The First of Many Lessons I Have Learned.
It is my decision. My decision to live or die. My decision to be intoxicated or sober. My decision to inform or be silent. My decision to be passive or aggressive. My decision to let somebody in or be withdrawn. All of the above are decisions I have had to make when turmoil and strife entered my live. I have lived ten lifetimes in my 42 short years on earth. How can one person continue to exist so when confronted with so much negativity. Simple. It was my decision.
I have been on a 30 year quest to find out what have molded me into the person that I am today. I remember being happy. I remember having a great relationship with my mother. I remember my father working hard for his family. I remember my brother getting into mischief. I remember my first dog. I just can’t tell you anything specific.
My aunt is convinced that I do not need to find the answers. That with time it will come to me. She is only 9 years older than me, and she remembers for me. “That is all you need, I will be your memory.” GREAT. But it is not my decision. If you haven’t already discovered. I have become some what of a control freak. The little moments in ones life that ordinarily shape and mold you are not little to me. You can not survive being beaten, and raped or being a runaway or a drug addict, without being in control. You can You can not survive the death of a parent, the death of a spouse, a caregiver for a terminally ill parent, without being in control. You can not survive a spinal injury or raising an autistic child without being in control. Every decision I make good or bad taught me something.
I am a student of life and a teacher to all. I am sometimes negative. But try to always be positive. For better or worse here I am. A patience and reserved middle aged woman. I am sometimes outspoken and always serious. For better or worse here I am. I know that I can not control every aspect of my life. But I try. That is my biggest area of opportunity. After all you can not be a giving daughter and a supportive sister without being in control. You can not be a loving mother and a spiritual leader without being in control. You can not be a loyal friend and a inspirational teacher without being in control. You can not be understanding aunt and thoughtful niece without being in control. Every decision I make good or bad taught me something. I know that I can not control every aspect of my life. I don’t want to. I want to make the best decision based on the knowledge that I have gained. I want to make the best of every moment that touches my life. My father taught me to hope for the best prepare for the worst take what I am given and make the most of it. I would never change my life and the experiences that I have had because they have molded me into the force of nature that I am. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to someone in need and their response was “God, I thought my life sucked. How did you survive. You have to be the strongest person I know.” To me that is a slap in the face. Everyone goes through tough times, I just went through more than most. It simply seems that God wants me to live through it all. Yea for me. If you haven’t already discovered I am somewhat sarcastic.
As I said, I am a student of life. My life. The first memory most children have is of their parents. Memories that are either happy or sad. It does not matter which. Most have an early memory from their formative years. Me I have no memory before 11. What does that say about me. That I survived. At least that is what over 15 therapists have tried to convince me of. My question to each is Survived What? I remember the day I grew up. I remember the day that I took control of the decisions in my life. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Thursday June 11th 1978
My father owned a very successful business. Being a business owner you come into contact with may people. Clyde was one such person. He was 23 out of work and seemed like a go getter. My fathers words not mine. Dad hired him to help around the warehouse. He worked 4 days a week 10 hours a day. Unfortunately, he showed up the beginning of his third week drunk. Dad justifiably fired him. Clyde took it well, he knew he screwed up. On Thursday dad found some personal belongings, a few tools. He asked me to take them to him since he lived in the same Apartment Complex as us. We were waiting on our house to be finished. It was 1:30 in the afternoon on a hot June day. I asked my best friend Elizabeth to come with me. We were going to go swimming after I delivered the box. We walked up the stairs and I knocked on the door. I older grungy looking man with long black hair opened the door. I asked for Clyde and he told me he was on the patio. He slammed the door in my face. I knocked again and Clyde answered. He apologized for Bert’s rudeness and asked us if we wanted a coke. “Your dad said he found some of my tools. Thanks for bringing them over I start a job working on construction on Saturday and I will need them.” Elizabeth walked in and I followed. Clyde went to the refrigerator and pulled out two cokes. I thanked him and turned around to leave. Bert was there locking the door. “Don’t want any trouble.” he said. “No problem we’ll leave.” I said. Clyde put his hand on my shoulder and said “No were just getting started. You know I really loved working for your dad. I had hoped to be there a long time.” I just looked at him and smiled nodding my head. What did he want me to say I thought. Elizabeth sat down on the couch and I moved toward the door. I felt uneasy and I wanted to leave.
Elizabeth was this beautiful tall teenager. She had long brown hair and she trusted everyone. Clyde put his hand on my back and guided me to the couch. Elizabeth grabbed my arm and pulled me down. We sat there waiting for them to say something. Bert did. You take the blonde, I get the brunette. Bert grabbed Elizabeth and pulled her toward him. She struggled to free herself and I tried to grab her arm to pull her towards the door. I still don’t know how it happened so fast. I was lifted off the ground and carried into the back bedroom. I was thrown onto the bed and I heard the dresser drawer being opened as I scrambled to get off the bed. “I don’t think so Baby.” I looked up and saw a black gun. A shiny big black gun.
I remember screaming as I tried in vain to bolt for the door again. Then the hot burn of the punch that landed in the back of my head. I saw stars. I felt my shirt being lifted off me and then my jeans being pulled down. “The first time is always painful, but the second will be better.” Clyde said. He put the gun on the night stand and pulled out a knife from under a pillow. He put his knee on my chest and slowly moved the knife down my body. “So pretty.” I remember pushing against his leg to move it but I couldn’t.
I remember that I could barely breath. When I stopped struggling he laid down next to me and started to caress me. I smelled this pungent odor of sweat, beer and urine. I heard myself pleading to go home. “My dad knows I ‘m here. Please don’t hurt me. I want to go home. Please don’t kill me.” I felt the pressure of his dirty forearm pushing into my throat. The knife starting to puncture my skin. Poke, Poke…..Poke. The ominous stench filled laugh reaches my consciousness. I know that I will not survive. I stopped struggling altogether. I was aware of the weight of his body on mine.
I remember thinking He’s right it hurts. I turned my head towards the only light in the room. A dirty small window that looked onto the patio. I saw a tiny sparrow sitting on the balcony railing. She was pecking at what looked like sunflower seeds. She chirped and settled her feathers. She hoped three times toward another cluster of food and loudly proclaimed the food is hers. I laughed inside as I watch the gentle fall of water from the sprinkler outside. The little sparrow fluffed her feathers again and sang a loud stream of beautifully pitched notes . She looksed directly at me and stopped. Her pure black glossy eyes blinked rapidly. She quietly chirped again and hoped closer.
I could see that she has some red in her feathers as she tilted her head towards me. She winked and chirped again. I hear you I thought. Clyde collapses in exhaustion and I can finally take a deep breath. The burning sensation reached my soul and I no longer feel. I look back towards the window and I see that the sparrow has flown away. Like my soul, I thought. “Give me ten minutes and I promise I will be better the next time.” I slowly move off the bed . I reach down to the floor and pull my jeans towards me. Clyde moves and asks me what I am doing. “I am leaving. You got what you wanted. I am in hell. You got back at my dad. Are you happy?” He looks at me and simply smiles.
The hard banging on the front door startled Clyde into action. “Get dressed in the closet. “ He opened the door and shoved me in. I feel my shirt hit my chest and I blindly grab for it. Elizabeth is stumbling as Bert drags her to the closet. She is naked and I now know that she suffered the same as me. Her cloths were thrown on the floor and she dove for them. The knocking continues. “No they are not here, They just dropped off my tools and left.”
“Do you know were they are?“ A young voice asks.
Danny, Elizabeth whispers. “Don’t leave us.”
“I think they said they were going to the pool.” Bert replied. “Try there.”
The door closes and the lock turns. Light enters the closet and we look up. “We are going to leave, You wait ten minutes then get the hell out. . . If you tell anyone what happened well….. Just imagine what will happen.” Clyde tucks the gun into the waist band of his jeans.
Three minutes, I said. Elizabeth leans into me as she is quietly sobbing. ‘Six minutes. I said as I stroked her hair. “We can leave in 4 minutes.” Elizabeth nods. “Ten. . . Lets go.”
The knock on the door startled me. I let out a scream. “Get the hell out of there” my dad said. “Get up here and unlock this door.” I here foot steps on the stairs and we rush back to the closet to hide again. The key turns in the lock and the door creeks open. Light invades the closet once again. I see the angry glare of my father as he reaches in and grabs my hair pulling me to my feet. “Who the hell do you think you are.” he yells. I am speechless. “I have a reputation and you embarrass me like this.” He shoved me toward the front door and I stumbled. I felt the blinding pain in my head as he hit me. There are no stars this time. Just the white light passing through my body. “Jesus Christ , she just wanted to watch TV. . . What harm is that.” Clyde says. “Stay out of this, you piece of shit.”
I felt the punch to my arm only because it pushed me out the door. Clyde got between me and my father. I can’t help but wonder why?
Why my dad is mad at me? Why Clyde is trying to protect me after he brutally assaulted and rapped me. Why is Elizabeth smiling at Danny? Why does Danny look relieved ? I turned and started down the steps. I vowed right then and there never to allow anyone to control me again. I will be responsible to only me. I will never allow anyone to use or abuse me ever again. I decide who lives or dies in my heart.
Three months later I was standing in the rain gazing at Elizabeth’s casket. The stunning spray of white roses covered the rose wood treasure chest. “She is finally at peace,” I said to Danny. A single tear running down my cheek. He put his arm around me and said, “ When will you be?” I looked up into his eyes and see that he knows what we both went through. He whispers in my ear. “Elizabeth was pregnant, She just couldn’t take that. We are Mormon you know. Mom would have died if she knew. I know that she would want you to live. If you need someone to talk to. . . I am here.”
Two weeks later we moved into our new house. I never saw Danny again. My father acted like nothing ever happened. He never asked what was obvious. I don’t think he wanted to know. He never treated me the same. He never took me on another father daughter date. We never went fishing again. He never confronted me about my smoking or drinking. And he never hit me again. I was now an adult and he had no control. I remember looking into his eyes and seeing sadness. The same sadness that I felt. He knew and that was significant.
I remember the day I grew up. I remember the day that I took control of the decisions in my life. I remember it like it was yesterday. I have lived ten lifetimes in my 42 short years. I have survived may unhealthy decisions that I have made. I have survived the many brutalities I have suffered. I have learned to have a personal relationship with God. Through him I feel that every joy and sorrow has been graciously given to me by him.. My faith is so deep that it radiates through me to others. Perfect strangers ask me for guidance. I know that I touch the lives of the people that I meet. But I think that God placed me here to aid those in emotional pain. I am a teacher and I love my job. I have lived ten lifetimes in my 42 short years on earth. How could one person continue to exist so when confronted with so much negativity. Simple. GOD.