First, I must say that this is the reason I couldn’t write a book…my stories will tend to jump around! This post talks about my worst day, a day that happened when I was 10 and in the 6th (I believe?) grade… hardly a linear time in the course of my life I would say. Nor is it linear in the frame of events. Yet it is where I want to start.
We lived in Virginia Beach in those days. We had a 3 bedroom house on a corner lot with no fence. It’s probably the only house that I remember the layout of precisely. The only yard I remember in detail. Every year the poor baby robins would fall out of the trees in the spring and get squished. Boy, did I know what they felt like!
It is the only place from my childhood that holds that level of detail in my mind. It should, it was a place of change for me. It was a place that brought out the strength within me. I look back on the things I said and did there and I am still not sure how I, at 10, had this strength within me. Then I know, of course. My Grandmother. She was always my strength.
Anyway, the point of all this for this story is that the bus stop was actually right in front of my house. It’s the only time in my life I had such a short walk! 99.9% of the time it was great! Then came this day….This day it was awful…and caused a freak-out. I did not want to get off the bus when I saw what awaited me in the driveway at my bus stop. I refused to get off the first time. I remember the bus driver completed her loop, allowing me to stay on, but eventually we came back to my stop again and there was no more avoiding it, I had to get off…I had to face the fact that HIS jeep was in the driveway.
So, I got off the bus…and stood at the curb in front of my house. I must have stood there for a few minutes before dragging myself up the front steps and opening the front door…. That was the hardest walk of my young life. I was scared of who might be in that house, of what awaited me for the next 8 years if HE was there…not to mention the torment that I knew my beloved mother, Carol, would heap on me….
Let me back up here. My day at school that day had been fun. My class had gone on a field trip to the court houses to observe justice in action. We were popping in an out of open sessions during the day. One of the trials that we attempted to go into was HIS. We were barred from entering the open trial at the door by Carol. While my class waited outside there was a brief conversation inside with..well I am not sure who… the result being that we weren’t allowed into the one trial that day that I really, really wanted to see. So, not knowing the result of that trial, I got on my school bus at the end of the day….
Staring at the door, I summoned up the courage. I had gotten myself this far. I had told my Grandmother..OK I wrote her a letter (My mistake, by the way, that’s why I wasn’t needed in court that day. My letter was proof enough.) I had suffered all the slights and trips to the jail that Carol had forced on me. I could open this damn door and face the rest. It was only 8 years. Besides, I had my little brother to think about. I had to protect him. I know he was Carol’s golden child, and that she would always protect him, but I still wanted the assurance that he was safe with my own eyes. A few more “just open the damn door already”‘s and I finally did.
I walked into the house and Carol fell on my tiny shoulders, balling her eyes out. She was seeking comfort from me! The judge had sentenced HIM to jail for 3 consecutive terms of 10 years each. HE was going to jail. That was all I heard. HIS jeep was in the driveway because HE couldn’t drive it anymore! Carol expected me to make her feel better because her husband was no longer at her side, and the child HE hurt owned the shoulder she was crying on. Yep, she really cared about me and the fact that I was now safe into my adulthood.
I did what I was expected to do. I comforted her. Patted her back a few times. I made the appropriate noises and then I passed her off to her friend; her friend that, in truth, had no idea of the monster HE was. After I was sure she wasn’t paying any attention to me I ran to my room and shut my door. Then I started doing probably the nerdiest happy dance of the century while calling the woman I consider to be my true mother, my Grandma (my Dad’s Mom.)
Speaking with her I was allowed to celebrate my victory and my safety; however fleeting in truth that proved to be. I was allowed to release all the emotions of the day. She let me get it all out. All my highs and lows, my fears and my joys. She was ecstatic for me that HE was in jail and that I was free of that abuse, that I would be free of that abuse for the rest of my life. I think even then, though, both of us were worried about what was yet to come….