The Story Part 1

I love to write. I have written a lot over the years, but now I am starting at the beginning. I think. I’m writing for myself and sharing it here with whoever wants to read it. Maybe it can help someone, but I am writing for me. To think it through. To lay it to rest.

I need to write. I don’t need criticism. I don’t care if you don’t like it. I don’t care if it is not journalistically correct.

Please feel free to leave comments if they are productive.

Remember, my life; past, present and future; but mine.

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Fire is Essential to Survival. Right?

It starts when we are small.

You’re too loud.

You’re too quiet.

Your room is not clean enough.

It continues as we get older.

Your grades aren’t good enough.

You’re not pretty enough.

You don’t fit in with ‘us’.

Then they start asking why?

Why are you so quiet?

Why are you so loud?

Why don’t you fit in?

Why are you mad?

Well, because someone along the line told me how I should be through a criticism.

It started as a little girl.

I don’t remember the exact time or place.

I don’t remember the feelings.

I don’t remember the thoughts.

I remember some stories told to me.

When I was born my grandfather left the hospital after finding out I was a girl. I wouldn’t carry on the family name.

My feelings were never taken into consideration. They were not allowed.

Why are you crying? Stop or I’ll give you something to cry about.

You’re laughing too loud. I learn to be quiet.

Stop mumbling. I can’t understand you.

The words, the atmosphere of the house, the noises, the loud crashing noises.

So much comes into play when a child is developing their reality.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell someone to let go of the past. The past has created this path with no direction, no road map, no idea which fork to take in the road. That fork has a million prongs, any of which can lead you down another unimaginable path. So many paths that still take you nowhere.

Which do you take?

How do you make that decision?

I was on a road I had to navigate so young. The day I turned 16 I had to figure things out for myself. There were a few people in my life that tried to help along the way for a second or two, some may have lasted a minute. I found no one in my life until many years later that stayed; that offered wisdom from their own experience, but first there was running into the fire, being burned, trying to heal, but always choosing the wrong medicine.

Basic survival instincts were first. My brother came to me two weeks after our mother died and told me to go to McDonald’s where he worked and fill out a job application. I needed to work. He was going off to the Air Force and I think he knew I had to have something. I had gone from having a ‘family’ of 5 in the house to being alone. Mom was gone; one brother off to the Air Force, another older brother out looking for his own path, too. And Dad. Dad rarely came home now. I was literally alone.

My father had come to me at one point and told me I should go back to school. It was late in my sophomore year in high school when mom died. I tried a few days, but it didn’t go well. Shortly after I got my work permit and began working, I didn’t go back to school. I worked through the summer and when school started there just didn’t seem to be a point.

Later my father and my uncle sat me down for a ‘talk’ but what came out was just how much of a failure I was. They weren’t surprised, by the tone of the conversation. It just was. I wasn’t going to school, but at this point I was working to pay for my own food, my clothing, the utilities in the house, and actually had paid the mortgage payment for quite some time.

At work I watched and listened. I copied what other people did. I anticipated what people needed. I was good at that. My short lifetime was filled with this. I anticipated what mom needed before she was gone. I knew what would happen when dad got home and I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. All, of course, was never predictable, so I anticipated, determined what I needed to do and waited. Waited for the sound of the truck or the slamming door or the raised voices or the crashing of furniture or fists against the wall. This all depended on the mood of dad when he returned home.

Home.

Be home by dark!

Be home when I get home.

Go home.

What home?

Home was the house we lived in.

We had that house.

You know the one.

The one with the overgrown yard.

Cars sat where they died, weeds growing, rust slowly covering them.

Paint dry and curling off the house. Windows broken. Doors that did not lock.

Years and years of neglect because it wasn’t a home really. It was walls and a roof and the place that darkness was always present.

Depression and alcohol filled my childhood.

But I didn’t know this until later.

I didn’t know that not all kids lived like we did.

I didn’t know you should bathe and brush your teeth. We were told to, I’m sure, but I don’t remember direction from my parents; only the occasional inspection. Not good enough. Go do it again.

I didn’t know that there were houses where the water and electricity did not go off with no explanation.

I didn’t know your cupboards were supposed to have food and your fridge should be cold.

I remember the first time I saw my neighbor’s pantry.

I didn’t know what a pantry was.

She opened the doors (plural) in search of a snack while yelling, ‘Mom! Can we have a snack?’ and Mom answering, from somewhere in the house, what was allowed. This mom was always moving. Cleaning, cooking, tending to whatever needed to be done. There was always something to be done in this house. In my house mom sat in the recliner, television on, book in her hand, cat on her lap, many times tears running down her face.

The pantry shelves in the neighbor’s house were full from floor to ceiling, crowded with cans and bags and things I had never seen. This family had eight kids, one already living away from home, and the seven kids remaining had friends over often. There were always people in the house. I never quite knew who actually lived there sometimes.

In my wonderment of this pantry and all that was in it, and even though it was offered, I declined the snack. I wanted it, but I didn’t think I should. I surely wasn’t supposed to take a snack.

This may have been the moment I started noticing so much more.

As I started seeing little things in the world around me, started really seeing the difference, the anger was lit; the fire trying to start, smoke curling up from a small spark and it would consume my life. Sometimes hidden; sometimes a flare, unexpected and unexplainable. It would die down, but the flame never goes out. Sometimes just the embers would remain, smoldering and waiting for something to come along and fan them.

And something always did.