One day at a time is…
all we can hope for
all we can controll
all we can handle
all we can be thankful for
its everything. One day at a time is all we need.
If we know how to be in the moment.
One day at a time is…
all we can hope for
all we can controll
all we can handle
all we can be thankful for
its everything. One day at a time is all we need.
If we know how to be in the moment.
I left for a while!
Writing had been so hard, piecing words together that paint the puzzle of my sister’s life I so desperately want and need to make sense of. You, my dear friend I hope can sympathize with me!I needed a break so I put my head to the books, finished school, changed jobs and have been surviving the swells of loving life hysterically and just feeling hysterical.
The dust is settling finally. I can see without tears blurring my vision, as often, and I want to continue my journey. I realize the pieces of the puzzle I have will not result in a completed product, there will be holes but I guess we all have them. I can only share what I remember and understand from where I am standing at this moment. The beautiful moment will be my future self reading these words – having a better perspective from the mountain tops I will climb and conquer in my future.
One day at a time.
She is eleven. Still a child but well on her way to becoming a young adult very quickly.
My parents decided to move from one town to another. This is a small place, off the beaten path. Parents sometimes think that small towns are safe, but you never really know whats hiding in the shadows untill you really settle in.
Everything seemed fine. Better than fine it was a dream come true in many ways. Mom and dad were building their dream home. It was beautiful, huge and inviting. A warm home, inviting and it was a safe haven – in the beginning. Lots of land to explore and roam free in. A place where the dogs could run free and my sister had plenty of room for her ever-growing collection of critters she wanted to care for. A horse to ride in the afternoons and care for. And lets not forget the new friends she was making right away. A wonderful new start. A chance to re-create herself, to be a strong girl and not the victim she previously was.
I don’t know how it all started because I had already moved out and lived pretty far away. Because of our age difference I wasn’t getting the story from my sister but instead from my mom and dad. Mom was pleased and dad was had his reservations but he traveled a lot and had to trust that mom had a handle on things. One of my brothers would have still been living at home but he wanted to finish his senior year at his high school so he didn’t move with them. The distance was not just miles between them but because of the activities and friends that took up his time he really was left behind during this phase of my sister’s life.
Sister got active in her school. Swim team, and cheerleading soon took up much of her time. She was also active in a few different church youth groups which pleased mom. Usually we are not looking for a wolf in sheep’s clothing, they are so cleverly disguised!
A little town has lots of advantages. But one serious disadvantage is the prejudices you don’t see right away. My sister was very pretty and she had many boys lining up for a chance to win her heart. They were sweet and nice but maybe not enough of a challenge. I don’t know, that’s just my guess as to why she chose to give her heart to the misunderstood tough boy. His mother was the picture of lower class. Her toothless smile at her young age, bralessness and dirty mouth all gave her away. I don’t consider myself to be prejudiced but I do try to see the difference between what a person says and does. This mother was at church every sunday and had been trying to make the best of what she had – but she also took advantage of every situation she could. She really liked that my parents were better off and she pushed her son towards my sister influencing them as much as she could. Who could blame here, she could see the advantages my sister had and who wouldn’t want the same opportunities for their own child. unfortunately the rest of the town was not as naive as my family. As soon as my sister started running around with him the other boys were no longer knocking on my sister’s door. We didn’t know why but we soon learned a long hard lesson.
She called him her sunshine. My sister was in love. He was 15 and on the football team, and involved in the church youth group. He also introduced my sister to pot. I guess it was exciting to be a good girl with a bad boy, no one really knew how bad he was! Dad wondered why a boy of his age was even spending time with a girl of 12. I think my dad had a good idea of why the sunshine was interested in her. Dad said they could not go on dates and spend time alone together but mom was not the enforcer of rules. Besides dad was gone a lot so his advice was not followed. My sister had mom wrapped around her little finger and mom didn’t have any reason to mistrust my sister yet.
When he turned sixteen he told my sister all he wanted for his birthday was for them to be together. HE wanted her virginity for a birthday gift. She snuck out of the house that night to meet him in the woods and there she gave him his gift. She later found out he spent the night partying with the older kids, one girl in particular. My sister was crushed but determined not to lose him. He became a challenge and she did not want to lose.
She was sneaking out more often now. Smoking pot together with him and his friends. Still a cheerleader but not being involved with the other girls as much anymore. I remember mom talking about it, wondering why the other girls didn’t call and come over anymore. My sister brushed off the questions. I am sure she had good explanations. Mom, didn’t dare to push for more information but I am sure she had her questions. Sometimes we don’t ask because we just don’t want to know we hope instead that the problem doesn’t really exist.
It was a little crazy. Mom decided she wanted to visit me so she packed her suitcase and left for a couple of weeks. Dad was traveling a lot but the plan was my sister would go to school and sleep at a friend’s house when dad wasnt home. Well, who in the world makes that kind of deal with a teenager? I told my mom she was nuts to believe my sister, but no one wanted to listen.
My mom returned to find my sister had moved out and was now living with her sunshine and his mother. What?!
Yes, everyday she took a few things to his house after school. She was home when dad was, just like she said she would be. Dad wasn’t snooping in her room so he didn’t notice it was getting cleaned out. Suddenly she was gone. My parents tried to talk with sunshines mother. But it’s hard to get a child back when another adult is giving really bad advice to two teens in love. My sister was skipping more and more school and was just about to have to repeat the school year. Maybe that’s why she wanted mom and dads help. Obviously they thought this was their chance to get her back so they bribed her with a car, a tutor and who knows what else if she would just promise to move home.
My sister is not stupid so she took the deal. Mom and dad presented her with a contract to keep the perks she would have to quit seeing him. Quit smoking. Quit skipping school. Sure she signed the contract! But she didn’t keep her word.
Drinking and driving. Smoking. And running away became the norm.
I often received confused and depressing phone calls from mom. I advised she needed to be harder and consequent with my sister but mom didn’t have the strength. I believe she felt bad for all the hard times my sister had growing up and just hoped this was all a teenage phase. Hopefully this to would pass.
There were some other boyfriends off and on. She couldn’t always keep her sunshine on a leash like she wanted. He would break up with her and make her crazy flaunting his other girlfriends at the football games and my sister would take him back as soon as the others girls tired of being treated badly by him. Having sex with the popular girls boyfriends made her feel powerful. She also would have sex with guys downstairs in the laundry room while mom and dad were upstairs.
Catch me catch me catch me – is what her behavior was screaming but no one seamed to hear.
She was pretty unpopular with her old friends by this time. Obviously just proving you can have sex with a guy and then telling his girlfriend doesn’t get you many friends either. Lots of enemies in a small town can start a war. Even if it doesn’t start a war that everyone hears about it certainly doesn’t create a safety net of people you can count on when you need help.
Time flew by and suddenly she was 17. She moved in with him. She was in her senior year of high school. He was unemployed and lived with his mom. My sister worked after school and paid for everything – she was almost failing out of school but hey she was with the love of her life, living in his mother’s trailor.
The older friends were getting into more than just pot smoking. Some were starting to sell heavier stuff. You could see they were involved in other things, their clothes and attitudes did all the talking. It was strange to see her trying to balance these two worlds. A cheerleader, working girl, living in a trailer and visiting mom and dad sometimes just to leave in a huff if they dared to question her decisions.
It wasn’t untill the day my mom went to give my sister a hug and she cried out in pain that my sister really took their help to get away from sunshine. She told her story of fear to my parents. The black and blue marks all over her shoulders and ribs supported her story of abuse that she had been hiding. He pushed into walls, and would hold his hands around her neck just long enough to let her know her was serious. He strangled the dog many times in front of her, kicked and threw him into walls when my sister wouldn’t do as he asked. He drugged her and loaned her out to friends. Why didn’t she leave? Well he wasn’t dumb either. He had taken photos of her passed out, having sex with other guys and taking drugs. He threatened her with the fact that he had photos and would put them up all over town if she tried to leave him. Then everyone would know what a whore she was. Mom and dad would see the pictures – she didn’t want that. She didn’t want to hurt them. So she stayed, she really tried to keep the secrets they had. But when mom and dad finally knew, my sister let them rescue her. Dad drove to the trailer while sunshine was not there, who knows where his mom was at the time. Dad got sisters things and the dog and left a note that they would call the police if he showed his face.
The funny thing is that my sister remembers this as them making her leave him again. She doesn’t remember this as her escape with their help, but instead that they made her leave because they were scared for her. She felt forced, talked into leaving. It just goes to show how messed up a persons perspective is with drugs and domestic violence as a daily routine.
It doesn’t matter. At least she was safe, from him. But she wasn’t safe from herself.
Before the senior year was over two of her friends were going to jail for dealing and the other for having unlicensed guns at the house when the police raided him.
She was getting very thin. Could it be the stress? Or did it have something to do with the pictures of her with a gas mask on her face inhaling something? High, so high in the following pictures. What was she doing?
I tried to talk to her but it was impossible. And then she was gone again.
This time she moved to a college town 40 minutes away. Mom and dad were giving her money to pay for classes and helping with an apartment that she shared with 6 other kids. To bad everyone was into ice at the apartment. Crystal meth, her new love. They would lose contact with her for weeks at a time. Showing up for dinner and having a myriad of new friends with her every time she came by my parents home. Leaving them no time for conversation and questioning. Just hugs and smiles, a little money and she was off again.
Why did they keep giving her money? Well that’s what good parents do if they have a daughter in college!
Fourty minutes is just far enough away to live a whole different life and keep it to yourself. To pay for an apartment and keep herself in her drugs she started stripping. Not a whole lot of time left for classes so she dropped out. The next time mom met her for lunch a couple of months later she was maybe 90 pounds at 5’4″. Her clothes were hanging off her small frame. She was a skeleton mom told me over the phone.
This went on for a while until mom got a call in the middle of the night.
My sister needed help. Her friend was also an ice user and had been having seizures sometimes after getting high. This time she had been foaming at the mouth and even after several minutes was confused and didn’t know her name or where she was from. My sister was high too but knew her friend needed help. Mom picked them up and drove them to the hospital. My sister later told me she was so nervous to be in the hospital because she had a bag of ice in her pocket of her jacket. She kept the jacket on not knowing what to do with the drugs and no one even asked her, not even the police they spoke with while waiting for the friends parents to arrive.
Seizures. My sister somewhere in her haze realized she had to make some changes. She decided to get clean. We didn’t really know very much about her addiction at that time. The only obvious things was that she had a problem – but mom and dad wouldn’t put her into a rehab and she probably wouldn’t have gone. She did tell me later about her experiences in the VIP rooms of the strip clubs. Breaking lightbulbs when they didn’t have a pipe to smoke the ice from and crazy things like that. I would listen and look at my beautiful sister trying to imagine her slumped over with her girlfriends in the alley high as kites. No, it was impossible to make the images in my mind real! It just couldn’t be my little sister.
Sometimes when I watch certain movies that have scenes in them just like my sister described I wonder how she survived it all. It wasn’t pretty. It was a nightmare that had to end. And it did kind of, for a while.
It can be dangerous to detox. But she decided she would do it at home. She moved back in with mom and dad and went through two and a half weeks of hell. She puked, crawled in the hallways screaming and crying. She said she was sick. Mom and dad said she was sick. My husband at the time said she was detoxing. Scary. She survived, I love her my silly stubborn sister. Finally we can say that her heavy drug use was behind her but her addictions were here to stay.
So here we are in the beautiful neighborhood. A dream come true for my step dad and the whole family. But sometimes beautiful things hide mean people. Not just mean people but mean children.
Little sister was a sweetie. She was trusting, and just wanted to be friends with everyone. I don’t know if she tried to hard and that’s why she didn’t fit in, but how can a four-year old try to hard? She was different and as the years went by you could sense it but never put a finger on what the difference was. Being late with reading and writing is not uncommon for first graders. School never got easier. Being a little slow in studies, and even in social skills. Not being able to read the sarcasm in what another said to her – she just took things at face value. If you told her she was pretty or that you liked her shoes she believed you! If you said it with a sneer she just registered a smile.
Unfortunately she was not shy she was outgoing! unfortunately, is the way I describe it because she just kept putting herself out there in harms way. By not hiding she made herself a target for the bullies. It was not uncommon that she would come after the school bus had already left because she had been chased around the block and had hidden in the bushes. When she came out the bus was gone. She cam home with blood in her hair because she was chased by kidsand they had sticks. They didn’t catch her but they did get a couple of wacks in before she got away. She was punched in the mouth on the school bus and came home with her tooth in her hand. She asked if the tooth fairy would still leave her money even though she didn’t lose it by pulling it out herself.
Oh my sweet little sister. Don’t get me wrong she did get on my brothers and my nerves too but we didn’t hit her and chase her in repayment.
Finally she met a best friend. A little boy a couple years older than she was. He wasn’t popular either but they had each other, and their animals, fish and insects – together. They would be life long friends these two.
She was the funny little girl at home with her invisible friends, and her black poodle that followed her everywhere. She made messes and we picked up after her. A pattern that continued our whole lives together. I am 8 years older, the boys are 6 and 4 years older. That age gap made a space between us that seemed to grow.
Little sisters’ older siblings had lots of activities all the time. We didn’t really notice all the trouble that followed her. Of course when her teeth were punched out and she was hit with sticks we would pay a visit to those kids and make threats of our own – but we were never at the same school, on the bus or at the playground. The teachers and bus drivers just let things happen. I guess it’s harder to keep after the bad kids all the time. It’s easier to say to the victim to try to stay away from them, to wipe a tear away and tell her everything would be ok. Well, through the years rivers of tears would fall from my sisters eyes and her heart would be broken many times over. But she would just keep putting herself out there for better or worse.
As I write I realise she is almost a little superhero. Nothing kept her down and she never gave up. Not yet, time would tell us otherwise. Even the strongest can not fight forever through a lonely life.
There were behaviors I remember that mom would try to take care of. Sister had a big stuffed unicorn, that she would like to ride on the back of. Her riding of the unicorn was a concern for mom. The kids thought she was funny – a little naughty but whatever! Mom ended up taking my sister to a child psychologist! I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I was busy with my activities and friends so I didn’t really pay attention either. There was talk of the pictures she would draw for the doctor – tree’s with big holes in them. Always holes in the trees and other things the doctor would point out. Nothing very serious in my eyes but what did I know?
I knew nothing. Untill one day mom received a letter. The letter from hell. Mom cried and cried. She yelled and threw things and cried some more. No explanation. So being the teenager, that had been the protector of mom and sister since childhood I went looking for that letter.
I found a lot of things over the next few weeks while I looked for that damn letter. I found little baggies, coin bags, roach clips and tin boxes stashed around in different places. Yes, I put two and two together. Mom was smokin when we were at school. It explained some things about her behavior. I called up some of my friends from middle school and gave the stuff away. I hoped mom would confront me but she never did. I continued my search for that letter and continued to grow in popularity from the free gift bags I would hand out to my experimental friends.
Mom must have had the letter with her wherever she went. She probably read it daily, to try to believe what the written word was telling her. She must have gotten tired of the constant rehashing of the horrible news. So, one day she left it at home. Under a stack of other papers in one of her desk drawers I found it.
My hands were shaking and my mouth was dry. I sat down at her desk and removed the letter from the envelope. I didn’t recognise the name or the return address but it was from the state we lived in when my sister was born.
It turns out that the letter didn’t really hold any bad for us news per say. Nothing you could put your finger on anyway. There were a lot of questions, uncomfortable questions though. I read that the my sisters father had re-married after we moved away. He married the woman he had an affair with while married to my mom. They divorced after 6 months though because that woman found nude photos of her two daughters from her previous marriage. The photos were not just of naked kids at the beach, or running around the house like kids do. These were posed, the little girls were posed in different exploitive positions. Nothing natural about the photos. These little girls were the same age as I was when we lived with my sisters father. truly amazing I was spared this experience.
Why? Why was I spared? I will never know.
The letter continued to inform that the mother of the girls filed for divorce but never made any charges against him. Again I wonder why? Shame? Fear? I will never have those answers. Those answers change nothing so I don’t even care if I were to receive an explanation today.
The woman writing the letter was the current third wife. She was young, 17 years old and had just become a mother herself. A mother that was scared and concerned and she had a bad feeling but couldn’t put her finger on why. Her daughter was having rashes, between her thighs. He said it was diaper rash but that he tried to have her air dry as often as possible without a diaper. The problem was, the baby never had those types of rashes when she was with the mother. Yes, only when she was with him. You see they separated soon after the birth because he was having an affair – this meant that he had joint custody. That little baby went between the parents like my sister did. That little baby got funny rashes between her thighs like my sister did.
That was it. I sat there stunned, cold, empty. The emptiness was replaced by anger and hate. Anger, mistrust and hate that I would carry for the rest of my life. Anger that I couldn’t save my sister, that I didn’t know and understand before I read it in a letter. Angry that the letter didn’t just come out and say what I understood. The words danced around and taunted of and unwritten accusation. Abuse. Sexual abuse of MY LITTLE SISTER. I wanted to puke. I wanted to murder him. I wanted revenge. But instead I cried and trusted that mom would fix this. The adult would somehow take care of the situation. Now she almost had evidence to prove what she suspected but feared to be true.
But sometimes, even evidence that comes to late doesn’t help shine the light on the path we should take to right the worng. Maybe she didn’t know what to do. She just cried and covered her eyes and hope the masturbating on the unicorn would stop. The holes in the trees would maybe stop being drawn in every picture. Maybe things would just straighten themselves out!
Life never straightens itself out. We have to take responsibility, action for our reactions. All I have learned is that bad things happen and we have to deal with them or they will deal with us. This was silenced. It was not spoken of. Many tears fell in silence from my mothers and my eyes. The worst part is that my sister cried too. She mourned not because of the memories of the trauma but because of the scars it left behind. Scars that were not explained to her. Feeling of dirtiness and worthlessness she didn’t understand. A sexual awareness that had been awakened and never a support to help her handle the burden and guilt she carried. Of course we didn’t know this had colored her life in the way it did. Soon though, soon we would see that all of this was just the calm before the storm.
Soon the sunshine of her life would show up. She would call him “her sunshine”. How could we know he was just the guard of hells gate in disguise?
Oh sister, you can’t save every stray dog and cat. You can’t nurse every critter back to life. Please stop trying to get the pigs in the pig pen clean, they are getting you all dirty.
Time flies by and little sister is turning eleven.
The spend the night parties continued.
Not Only the love affair that was splitting us apart but my sister continued to be shuttled between my mom and her father. He lived now at his parents home and that is where my sister spent time with him.
Mom was becoming more agitated. I didn’t understand why untill a few years later. I do remember there was talk of rashes. accusations and then the custody battle began.
Battles are never a place for children, but never the less we are often in the middle of full-blown wars. We were bystanders. Many things heard, were never understood but was affected us. I believe that my mothers tears were the worst part for me. The loneliness of having someone taking care of two children while emotionally unreachable.
It was about this time that my aunt became terminally ill. Her failing health became a light moment in my and my sisters life. We were needed and came to the rescue of the other side of the family. We packed a suitcase for mom, sister and I and flew to the other side of the united states. Surrounded by turmoil and love at the same time can be hard for children but I remember this as a great time in my life. We rallied around my aunt. She was in and out of the hospital. I was playing with my cousins, living in the same house as my cousins, grandparents and the youngest uncle. Full house the tv show had nothing on us!
My aunts husband was the financial supporter. He needed care takers for his wife and two boys. My grandparents were handling the finances but not really to the content of my uncle. Mom was given the job, and new issues for the family to be in disagreement grew. Everyone tried to keep the peace for my aunts sake, but she would not live forever to make sure the peace was kept. It was a few months a freedom and semi-peace for us but eventually we had to fly back and resolve our little family issues.
Mom and my sisters dad wanted to try one last time to work things out. I don’t know how long they tried but it seemed like forever for me. I wanted to move back to my grandparents and cousins. The death of my aunt brought us together again. Mom won the custody battle so this time as we packed the Uhaul and prepared for a long drive across the united states it would be a permanent move.
The trip in itself is etched in my memory. My uncle was driving us from one side of the united states to the other. We sat all four in the front of the Uhaul. I don’t know if the seatbelt law and babyseat law was passed yet, but we didn’t follow it. We are lucky to be alive. My memory of falling asleep, my head on my moms lap and my sister on the other side also asleep. I woke up but didn’t open my eyes. Something felt strange. That feeling of something not being quite right was what woke me I think.
It smelled funny.
Thats what I remember. It smelled in the cab of the uhaul. Ash was dropped on my leg and started to burn as my mom quickly brushed it away.
“Is she awake? Do you think she is waking up?”
Is what I heard. I turned my heard so they wouldn’t see the tears squeeze out of my eyes, it burned where the ashes fell even though they had been brushed away. My mom didn’t smoke and neither did my uncle that I knew of. How could I know what roach clips were for anyway?
I think he fell asleep at the wheel because suddenly we were being thrown around in the cab. My sister and I were on the floor and stuff was flying off the dashboard on my head. Maps, paper, diapers, everything was everywhere as we slid to a grinding halt.
My mom and uncle jumped out of the cab. My sister and I climbed up on the seat. I remember looking out the window and seeing our things strewn over a stretch of the road we had been traveling. The truck we were pulling behind the uhaul had flipped on its side throwing most of my uncles belongings everywhere. The police and the tow truck showed up. I remember they uprighted the truck and the police officer told us how lucky we were to have not had a more serious accident. Apparently the shoulder of the road had a drop off and the truck wheel went over it getting caught, throwing everything off kilter and causing our accident. I still think it was because they were high, tired and fell asleep. I have asked them but I never get a straight answer even today.
I don’t recall anymore special smoke smell for the rest of the trip. But roach clips would follow us around for all the years to come.
Back with the extended family I was happy. Lots of damage had been done to our family so far but I thought we were finally safe. I now had my uncles, grandparents, cousins and sister all to myself. All together, where I could keep an eye on them. Ten year olds think they have a lot of power over life – I was mistaken.
Mom took over the finances for my uncle. She took care of his boys while he worked and traveled. It didn’t take long untill she was the black sheep again and grandpa never liked my little sister. So we had two black sheep. Words filled with poison were thrown around about my sisters father, making my sister also a recipient of the poison. Mom took over and my grandparents moved out against their will.
The free ride was over and they were not happy about it. Or so I have been told. Apparently that was moms fault and sisters too.
I don’t know how I was so lucky to be the one that was loved. Lucky to be the one that is loved, while those I ´love and try to protect are despised and hurt. This kind of love is a curse and a burden but that is my story.
All under the same roof, and love is bound to grow. Love, safety, dependency. There is a difference but sometimes its such a fine line, that the line just seems to disappear.
There was eventually a wedding. A promise to keep us safe and raise us all together in love. I finally had the brothers I wanted in addition to my little sister. Life was good.
We moved. We moved again. New job, new location, advancement, new location and so it was for a few years. finally there was a move and a promise to stay put for a while.
I suppose that when you have been chosen to walk the long hard road it doesn’t matter where you live. Challenges present themselves everywhere. And my sisters challenges began again.
Beautiful house. Beautiful neighborhood. Upper class. we each had our own rooms and shared bathroom for girls and one for the boys upstairs. A bonus room over the garage full of toys and vhs tapes. My sister loved every animal every created, fish and bugs too. She collected and cared for everything. One day she would have 100 children and be a veterinarian. She always said that. A big dream she would never let go of and would never come true.
It was the same neighborhood, same house, same yard but there was something very different. How can I explain it? The feeling was different. Maybe it was because mom was crying all the time again. She had been crying a lot off and on my whole childhood. Usually a flood of tears was a warning sign for me but this time my sister was crying all the time too.
Mom said she had colic and her tummy hurt. Mom was crying because she was tired, or so she said. But it still didn’t feel right.
He was never home on time for dinner. Sometimes he just didn’t come home at all. I remember this because I had to wait to eat. Sometimes it seemed like forever, I was so hungry, but we had to wait, for him. I suppose mom wanted to punish him, make him feel bad that we all waited for him and he didn’t show up. Give him a guilt trip by making me wait for him too. But really, we were all being punished.
I started to get angry. All this crying, everyone was crying except me. Apparently I started to act out, being rebellious in my way. I wouldn’t come to the dinner table either! She called me and I didn’t want to just sit there so I stayed in my room. I knew I wasn’t going to get any food anyway I had to wait for him, so I just assumed wait in my room.
To outsmart me mom enlisted my help. She told me she knew where he was and I could help by calling and telling him I was hungry. I could ask him to come home so we could have dinner. That never went over well. The other woman always answered the phone. I had to ask if dad was there.
“Yes he is here”. She replied, followed by a silence that I assume was uncomfortable for her. I just waited for him to be put on the phone.
“Hello?” he said in a friendly tone.
It was confusing as he was one of my punishers but he was always so friendly to me on the phone.
“Mom, wants you to come home so we can eat dinner. It’s dinner time and I am hungry.” I replied. I wasn’t mad, I was hungry.
“We are doing some bible study, I will leave as soon as we are done here. Go ahead and eat or the food will be cold!”and the phone went dead.
It was simple enough. He would be there later. We could eat before the food got cold. Mom of course let me eat then. It’s not easy to eat by yourself at the kitchen table with mom crying over by the kitchen sink. She wasn’t hungry she said. Again.
When he was home he was quiet. He was friendly to me. He did what he needed to do then he was gone again. It was like winter in the house all year that year. No more camping, or our usual motorcycle weekends in the desert with the rest of the gang. No more motor-home trips. And eventually no more daddy. He took some of his things from the house and started sleeping at his parents home. He still had a room there, and we were left to live in the home he owned before we became a family.
I wasn’t his daughter. I knew that. I was almost ten years old now. But his daughter was MY sister. It was strange for me when she had to start sleeping some nights over at his parents home too. I remember mom asking if he was going to have the crib or playpen for her to sleep in.
“Nope. It’s a big bed she will have room.” Was his reply.
Mom didn’t like that. She told me she worried that sister would fall out of the bed. What could we do? Why would he let her fall out? Maybe she would fall out while he was sleeping? I didn’t know what to think. I was lonely without my little sister.
It was a sunny day. They were fighting as usual when he came to leave sister back to mom. No More of this! I was mad at them, they were dumb! Yelling yelling yelling!
I changed my sisters diaper. Got two bottles, powder formula, hot water thermos, three diapers, her blankie, diaper bag and her stroller. We were outta there! I walked right out the front door. This was not unusual because I loved to take walks with my sister. The german shepherd followed me to the end of the driveway and paused. It would be a good idea to have him with us too, that way if i had nightmares while we were gone I could snuggle up to him and sister too.
“Come” was the command I gave and we were off.
Two runaways and a dog. I stomped off with determination. I was angry and I talked out loud to my sister. I explained everything was alright, we were just going on a walk but I knew we were NOT going back there. All that yelling, sister going, coming, going again. Enough! I was so proud. I felt so big! Grown up! If no one else was going to make a decision around there then I would have to help them out! Two blocks later and I wasn’t stomping anymore. We passed one of my friends houses. He lived alone with his mom. That wouldn’t be so bad, to live just mom sister and I. We kept walking, three blocks stretched into five.
Now at the end of the fifth block was another friends house. Her house was different. It was almost magical it was so beautiful. My friend had a little sister too. The mother and two daughters were the most beautiful people I had ever seem. White blond hair, dancing blue eyes, and a daddy whom they were always hugging. I don’t know if that’s true but it seemed like everyone always laughed and hugged when I was there. I always wanted to sleep over, and was invited many times but I still wet the bed so I was to embarrassed to try sleeping over. I still think about that sometimes 28 years later! I wonder where they are, and if they still have a shimmering magical house, hug parties and dancing eyes.
I stopped and looked at the house. I hoped my friend or her parents would come out and ask me where I was going. I wanted to tell them we were running away and maybe they would adopt my sister and I. But no one came out. No one was out on the street at all. I had no choice but to walk that last block to our destination.
The end of block six was a huge towering fence. The planks were so close together there was no way to see what was behind the fence. But I knew. It was a giant field. They were to start construction back there. I played army with some friends back there sometimes. An old abandoned fridge, a huge dead oak tree with a hollow space in the trunk just big enough for my sister and I to jam ourselves into. That was my goal, the oak tree. It would be our first place of refuge.
I made my way along the fence, kicking the bottom of the planks individually looking for the loose ones i usually snuck through. When I found them the sun was high in the sky. I remember thinking how hot it was and how silly I didn’t have water for me. Only powdered formula and hot water for sister. Well, I would have to get used to being hungry because now I was in charge and she was to come first.
What an ordeal. I held the post to the side with my foot and placed one item at a time on the other side of the fence. I had to go through first to get the dog over. Then I took my sister out of her stroller and sat her behind the fence with the dog and went back to fold up the stroller and push it through. I was sweating now! Stroller up, sister in, hang the bag on the handles and now to the tree.
Sister was getting tired of our long walk. She was hungry, that meant I had to hurry or else the crying would begin. As I looked out over the field I was surprised at how much taller the grass had grown. It was almost up to my waist! Tall grass was good for playing army, but not so great for two runaways that had to have a stroller with them.
It seemed like forever to move forward maybe 10-15 feet. Sister was now crying, it was hot, bugs were biting us and the dog left me in search of shade. Traitor. If I had a rope he could have helped me pull the stroller. I would take a rope next time I ran away.
So typical that my sister would poop now! Perfect! Not usually a problem but out here? Ok, I took out the blankie,diaper and wipes and tried to lay them on the tall grass. I lifted her out of the stroller and it tipped backwards spilling all the contents of our runaway supplies. She cried, I was sweating.
“Just changing your diaper and I will fix your bottle.” I tried to reassure her and myself. But she cried anyway. Her cries escalated into screams. I changed her, made the bottle and sat myself on the blanket and held her while I fed her.
I was exhausted.
As she drank her bottle my eyes filled with tears.
I was a failure, I was never going to be able to run away for real.
My tears stung my eyes and cooled my cheeks. I was so sad, and angry. I couldn’t just give up either and walk home. I had all the stuff and the stroller plus sister to get back through the fence. I had never been so angry in my ten years. I felt like I was on fire! A volcano rumbling to warn the world. But no one heard the rumbles and no one dried my tears. I fought my way back through the 10-15 feet of grass. I struggled through the same process of finding the loose planks and transporting everything one item, including my sister, at a time. As I backed out through the planks I looked up and across the ocean of tall grass I saw it. The tall oak tree like a beacon of hope to tease me. The dead branches reached high into the sky and the sight burned into my brain forever because of the bright sun behind the tree. I can’t forget the intense hate interchanged with despair that I experienced as I felt forced to abandon the promised hope, that I believed, I would find on the other side of the towering fence.
The planks banged shut. It was as if I had never been through them. I trudged home, pushing the stroller determined to be done with the tears before I got back to the house. I had decided to answer no questions about where I had been with my sister. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of laughing at the silly big sister. Block five, four, three and sister was asleep. Block two my stomach was in knots. Block one, and home. Well here we were. The dog made it home before us. He was sprawled out in the shade. He lifted his head and thumped his tail as I came closer. I didn’t respond – traitor.
The tragic thing is no one noticed we had been gone. They had fought and yelled and screamed. Mom fell asleep on the couch and he was gone again. I unpacked. Put everything back where I had taken it from. Rolled my sleeping sister still in the stroller to the living room.
I have longed to run away many times since this experience. But I never have. People say I am strong – but I respond with
“Maybe it’s not strength, maybe it’s fear.”
Mom has been my role model. I have been my sisters. We follow each other through life. We copy each others patterns unconsciously and wonder why things don’t work out for any of us. It’s something I have shared with my sister, not strength to persevere but instead the crippling fear of failure.
If only we could have broken the pattern right here, right now in this story. Then I wouldn’t have to continue sharing her journey with you. Maybe she would be telling her story instead.
It’s all fun and games untill someone get’s hurt. That is what I have always heard anyway. Looking at families that have had to go through an intervention I think it’s a true statement. An intervention doesn’t have to be just for alcohol or drug abuse. There are many things that we use that can become an abusive situation. Never meaning to go past using is usually the issue. The intention is never to hurt the ones that care about us and love us but in the end that is exactly what happens. Our pain and shame that we carry as the problems stack up keep us abusing whatever it may be – to get the kick or rush we need so we don’t think too much about the consequences of our actions.
The lie is in thinking that we can out run the consequences whatever they may be.
The positive side of things is what we learn in the process. That love is ever conquering and can save us from our past mistakes. With the learning of lessons and sharing them with others being our way of giving back. Treatment centers are working with the whole family not just the addicts because the problem is not only the addicts everyone is involved. Every family has friends outside of the family that is touched in one way or another by the processes these families endure. Al-anon is an amazing place for healing when we are ready to start taking our own responsibility for our lives. Our stories change and shape our environments and this eventually shapes the societies we live in.
Today the world is full of pain. We struggle to handle our freedoms and understand our responsibilities as we understand that one individual affects us as a whole. The youth of today are showing us in their suicide numbers that even with the ever-growing freedoms we have that they don’t feel better they feel worse. We have access to more information than ever and yet we are not more informed. The world is more open than ever and yet we are more secluded and depressed than ever before! The question is not what is the solution, maybe we should focus on where and what is the problem?
We have more people on antidepressant medicines and less counseling. Less contact and communication in our families. More free time and still we feel unsatisfied.
You know it really bothers me that we haven’t had more press on the states that have decided to allow pot smoking to be legal. Sure it is new, but where are the discussions? No elementary schools or middle schools in up roar?
Bus drivers, taxi drivers, pilots, teachers just about every vocation should be talking about how this will be handled in the workplace. How to regulate, what to tolerate.
And if they are mad and picketing why am I not hearing about it? Touchy touchy I know I sound like a super moralizing republican voting fanatically religious way out there freak! But alas no, just an adult that grew up with plenty of pot smoking adults around me including a parent by the way.
So what? I will tell you that having a parent that smokes or snorts, takes pills, drinks, parties or whatever we are doing now a days is not fun it’s scary. It’s scary to guess how they will be today, if they will make food or sleep all day. If they are going to be the adult or am I taking care of my brothers and sisters today? And should I stay home from school to care for the little ones not in school yet?
Maybe I am not talking about the people that smoke every once in a while. ( what does that mean specifically?) Or maybe I am. I mean the ones that “don’t have a problem”. And did I bring up the secondary high yet? No? Well there it is. What about that?
And I hope that all this freedom means individuals take the consequences too. Why should my tax dollars pay for rehab for something that is legal? How are insurance companies reacting to this anyway? No problem as long as we choose the doctor that writes the prescriptions? Does he test his product? Which ailments is this good for? Oh and since cocain is used for eye surgeries in some countries maybe we should legalize that too, in drop form so we can drop our coke where we want it!
I am not against legislation when we consider that individuals will do what they want anyway. But I am for us considering the fact that there are children involved in the smoke cloud – and they should be considered. Maybe. Just a little bit? A minuet of your time? A second? Thank you.
Have you ever said this? Did you mean what you said?
There has been little talk lately about assisted suicide or assisted death but it is sure to come up again soon. There have been many books published and articles written and even countries that have written laws to regulate this type of assistance.
So what do you think? We have death in many forms some assisted and som accidental and lets not forget intentional deaths. If one of my friends that committed suicide could come back and tell me that they didn’t regret it I would be willing to listen. If one of the aborted babies, or mothers that made that choice could tell me they didn’t regret it I would be willing to listen. If someone who has assisted a death or received assistance in ending life would tell me they didn’t regret it and would even recommend it I would listen. I am not saying I would change my mind but I would listen.
Listening is the way to start a conversation, learn something new share something experienced. I want to be open-minded, after all I am sure we all know someone who has experienced one of these topics, or tried one ourselves.
I have a friend that has been asking for assistance for years. I have been listening, I can’t help him or I guess I just won’t help him. But I do try to listen.