I wrote this yesterday, but then I took it down. I was kind of lost in memories and feelings, and I don’t have much of a filter when that happens. I just talk and write honestly, and sometimes I say too much and regret it later. I’m more levelheaded today, and I’ve decided to put it back up. I’m nervous about it, and I don’t know that I won’t still regret it…but I’m going to take that risk. Here goes.
Note: Please be kind. This is difficult for me to post, to put out there for people to see. But I think it’s important to tell my story, and it’s important to bring these “deep dark secrets” out into the light. It’s healing. So please, just…be gentle…
One day of finals left. Most people would be excited. Summer is almost here. No school!
I hate it.
I dread it.
Summer is not something to look forward to.
Ever since That summer.
I want to be cheerful and happy and excited right now, but I’m not. I’m just not, and I don’t want to pretend to be.
Some of what I’m going to write in this post might not make sense. I don’t feel like explaining it now, I just want to write. Need to write.
I rode the carousel at the zoo today, and it made me smile, for-real smile. Little me was happy. Little me was remembering. Feeling like she was flying.
I’ve had a very strong sense of being little today. Being small. Being young. And remembering.
Grieving for those memories.
Beautiful, innocent moments in time that I can never get back.
Times before That summer.
Times before I realized.
I had a happy childhood, I did, for the most part.
It’s only now that I look back and remember the not-so-good parts.
I never really forgot, but I put it away.
I just remembered the good parts.
Daddy carrying me down the driveway on summer nights, wrapped in a blanket. Showing me the fireflies twinkling down in the holler.
Listening to him play his harmonica. And sing. “Where have all the flowers gone…long time passing…where have all the flowers gone…long time ago…” Or “You take the high road, and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be to Scotland befoooore ya!”
I miss it. I miss him.
He would give me BIG BEAR HUGS
and little bear hugs.
BIG BEAR KISSES
and little bear kisses.
That was something special, just between the two of us. I was his little girl.
Sometimes we’d wake up early in the morning, and we’d read from Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, just the page about getting up and getting ready for the day. And then we’d make french toast together, just me and him. With cinnamon and nutmeg.
He made me a little wooden chair once, so I could sit with him in the tractor and the combine, after I was too big to sit on his lap anymore. I spent hours out there, riding in the combine with him.
And when he took me with him trucking, we would stop for the night at a rest area, go inside and brush our teeth, and then we would go back outside and race around the truck.
Why did he have to change?
I miss him, I miss my daddy.
I loved my daddy. I trusted my daddy. I felt safe with my daddy. I was his little girl, and he loved me…
I don’t know what happened. And sometimes I wonder if it was my fault. If I made him change. If I made him get mad at me because I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t listen to him or do what he told me to.
I look back now and remember that he wasn’t always nice.
He yelled back then too.
Him and mom would fight sometimes, and yell at each other, and one of them would leave, drive off in the car, and we wouldn’t know when they’d be back.
It was kind of scary.
Especially when he left and mom cried.
I felt like I did something wrong.
But I put those memories away. They weren’t a big deal. That was normal. Parents lose their temper sometimes. They fight. They yell at each other. They get mad and it can be kind of scary. But they don’t hurt each other, even though sometimes you think they might. One of them leaves. But they always come back. They still love each other. We’re just a normal family. Just a normal, happy family. Just like any other family.
The memories are pretty fuzzy. So don’t take it as fact. I don’t remember how often they fought, or how often one of them left, or how scary it actually got. I’m just writing what I feel, what little me feels, and I’ve always been sensitive. My feelings could well be an exaggeration of what actually happened.
But that stuff was never important until recently. It was just always there in the back of my head, put on a dusty shelf and forgotten about, because it was never a big deal. It was just normal, and I was sure all families were like that. I’m still not sure they’re not!
I had a good childhood. A happy childhood. Playing outside all the time. When you live on 90 acres of land and a good portion of it is woods, you come up with all sorts of things to do. I always had a great imagination, was always playing pretend. Dancing and singing and running around and climbing trees. There was so much good there, so much beautiful, wonderful stuff.
I don’t think it changed all at once. I think it was gradual, as I grew older.
I didn’t see it right away.
But it all came to a head That summer.
Summer after 8th grade.
Summer was still something to look forward to then, for the most part. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my friends much, but it didn’t bother me then. I had my brothers to play with and woods to explore and stories to make up.
Plus, no school meant no science class, and no science class meant no boys to pick on me. One of the boys lived next door to the playground by my grandma’s house. I didn’t like to go to the playground in case I saw him, and I made that clear. I didn’t like him and I didn’t want to see him!
My family was convinced that I liked him.
I didn’t like him, I was scared of him. Scared he’d try to talk to me in front of my family. Tease me. I was embarrassed. Ashamed. Him, and the other boy, they made me feel…like I wanted to hide. Like I wanted to be invisible. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was afraid to walk through the halls at school.
It started in 7th grade, and that changed things. Teachers mostly weren’t any help. I always ended up near one or both of them in the seating chart, even though we were nowhere near each other alphabetically. Only one teacher noticed what they were doing, and moved them to the other side of the room from me. 8th grade, we were in a lab group together. The only lab group in the class with three people. Just me and them. Once when the seating was rearranged again, and I was (again) sitting right next to one of them, one of the girls in the class stood up for me. She raised her hand and said, “I don’t think you should put [him] by [me].” The teacher didn’t care. Didn’t pay any attention.
I’m surprised at the effects that bullying still has on me today. I always felt like it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. I should have gotten over it. But somehow, I still haven’t, not completely.
You know, guys with blond hair, especially bleached-blond, still scare me? Because one of them had bleached-blond hair.
I hate it that he can still have that kind of an effect on me years later.
Anyway. Summer, I didn’t have to worry about them anymore. But damage had been done.
That summer, we were working on moving from our house to the house my dad grew up in, about a mile away. A lot of work to do, remodeling, painting, etc. That was my summer. Working at the other house. Dad yelling and swearing. It’s honestly all a big blur to me now, with only a few specific events sticking out.
The biggest one was the Scary Day.
I tell the story sometimes, in a more lighthearted manner. How my brothers and I banded together against my dad when he locked us out of the house, how we made a plan and two of us snuck over to the old house on our bikes to make sandwiches and bring them back for lunch.
I don’t talk about how scared I was. Or just how mad dad was.
I don’t talk about how I ran in the house to hide from him, ran into the bathroom, and locked the door. How he managed to get in anyway. How I was just laying there, curled up on the floor, crying, terrified, and he just stood there over me yelling.
I don’t talk about how it was really my own fault, because I didn’t want to work in the garden that day. I disobeyed him. I was stubborn and willful and refused to do what he told me to do.
He didn’t come home that night.
He yelled at all of us, he yelled at my mom when she got there, I’ve never seen him so mad, I was honestly afraid he’d hurt us.
He didn’t come home that night, and I knew it was my fault, and I was scared. I was afraid he was going to do something bad. Or he wouldn’t come back. I couldn’t sleep.
Mom drove over to the other house and found him sleeping in the small bedroom downstairs. He wouldn’t talk to her.
He came back the next day.
Life went on as usual.
I don’t know what I did to make him so mad at me. I don’t know what I did that made him stop loving me. I don’t know what I did that made me not good enough anymore.
How did I go from being his little girl to a lazy, selfish, helpless, stubborn, rebellious brat?
And if I would have listened to him…if I would have done what he told me to…could I have made it different? If I wouldn’t have been so bad, would he have kept loving me like he used to? Would he have been proud of me?There must be something I could’ve done. There must be something I could have done to be better.
If I would’ve been good, I wouldn’t have made him get mad at me. I wouldn’t have made him get so mad that he almost hurt me. He warned me, he always warned me, that he was gonna get real mad real quick, and I knew that meant that if I didn’t listen he was going to lose control and hurt me and it would be my own fault because I was bad and I didn’t listen.
I’m reminded of a song by the Chenille Sisters, called “I Lie in the Dark.” I didn’t think much of it when I was younger, but now it’s scary how much this song describes my family. The only part that doesn’t apply is the dad drinking too much liquor.
I lie in the dark, and I hear them shout,
I don’t understand what they’re fighting about.
If I cover my ears, I won’t hear what they say.
If I close my eyes, it will all go away.
It makes me afraid when he gets so mad,
And sometimes I wish that he wasn’t my dad.
He drinks too much liquor, he yells and he swears.
Mommy says it’s ’cause he just doesn’t care.
He doesn’t care for me.
I wonder what’s wrong with me.
It’s got to be something that I did,
Because daddies should love their kids.
I try and I try to be so good,
To do what they say, always do what I should.
So why do they yell? Don’t they know how I cry?
It makes me feel like there’s nothing inside.
Nothing inside of me.
I wonder what’s wrong with me.
It’s got to be something that I did,
Because mommies should love their kids.
I lie in the dark and I hear them shout,
I don’t understand what they’re fighting about.
Forever and ever they battle and blame,
Night after night, it’s forever the same…
Night after night, it’s forever the same.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, at this point. I just needed to write, and this is what came out. And I probably shouldn’t post this publicly. But sometimes…I just really need to tell my story. The parts that I don’t tell normally. I need someone to know. And obviously I haven’t yet found the balance between telling no one and telling everyone. But sometimes I just need it to be out in the open, I need it to be not a secret anymore!
Please be kind with me. I’ve still got a long ways to go.