I will be writing a response to the following comment:
“Why did you stay with your parents until you were 18 years old? Many kids from abusive homes will leave early and actually prefer living on the streets rather than return to the home. I am not suggesting that you should have left–just wondering if you ever thought about leaving as a way to escape the constant abuse.”
Before I begin to address the above important question, I want to give you a very brief synopsis of what happened once I DID leave home.
My parents put me into the Navy and I left Alaska October 3, 1969. It had not been my decision. I was incapable, even a month after my 18th birthday, of making a decision.
I completed boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland and was placed in data processing (computer) school in San Diego. I tried, but could not ‘get’ computers, so was put through a brief secretarial training program and then stationed in Newport, Rhode Island.
I was pregnant four months out of boot camp, but hid it from the military for as long as I possibly could. At that time women were still being instantly discharged from the service if they were pregnant, no exceptions.
I was discharged from the Navy in September 1970 and knew of nowhere to go but back to San Diego where I’d met some young people prior to my transfer. I was unmarried when I gave birth to my daughter in January 1971 and had no means to make the decision to keep her or not. I placed in her a foster home where she remained for the first month of her life. During that time I traveled with another group of young people to Brandywine, West Virginia where I made the decision to keep my daughter.
I traveled back to San Diego, brought my daughter home, and in June of 1971 moved to Alameda to be with the father of my child who was in the Navy also. I’ve written the whole story about this time in my life but of course can’t locate it in my computer files. Enough to say I traveled to Hawaii to marry the father once he was sent out to sea on an aircraft carrier, and returned back to California alone to try to figure out what to do next.
The chaos continued as the father was discharged for drug charges, together we managed to get ourselves out to Ohio by fall 1972 where we had other young friends. The marriage failed nearly immediately, the father went to Fargo, North Dakota the winter my daughter turned one and I followed him there, arriving in Fargo in early June of 1972.
It was at that time that I wrote this piece I am going to share with you here. All the above experiences in chaos had occurred prior to my 21st birthday the end of August 1972, and in less than three years after I had walked out of my parents’ door. How this piece of writing has survived for 37 years and is still with me, I do not know.
But it did, and here it is followed by the poems that I wrote at the same time. I remember sitting at the typewriter in the tiny basement apartment I found in Fargo for myself and my daughter. I remember these words pouring out of my finger tips as I wrote them, and I see there are no corrections on these two pieces of white paper, folded in fourths. Today I might call this piece “A Dissociator’s Dream.”
written early June 1972
Don’t blow your cover. No matter what, don’t blow your cover. Cover? What cover? Naked legs? Flowing hair. Double-talk, triple-talk, round-the-circle talk. Don’t look in my eyes, they’re real. Yes, perhaps in time you’ll see the fears and the years and the tears. Perhaps in time.
But right now. What about right NOW? Wait, what game are we playing. Come back, wait here, where are you, hurry, they’re leaving…don’t run quite so fast, my legs are shorter than yours used to be.
Your time’s up. Ha! You didn’t think I was around these parts. Didn’t know I was right behind you, did ya? Well, what did you think? I’d change the rules and let you know? Come now, what fun would that have been? We can’t all win. Not all the time, now that you mention it, not any of the time.
Look around you. Where am I? No, no, no, not there. I tired of that place long ago. No, not there either. Don’t you remember? We decided back there we should find a place, a safer place, where you could find me any time you cared to look. You’ve come calling on me again…well think about it for awhile. Who let who down?
When the bills were posted the word was clear enough. The old fellow who did the touch up job passed through some time ago. Faded now, can’t for the life of me figure out what it used to say. Oh, well, there must be one sheltered from that last storm. It’ll all come clear when I come across that one.
Did you call my name? Please, did you call me? It couldn’t have been your mistake. It’s been so long since you’ve used it, denying doesn’t change what I have heard. Don’t leave…wait! I’ll take care of you, you’ll remember.
Believe me when I say your pain doesn’t matter. Once you feel it as pain your battle’s half won! Just hand it here, I’ll take it over there and put it down, and I really wouldn’t worry about coming back to check on it.
Don’t worry, it’ll pass. I’ve merely forgotten my name. No, you can’t tell me. Remember, we’ve just met? Maybe you could take a moment and give me a reminder. A clue, just a clue. Not that I need it, sometimes warm words fill cold spaces.
Laugh a little, cry a little, work a little, worry a little. The tune’s the same, we make up our own words.
Did I tell you the sun came up last night? It was really neat. I made the date with the sun a few years back, surprised I remembered when the time came around. Let me know when you set yours, I’d love to be with you. Now that I’ve seen it, I find the night a little empty.
It’s been a little over an hour now. My perception has been warped by too much exposure. Hopefully when developed, the images will clear. Proper timing. Important, you know. Where is the clarity without the darkness and the light?
My body will never be as perfect as yours. I don’t think about it that way. My balance is in my fingers, where yours is in your toes. Don’t laugh, I’m humming now, and I can’t hear you, so just hum along…you know the tune.
I waited too long, words have a way of getting bored and running out on you. Well, I’ll be patient with you, they’ll be back.
(the following words were indented in patterns that do not translate into this blog’s format)
There is so much
When you see beauty
you see me
When you hear music
you are in tune
When you remember
you are remembering me
In your head
When you believe
you have found
As I have been
in your past
For now we
has been for
between you and
have been only
my Voice is one with all voices
all voices are my Voice
of thunder and whispers
to your ears
every sound you detect
is my Voice
sound that is
in existence is
Let my child be my beacon, and I her song…..
Looking back, I see that I might as well have fallen out of the sky and hit the ground running when I left home. I’d never been away from home a night in my life except for one week at my grandmother’s house when I was two and my sister was born, and for the week I spent at bible camp the summer before I turned 12. I had never spent the night at a friend’s house. I had never been on a date.
My mother did not come out from behind her closed bedroom door to say goodbye to me the night I left home. My father had driven me to the airport in Anchorage, a drive that took over an hour that night and never said a word.
I stepped through the door into that jet plane, headed 3362 miles off to boot camp as the crow flies, never looking back until I was 30 years old and went into treatment. Even then, I had no way to understand what had happened to me. My experience matched nothing anyone seemed to know, and of course I had no idea what other people’s experiences had been or were like, either. It’s taken another almost 30 years for me to begin to figure that out.