High school, on the other hand, was a completely different experience. I was still smart, but I fell in love, had friends and best friends of whom I’m still friends with today. The only tough part was our strict home life that only got stricter and the hold on us girls to remain pure was daunting and bordered on fearful even at school. But for me, school was my getaway. I knew I could make straight A’s. If I heard it, I knew it. In the 11th grade, I returned my history book at the end of the year unused. I was just that good. Brag moment.
I remained the same quiet, shy girl except I made great friends and we had fun every single day. I think teachers didn’t expect anything bad from me so they never suspected anything either. I was not a talker or fast girl at all. But by the time my junior year was about to end, I realized that I’d never get these years back. So I changed. I talked, laughed, loved, danced, skipped a few unnoticed classes, all the while keeping the appearance of the bookworm at home.
By graduation, I had made up for two years of being a recluse and was sad to see graduation day approaching. While most kids couldn’t wait to get out in the world, I wanted at least another year or two or for time to just slow down a little. See, graduation to them meant going on to college and then on to jobs, marriage or kids; whatever life had to offer.
But for me, with my 26-year-old, 25, and 21-year-old sisters at home, it meant being trapped. Just like them. Trapped behind four walls unable to pursue my dreams and live my life. I knew things were not going to change for me, the last of six children to graduate. My only solace was my mother. My mom was my best friend even back then. She would fill my imagination with stories of her youth and her life with Daddy. She kept me going a lot of days. She is the only reason I didn’t try to leave. I couldn’t leave her.
As we lined up to walk to Pomp and Circumstance, our excitement grew. I let myself feel every ounce of it. I took it all in until the very last second. My graduating class, the Holt High School graduating class of May 1991, cried together, laughed together and walked together.
After the ceremony, while others were enthroned in warm goodbyes, making lasting final memories, and taking precious photos, I tried my hardest to stay hidden within the crowd for a few minutes to just breathe it all in and say goodbye to my fellow class-men, teachers and staff, my friends, those special ones I was leaving behind (my best friend to this day), and to say goodbye to my freedom.
But I was denied those few moments. I was met in the crowd by my fathers stern hands attached to my shoulders, strongly guiding me straight forward, up the bleachers, and away from my freedom with tears streaming down my face, choking on the wales I couldn’t dare let him hear. Taking as many glances back at those I had made my family for four years knowing I would never see or talk to any of them again. And I didn’t. At least not until, seeing a few of them at the hospital after my father unexpectedly fell ill.
In November 1993, he went into a coma due to negligence following neck surgery, three days after my 19th birthday. Still, months later, it took me a while to realize that I had the choice to reach out to anyone, to take down those braids that held me captive, or to even know I was free to be me. When you live in seclusion, you become fearful of society. It’s difficult to socialize, trust, have friendships, and break through the hold that being secluded had on you. Therefore, I found myself living my life because of my moms grace and not actually speaking to or seeing most of my classmates until after Facebook was launched and I reluctantly joined in 2008.
This is one of the darkest blogs I have written. Did this childhood trauma help cause fibromyalgia? I don’t know. All I know is that I credit my mother for giving us, her children, life not once but twice. After my father fell ill, my mom could’ve kept us girls still under my dads “lock and key”, but she didn’t. She guided us the best she could into the world so we could live our lives and pursue our dreams. Thank you for that, Momma! I love you!
So today, here I am doing this school thing for a second time around. I made sure my children never feared me and never experienced any type of abuse at my hands. I will do the same with my niece and nephew. They have adjusted well and are doing great. Biologically, has raised 6 children, 24 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.
I say biological because she is resident grandmother to so many more. And she momma to everybody, just like her mother was when she was growing up. We have had 7 of the grandchildren go through the elementary school our twins now get to enjoy. I can’t wait to get involved in all their activities as I did with my two kids. I’m going to do my best to make sure their elementary school experience is a good one.
(My high school graduation picture)
I wonder if you can see the agony in my eyes
The heartfelt pain in the tears I’ve cried.
I’ve been stripped of all that protected me.
I’m vulnerable now, exposed, but never free.
I dare not tell you how I truly feel.
I fear you’ll crush me with your words at will.
Don’t you see how much you’re hurting us?
Do you wonder if because of you, we’ll never trust?
Don’t you see in the way I walk into the room that I’m full of fear, damnation, and gloom?
How do you reach for me each day and night?
And slowly but surely dim out my light.
You loved me in your own way even though my fear grew more each day.
As I remember how I felt during those days gone by.
I’ll wonder if you saw the agony in my eyes
Me at about 3 years old
Collage of my 2 kids that my sister Sondy sent me
My babies either one Easter or for church
2004 Thanksgiving dinner with my family and several of our kids who went through the same elementary school as the twins. Me, my son and daughter and my mom on the end.