I feel often as though I am in the wrong country.
That the language I have is incorrect and yet I do not know how to fix it.
There are no travel guides here and even if there were I wouldn’t be able to read them, for they’d be in that other language.
The one that I have lost.
Perhaps it is not my family that’s a country at war with itself .
Perhaps I am at war with myself?
Perhaps I am. Perhaps indeed I am.
With few parting words from my mother I was placed in the back of a car and driven for what felt like years away from the home that had held me captive for all that time.
My eyes grew tired from straining to take in all that there was to see.
My body ached and my head wanted to lay itself down and rest.
But there was no rest, not with the questions of why still racing through my mind.
Why was I going somewhere new and who would be there to greet me?
So I sat in the back.
Trying to blink in the colours of the deepening sky and the sparse trees that doubled in number and then grew into a forest of greenery the longer we travelled.
All those colours clashed and collided inside of my head.
I tried in vain, to count the number of guideposts that it took to get there, in case I should not like it and wished to return back to my other home.
But there were too many and they flew by my eyes like hail.
Fencing me in,
In a pen of their choosing.
I must have been asleep by the time we arrived. I remember nothing of entering my new home but rather I simply woke up in a new room with a translucent stranger hovering over me.
The figure smiled. ‘My name is Vonnie and I’m going to help you settle in and show you around. How would you like that?’
I must have smiled for she nodded her head at me.
Vonnie helped me up and showed me where the bathrooms were. I clutched my small bag of belongings to me as I scurried off to wash myself clean of the sins of reading .
For was that not what had gotten me into this mess in the first place?
My love of books?
To my mind at the time the answer was quite obviously yes.
I was there, in that very place, for that very reason.
I was being punished, once again, for loving beyond apparent reason, that which others did not, comprehend.
Some days being in my family felt like living in a country constantly at war with itself .
The bomb shells of my father’s yelling.
The shrilling peel of my mother’s crying and the thudding of a million doors slamming that always made me jump.
And the way my father’s voice boomed too loudly at me as he stood in my doorway and told me that ‘after Christmas things would change’.
Like spare change?
As in money, I thought.
He must have meant that we’d be getting more money I reasoned.
We didn’t get more money.
Instead what I remember most about Christmas that year was my growing sense of displacement.
It was not anything new to me for I had always felt that way about Christmas.
But this year I expected more, for with more money, I expected books. At last. Finally.
Every year, in that house at Christmas, with my pseudo mother and pseudo father, I’d always wanted books and I’d always got clothes or a school bag, but never any books.
Yet this Christmas, despite my expectations, still, there were no books
So I stayed alone in my room.
Just me and the walls.
The walls and me.
It was an ordinary day.
Like so many other days in that house.
On boxing day my pseudo parents came into my room and told me that they’d finally decided what was best for me.
I was to be sent to a home in the country.
It sounded nice.
‘What country?’ I asked them.
They stared at me.
I was used to being stared at. That didn’t bother me.
What bothered me was not getting the answer to my question.
How am I to know what country I am in if I am not told?
Their responses made me feel as though I were an ancient text that had been translated wrongly.
Just a few symbols out-of-place here and there and the meaning of everything changed all around me.
Do you see yet how easily I have been taken out of context and slotted neatly back in where other people would prefer me to be?
Or perhaps it is the other way around?
Perhaps it is not I who has been lost in translation but rather the world around me that has been placed out of the reach of its own meaning.
We were sitting in the sun.
On the rocks.
My mum, as usual, has gone off to buy us strawberry slushy cones.
She knows we love coming to the beach.
She calls us her little gems.
Lucy and me.
She says we sparkle so much that sometimes we make her eyes hurt.
But that’s ok she says, because no matter how brightly we sparkle, she’ll never, ever be able to stop looking at us.
Sometimes I get scared that she might go blind.
I wonder if that’s what people mean when they say that love is blind?
I will ask her when she comes back.
Lucy is building a sandcastle and talking to a man.
He has a pink bucket and spade.
He is digging with her now.
She waves at me with a lollypop in her mouth.
Shouting at me to hop off my rock and come over.
The man smiles at me.
He pulls a lollypop from his pocket and says that he has lost his dog.
Could we help him look for her?
Mum has told us not to move.
But I reckon she’d be ok if we just went a little way up the beach to help.
Lucy takes his hand.
He offers me the other.
I feel like I shouldn’t take it.
But I do.
Mum always tells us to hold hands when we go out in public so we won’t get lost.
That, she’s always telling us, is how to stay safe.
So I guess it’s OK if we hold hands.
We walk a little way and he points to his car.
“Maybe she’s gone back there” he suggests.
My head is feeling funny as I suck on the lollypop he gave me.
Lucy is going all wobbly as she walks.
He opens the car door to look for the dog.
Then suddenly we are inside the car and the beach is gone.
The motion of the care makes me feel sick.
I look at Lucy but she is asleep.
Then the car stops.
The man pulls Lucy out of the car and drags her across the ground.
I try to tell him to stop but my mouth won’t make a sound.
He slaps her face to wake her up.
Then puts a hand over her mouth when she screams.
He rips her swimmers off……
I fling out my hand but I can’t reach her.
My fingers find a wrapper on the seat.
I clutch at it.
The feeling of the wrapper comforts me.
Then he comes for me…..
His hands are everywhere they shouldn’t be.
I want to tell him not to touch me.
I try to call for my mum instead.
But my mouth still isn’t working.
So I stare up at the sky.
At the light from the sun as it dapples the earth and me below it.
I am still crinkling the wrapper in my hand.
Searching for a sense of comfort that has long since passed my by.
And is now gone forever.
Once down the rabbit hole I fell back into being the child hiding behind the chair, staring out at the world, her eyes, as all children’s are, born adult sized, taking in too much without any accurate way of deciphering the subtleties of this life.
Subtleties for me were things that blended and smudged into the crevices of floor boards, hung covertly behind curtains or were stacked away neatly with care into the book shelves of any given room.
Then I remembered what it was that I’d come back to ask this child of five, being made to sprout out words to delight and charm her adults like some perverse parlor game.
Performing word tricks of no great importance merely for the entertainment of ignorant of others.
She didn’t know then that invention of the mind, like creativity of the soul, should never have been made to seem so cheap or easy.
All the same it sent forth in her feelings of mistrust.
Feelings that eventually became so strong that she started hiding from others and stopped saying that which until she chose to open her mouth, would remain unspoken.
Neither wanting the attention, nor sure for what reason it was being given, she remained in hiding.
In some ways we are both still hiding.
Though this hiding of the self is now being done in very different and more sophisticated ways, it is still no more effective than the act of standing behind a chair and wishing to no longer be there.
‘Give me back my words. The ones that formed so naturally, tangibly, without encouragement or coaxing. The ones they made me want to pack away and leave to starve un-nourished amidst the foreign land of adulthood.’ I shout
For I suddenly remember that this is what I’ve come back down the rabbit hole to ask her.
Yet as I see her cowered in the corner, behind a chair, hiding herself away from the eyes of others, I understand why it is that as a child she had to slip away somewhere else.
Some place deeper in.
So deeply in, that parts of her are still there.
I watched you as your eyes began their inventory of my life.
Me, a sleep deprived, emotional wreck with cargo still yet to be hauled to shore and you, more confident in appearance, more correctly put together.
Your cargo so obviously already landed that the puzzle pieces of your life were now beginning to fit together.
The only thing that confused you and even remotely shook you at all was the fact that you seemed to have too many bits left over.
I told you that you only feel that way because your pictures still expanding.
And so too I think, is mine.
Though you’d never know it from the way you’re standing over me.
Suited up as you are in a life that is so uniquely your own that you carry no space for the opinions of others.
My life on the other hand has been so covered by the finger prints of others that I’ve forgotten that I could even once have had a life at all.
But now I’m talking about a time so way back in the long ago that even I can barely remember when it was that I’d first realized that I’d failed to see the forest for the trees so many times that I’d stopped looking at the surfaces of things and started instead looking down.
Looking down the rabbit hole is where I finally began to find the roots of it all.
The beginnings of a child’s lie can be so simple.
So small that you can’t see it, even with adult sized eyes.
If you blog about your experiences of living with or caring for a family member with a Disability, or write about Special Needs, or describe and share the reality of being Differently – Abled from a first person point of view in your blog, then I’d love the opportunity to read and learn from your words.
So if you are an individual blogging about life with Special Needs or the parent of a child or young adult who is Differently Abled, or even the son or daughter of an elderly parent experiencing a new way of life as a carer, please add you blog link below so that we can find each other and connect within the WordPress Blogosphere.
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