After writing Lesson 2 of this series, I’ve come to terms that the rest (besides this post) of my childhood struggles are going to stay in the past. I could write about the numerous suicide attempts I’ve witnessed with my mother. I could write what it was like being a changing girl to woman without a woman to guide her. I could tell you about numerous schools, always being the new girl. I could tell you how living everywhere and nowhere is confusing. How it can damage a child to never call anywhere a home. But unexpectedly within two articles of writing, and a few other interventions in counseling, something has just settled down deep in my soul. It’s time to lay it down and let it go. That yes, I did indeed have a messed up childhood but it no longer is something to be ashamed of. Also, I don’t desire that validation of how bad it really was anymore. It’s done. Time to make sure my daughters don’t go through anything remotely close to what I experienced. I can’t protect them from that without stepping away from the past and into the present.
The last fragment to share is my 9th birthday. I’m not for certain if it was ninth or any other age, but I stick with 9th when remembering or telling others.
I can tell you this happened on a Sunday. I was with my grandparents over the weekend. They dropped my sister and me off at home. At that time we were living with our mom in the same trailer park, different trailer. We arrived to a full blown party. Keg in the bathtub kind of party. My first memory after a feeling of disappointment, was sitting on the couch opening a card from my mom with a 5 dollar bill in it.
Earlier that day, was my birthday party that my grandmother threw for me. My mother didn’t come. Honestly I don’t remember her at any of the parties that were ever for me.
So here was my party from her to me, I guess. Just what every 9 year old wants. A kegger and a 5 dollar bill. Back then though 5 dollars was alot unlike these days you have to stuff a card with a 20 to get a smile out of a child.
The next memory is my sister climbing out the back window and leaving me there. I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to leave because that meant leaving that coveted money behind. She rode her bike to another kid’s trailer, called my grandparents and they drove back to get her.
The next memory of that day was at night because it was dark. My birthday is August 12th so that means this memory had to occur around 10pm. I am sitting in my dad’s car in front of the trailer. He must’ve come to see me on my birthday. Meaning he didn’t go to the party grandma had for me either. I remember begging him to take me with him. At this time he lives with his parents as he’s a divorced, single man. I believe he was saying yes he would take me because I remember hope. But…the next memory is my mother climbing on the hood of his car banging on the windshield. “You take her and I’ll come throw bricks through your parent’s windows!” And I’m sure she had some really good french to go along with it. I remember saying over and over again “Just drive dad, just drive.” It feels like that moment of her banging on the side of the car, the driver’s window and even on the hood, went on for ever.
He didn’t take me with him. Sadly, he believed that she would throw bricks through their windows. I remember the feeling of, “I almost got out of here.” I remember the feeling of, “I should have went out the window with my sister.”
The last memory of that day, my birthday, was being in the backseat with another girl who was younger than me. My mother and another woman were in the front seat. It was dark out and hot. They had both front windows down. I remember they were yelling at other cars, hanging out the windows and even lifting up their shirts at oncoming traffic. We were going to the state line because alcohol could not be sold in our state on Sunday.
Those are the only memories I have in my mind. But as time wore on over the years I would have many questions. Why wasn’t my dad at my party? Because he wasn’t invited. Why wasn’t my mother there? Because she had company, I guess. (That’s me being a smart-mouth if you didn’t catch it) Why didn’t my grandparents come get me too? I’ll never know. Why didn’t my dad “just drive”? Because she scared him.
Along the years I would realize that was the day that they all somewhat betrayed me. I know it sounds a bit overboard. But in reality it’s true that no one had my well being in mind. And as the years would go on even to this very year, she has somehow ruined my birthday in some way. But this past Aug 12th-sitting in the car after asking my husband to give me a minute to put myself together before walking into his mom’s for dinner she made me…I listened to myself. I had just been hurt again by my mother’s words and the lack of Happy Birthday, I heard myself say, “You dont matter. You don’t matter to her, you never have.” I dried my eyes, got out of the car and put on a fake smile and walked in the door of my mother in law’s where she had put on my favorite meal.
Then that evening, my father came for a visit and forgot it was my birthday. I ended up, as usual, helping him feel better about it. I really felt insignificant by that night. And the mental talk then was…”You’re 44years olds now who cares if neither parent cares about your birthday? You’re no longer a child.” I’ve come to terms that never having that feeling of being cherished from them is just the way it will be.
I can tell you that I had a breakthrough in counseling that week. And that yes indeed, I do matter. I matter to my husband…he told me so that very night. I matter to my children and I matter to my mother in law. And that’s plenty. More than some can say. I’m done with their rejection. It doesnt have to hurt me any longer.
My middle daughter, the one who saved my life unbeknownst to her, had her 9th birthday this weekend. I decided to give her what the little girl that I was would have wanted. I dont believe I spoiled her, but I did go overboard a bit.
It felt wonderful to see the delight and excitement on her face throughout the whole thing. She was allowed friends over. We did a couple painting crafts and we weaved friendship bracelets. I tried to be with her every step of the way that day to let her have a memory of a wonderful 9th birthday.
I am blessed beyond all measure to have what I have. My counselor reminds me often that, considering the circumstances that I was raised in and the addiction I went through…statistically I should still be an addict and worse off because of how it all went down for me….But my God had other plans for me!
One day I will share my childhood memories and my mistakes during the addiction years with my daughters. Until then I put the past in the past and move on to the present so that I can give them a past of cherished memories.
Here are a few more birthday pics and pics from a local festival we went to the next day.