Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Just Wanted To Be 'Normal' (5)

Our family seemed normal, on the outside looking in. I think though that people were starting to wonder if something wasn't just right with our family. My grandparents, the adopted mother's parents were starting to notice when we would visit them in Dallas. We went often to see them and those visits were most of the time family reunions. My Aunt, the adopted mother’s younger sister and my Uncle, the adopted mother’s brother, they made up the family. My adopted dad had a mom, Grandma K. as us kids called her and he had a sister, Aunt Shirley, but we didn't really see her much. Grandma K lived in Dallas too, so any time we would visit Nanny and Papa we would go see her as well. These people were the only extended family I knew or would know. My adopted dad’s dad, died in a shooting when he was a teen and his mom never remarried after that.
Visits to Dallas were fun, and I loved visiting family. They spoiled us, especially Nanny and Papa. They would come and wake us kids up the morning after we would arrive and sneak us into the kitchen to eat breakfast with Papa before he would have to go to work. I loved those mornings. We had to be quiet so we wouldn't wake up the adopted parents who would sleep in. Nanny would always buy us these miniature boxes of cereal when we would visit and she would let us pick what we wanted and let us have as much milk as we wanted. It was bliss! We got to eat what we wanted! I always picked Frosted Mini Wheats or Honey Nut Cheerios and occasionally Frosted Flakes. We weren't allowed to eat cereal like that at home, we were served non sweet cereal, occasionally we would get the good stuff but that was for Matthew to eat. Of course the adopted mother would always wake up and walk into breakfast and Nanny and Papa’s and she would fuss at her own mother for allowing us to eat cereal like that. Oh my goodness it was just cereal! The adopted mother fussed a lot at anything special that her mom or dad would do with us, especially with Michael and I. It was okay to treat Matthew like he was human, but when we would visit, we had to bring the complicating rules and treatment from home with us and the adopted mother expected others to treat us the way she did. I used to wonder, was it because we were adopted? What were we doing wrong? I could never understand why she was treating us like that.  Even the dreaded ‘rod’ traveled with us in the car, it was slim enough to slip in the car without bringing attention to it. But, the adopted mother was never afraid to use it, even if we were at Nanny and Papa’s.

The rest of family, the aunts and uncles, they were starting to notice that we were treated differently. When we were supposed to be visiting with family, we kids were forced to go entertain ourselves elsewhere away from the adults.  My Aunt had a son,  and my Uncle had two kids with his first wife, a boy and a girl. We kids or cousins would hang out, but they were closer to Matthew’s age, several years younger than I and I would either get the responsibility of watching them too during visits or they were being spoiled by the adults.  Even at Nanny and Papa’s house, I remember spending time with just myself. They kept a few things around for us kids to play with but there wasn't much to entertain us with unless Papa would put on an Old Mary Poppins movie, the kind that looked like a record player. It was always Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I fell in love with those movies. My imagination would run wild, yet very privately. I had wished on many occasions that I was able to jump into a picture scene chalked out on a sidewalk like Mary Poppins and step into a different world, where it was beautiful and always happy. I wish I had a dad and even a mom who would be so dedicated to their children like the dad in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I could only dream though and imagine and inside, I would cry. I thought I was their child, they claimed me, but why did they treat me different then Matthew? Why was it feeling like I was being punished or used as a slave girl to clean bathrooms? Those were questions I was going to ask myself for years to come and little did I know it.

As I mentioned, extended family were beginning to sense that we were being treated differently and when they questioned my mom, she had excuses and she became defensive. Soon, the family would just learn to not question. My Nanny noticed though. I remember at a family reunion, we were having it at a park, I was about 12 years old (maybe I was younger)  and we were all there. We were having the usual sloppy joe sandwiches for dinner and I hated them! I was forced to eat them and I dreaded it. I wasn't allowed to refuse it, the adopted mother would make my plate and I was expected to eat it like it was a steak.  But, at the Reunion, I was having a really hard time eating my sandwich; I was inching along with half of it and finally ate it. The adopted mother was sitting close by, not really saying anything about the length of time it was taking me to eat a sandwich because she was so engrossed into the ‘grownup’ conversation the adults were having.  ‘Adult Conversations’, that was another story in itself, but not now.  As I sat there that afternoon, hating that I still had another half of a sloppy joe to swallow down, I was dying on the inside. My Nanny noticed but she knew better than to voice her opinion to her daughter that I shouldn't be forced to eat something I didn't want to eat.  She was smart though, she made her way to my side of the picnic table and somehow or another, she managed to get me to sneak to her my half of the sandwich and she made it disappear and the adopted mother never saw it. I was beyond relieved! I wanted to cry, because I had been saved! I would never touch another sloppy joe in my life.

 My Nanny knew and she didn't have to say a word.  She didn't always get to ‘save’ me though, she tried though, bless her heart she tried. She couldn't understand why us kids were expected to act like robots or like were going through refining school. Yes, we were expected to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes ma’am’ and all, but that is normal, anybody in Texas knows you always say that and use your manners. But, Michael and I were not allowed to casually sit and engage in normal conversations with the family members. We were sent away to play or be someplace else where we couldn't hear the grownups talking.  I had a good ear though and could hear things from a good distance. The adopted mother soon realized I was good at this too and I was always sent far away from any conversation she would be having with anybody. I understood that I didn't always need to with the adults but for the most part, I just wanted to be around people. Not only that, but I was getting older, almost 13 and I wanted to feel like an adult or something close to it. I wasn't a toddler or a kindergartner anymore. I was growing up.

The adopted mother was making growing up difficult, not just mentally but physically. I found out the hard way that I was turning into a woman at age 12. I wasn't warned, or even had the talk of the birds and the bees. That was a taboo subject in our house. Anything to do with private body parts wasn't talked about and it was treated like it was a wicked thing. You didn't ask questions about any of it. I wasn't told how a baby was exactly made and I wouldn't know for quite some time.

Back to this growing up thing, it was harsh and I didn't understand why I wasn't allowed the things most girls my age were being allowed to wear as they developed physically. While most girls were allowed pretty undergarments, I was forced to wear sports bras and plain under clothes. I remember being given a really pretty purse, cheap perfumes and stuff like that but for some reason they were taken away. I couldn't be 'trusted' with any of it. It was almost like when I would try to act 'normal', it wasn't allowed.

 I was definitely not allowed to wear make up or anything similar to it. I was given lip gloss one year for Christmas and was so naive to believe I was actually being given make up, only to be told that it wasn't  But, I was soon not allowed those small pretty things. They were taken away and never bought for me either. I wanted ear rings and remember asking the adopted mother one day why I had scars in my ears. She told me that my ears were pierced when they got me as a toddler but she had them taken out and the holes were left to close up. Little did I know that when I was 18 and away from home that those holes had been opened my whole life. I used to wonder if the adopted mother knew that. I asked her about getting earrings and getting my ears pierced again and she would always tell me that I could when I turned the age she was when she had hers done, she was 16. I couldn't wait! But, 16 came and went and that promise became a lie and it never happened. I didn't deserve it was the response I was given the last time I asked about it. Why? Why didn't I deserve it? Why did I deserve to be lied to? 
Why was I not being allowed to grow up? I didn't want to be a little prissy, preppy girl or , look or act like anything inappropriate, I just wanted to be normal. For the longest time though, I was led to believe that this kind of treatment and upbringing was normal, but I would always look around and see girls my age being allowed these simple, normal luxuries at least to me they were luxuries.  Why wasn't I? Again, this was another question to be asked for the next several years. 
Until next time, be blessed and inspire to make a difference!
~The Adopted Child

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Thank you for sharing your story. I know a little of how much courage it takes to "come out" about such a confusing and tormented past. A friend of mine that went to North Belt sent me your blog address because my (birth) mom seems a lot like your mom (and we also were raised on Gothard doctrines). Your story is heartbreaking but your blog is a testament of your incredible resilience and so refreshing to read. Grateful that you too are working to get the Truth out there.