I have a morbid phobia of the dark. Even at the age of 12, I have to sleep with a night light or else I go crazy-mad with fear.
When I was small, my parents made me sleep in the cold, dank, basement. I remember it smelled like mold and mothballs. The stench caused my chest to constrict and my nostrils to pinch in distaste. To this day I hate the smell of mold or mothballs. My parents did this to punish me.
I was punished for lots of things: not completing my homework on time (or avoiding it altogether), dirtying my church clothes, not brushing my hair or my teeth, mouthing off, staying later than planned at my best friend Christopher's house. Any number of these could warrent a severe beating and being banished to "The Torture Chamber", as I christened the basement.
I was often sent to bed without any supper. When I was punished and sent to the basement, I had the mice and spiders to keep me company. That's another thing. To this day I am terrified of spiders and creepy crawly things, or "things that go bump in the night". That is one reason why I don't do horror picture shows like a lot of my friends do.
Eventually somebody narced on my parents. They found out that I was being abused (teachers, no doubt; they knew the signs and saw the telltale bruises and "marks" on my person); my parents were then immediately arrested and are still serving time in jail. They'll be elegible for parole next year, but my foster parents (whom I have lived with for the past seven years) are working to keep them from getting out of jail.
My foster parents are also working on adopting me and making me one of their very own children. (My foster parents have already adopted six children; most have special needs and are younger; I'm the oldest one in the family).
I have since started seeing a counselor to help me deal with my past. In addition, I have become a Christian and am relying on Christ to get me through the horrible memories that I still experience from time to time. It's working, but it's a slow, ongoing process. Some days I do great; on others, I'm dealing with the flashbacks or the memories and I then wake my family up in the middle of the night with blood curdling screams as I once again relive the horrors in my mind.
I am seriously thinking about writing a book for kids who may have gone through the same things I did. It won't be easy as I am forced to reckon with past memories, but maybe I can save a life and let others know that they aren't alone in their suffering. If I can bring a sense of hope and healing to one person, then my job will be worth everything!
~To be continued.~