Being raised in a small town with a state mental hospital across the creek from where I lived was scary enough as a child, but having a birth mother as a patient there for the first seven years of my life was confusing and scary. Having a wonderful grandmother who cared enough to raise us as a mother, father, and supportive grandparent all in one helped me as I grew.
As a young child my aunts and uncles were very hard on me, constantly telling me I would be the death of my grandmother and saying “you’re just like your mother, you’re evil.” This type of talk lowers a childs self-esteem.
Like most children I liked to run around the neighborhood visiting people and seeing who had new puppies to play with. One day I didn’t get home fast enough and my uncle came looking for me saying “if you want to play with the dogs, we’ll treat you like one.” He then tied me to the front tree and brought my dinner out to me in the front yard. After he left the neighbors told Mama to call him back to untie me or they would call the authorities. He came back and said how terrible I was for making him look bad.
Since Mama was in poor health there were times we would go to bed not knowing where we would wake up, because during the night she would have to be hospitalized for a mini-stroke, causing confusion and fear in my sister and me. These were more times of being told “you’re killing your grandmother, you evil little girl.”
I had always been afraid of thunder and lightning. This is a normal fear for all children, but as I got older, to teach me not to be afraid my aunt chained me to a metal swing set on the top of a hill during a storm. It didn’t work. To this day I have night terrors and am abnormally afraid of storms.
Mama would find me under our lilac bush many times , unable to tell her what I was doing because I was dissociating and was one of the others so I would not feel the pain.
When I was in the second grade I was physically abused by my teacher. She got angry because I was doing short division instead of long division. She took me up to the front of the class and pulled down my pants, smacking me in front of the class. When I got home Mama wanted to know what had happened because one of my classmates had told his mother and she called Mama. They both went to the school and told what happened and the teacher was fired that day. This caused trauma to me until the third grade, when I had a wonderful teacher who knew what was causing me to shut down and would hold me on her lap and teach me math.
Most of the neighbors were very kind and supportive of me as I grew up knowing how I was treated by my aunts and uncles.