My Story Part 1
I personally have always been fascinated by dreams. I believe that they make up who we are and sculpt how we react to the situations in our lives. There are dreams that we have when we are sleeping those are fantasy or perceptive dreams were we take our daily life and add it to our subconscious memories creating wild and interesting stories and images that play like movies or slide shows. There are also the dreams that you have in your heart the ones that affect you when you are awake those dreams are of the way you want to be or the way you want your life to turn out. When the sleeping dreams and those you have when you are awake combine they become so life like it is hard to determine what part is reality and what is a dream. You create your own perfect world where everything goes exactly according to plan right up to the point where you wake up then they are smashed against a rock like a wave. Now I have had a dream that was so real it became a part of me as much if not more than the rest of my life. It is so important in fact that I now have decided to write it down. Like my brothers I have been avoiding doing so for years, because this story was not a dream at all it was just so real that I want it to be a nightmare that I can just wake up from so that everything can be ok. Pain makes you think and do things you would not normally do and keeps you from doing the things that you should. Unlike a dream, however, it does not go away and it haunts me even now as I write these words.
When something bad happens to someone they create their own world to escape the pain. When I was a kid I had a room in my imagination that had red flowers on the walls and in the middle of the room there was a big canopy bed. Whenever, I was scared or confused I would go into that room in my mind and hide under the covers. This is the story of what happen on the outside that room that forced me to stay there more than one should. Since the things, I have been through are strange and hard to believe I have left the ultimate decision up to you the reader of my humble story. As you read the fallowing pages you must decide for yourself what part of my story you wish to believe. Hopefully, I can at least make you stop and think for a minute about your own life and reflect on the dreams that you have had. Maybe my story will move you in a way that will help you deal with the nightmare realities in your own life. Just maybe if you know that someone else out there has had something bad happen yet they are still growing and moving on with their life. Then you can too.
First of all, let me start at the beginning of my life so that you can understand everyone in the story and be able to follow along. This part is what others have told me happened when I was born.
My life started off with a bang. My mother and Grandmother left in a rush from my Brothers school play to drive a wet, slippery back road in the dark to the nearest town with a hospital. My Grandmother remembers fondly that I did not cry much I just looked around at the lights as if to say hello world. After I was born my mother got sick and was hospitalized all of the time. She wrote to her friend about how much pain she was in and that she was going to have a bunch of tests. Within two and a half months after I was born my mother died of leukemia. Leaving my father and two brothers to raise a small child and fend for them. For most families, this hardship through unbearable would have been manageable. My family however just fell apart since my mom was the glue that held the family together. She possessed patience with her husband, and the deep wisdom to handle any situation that had a way of always making the gears of the family machine turn in the right direction. After her death everyone in the family went in their own direction. Her father was free to pursue his already established career in drinking. Her brothers split, Robert the oldest became angry and distant. Jake was silent and self-absorbed. I was left alone.
My father had been drinking heavily from the age of fifteen and since there was no one there any more to make him accountable for his actions he buried his sorrow in the bar. He asked his mother to come and help until he found someone else. The girl’s grandma loved her son and his children very much so she came to the rescue. Soon however the grandmother got tired of her son coming home in a drunken anger all of the time and soon went home. Leaving the girl’s father no choice but to hire maids to take care of his family. This angered the oldest boy who blamed his father for his mother’s death anyway and it drove a wedge through their relationship that would never mend.
Some of the live-in maids were good others were bad. My older brother told me that once a maid put me on the counter when she went to the bathroom. I reached for the maid and fell off the counter. The maid picked me up and proceeded to try putting me on the counter again, but my brother came in and held me while the maid relieved herself she was soon fired.
Feeling a desperate need to find a more permanent solution to his problem my father decided to we again choosing for his second wife a friend of the family.
So when I was two years old, a big lady and her son came to live with us. My dad told me that the new lady was her mother’s friend and I should try and be the lady’s friend too. Once the new lady established herself things began to change. This is where my story really begins and I will tell you what happened as best as I can remember.
My name is Sally Ann the first thing that I really remember is my first day of kindergarten I was so nerves that I shook as I posed in front of the French doors in my new yellow denim dress waiting for my photo. I clenched my new yellow lunch box so tightly that my knuckles went white. When the photo was taken my two brothers, my new step brother and I walked behind the neighbor’s house and up the one hundred and seventy-eight jagged metal steps to the bus stop. My heart pounded in my ears so loudly I could hardly hear my brother’s words of encouragement.
My kindergarten teacher was a very short loud woman who talked passionately about retiring and going to New York. In the afternoon, my dad came for neighbor’s children and myself. It made it easier to make it through the day knowing that my dad would be waiting for me at the end of the day. From then on my home life got mixed up and the world around became very blurry it was hard to think or feel. My step mom decided that since I was going to school I was old enough to help around the house so at the age of six I began to clean. First came the dishes, now my step mom had a cretin way things had to be done her way or you did over and over until she grew tired of the game. The dishes were all to be done by hand even though there was a dishwasher. The water must be scalding hot if your hands weren’t red when they came out of the water then it wasn’t hot enough. Each dish was to be washed rinsed dried and put away after the inspection for dirt. If just one piece was dirty you had to wash all of the dishes in the house including the clean ones in all of the cupboards.
Not wishing to get into trouble and eager to please I would stand on the top step of a two-step ladder and plunge my arms into the scalding water over and over taking care not to drop anything to the bottom of the sink because even on tiptoes I could hardly reach the bottom. This job would have been somewhat bearable just another chore but she would purposely wait a week until there was a large pile of dishes and then she would almost always find something wrong with the last dish making me start all over again making my arms burning all night.
That was just the beginning other chores also followed. She would make me strip off my clothes and scrub the kitchen floor naked, vacuum the whole living room with just the hose and if she thought that I missed a spot anywhere on the carpet. I would have to clean the carpet all over again with just a plastic sack and my fingers I couldn't stop until the sack was filled. She would make me clean my room by putting a 30 gallon garbage can in my room and tell me to fill it up and if she did not like the way that I made my bed or put things away on the shelf she would dump over the whole shelf and tear off all of the sheets from my bed empty all of my drawers onto the floor then tell me to do it right this time. If she were in a good mood it would only take three before she was satisfied if you were lucky. Discipline came next, it was more humiliating than cleaning and she found it was more effective than chores.
She started off with a cold front, my step mom would drag me by the ear down the stairs throw me fully clothed into the shower and turn on the cold water she would then hold the nozzle in my face. The water immediately ran up my nose, in a mouth and down into my lungs. Every time I would move my head to get some air the nozzle would follow finally after some time I would pass out and she would drag me upstairs again to make me sleep naked on the hardwood floor with only newspapers to cover me. Next was the salty whip method first salt would be poured into my mouth then holding onto the soft end of the belt she would swing with great arches across my back and legs with the extra large buckle. Or if she could not find a belt she would just pour the salt in my mouth and hold me down until it was gone.
When that plan did not work she became down and dirty first she would ask me a question.
“Did you wash your hands for supper?” If she did not like my answer she would, go outside get a cup of dirt, put on my food, and make me eat it all, rocks sticks bugs whatever happened to end up in the cup. With a lot on my mind, I had trouble remembering to perform common tasks without volition. For instance on several occasions I would forget to flush the toilet. This infuriated her to the point where she would make me go to the bathroom in an open gallon ice cream bucket placed in my room. If that didn’t work she would make me run laps around the perimeter of the house chanting.
“I will remember to flush the toilet!" over and over until I would spit up blood then she would give me a cold shower and send me to bed with no supper. Groundings were always fun also they would always go on for months at a time and we were lucky to get fed.
My life when on like this for sometime soon the pain became too much for me I became withdrawn distant and unresponsive I would do, something wrong to get attention then lie my way out of it. Each time the lies got bigger and more extravagant one time I drew on the wall at school and then said I didn’t do it. They believe me and said someone in the afternoon class must have done it. Setting me up to be a liar just to see if I could get away with it.
I wasn’t alone in my pain my brothers were also under all the same treatment sometimes worse for it took longer for her to break their will. Her son, on the other hand, was treated like a king. He never worked or was disciplined. One afternoon when everyone else had gone to town he came to my room. He told me to undress and lay on my bed. Me being just a naive child I did what he wanted. He took one of my large paintbrushes and started stroking me with it telling me that he was painting me blue just like a Smurf. When he was done he gave me a big hug pressing against me. He told me that this was our little secret a special time for just him and I. From this point on things just got worse each night he would come upstairs to my room. Make me undress and lay naked on the bed he would then place his clarinet reeds in me as far as he could all the time saying it was my special juice that make him play so well. He loved to stroke me gently up and down my naked body. On several occasions, he kept me up so late that I slept late in the morning. My step mom had a wonderful way of breaking that habit first she made me go to school in my nightgown in the middle of winter with only my coat to cover me when I got to school I did not know what to do I stood in the entry way and when the teacher came out to yell at me I told her why and she took me to the office where they got me some clothes out of the lost in finding. Just as I finished getting dressed my step mom came and gave me some of my own clothes. There was another time that I slept so late that I missed the bus. So my stepmom sent me on my way to walk the fifteen miles to school, I was only in the third grade. Luckily my dad came along and gave me a ride the rest of the way.
Most children daydream and are pokey about getting dressed right? Well, my Stepmom got a great Idea that she would in role me in a jazz class. I loved going there once a week upstairs were the dancers go dressed and undressed there were tons of old props, manikins, and other strand items. I would stare at them while I was getting ready one time I was so lost that time just slipped away and when I finally came back everyone else had gone I hurriedly got dressed and ran downstairs. My Stepmom was so mad that she had to hold her breath to keep from yelling at me right there. As a result, her face went red then blue and finally a deep shade of purple. When we got in the car that air all came out in a rush of words so forcefully it moved my bangs.
She continued to question my whereabouts and yelling at me the rest of the way home. At the top of the hill, she made me get out of the car and run in front of it. If I fell she would stop inches from my head and honk screaming at me to start running again my knees hands and elbows became bloody and raw. The gravel road biting into them each time I stumbled on a rock. Crying wheezing and bleeding I ran on in front of her bronco to tired to go on to scared to stop all the way to the house we went. I was then grounded to my room for the rest of the month where I had to write one thousand times, “I will not be late!”
When the dance recital was done my stepmom never took me back.
One day after school she picked me up and we went to the store. Somewhere along the way I said something that offended her so when we got to the parking lot she took out the first aid kit from that glove box and taped gauze to my mouth. Then she went into the store that time she was gone for nearly three hours. Plus she made me keep the gauze on all the way home all the way home and then sent me to bed without supper. Keep in mind that I had only cheerios for breakfast and one sandwich for lunch. My tummy growled so loud that it kept me up most of the night.
I struggled in school each day was a challenge I absorbed none of what was taught to me I would sit in my locker and cry for hours. So frustrated with the world around me that it would just overwhelm me and I would crack. My Stepmom became scared of my oldest brother so she made him go to a deaconess home. I missed him very much and longed for Christmas when he got to come home. Christmas was her favorite holiday and for the end of December there was no punishment how I longed for it to come every year. As soon as Christmas was over she would start all over again. About this time things got really confusing everything ran together and became one memory. On the first day of school of the third grade I went to school with a half of a tooth for the night before she got so mad at me that she hit me on the back of the head sending it into the dining room table. She was so pissed off at me for costing money at the dentist that she chased me home with the car again. One time I got bold and talked back to her she was so pissed at me that she forced me face down on her bed and then sat on me. When I started to squirm and cry she put a pillow over the back of my head and said that she would let me up when I stopped moving she held me so long I passed out and woke up later in my bed.
One time I did not understand why the toothpaste tube kept getting flat so I would blow air into it to make it fit again. She got so mad when she found out that I was the one inflating the tube that she broke the tube all over my room. If I had an accident in my pants she would make me where the dirty panty on my head all day.
Just when I thought I was going to crack I had a dream about a young girl and her mother driving in a storm there was a crash and the young girl died. The next day I started seeing and talking to that girl. It started out that she was just my friend to listen when I need someone to talk to. Soon however she became involved in more of a physical way as my protector she would get the punishment instead of me and then she would comfort me when I cried. That was my way of dealing with what was happing to me my brothers, on the other hand, took a more drastic approach. Two days after Easter in 1986 the middle brother ran away from home. I was crushed there was no one there to make everything ok. I thought I was going to die in took three days to find him. The oldest crashed the truck and he ran away after my dad yelled at him he come later that night and when my stepmom tried to salt his mouth he threw her on the floor she immediately called the police who would not come and get him so my dad and step mom had to take him in.
In the fourth grade, I got my one and only fight a girl hit me with her backpack which had a cookie monster counting machine in the pocket and I kicked her in the crotch. I got a terrible black eye and spent most of the day in the office because Val refused to come and get me. Some time later the counselors took me out of class and asked me all types of questions. One day I was taken out of class and told that I was not going to go home. I was taken to a local receiving home. I was given some awful clothes and assigned to a room. I spent the rest of May and June there until the end of school. Then I went to live with my aunt and uncle. What happened after that is another story.
God said, “Grace does not depend on suffering to exist but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.” The Shack, by William P. Young"
My Story Part 2
My memories are assembled in my head like a slide show. Some of the images are clear and come to me with just one click. Others are fuzzy or are just a blank space where the memory should be. The summer that I turned ten is a strange memory that I have to write down now because it is a continuation of who I am and what I have turned out to be and I don’t want it to turn into a blank slide. Three days before my tenth birthday I was removed from my childhood home. As usual I woke at six, got ready for school walked up the stairs to the bus stop took the bus the fifteen miles to school. After the roll-call, I was assigned to take the attendance sheet to the office. When I got there I was told to wait because the principal wanted to talk to me. Thinking I was in trouble for getting in a fight last week on the bus, I sat nervously on the bench. After what seemed like an eternity, I was asked to come into the principle’s office she asked me a bunch of questions about my home life. When I was finished answering she pushed a buzzer on her desk and a man and women in business suits flashing badges came into the room they told me that they were going to takes me from school right now and that I was never going to go home again. They kept telling me that they were sorry but my home environment was not safe anymore. Then they drove me to a yellow house in the middle of an empty field. The case workers inside took me downstairs to a storeroom where they gave me some outdated clothes and a Sock Monkey then they showed me to a bunk bed. I curled up in a ball and cried myself to sleep. I was awoken some time later by my brother. I have never been more happy to see anyone in my entire life. I hugged him for a long time and we talked about what was going to happen to us. He said that if they could our aunt and uncle were going to take us in. The court decided that it was best if we finished out the school year before being placed. During my stay, I had my tenth birthday without my dad present. This was the first time I had been away from my father for an extended period with no knowledge of whether or not I would ever see him again. The home workers tried to make it a grand affair with cake and a couple of presents, but I was still homesick for my dad.
Finally, the school year ended and I rode the Gray Hound bus to where my aunt and uncle lived. When my brother and I stepped off the bus we were warmly received and taken to my uncle’s house where I was to share a room with my older female cousin my brother would take over the room of my younger male cousin who would sleep in the downstairs family room. My older cousin grinned at me like a Cheshire cat and showed me where I could stay. She gave me the run down of all the room’s rules and told me that she slept on this side of the bed and that I was to take the other. I placed my trunk on my side and sat down on the bed. This new environment was so alien that even though I was surrounded by people I felt alone. That summer I played with my younger cousin for some reason he looked up to me and liked the games I made up. Sometimes I even got to tag along with my older cousin whom after finding out that I was a good listener and never told her let me be part of her group, as long as none of her friends wanted to do anything. We would play Barbies in her room for hours until her friends would call and I would be abandoned to clean up the mess. The next thing I learned about being in my aunt and uncle’s was that you had to learn how to work. Every Saturday and sometimes during the week we all had chores to do. I went out of my way to make sure that my chores were done to the best of my ability. I even went so far as to sometimes to my cousin’s chores too which at the time seemed like a good idea as a way to gain approval in reality all it got me was more work. I did the work and my cousin’s got the credit. One day my aunt told me that we were going visit my new school. It was then that my whole world seemed to crash down on me with the weight of an anvil. Somewhere deep down I knew that going to school here was the final straw, I was not going home ever again. The school was just a few blocks away and when I saw the high fences and a club house that looked like a guard tower I was convinced that she was taking me to prison. I had two sets of teachers one for English/History and one for Science/Math. They both asked me questions about what I knew and they both seemed very disappointed in my answers. I believe they both were convinced that I was going to need a lot of work. My aunt was silent as she drove me home that night. I had the feeling that she was disappointed in me also and I had no idea how to make it right.