Thursday, March 25, 2010

SURVIVOR - Anna's Story

I'm mixed descent and grew up in a time when color made a difference, surrounded by racist bastards. I lived in a small town where everyone new everything, and made it up if they didn't.  Although my mother showed her French heritage, they all hated my grandfather, because he was darker and still followed some traditional ways, despite being an alcoholic. School was horrid because I was the only native kid in class. I was looked down on a a "nothing kid", so I still have strong feelings about it today. 

I grew up smelling sage and cheap whiskey, in a poor home where pots and pans caught leaks from the roof. I had brothers and sisters who were adopted out before me; some I know, and some I don't. The only friend I had was a tree. I know that sounds pathetic, but it's true, my tree protected me.

All the men in family were alcoholics. I was sexually abused from the age of five until I was 12 years old. My own father never sexually abused me, but the men he brought home did. My maternal uncle was the first to assault me, and he continued for many years. He always told me not to tell my mother and father, because they would hate me.

I learned to run at a young age, because I never knew what was going to happen. When I felt fear, I would run into the woods and climb my favorite tree, where I felt safe. I was very withdrawn as a child. When I was being attacked, I would visualize a place where there were rainbows, candy, waterfalls and flowers that bloomed in slow motion. It wasn't me being hurt, it was another little girl. That is how I dealt with what was happening to me.  

I hated going to school because of the chaos in my home, no set meal time or bedtime. I often sat in a car behind the tavern with my mother at night, regardless of the weather. My mother couldn't drive, and was very childlike with bad nerves. I often felt like I was the mother; I was responsible for taking care of her when my father wasn't home, and she was often in the hospital. I was responsible for keeping coal on the fire, or dragging in whatever wood I could find to keep us warm. I felt like I was wearing a sign that said "Abuse this Child."

There was a grocery store where my parents got food on credit, which was run by two brothers. I used to think they were my friends, because they would give me pennies or a peppermint stick. By the age of 12, I had matured enough that my uncle was finished with me. Just when I thought I was safe from him, one of the brothers who owned the grocery store raped me behind the store, pressing my frail body against the jagged rock on the ground. When I told my mother, she said "Don't tell your Daddy, because he will kill him and go to prison. There isn't any other way for us to get food." My mother had no comforting words, no "sorry this happened", not in this family. My silence meant we could still get food. I learned at an early age to keep my mouth shut, but I would talk to my tree.

Through those years it was difficult to stay focused. As an adult, I have PTSD, anxiety attacks, depression, and numerous other issues. I've gone to counseling and realize that it wasn't my fault that I was born into this chaos.  I can't tell you the pain has gone away, because it has not. I can't even tell you that everything will be okay.

If you are a child in this situation and you feel like you can't tell anyone, PLEASE tell someone at your school or a friend. If you don't have a friend, call a crisis line. TELL SOMEONE and keep telling until someone listens.  I am a survivor, and you are loved, wherever you are and whatever you are going through, I understand and I love you. 

I wrote this poem sitting in my "refuge tree" at age of 14.

My Tree, My Friend
You stand sturdy and strong with arms outstretched to me
Like a sad old soldier I gaze up at you and see more than a tree
For hundreds of years you have stood your ground
Oh the many things you have seen when no one else was around
I see strength, virtue, boldness and pride...
You standing tall with nothing to hide
I listen as the wind blows through your aged leaves
I wish I could possess the strength you have somewhere in me
Solid as an oak you stand with only rain to drink
Only I understand, or take the time to think
You have been a friend to me through years of despair
Comforting me from the storm and blowing whispers through my hair
Oh the many times I climbed into your trusting old arms
Sitting high off the ground you protected me from harm
You would have held me there forever, just as long as I would I stay
I need your embrace again my friend
So I had to come and talk to you today
Just to make certain you hadn't gone away.

(This post was edited for spelling & readability, and approved by contributor before publishing)

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