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.