Monday, February 14, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Do you remember that saying from childhood ? I do, I used to say it to myself every morning before I went to school.

You see, I came of poor stock, the kind that dressed in second hand that was handed down third hand. The kind that had a torn family view that clouded everything. The kind that flinched at loud noises and anger of any kind.  Yeah that kind...

Others in my school seemed privileged to my kind, dressed in cute, clean, new clothes. Not afraid of any thing in life and the world was theirs for the taking. So why do they seek out those like me? To flaunt their happiness? Did it really make their lives better to point out that I always wore long sleeves in the heat? While they wore shorts and tee-shirts, I was hiding the bruises and shame.

Calling me names hurt me more than they could know, my self esteem was already in jeopardy from my home life. All through my time in school I remember feeling like an outcast, but I kept at it and received an A/B average in most of my classes.  The mantra, said daily, didn't help me much, but I knew there was a better life ahead. At least I thought there had to be.

Of course the more time that went by the less I believed it.  There were more times in my life then, when I thought dying would be better than the hurts I was going through.  Taking my life, over and over, played in my young brain. I looked for poisons that would allow me to fall asleep and never wake up again.  At seven years old I swallowed a whole bottle of spray and wash because it said harmful if swallowed, induce vomiting , call a doctor. That was enough for me to believe that I would die, but it didn't do anything to me, except make me sick to my stomach for a week. My mom thought I had the flu. To this day I can't stand the smell of spray and wash.

I ran away that year, for two days my mom had no idea where I was. I walked down the roads in my home town, I thought of walking to the ocean, swimming into the waves and never looking back.  The night time was scary though and I came to the conclusion that being beaten and called names wasn't so bad after all, so I went back home. When my mom came home from work she told me if I didn't want to be there I shouldn't have come back, then sent me to bed with new whip marks on my butt, legs and back. That was the start of my running.

It's funny the things one remembers from the trauma in our lives. It would be hard for me to recall the good times, not that they were so few, more like they were not that memorable. The pain in my life made me grow and overcome, forgive and move on. Gave me a look at what I didn't want in my life when I got old enough to be on my own.

In the year I turned thirteen every thing in my life became as frightening as I could imagine. After a very bad beating from my mom, I ran away, yet again, only to end up in a receiving home for abused or unwanted children. There were so many of us it was like a dairy farm full of milking cows. All of us coming from dysfunctional homes, to end up in limbo, waiting for a home that could accept our backgrounds and love us anyway.
I was taken into the receiving area where they stripped me, washed me and looked at me like I was from a third world. When they were done documenting the two week old bruises on my body they had four pieces of paper with marks and writing on them, two for the front and two for the back.  The ladies made lots of little remarks to one another and kept asking more than I was willing to tell them. Then they sent me to the common room where the others like me were.

We were the nameless few that were forgotten by our families when our ties were broken with our parents.  Personally I never understood why I was the one put away when the authorities say it was my mom who was at fault, but have come to the conclusion that money was the major factor there too.  We were poor, no money meant ,once again, no one had time to care.

For a moment today I was taken back to that time in my life. The mantra that I said was echoing in my memory and it led me to wonder what would my life would have been like if just one of those that taunted me had enough heart to reach out and be nice. Maybe then someone would have seen what I was going through and I wouldn't have made so many harmful mistakes. Like maybe I would have never picked up a cigarette, or swallowed spray and wash...

Today is Valentines Day, write the love you feel for someone, it may just save their life.