The end of Childhood as Horror movie!

Heroin syringe

Heroin syringe (Photo credit: Thomas Marthinsen)

I am not sure when he stopped.

My therapist has asked me several times, if I was scared of getting pregnant. I don’t remember. Pain in my childhood covered my memory and made so many things disappear, just to reappear as fragments. Not all of them are frightening or dangerous, or in the PTSD-category, like some of the things I have described earlier. Most are just undiscovered memories, as if you would look through old photo albums. That’s ok.

So I don’t remember if I was scared of getting pregnant. At first I guess I didn’t know how one did get pregnant, it wasn’t included in my sisters version of the flowers and the bees. As I got just a bit older, and understood more, I was also able to get away more easily.

My day would be like:

  • school (not every day)
  • going to town for music lessons (as much as I could) or to the library
  •  just going to town, hang out with people I thought about as friends, usually a lot older than me.
  • getting home too late, and go straight to my room.
  • if he was home, and not one of his travels, I’d think twice (at least) on what to do. Sometimes I’d just get out again through the window immediately. Sometimes I’d wait for a while. Sometimes I tried to sleep. If I got out, I would come back at 4:30 or 5, and get two hours of sleep before having to start another day.

I always had top grades at school, even though I never made an effort, and in periods, I couldn’t have gone more than every other day. Sometimes teachers would try to talk to me, and they said they would call him. My respons would be “so what?” People must have known though. Someone in school, the pill-pushing idiot of a doctor, someone in that very very sick home I had.

I ran away several times. Once my sister saw me, she was going to work on a very early morning shift. Saw me, ran to grab me, and called him. I couldn’t believe she would do that!

Once I told my friends at school that I was going to far away, to another country. For like forever. After two days, they told the police that. After two days, even he got worried. I was in my hiding place by the sea. I don’t recall what happened as I got back.

At 13 I met this boy who lived by himself. He was 18. Which meant free alcohol, many funny pills, and the introduction to smack (H, skag or whatever you call it). I did only one serious suicide attempt, the plan was to pop all the pills I could find, and top it off with a shot. Problem was that the pills were still in their packages, so I had to press them out one by one. I started taking ten, and then ten more… when I woke up again, I had the syringe in my arm, and there was some blood. Some 26 hours had passed. So it must have been a close call. After that, at 16, I came off hard drugs, on my own.

Last term at school, I had put my life together, sort of. I was normal, like the others. I thought so anyway.

These last few weeks of writing has been quite intense. If my mind doesn’t come up with more ugly flashback, the things I have told about here are the worst. It’s not all. but maybe it is the parts that needed to be told the most.

At 16, I met my first husband, we married when I was 18. At 25, my father died on one of his many journeys. That was when I started remembering. I had some 25 years of f***ing up my life, and by next year, I have use 25 years trying to mend. The story is not over.

How are things at home?

I really liked that teacher. He started at my school when I started fourth grade. He would ask me when I didn’t turn up for school. When I got into fights with the sixth grade boys, that’s something you don’t have to do very often. He would ask me when I fell asleep during class.

That feeling, when you have to stay behind after all the others go for a break and some fresh air. It doesn’t take more than that to feel different. I already knew that I was very different, and usually thought that I didn’t care. But it hurt when the others in my class wondered about what was going on. I didn’t want to be that different.

He’d never yell at me or anything, he would start by saying: “You know it’s not ok to beat up anybody, I wish you wouldn’t do that.” And then he would use about three minutes convincing me that I should tell this boy that I was sorry. Which of course I never did.

I need to say that this boy, was kind of like the cutest one in school. And he was a bully, going after everyone smaller, weaker, with glasses… He had this fan gang gathering around him all the time.

At one time, it just happened. As everybody was in the hallway, he passed me, I put my foot out, and he fell. They were laughing, most of them thinking he got what was coming to him, some thinking of what on earth I was getting at. As he tried to get up, I kicked him real hard in the stomach.

I have no idea why I did it. I was a short girl at ten, he was two years older and quite big for his age. Maybe I was angry about something, or maybe I saw an opportunity to give him a few scratches when everybody would look. Maybe I needed to let everybody else know not to touch me?

The day after, he and two others were waiting for me as I walked home from school. My lessons in pain must have scared them. I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream, it hurt like hell, I asked them if they were done yet. I got a black eye.

My teacher wanted to see me the day after. He asked me what happened to my eye. I said “Nothing”. He would be daft not to get the picture, but he didn’t ask anymore. Instead he told me that he understood that something was going on.
“How are things at home?”
I couldn’t answer.
“How come you fall asleep in class?”
“I’m tired”
“Don’t you get to sleep at night?”
No answer.
“Do you feel safe at home?”
Definitely no answer!

He talked about bad things sometimes happening in families, and that it must be hard not to have my mother around. He said that he was worried that I spent so much time away from school, but very happy that I did so well with all the subjects. He asked me what he could do to help.

He asked me if he should talk to him.

That must have been the closest I ever got to getting help. I walked out of the classroom, out of the school and once more to my favourite place by the sea. It rained slightly. I cried, I cried myself into a terrible headache, and then I fell asleep.
He tried again and again, that teacher. For years. It must have been the first time someone saw me, and it didn’t feel like a threat.

To the other side and back

My first grade teacher was pregnant all the time, at least that’s how I remember it. I think I might have tried to make a connection somehow. It failed as she went away on leave. We had a substitute teacher when the first Mother’s day came. Cardboard paper cuttings, making silly looking cards for Mother. I could hardly remember her face, all the pictures we had, photo albums, wedding pictures, it was all gone.

I sat there doing nothing.

The teacher would say; “I can help you, what colour would you like it to be?”
“I don’t have a mother”, I’d say. Being rather cheeky about it, knowing that I couldn’t let anyone inside my lack of feelings.
She asked: “Why, everybody’s got a mother?”
“She died”, I said.
The first year I ended up doing something silly for my grandmother, his mother. The second year I made a drawing of “there must be something you would like to draw”. The third year I didn’t show up for school before Mother’s day.

All other occasions were difficult too, like making presents for birthdays and Christmases, I hated making things for him.

Other children would ask me why I didn’t have a mother. I said she died. It must have been scary for them. I learnt how not to feel anything. Once I almost started to cry, as one of my friends cried, I am not sure why. I hope I was sad, I hope I felt something, but I am not sure. And I learnt to see those situations coming, new teachers, parents day at school, Christmas plays, concerts… those were days of special alert. No-feeling-days.
I had few friends, but they were quite close, three, I think, but rarely more than one at the time. They knew what to avoid. The only way I could be together with other girls was to be a bit tougher, a bit rougher around the edges; always being the one who stuck my head out. I had a quick answer to anything, and nobody would know that this was the wrong way of coping. Least of all me.

I survived.

I loved to swim. Once I swam from our beach over to the other side. I guess it’s almost three kilometres each way. When I got close to shore on the other side, I waited for a huge ship to pass. Then I swam back. I was 11 I think. Big enough to not tell any friends that I was going to run away, they would tell… big enough to stop hiding in the garden, where he would find me… big enough to get out of the house from my tiny veranda on the second floor. I climbed down a pillar, and made sure that there was something to thread on in the shingle I had to pass to get to the lawn. Without making noises. I use to remember to always have some sneakers in my room, and threw them out on the lawn. Big enough to get out of the way when things got dangerous, without making a sound.

In the summer I had friends staying over. We put up a tent in the garden, and read comics till late with flashlights. We made breakfast and ate outside. We went swimming together in the sea. It was fun. Safe.

I sometimes slept in my brothers’ room at weekends, but he never liked it. We didn’t have much in common. Or maybe, we could never speak of what we might have had in common. Still can’t.

I never had my own room till after my mother died. He rebuilt some of the second floor after that. I got a small room, with a veranda, and a way of getting out. As I’ve written earlier, the house was old and worn, and there was not a floorboard that didn’t have its own sound. Sometimes I knew he was coming and I was too late. I couldn’t get out. I HATED the colour of that room. It was like mint green-ish… like hospitals…

Other nights I went out anyway. Just in case. I went down to the sea, sat there looking and listening to the waves, thinking.
Sometimes I cried, I think mostly because I was so tired. And I thought of swimming. Then I would think that it was so cold, and that I WOULD make both over to the other side and back, anyway.

Child in hiding

I used to have four places to hide, in our house and garden. One of them was the large green cypress tree, where I spent hours.

It was a huge garden, we had hedges and trees, fruit trees, apples and plums and pears. There was a shed, a garage, and the huge house. The house was very old, and it was very beautiful. And very cold, not suited for cold winters.

I loved running in the garden. I played in the garden. And I hid there. There was a veranda, it was made out of concrete, but from very old pictures I have seen it looking like a grand, old fashioned one, where you would sit outside, having tea and looking at the roses. The ugly concrete version had to openings, one in each end. If I used the smallest opening, nobody could see me from outside. It was dark, I would creep up into the corner and make myself seem very little. And quiet. A pity I didn’t think of moving my tricycle away from outside the entrance.

I was more successful in the cellar. It was an open cellar, with an old broken door, that didn’t close. There were no electricity in there, and no light. The floor of the cellar was the rock that the house was built on. The pipe went from all the way down in the cellar, and we had some wooden cases there, adjacent to the pipe for storing potatoes. And homemade blueberry juice and jam. There were mice in the cellar. I weren’t afraid of them.

Inside the house, I hid in a closet, in my parents bedroom. It was a closet used for storing stuff after my mothers parents. The door would lock sometimes, and it was hard to get it up. Sometimes it scared me. But then I would fall asleep.

When there was snow, I made ski tracks through all the garden, the long hill down, the way cross the big lawn my older brother and sister used for badminton in the summer, and all the way up the rhododendron trees, many of them. I went round and round, for hours, until I was so cold I had to go in.

I hate to ski. I haven’t used my skies in more than 30 years, think I have a pair. I hate snow too.