This story appears in the context of Mildred’s 1958 letters about the early days of the Alaskan homesteading saga:
I cannot sit here inside my own skin working on this book any longer without pausing here to describe something of the underbelly this story never shows. Did anyone outside of our family ever see the other side of Mildred? Could anyone outside of our family have detected the truth of what allowed Mildred to continue living her mad, mad BPD-matrix upper life as she preserved it in these letters?
There is an entirely different story not being told here because it exists preserved in silence between the letters of the words, between the words, between the lines of the words that appear in her writings here. While it has been my hope, my intention and my goal to protect my own story from appearing in “The Demise of Mildred” epic, at this moment I will speak of a clear memory of myself as the sole prisoner inside Mildred’s lower BPD-matrix pyramid of hell during these weeks Mildred writes about here.
‘Silence is golden’ when it serves the needs of a BPD-matrix such as the one that consumed Mildred. Yet silence is deadly poison to helpless, innocent children who have been made a victim of such devastating madness. While being 7 1/2 during this period of time Mildred is writing about on school mornings I was being hauled with my age-8 1/2 brother out of this trailer in early morning to be driven with Father into Anchorage to go to school — down the barely passable miles of the Jeep road Mildred describes, then down the miles of the maintained Eagle River Road, then down the miles of paved highway from Eagle River to Anchorage. I was dropped at a babysitter’s until it was time for school to start in the morning, walking to school, spending a long day trying to learn what second graders do along with classmates who lived their regular lives while we were being dragged through our parents’ nightmare. I then walked after school to be cared for again by this babysitter until Father finished his day’s work at the office — to then be transported all the way back to the trailer deep in this wilderness valley.
This would have been ENOUGH to so tax small children that there could hardly be anything left of them to be children with. But there’s more. There’s more in the silence of the story that Mildred is not telling here. Within the context of this silence, within this time span of my childhood, there is more I wish to tell you now. To do this I become as a female half-bull half-human Minotaur. Lowering my head with massive horns I storm back through the labyrinth of time to retrieve the memory of being the little girl my mother so savagely devoured within the darkest reaches of her inhumanly diseased BPD-matrix mind in any way that she could.
I find myself asking our after school babysitter if I can go outside to play. Yes. I dress in my jacket and slide my new shoes into my plastic boots. As soon as I walk out of the Panoramic View apartment building my babysitter lived in I am drawn as if by a magnet to the edge of the massive puddle spring thaw has made out of melting snow in the center of the open area of the “L” this complex of three huge buildings forms.
I see my feet as I begin walking so slowly around the edge of this puddle of brown water clockwise. I can’t see what color my boots are. I feel my feet crunching through patches of slushy snow. I hear the change in sound as I cross wet patches of brown flattened grass. I am being so careful to keep my feet far away from the water but as I walk around and around I spiral ever closer and closer.
Finally I stop. I turn. My boots are facing the edge. I inch and inch forward until I can tap the water into little splashes, splashes, splashes. Into the water my boots go. Slowly. A little deeper. A little deeper. A little further into the water and my boot heels leave the shore. Here I made the most glorious discovery of my childhood life so far!
Down into the water I push a foot – and – BOING! When I stop pushing UP pops my foot with a magical feeling of so-nearly flying all I want is MORE! This is where I commit the fatal crime of forgetting not to be a child. With pure delight I BOING! BOING my way this way and that way out toward the heart of this puddle. Far too far into the water I play until in one instant my feet feel icy coldness wetness flood through my socks.
I cannot say what happened next. Did I freeze in recognizing terror at that instant? Did I barely notice the coldness of my feet as I continued to PLAY and PLAY? At what point did I stop and return my sogging feet to my babysitter’s door, open it and walk into the warmth?
Even if I could somehow know the relationship between the part of this experience I do remember and the part of this experience I don’t remember, I would NOT want to know. I don’t want to know when or how Mildred found out I had gotten my new shoes wet by playing in a puddle. What I do know is that after she came to pick John and I up from the sitter’s, she was in a her lower BPD-matrix hell full rage at me as soon as she got far enough away from the babysitter’s door.
She was already pounding me with her fists, screaming at me about being such a horrible child I got my new shoes wet as she dragged me out to the parking lot where Father sat in the idling Jeep Willies station wagon. She stopped part way there to remove my shoes and boots raging, “You don’t deserve to wear anything on your feet, you UNGRATEFUL CHILD!”
Yanking open the Jeep door she violently stuffed me into a tight fetal position with my knees and forehead on the cold wet floor of the back seat behind her husband as Cindy hurried in terror to scoot from the window to the middle of the seat as scared John clamored in on the other side.
I don’t write this without tears, but I am working hard to keep them balled within the knot of my stomach while my elbows are frozen tightly against my rib cage. I tap out these words on my keyboard. During all of the long hours driving back to the trailer along the pavement from Anchorage to the turn in Eagle River onto the maintained dirt road, down down to the narrowing start of the rugged and nearly impassable Jeep trail, Mildred raged at me as she turned around over the edge of the front seat to beat me with her fists. Her little 3-year-old cowered beside her on the front seat while Cindy and John witnessed this horror in the back.
Finally near the place on the Jeep road we eventually named ‘Mud Lake’ Mildred turned her entire body around, put her knees on her seat and launched over it to grab my hair with one fist, jerk my head upward as she slapped my face again and again as hard as she could. She is screaming, “I hate you! You are no better than a dog! Even a dog would know better than you not to get its feet wet!”
I see a flash of thick dark branches. I hear them squealing along the side of the Jeep as we crawl past. I am there. Cold. Curled on the floor behind my father’s seat being as small as I possibly can. My spine hurts. My shoulders hurt. Now my face is hurting, too. I can feel the warmth of my father coming through the back of his seat. He is driving. Driving. Driving….
Such stories as this you will never know about by reading Mildred’s words. As I return now to the presentation of Mildred’s writings I mention that temporarily I leave behind the subject of ‘forgiveness’, one I will not sidestep when it is time to write my own account of my infancy and childhood. For now I work again as best I can to separate our two stories.
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