I sometimes feel as though I’ve lived several different lives. So much of what has happened to me in my life does not fit with how my life is now. As I have changed and moved further away from those past versions of myself, I have developed a bit of cringe. I think there is a part of me that wishes to have had a ‘normal’ childhood, a ‘normal’ adolescence. I feel false when I reminisce about childhood things, about teenage difficulties. I can either play along with everybody else, or confess to all of the things that set me apart. People don’t understand. When I tell them the things that I have seen and done. They can’t reconcile the adult me that they see with the younger me that I describe.
I have not had a life that most people can relate to. People, when they hear, are embarrassed for me, sad for me? I don’t know, but this is my little room to sit and talk. To say the things that make people uncomfortable, but are nevertheless part of me.
When I was fourteen I boarded a train bound for Melbourne, for a holiday on my own.
It was six weeks since we had moved “home” to Adelaide, after spending all the childhood that I could remember in Melbourne.
As I boarded that train I knew that I would not be returning to live with my parents. Not if I could help it. They had allowed this visit to my friends as a gesture of “trust”. To stop me from being so evil. I felt a small twinge of guilt at that, at betraying their trust, so maybe I was not pure evil. I still remember the nervous excitement I felt as I boarded the train, afraid that they would change their minds at any moment and drag me back, trap me. It was pure exhilaration as the train pulled away. They could not get at me now. I had escaped.
At the end of my planned holiday, I called a helpline for children. I told them that my parents had been abusing me. The details I told them were partially true, but I was afraid to share all the truth. I was afraid that my truth would not be considered serious enough, so I told them a story I thought would be easily believed. There was enough truth in it that my parents couldn’t dispute it. Even my mother, who dwelt so deeply in the fantasy, which she projected to the outside world.
I was lucky to have a friend whose family were willing to have me. They had fostered before and knew something of my family life. I was able to stay there for several months before moving on.They were kind to me, but I was a burden there, after a time, and had to find other places to go. I only lasted a little over a year. It was a good year, I have fond memories of my life then.
Sometimes family is not the best place for children. It took less than a year, after I returned to live with them, for me to be place in a psychiatric facility for children and adolescents. In retrospect, I should have fought harder to stay away. It can be easy to convince yourself, when living in less than ideal circumstances, that ‘home’ would be an improvement.
I have fought this internal battle, it has taken many years for me to see that I was not an evil child. Happy children from happy homes do not go to such extremes. I was not a “bad child”, as I was led to believe. I reject the self-image that coloured my early adult life.
To leave my family was simply self-preservation. I was not selfish, well not more than the average fourteen-year-old girl. My parents still see it that way. I was a bad child and thusly, did bad things.
Just to clarify:
There were bad things.
My teenage self was not one.