As I sit here writing part two of this series, I look back on what I wrote in part one. Reading it over remembering every moment empowered me to keep writing this series filled with my truth. Part two is going to be emotional and somewhat troublesome for me to write because for so long I didn’t talk about these things out loud or to anyone. I will warn you before you keep reading that I mention multiple triggers in this part of, My Semi-Life. There are mentions of abuse, addiction, child protective services, police, and a church member who in turn became one of the people to save my life in a big way.
We left off when I was walking with a police officer to his car. This officer was a stranger until this day. He would soon become someone I would end up crossing paths with often. The day my mom was taken to the hospital was a long one. I remember the officer taking me to the police station and calling my aunt, who was at work during the time. She would be home soon and the police would drop me off at her house to stay while everything was figured out.
I had always been close to my aunt. I remember she used to be a truck driver when I was little, not that I had been grown at the time I stayed with her at the age of 11. She would stop by our small town and drop of the most amazing gifts! One year she brought me this teddy bear that was a good two feet taller than I had been at the time. I was nine. I would have that bear until I was sixteen years old. It’s possible it’s still in a storage unit somewhere. I noticed that everyone I saw that day had the same look on their face. Everyone seemed to be worried about how I was doing. This was confusing at the time because I wasn’t the one in the hospital. I couldn’t seem to figure out why everyone was focusing on me and not my mom being in the hospital.
I remember going with my aunt to her house and she immediately told me things would be okay. She wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I always thought that was the strangest thing to say because no one person can truly protect you from everything. We put my things away and went to visit my mom in the hospital. I loved getting to see her. With my moms health issues it wasn’t abnormal for me to see her in a hospital bed because she frequently needed surgery while I was growing up. I remember her telling me to get on the bed with her so we could snuggle. This was one of my favorite things to do with my mom. In her arms I felt like a force field was surrounding us and that nothing could tear us apart or hurt us.
Our visit came to an end and my aunt and I went outside with our other family members to talk. I don’t know why I had my bike with me at that time, but I had been sitting on it while we were all talking. My two aunts were having a conversation about where I would stay while my primary caregiver was at work. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as they decided that I would stay with my other aunt and her family during the nights she had to work.
This aunt and I were close too. I had spent so many nights at her house and with her family. We lived just one block away from each other during my childhood. I remember begging them not to make me stay there. They didn’t understand at the time but I had my reasons for feeling uneasy. I took off on my bike away from the hospital to think for a while. I know now that they had worried about me the whole time they couldn’t find me.
My aunt was mad that I had disappeared but ultimately she understood. That first night I told myself, “Everything will be okay. I will just stay awake.” I was wrong. I remember trying to pack certain clothes for that night but mostly my aunt packed things she thought I would be comfortable in. That night I slept on the couch in the living room. I positioned myself on the couch where I could see every entrance to the living room. This night is so vivid in my memories. Have you ever tried to stay awake or even tried to sleep and your body wakes you up every 20 minutes to make sure you aren’t late for whatever was making you anxious? Thats how I slept that night. Imagine an 11 year old with sleep deprivation trying to keep theirselves awake all night.
I gave in at about two in the morning; a surrender I would soon regret. I wouldn’t get much sleep that night. I’m not sure how long I slept. I didn’t open my eyes when I woke up to a feeling I had come to know from many prior nights in the presence of this particular person. The first few times this happened I woke up in the middle of it. This is when he told me he would hurt me if I said anything or made any sounds. This is when he said something bad would happen to my mom if I told anyone about it. I learned to know he was in the room when I felt the blankets move off of my legs. This feeling has always paralyzed me with fear since the first time I felt it. I couldn’t move or talk. I tried not to even breath while he touched me in places no child should be. I would say I can’t count the times that this had happened, but I remember every time this happened over the years. I have the image of the side of his face and back of his head as he walked through the doorway to the kitchen back towards the entrance to their bedroom burned into my mind. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night, and left with my best friend to the park down the street before anyone could stop me.
Our favorite thing to do was get in the rafters of the roof over the picnic tables at the church. When we were younger we would play in the park but as we grew up we loved climbing the rafters. That day we sat up there for hours just talking. Eventually we weren’t the only ones up there. there was a sweet lady who came and sat at the tables under where we had been. When I said hello to her it startled her because she hadn’t seen us sitting above her as she sat so peacefully at the table.
I don’t know what it was but something compelled me to talk to her. When I say I talked to her I mean right after I had said hello to her and she replied I felt the need to tell her everything. I told her about my mom being sick and in the hospital, I told her the details of what he had done to me. This lady whom I had never met before and didn’t know the name of sat there calmly talking to me and listened to every word that escaped. Eventually she had to go, but she told me to be safe. I felt better telling her. Sometimes a stranger comes along and they change your life. She had a part in changing mine.
It was about 20 minutes later that this same woman came walking out of the church and got in her car. A few strides behind her came the pastor. His face read of concern in a fatherly way. It was at this time that my best friend left to go back to the house for dinner like we were told to do. Everyone was asking where I was but she told them that I was still at the park. The pastor made his way to the same picnic table the stranger had sat at and looked up to me. He said Hello and asked me how my day was. He listened to me talk about my day and then he said to me, ” I have a feeling you would like to talk about something else.” He asked me if I felt comfortable going inside to talk. Growing up with my mom dropping me off at church every Wednesday night I knew that a church was a safe place.
As we walked inside he took me to a small room and sat me down. He asked me if there was anything I wanted to talk to god about. For the second time that day I repeated the story of my repetitive sexual abuse to a stranger. he asked me if this was where I was supposed to be going back to for dinner. All I could do was nod. He told me that the woman that had sat under the rafters had talked to him and he wanted to make sure I don’t go back to that house. That sleepless night was the last time he could hurt me. I never found out who the woman at the park was. I wish I knew because I’d like to thank her for saving me. A perfect stranger had saved my life that day. I promised the pastor I wouldn’t go back to the house, got on my bike, and rode across town to the hospital to see my mom.
I didn’t know it when talking to the pastor, but he had already called the police station and told them what had been happening for so many years. I have a vivid memory of walking down the long hospital hallway towards my moms room. The door had been open and before I walked into the room I could see two policemen standing inside and the sound of my mom crying. My first instinct was to run, but I had promised myself no more running. I walked into the room as the officers looked at me. One of them looked all to familiar. It was the very same officer that had walked me to his car with my belongings two days prior. I turned to look at my mom as I heard her voice beg me for an answer, ” Why didn’t you tell me? I could have helped you.” It was at that moment that I knew the officers told her everything. All I could get out was that he told me something bad would happen to her if I told. I had never seen heartbreak in someones eyes until I looked up at my mothers eyes. As I sit here and write this it brings up the emotions I felt that day. It makes me think about what I know that I hadn’t back then.
The police wouldn’t let me leave the hospital to go back to my aunt’s house. The officer I had come to know as one of my saviors led me to his police car for a second time that week. Somehow this time felt different. We went to the police station where they asked me to tell them everything I had told the woman and Pastor. I repeated everything to them while their eyes filled with a sadness after every time I told them about. After about an hour of talking to various officers they all left but my favorite one.
He sat with me and talked to me about what would come next. I felt safe in his presence and he explained everything in a way I could understand. He told me that because of everything that has happened I would need to go stay with a foster family. I would be torn from my family because of something out of my control. He said that he knew this family personally and they were great to be with. He told me that another officer collected my things for me that I would be taking with me to another city 30 miles away. He said that my foster mom would be there soon to get me and that I was brave for keeping calm through all of this. Soon I would be in a home where my mom wasn’t, and I would be living a life that felt like someone else’s.