They looked like skeletons and were very sick. I remember being heart broken when we had to put them both down for health reasons. I also remember losing my best friend to a lie. I started to become someone I did not want to be: a drone in some office. I became an avid reader to escape my life. I gave up the things I loved to become the person my mother wanted me to be. I had my breakfasts and school lunches taken away when my mother’s new boyfriend said I was fat. It was horrible trying to hide the cans of slim fast from everyone. I would stay inside from recess so that when everyone was gone I could drink it with no one around. I began to hide and steal food because I was so hungry, I even used all the allowances I earned to buy food. In the name of weight loss, my mother tried to think of ways to get me active but did not care about the pain from my previous illness made this almost impossible. I began taking sharp objects and tracing the same lines up and down my arms until I actually made a scar from doing it to deep a few times. Once my sister was born life became almost unbearable.
When my sister was born I lost having a bedroom because her nursery was in my room. I became her babysitter when my mother and her boyfriend spent more time online instead of caring for her and night time care giver so that I could get some sleep at night. My sweet 16 birthday did not include any friends and all our family was more interested in seeing my sister who was turning 1. Many of my birthday presents that year became hers. Over time I adored her and loved her. It was hard when I was kicked out while still in my senior year. After I graduated I became lost. My boyfriend lied to me constantly and while on medication for ammonia, put alcohol in my drink because he wanted to party. I don’t remember much from that time. Even when I was admitted to the hospital with my first anxiety attack, he showed up drunk to drive me home. I was wrestled into the car by him and his drunk friends. I fled when fights broke out when everyone was drunk. I still loved him and brought him with me to see my father. I learned about the lies my “fiance” was hiding and kicked him out. I was so lost.
A month later I got a call that my mother was having heart surgery. I flew home to take care of my sister and I found out the damage her parents caused her. When I left she too suffered and developed separation anxiety. I found out she was autistic and she could not handle sudden changes in her life. I took her under my wing and treated her like she was a princess. I had her even convinced at one point that she was a Disney princess that had not been discovered yet. I made sure she had clothes, toys, and I gave her treats often. I took on a job at a local motel and regretted it. All the other staff quit so I was in charge of not only doing the night audit but all evening duties. I worked from 7 pm till 7 am for 7 days a week for months. When we finally got one staff member trained I worked a few less hours but still with no breaks. I started having trouble staying awake during the drive to work and one day fell asleep before I could walk out the door. I was fired for not showing up to work but I feel like if I had got behind the wheel that day I would have killed someone. I signed up for college and moved into the dorms that fall.
I had just one roommate and right away we hated living with each other. When I could not stand it anymore I moved to a single dorm room. I was happy but then the stress of breaks and summer started. My family did not want me to come home and my step-father was upset that I could not stay in the dorms full time. I tried to find alternative housing but it never went well. I was homeless and could not do anything about it. I could not even get enough loans to pay to stay for a second year so ended up leaving. The salvation army gave me an apartment and I became even more lonely. As long as I worked less than 20 hours I could keep my apartment and take classes downtown. I began to loose myself on the internet. The “friends” I had in my life were a small church group and I felt like an outsider to them. I was ready to die and hoped that I would do so in my sleep. I would take sleeping pills, a few more each time, and hope that I would not wake up.
My last ditch effort was to try to host a birthday party for myself in my apartment. When everyone said they could not come one of those “friends” stepped up and invited me out to dinner for my birthday. I was happy and dressed up for the occasion. When we arrived at the restaurant and I horrified to discover she brought me to another guy’s birthday party and sitting all around the table was the people I had invited to my party. My old roommate (who was now a great friend) looked at me with pity the whole night. Everyone had gifts and cards for this guy, but I had to sit through the ordeal since that “friend” was my ride home. When I got home I was in tears and was considering doing far worse to myself then pills. I had met a guy online and on a whim made a to call him. I wanted someone to talk me out of hurting myself but I was in so much pain. As I told him about the night he was as shocked as I was at the hurtful nature of the evening. He sat and talked with me for hours. At the end of our call I set up a meeting with him to meet him face to face. When I met him I never wanted to leave him again.
To Be Continued