Little by little, day by day, I was letting him get to know more of me, but only that which I allowed to be known. I still had not disclosed why I was living with another family, nor had I spoke of my mother, sister, brother, or my step father. I wanted to keep them and that reality a secret from this perfect person in my world. Our senior year at Middletown was starting. I had finally felt like a real live girl, with friends, a best friend who happened to finally be a boy, and a mom and sisters who unofficially adopted me. I had a family I was proud to be a part of and a life that felt like it was worth living. Still, there were spells of time in which my heart ached for my brother and sister, I could only see them when they were in school. It wrenched my heart that they were forbidden to talk to me or that they would be punished at home if they did so. My brother and I would sneak time before he got on the bus after school or he would “miss” the bus on accident. Our mother caught on to that rather quickly though. My sister, still in middle school, was not able to do the same so phone calls happened but only when she could sneak the phone out of our mother’s locked bedroom door.
Our mother kept everything locked. Her bedroom, the front door, the back door, the bathroom door too…we were allowed to enter the bathroom from the hall-way entrance but not the kitchen side, as that was hers. The windows were always covered and the lights turned out for the most part. She kept us in a darkness, her darkness. There was a tall, brown, double door pantry cabinet in the kitchen with a lock that only she had the key to. She kept the key on a wrist-sized silver ring around her tiny arm. The only time it came off of her was when she placed in on the nightstand beside her bed or in the bathroom. She kept herself and her keys locked safely on one wing of our house. She had made a living space on one side and a bedroom on the other. My step father has his own room and a card table in front of his TV downstairs in the basement. That had a lock on it to… she could lock him down there and he would use the garage as access into and out of his tiny space. Looking back I understand why small appliance started coming into the house…they were for him to still be able to eat! Her food was kept in there, her toiletries, her possessions. Slowly my house was being sectioned off as we grew older and farther away from each other. If she could have had smaller pantries for each of us she would have kept us under lock and key too, our home was not a home, it was a giant pantry with doors she would lock and unlock with the wave of her moods. It was imperative that when a down-spiral struck that each of us was on the inside of that locking door or we would be denied access to the bare necessities of even our bed to sleep in at night. We were all locked out of so many aspects of her, and as we grew older she tried valiantly to lock us away from the world with her. I know it was not on purpose now, but to a teenage girl who had been covering the mommy role for the other two kids in the house it was beyond stifling and stunting. She was unable to function out in it the real world, even when that real world consisted of just a grocery store or trip to Thom McAnns for direly needed shoes. The only way she could keep us was if we stayed inside her ever growing smaller and faster closing pantry doors. She tried to keep us at a safe distance to protect us from the pain she wasn’t dealing with but it spilled over onto all of us and kept a tight hold on to each of us for years, well in to the recent and now.
The depressive spells were just really long-lasting bad moods to us when we were little with some being explosive and some others being very reclusive. Mommy had days where she just wouldn’t come out. She would wake when we came home from school and go to sleep when were supposed to be getting up and ready for the day. She did not work a night job, she just could not sleep when the rest of the house was silent. She would spend nights trying to make up for rest of what she was not doing for us as a parent, like making special breakfasts of pancake covered sausage links in that snack-master appliance that was literally a god-send to the culinary-incapable. I knew it was an especially bad night for her when those tasty treats were in the frig, with paper-plate name tags on them for each of us and a smiley face with her acknowledgement that she did, indeed, love us.
There were many nights as a young girl I would purposefully stay awake until wee hours of the morning, when she was in her best moods, so that I could talk with her or show her I could be a good girl. So many of our conversations were strained and pressured as she just didn’t know what to say or do with a growing girl or the two kids following behind me. She didn’t know how to get out the this second abusive relationship that she literally ran into in order to escape my father, and had no one to turn to anymore at all. Looking back I can understand the life stunting happenstances that took place for this woman. She became pregnant with me at 15 years old and ran away with her sister’s finance to marry in New Mexico (feel free to read that last sentence again, I didn’t make an error there). The “favorite child” had become the household whore, and I the fruitful accident. This became a theme replayed when I became 15, my mother’s fear that I would fall the same horrors that she did, underlined and interfered with every authentic moment possible between a mother and her once adored child. Her mother was the same amount of incapable comfort that mine had been taught to be. She too was a master who wanted her prize possession back in the box, regardless of the tainted, knocked-up, and disgraceful condition she returned in for she still belonged to her. This was sadly a trait passed on down the family tree. This continued the saga of “I can’t love you but no one else will be allowed to either, for you are mine”.
The first time my mother “loaned” me out I was 2 years old. It began as a safety measure so that my brother who was just born and myself would be safe from the beatings my mother was sustaining on a daily basis. My father physically, mentally, and sexually abused a then 17 year old woman. Through both her pregnancies it grew worse and more volatile. When I was 7 months inside her she was flung down a flight of stairs and left to get herself to the hospital. She was sodomized by a man who professed undying love to her and yet he was still the better of the two evils in her life. When I was two the man who abused my mother religiously, accidentally dislocated my right shoulder from its socket when he was yanking me out of the arms of my mother’s other “evil”. I was his property too.
My life has been filled with people who wanted to “own” me. And at one point it was filled with people I allowed to “own” me. The day I realized my responsibility in this life was to learn how to be with others not belong to them was bittersweet. As a child, I had not much say in the matter. I had many words, many tantrums, many tears and break downs, but never an actual say in how it went down. As a young adult of 17, I started to speak much more clearly and extremely loud! As I grew older and was allowed more legal room to live a real life I also began to disassemble inside. I was resilient when it came to trauma and stress but had very little clue as to the real life ramifications of my still immature actions, decision, or behaviors. Also in that line up of unknowns was the teenage desire to be a real grown up girl with real grown up girl qualities and experiences…. those envisioned by the still teenage mindset.
All the while this surreal, you can’t make this shit up type of life is rolling around me, I was trying to literally just survive it. And this amazing young boy who made every moment a butterflies-in-the-tummy moment was becoming more mysterious and more difficult to be with at the same time. I didn’t have to keep all of my history a secret from him anymore and he did accept what I divulged but my own insecurities ate at me. My lack of experiences with the social norms of being a teenager were impeding my ability to be one. The new-found freedoms I was being given more of the further away I got from my mother and stepfather, along with the tight friendship this boy and I had formed were becoming intoxicating, overwhelming, and paralyzing. The love that he gentlemanly turned down was eating at me as well. I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to move forward beyond a friendship and I assumed it was me.
The intimate moments we shared, and those that we did not, haunted my soul and protected the most innocent part of me through the next 10 years of trauma, turmoil, and a path only a life of preset destiny or serendipity could navigate us through. Neither one of us knew our paths would ever cross again. Both of us went on to marry and go our separate ways. Before I moved across the country, I drove through the drive through at Kenny Rogers Roasters one last time, in hopes to see him again before I started the next chapter in my crazy life. In my head, as I sat there in line, I played a hundred different scenarios over out… “Hi, I know its been months since we last talked or saw each other, I got kicked out of Shepherd and lost my full ride but I really am still in love with you and I think that you are too but you are too scared to try, and before I leave for Albuquerque with this guy I met while visiting my father after not seeing him since I was 8 years old, when my mother planned his swat-style arrest for a “pretend” kidnapping, in order to get the $30,000 in child support she was owed, I wanted to give you this last chance to come to your senses, realize you loved me and that we are supposed to live happily ever after….”
I pulled up to not order anything from him and smiled, saying shyly, “hey I am moving to New Mexico this weekend and just wanted to say goodbye”. He said, “that’s awesome, good luck”….