I don't remember when I got cold
it was when he would lay into me
Told that your worthless from five years old
Is it part of your destiny
The world is a big, scary place to every child. But it’s also an amazing place they cannot wait to explore. They dream from the day they know what’s going on, what it will be like. What will I do when I grow up? Will I get married? Will I have a big house? What is it like to drive a car? Maybe I’ll even be the President. Everyone has goals and dreams, some just never know if they’ll get the chance to achieve them.
Little girls are supposed to love their fathers. Most take the role as “Daddy’s little girl”, and are spoiled rotten with love. Others, are spoiled by their mothers, and just loved by fathers who cannot relate well to girls. Who take more interest in their sons, and teaching them to play baseball, be a man. And then there are the children everyone seems to forget about. Who feel they are not loved by either their father, nor mother. They feel they need to find love from somewhere, but have no idea where from.
She had been one of those girls. She felt she hadn’t been loved by her mother, or father. She had felt alone for most of her life. She could remember sitting in her bedroom at night when she was very young, listening to the arguing. She could remember it like it was only a few hours ago. She would be sitting next to her bed, near the wall, wearing some sort of nightgown, most memorably, a light blue one. She would huddle next to the wall; her stuffed dog whom she had named Winnie nestled in her arms. The light would be shut off, and she could remember hearing Eric in the next room. He was still young enough that he slept in a crib. He could hear him playing with a toy strapped to the bars of his crib as she heard the yelling.
The yelling frightened her. It seemed to get worse each time. It would always begin over something silly, like a baby bottle left on the kitchen counter, or a pile of laundry that was left unfolded. Her father would return home from work, and it was too much for him to handle. He worked a full time job at as an accountant, plus he was expected to cook, clean, and raise two small children, one of whom was still in diapers. Abby’s mother Maggie was no help. Ever since Eric had been born, she had decided she no longer needed her medication. Eric had miraculously cured her. But in truth, she was only worse.
Without her medication, she would go into wild fits, screaming and running around like a wild woman. She would throw things and then suddenly break down into hysterical sobs. The crying would continue for days, until she would finally lock herself in her and Kevin’s bedroom. It was always a mystery how long she would remain in there, but then as soon as she would emerge, she would seem ok again. And the cycle would restart. Happy for a few days, wild woman, hysterical woman, depressed woman. Why couldn’t she ever just be mom?
But at this age, Abby didn’t understand just how sick her mother was. She thought she was just sick with something like the colds she got. So she easily forgave her. She was her “mommy” after all.
The strain of Maggie and her illness took the toll on everyone. She couldn’t work, as no one would hire her. The few times she had managed to get a job, she lost it within 2 weeks because she wouldn’t show up, or she would start having a fit right in the middle of the store. This left Abby’s father Kevin to work. Each day he would leave the house by 6 am and wouldn’t return until nearly 7 pm. While he was gone, Maggie would lock herself in her bedroom and paint, the one thing that kept her calm. With being locked away, Abby took on the role of being the mom. She would play with Eric after her father got him up and dressed each morning. She would give him his bottles and read him picture books on the couch. She would change his diaper when it needed, and wash him after he ate. When Maggie would emerge from her bedroom, it would be only for something to eat, and most of the time, she would fix it and leave some extra for Abby to eat. Then she would return again to her room.
5 year olds are suppose to play with their dolls, their Barbie’s, have their mom’s and dad’s read to them and tell them stories, be a child. But being 5 to Abby was like being 25. She took care of Eric, she cleaned up after him, she cleaned up after herself, and her mother.
The night she remembered her parents had been fighting over the unfolded basket of laundry sitting in the middle of the living room. As Abby listened, she began to cry, believing it was her fault they were fighting. She had dragged the basket up from the laundry room earlier that afternoon, but as she did, Eric had begun to cry. So, she left it in the middle of the floor, and never got back to it.
“All I ask is for you to fold one fucking basket of laundry, how damn hard is that!?” Kevin yelled, the walls seeming to shake as he did so. “You are the laziest piece of shit I have ever met!”
Abby cringed as she heard the words flow from his mouth down the hallway. She hated it when they fought, when anyone fought. It gave her a knot in her stomach, and made her feel nauseous.
“Don’t start in on me! So what if I didn’t fold the laundry, I was busy painting!” Maggie shouted back in defense, as Abby could hear a wail come from Eric’s bedroom next door.
“Painting, is that all you think about!?” he yelled back, as Abby quietly got to her feet and tip-toed to the room next door, where she found Eric wailing in his crib, his face bright red. “Have you forgotten that we have two children, and that you’re their mother!?”
“And you’re their father you bastard! And it isn’t my fault you don’t come home until 7 o’clock after spending who knows how long with that girl of yours!”
Reaching into Eric’s crib, Abby pulled him into her small arms and carried him back to her room, where she again hid herself next to the wall. Pulling the comforter from her bed, she wrapped it around them both as the screaming outside continued. Eric was still fussing as Abby rocked him back and forth, humming her favorite song to him.
“I swear Maggie, I’m going to leave one of these fucking days! Then you’ll see how good you have it and what an ass you really are!” Abby heard her father yell as a door slammed and a car engine began outside. She could see the glow of the headlights through her bedroom window as the car pulled out of the driveway, and the sound of her mother running up the hallway, hysterical.
She never came out of her room again that night. She never bothered to check on Abby, or Eric. Eric fell asleep in her arms that night, and she fell asleep propped up against the wall, wrapped in her teddy bear blanket.
Kevin came back sometime during the night, because Abby found him passed out on the couch when she awoke the next morning. Things continued like that for the next 2 years, until he left one night, and never came back.
Children are supposed to be able to feel safe at school. It’s supposed to be a place they should look forward to going to. Seeing their friends, learning new things. Teachers should be able to see their faces glow when they get the right answers, or smile as they laugh and play with friends.
But school can be a cruel place. Especially if the other kids know what happens at your house, and how you live. If you don’t have the right clothes, or the right kind of juice box at lunch, you can become the target for ridicule and taunting. Being the bully seems to give some kids a feeling of power, that they are better than you are. And if they do it for long enough, you start to believe they are.
School was just as bad as home life was for Abby. There were 29 children in her second grade class. That meant 28 of them had someone to sit next to at their tables. The tables were made for two. Abby was number 29, she sat alone. Everyone always had a partner to work with on group projects, nobody ever asked Abby to work with them. She was too shy to ask anyone to work with her, too afraid if she did, they would say no, and laugh.
At recess, all the girls would jump rope or play hopscotch with each other. Abby was never invited to play. She would stand near the school building with a book. Her books were her friends, they didn’t make fun of you, they couldn’t even talk back. But they made her happy. They were one of the few things in her life that did.
“Look at Abby and her ugly shoes!” Jamie Parks called to her one day on the playground, as he stood with two of his friends and laughed. Jamie was in 4th grade and he was much bigger than Abby. He lived in the same development as Abby and knew what her home life was like. He took pleasure in taunting her about it, and did it whenever he had the chance.
Abby didn’t even look up from her book as he stood in front of her. She just turned the page and continued to read. As she did so, Jamie grabbed a small stone and threw it at her, hitting her in the arm.
“Come on you baby! Are you scared of me?” he yelled, as his two friends continued to laugh in amusement. “Abby wabby is afraid of me!”
“I’m not afraid.” Abby whispered back, her long brown hair hanging over her face, concealing the tears that were forming.
“Yes you are,” he boasted, like he had just set a record of some sort. “You’re such a baby Abby. Now I know why you’re dad left. He didn’t love you because he thought you were weird, like we all do.”
With that last statement, he stuck his tongue out at her, grabbed a handful of dirt, threw it at her, and ran off with his two friends. She waited a few minutes to make sure they were gone before looking up. Once she had, she closed her book and tried to rub the dirt off her dress, but it only pressed into the fabric. Finally, she gave up and left the dark brown spot of the dress. Taking her book, she ran inside the school building to the bathroom, and began to cry.
Taunting like that wasn’t the worst of what she had to endure at school though. Everyday when she walked inside her classroom, she knew someone would try to trip her, or try to draw on her with a marker. But the most traumatizing had to be the day she was sitting at her table, doodling on a piece of paper when she heard two of the meanest girls in her class, Victoria and Rachel come up behind her. She heard the whispering, but didn’t look up. She knew they were talking about her. Their teacher Mrs. Kagner had stepped into the hallway for a moment to talk with another teacher, leaving the class unsupervised. As she took hold of the blue marker near her left arm, she felt someone grab her hair, and before she could say something, she heard the scissors.
A huge hunk of dark brown hair fell to the floor, as the children in the class realized what had happened and began to laugh. Their fingers pointed at Abby as they covered their mouths to shield their laughter. Victoria and Rachel were hysterical, as they quickly hid the scissor behind a bookcase and ran to the front of the room, joining the other children whom were now all staring, laughing.
Abby could feel the hot tears build in her eyes as she bit her lip, desperately trying to keep from breaking down in front of them. That would have caused them to laugh and taunt more. She reached back, and felt her hair, a large section many inches shorter than the rest. Looking to the floor, she saw the hair that was cut, and reached for it. Picking it up into her hands, she got up from her seat and ran for the door, yanking it open. As the other children continued to laugh, she ran down the hallway, past her teacher who was now well aware of the laughing, and asked the teacher she was speaking with to watch the class. Running after Abby, she passed the gym and the art room. She found her seated on a bench by an emergency exit, tears falling from her eyes.
“Abby, what happened?” she asked in a motherly like tone, as she sat next to the small girl. Seeing the hair in her small hands, she looked to the back of her head, and it was quite obvious what had been done. “Who did this to you?” she asked.
Abby didn’t answer. She just kept her head down, looking at the floor, wishing everyone would go away. She wished she lived in a book, where she could have whatever she wanted. She didn’t want a lot, she didn’t want a castle, or a pony, or lots of money to buy toys. She wanted a mom who loved her, and showed she loved her. She wanted a dad who she knew where he was, that loved her. She wanted to go to a place where she could bring just Eric and they could have a new family.
“Abby, who cut your hair?” the teacher asked again, firmer this time.
“Nobody.” Abby whispered, looking up at Mrs. Kagner.
“Nobody did this? Your hair just fell off?”
Abby sighed and wiped her eyes. She stared up at her teacher, the teacher who had seemed to have taken a special interest in her since she had first set foot in her class. She asked every morning how Abby was, how Eric was. She took special time to show Abby how to add and subtract, something she had much trouble with.
“Victoria and Rachel did it.” she replied. “They hid the scissor behind the bookcase.”
Mrs. Kagnor nodded and took Abby’s hand. “Ok, come on. I’ll take you to the nurse, she can call your mom to come pick you up.”
Abby got to her feet and gripped her hair tightly in her other hand. “My mom won’t come.” she whispered, as she was led down the hallway.
“Oh, I bet she will.”
Abby just shook her head. “She’s painting, she won’t leave.”
Mrs. Kagnor looked down at the girl as they walked. She knew how horrible Abby’s home life was. She had stopped by one day after school because Abby had fallen asleep during class because she said she had been taking care of her sick brother the night before. She had met Maggie, who had seemed more than slightly off. She’d been invited into the house, where she spotted Abby in the living room, vacuuming. She had found it odd that a 7 year old would be vacuuming, but figured it was possibly a chore. After sitting down with Maggie, and talking for only a few minutes, she knew something was wrong. She couldn’t keep herself still; she was like a small child fidgeting in her seat. Her eyes wandered as she just carried on and on. She was not right at all.
At the nurse’s office, Abby sat on a chair as the nurse phoned her mother, while her teacher left back for the classroom, ready to punish Rachel and Victoria. Abby’s legs hung from the chair she sat in, she swung them back and forth, watching her sneakers as they swung.
“Mrs. Wyzinski, I’m sorry.. Ms. Wyzinski..” she paused as she listened. “Yes, Abby needs to go home. One of the children in her class cut her hair as a joke.”
Abby didn’t look up; she knew what her mother was saying on the other end. She would be saying she couldn’t leave the house that she was busy painting, and didn’t want to have to lug Eric with her to leave.
“Ok, great. We’ll see you in a few minutes.” The nurse finally said, hanging the phone up. “Abby, your mom seemed very worried, she must care about you a lot.”
Abby just looked at her, with no reply. The only time her mom cared about her was right before she got depressed, or at least acted like she cared. She just sighed, awaiting her mom to come through the doors and start screaming, or jumping, or threatening someone. It was always the same.
from all that is sacred
Escaping the shadows over me
You'll never make it
It's all that a child believes
Babies are born small enough to hold them in your arms. You feel like you can hold them forever, protect them from everything. But eventually, babies become toddlers, who become children, who eventually, become pre teens, teens, and then adults. Once they reach the age of about 7, you can barely hold them in your lap, let alone your arms. All parents react differently when their children begin to grow. Some become excited, they look forward to seeing their child get bigger, taller, smarter. Others fear it, that their babies are growing up, and won’t look back. And then there are those who dread it, because they only wanted a baby, they never asked for a teenager.
By the time Abby was 12, her mom had been put on new medication it seemed every 3 months. She had gone back to taking it, most of the time. But it seemed there were many times she would forget, or so she claimed. Being older, Abby was more aware of what was going on, and was more forceful in her demands to make her mother take her medication. School was still horrible, but she did her best to ignore it. There was only one year left, and then she would be going to a new school. The way the district was being cut, she would be going to the new junior high, while most of the other kids her age would be going to the older one. At the new school, they wouldn’t know who she was, what her life was like. Maybe they would accept her….
Waking up one morning before school, she could remember having a stomachache. But it wasn’t like one she’d ever had before, it was more like a bad cramp she would get after running a distance in gym, or swimming after eating. Turning over in her bed, she looked at her clock and got up, heading for the bathroom and shutting the door behind her. That’s when she realized what was happening.
What the hell should she do? Her mother had never said anything about this, but then again, she didn’t say much about anything. She could remember seeing a movie about it in school one day a few months back, but that didn’t prepare you for when it happened. But then Maggie knocked on the door, and didn’t even bother waiting for Abby to answer. She flung the door open and found Abby.
“My baby isn’t a baby anymore!”. They were the first words out of her mouth. Her hand went up to cover her mouth and the tears started. “Oh Abby! You grew up too fast! You were just a baby!”
She went on like that for a good 15 minutes before actually calming down enough to think clearly. By that time, Abby had sunk to the floor, her face buried in her arms that were folded across her chest.
“Well, you’ll have to go to the store, or no.. I’ll go.” Maggie cried, running from the bathroom to her bedroom, and grabbing her wallet. “I’ll be right back! I don’t have anything for you.. It doesn’t matter Abby, I needed to get some anyway.”
“Ok.” Abby mumbled, as her mom ran out the front door. As she looked over at the clock, she knew she wouldn’t be going to school. At least that was one thing she could give thanks for. Leaning over in an attempt to sooth the cramps, Abby pulled herself up and sighed. She was more embarrassed by the way her mother had reacted to this than just about anything else in her life. She turned their shower on and climbed in, allowing the hot water to run against her. She leaned up against the wall and just stood, listening to the sound of the rain falling fiercely outside.
When Maggie returned, she burst into the bathroom and tossed the bag onto the counter. “Abby!” she called over the sound of the shower.
“Don’t worry baby. I bought you some pads, you know how to use those right? It’s not that hard.”
Abby didn’t answer; she just stuck her head under the water, allowing it to drench her body and hair.
“Oh, do you have cramps? You know, because I get those a lot. You can take some Advil for those, it usually helps.”
Maggie continued to babble on as Abby tuned her out. She heard her say something about not needing tampons because they could cause you to get some syndrome you could die from, and that she was too young for them anyway. Why did she feel the need to share all of this information with her? She wasn’t interested in it. She just wanted her to leave her alone, for the first time in her life; she didn’t want her mom to care.
Your teen years go by too quickly. One day you turn 13 and think the next years are going to be great, that they’ll never end. Then one day, you graduate High School, and you’re sent to college, most of the time, to a dorm. You have to manage for yourself, like an adult.
High school graduation came and went quickly. Abby had graduated with a 3.0 GPA, and had been accepted to the University of Illinois. Illinois meant getting away from Minnesota, away from her mother, and her old life. Illinois meant a fresh start, no one would know her, no one would ever have to meet her family. She could be a new person, and new Abby.
But things weren’t all that great to begin with. She had begun smoking at the end of 10th grade, and drinking by the middle of 11th. Her life seemed to revolve around these two activities. They kept her sane if you want to think of it that way. If she were sad, mad, happy, anything, she would drink and smoke. It made her feel free; like she could do anything she wanted.
Richard came along during her sophomore year. She was studying nursing, he was pre-med. He had seemed like the prince charming she had always dreamed about when she was a little girl. He treated her the way a woman was suppose to be treated. He took her to nice places, treated her like a human, not some alienated girl from the freak house.
By the time they graduated they were engaged. Both decided to remain in Chicago, and they were soon married. But marriage turned out to be the biggest mistake she had ever made. He drank, she drank. He drank some more, she drank some more. He’d get mad, whack her around, and leave. He’d come back a few days later, and apologize. It went on like this for 5 years. She cooked, cleaned, everything while he went to med school. Then, less than 3 months after he graduated, she found him in bed with their neighbor, “the whore”. That was the end of their marriage.
Something about it all made her decide she needed help. That’s when AA came into play. After leaving Richard, she moved to her own condo, continued work ay County, got sober, and decided to try her hand at med school.
Now there was him, the real prince charming she had always looked for. He was also a doctor, but a caring doctor. He rarely drank, he had lost his family. He was depressed at first, but when she first kissed him she knew he would be different, he was nothing like anyone she had ever met. She was comfortable with him, wasn’t afraid he would do anything, like cheat on her. He encouraged her to keep with the AA. She had been sober for years, he wanted her to continue. His name? Luka Kovac.
I don't remember when I felt warm
I was never quite good enough
I only wanted the simple things
like being told you were loved