1980's, Betrayed, Crying underwater, Diary, First boyfriend, Half-brother, Innocence, Love, Police, Runaway, Secrets, Self-esteem, Sex, Silence, Virginity
The afternoon of the day I ran away, my sister watched me pack… in the room we’d shared since she was born, throwing notes on scrunched up paper across the room, playing with dolls and toys, fighting, creating an absolute mess, giggling way past our bedtime.
She kept saying she didn’t think I’d really do it. And she never said a word to my parents.
The bag was stashed in our wardrobe, a place we’d spent time hiding to eat illicit chocolate. Where not too long ago, I’d leave out cheese and milk, hopeful faeries would visit.
I wrote a note – don’t bother trying to find me – about all I can recall from the rambling one pager (as if they wouldn’t think of where to look).
How terrifying for my sister to wake and see I was gone. How panicked my parents must have been (no one has talked about that time to me, ever).
Apparently this was the only time my brother showed anything resembling caring for me – taking to the streets on his bike, looking for me. Apparently.
Tick, tick, tick. I was hiding. Not in control. No idea what my life was going to be like. Police looking for me. All I wanted was to be with my boyfriend (though he was going back to England), just what my parents didn’t want.
I knew I was missing out on school. Would I ever go back? Would I ever see my school friends again? What about my little sis? Swimming training?
The cops took my bag of clothes, also containing my diary… documenting my childish fancies.
Documenting also, the night N indelicately erased my virginity… copying in my childish hand, in the style of some adolescent book I was reading then, the words were stark – As of tonight, I’m no longer a virgin. I don’t feel different, but I know I am… – can’t have been pleasant reading for my parents.
It was later I discovered they’d read it. If I was them, I’d have done the same. But that act still violated my trust and I was furious. Especially when my dad would say – you live in a world of fantasy most of the time, don’t you – based on what he read and held it against me as though I was retarded, for a long time.
But I hated him for a long time for reading my diary.
Before all that… I was hiding out in the next door neighbour’s house. In a bedroom. Under the bed. I didn’t get to see N very much at all. No one would let us be alone together.
I’m sure there were phone calls and discussions I wasn’t privy to. About me, not including me.
Night rolled in…
N’s aunt and uncle eventually convinced me the best thing to do was to go with the police. They knew I was there; they wanted to help make things right with my parents. I didn’t know how to, and I was scared. And angry. And worried I wouldn’t get to see N again.
They took me away in a police car to the local station where my parents waited. I knew by then about my diary. I spewed fury – I hate you – at my parents. Dad cried, one of the only times I’ve seen that, to this day.
At the station I was given two choices – go home with my parents or stay at a girls’ home. A place for juveniles. I don’t know if it was just a threat… but for a while I was seriously gunning for the girls’ home.
Much of the station time is a blur. I remember a police woman being very abrupt, and in return I was rude. Mum slapped my face, afraid I think, the police would make decisions for me.
I scowled. None of this would’ve happened if they hadn’t said I couldn’t go to the airport so as far as I was concerned, it was their fault.
Somehow, during some very tense moments, tears and anger, they all talked me down. Talked me in to returning home on the promise of being able to go to the airport for N’s flight back to the UK.
I shake my head in wonder now, thinking of the wilful young child that I was, the anger and destruction I created…
A night of reckoning
The car ride is blank. Back home, I think my brother and sister were in bed – perhaps awake?
My parents and I sat in the kitchen, looking at a calendar. Trying to work out if there was any chance I could be pregnant.
No mum, I haven’t started my period yet.
Doing the laundry she’d noticed some blood in my knickers, so she wasn’t sure.
I don’t remember much of what was said, the three of us sitting there. Tension, sadness, anger and frustration. At some point I shouted – What would you know? How could you understand what its like?
Things grew silent.
Teary and terrified, mum revealed her darkest secret – her first son, out there somewhere – taken from her for the crime of being pregnant and unmarried (a brother I’ve never met??). My first glimpse of the shame and grief she’d worn like an invisible coat, never removed.
I expect you think I’m a terrible person, she stated.
Oh my god mum, no I don’t! That’s… so sad! So horrible.
Sworn to secrecy, I couldn’t tell my brother or sister or even mention it again.
Went to bed at some point, back in the room I shared with my sister. Gone for one whole life changing day, I think.
Back to school the next, and no one knew. Now I had two secrets I didn’t tell anyone except M. And I only told her little bits. Done and dusted, I was left to live with the aftermath.
So long, goodbye…
Hazy tear stained scene of N and me at the airport. My parents, his aunt and uncle, hovering on opposite perimeters as we hugged and I cried inconsolably. We promised to write, to call, to stay together.
He went through the gates and he was gone.
I wrote the first of many letters that night. Pages of ‘I love you‘ written over and over. A long wait for something in return. A phone call or two. The promise of ‘a promise ring’.
Sputtered into nothing.
Realisation came slowly, then as with sunrise… dusk vanishes swiftly in the first rays of sunshine. Full daylight. Oh.
It was over. He didn’t really love me. Oh… He didn’t want me. Had he only wanted sex?? Oh!!
There was a silver pendant and chain my parents gave me once. I’d loaned it to N because he asked (though I hadn’t wanted to) and never saw them again. I wrote and asked for them back. Nothing.
Far away in another country… he didn’t want me any more.
In recent times I’ve talked of feeling like my heart had been ripped from my chest. My therapist asked me if there was another time I’d felt like that before.
Sure was. When I realised I’d been used and discarded.
Felt like I’d been raped (though I hadn’t – just manipulated). Cheated and misused, certainly. Empty, sad, heartbroken and alone. Lost. Confused. Betrayed. Shredded.
Coulda driven a truck through my chest, the hole there felt that large.
Every notch my self-esteem rose on the back of being loved was gone. Worse, it was all a lie. Extreme pressure filled my head… would it explode?
But none of this was a topic of conversation at home. Just like my mum, I wasn’t allowed to express my pain. No privacy either, in my shared bedroom with a sister too young to understand.
I found solace in swimming training… diving deep and crying underwater where no one could see or tell the difference. For seconds at a time.
Struggling on at school and home, I was low. But you wouldn’t have known, ‘cept for the odd flare up with my mum. Arguments like a flash and gone again, core issues never addressed.
Two generations both limping in pain, but not solidarity… what could’ve brought us together just pushed us further apart as secrets often do…
“Two generations both limping in pain, but not solidarity”…god, that’s gotta be the story of more families than we can imagine….powerful stuff….
this is a beautiful and touching story…(both parts)
I relate so much to it…too much maybe…even to the point that I can still feel childish righteousness in the behavior you chose.
I too was a willful child. She seems to still live inside me.
Pretty traumatic entry to adulthood when you were far too young to be there. Hard road to travel and I’m sorry you had to. As I’ve said before, you have a gift for sharing your story.
By the way, love the watercolor up at the top. Is it yours?
It’s heartbreaking stuff but thanks for sharing all of it. It’s good to lay it bare like that. I appreciate your honesty.
I read this earlier today and it’s been resonating with me. There’s a lot here to unpack in this story of first love gone wrong. Not everyone has such a dramatic beginning to their romantic lives, with the feelings of manipulation and betrayal and the scare of the police station and the passed on family secrets. Pretty scary stuff for a fourteen year old. I can see how it would take a long time to process and would feel like a start up the wrong path.
I recently got in touch with the guy who got me pregnant (on Facebook; it’s a little creepy, Facebook. I didn’t befriend him, though. Oh, and this is not the person I’ve been writing about.) I’ve always held the guy in contempt as a user, which I’m sure he was. I also never told him about the pregnancy. The strange thing was, that as soon as I saw him as a person living today, I let go of my feelings of anger towards him. He was just a stupid teenager. So was I. I tell you this in part because it might help to see your situation that way, too.
Unfortunately, teenagers get themselves involved in some serious, life-altering shit. But it’s possible to recover.
A great story! I loved it.
It is sad that you didn’t get the consolation and support from your mother that could’ve helped you deal with your feelings of abandonment. Sounded like such a rough time for you, being so young and all.
Looking back, are you glad that you returned to your family?
@Jay – For sure, its a familiar story for many families. And no, its not my artwork – just something I found Googling that struck a chord!
@giannakali – I have trouble seeing any beauty in that mess of an early teenage life I led…
@tricia – Traumatic, yeah… and definitely far too young. Took me several years to work out just what had happened, and then begin the process of recovery. In which of course, I managed to make several other glaring mistakes. More to come!!
@glitterpig – thank you for commenting. Love your avatar BTW! Like others who’ve been through things like this, I don’t actually relate to this as heartbreaking. At least, not any more.
@Jennifer – Thanks for your words. I definitely don’t hold on to this emotionally any more. The process of writing about it here, was more to help me see clearly my patterns and how they’ve led me to where I am now. And how it is that I kept making one bad decision after another when it comes to the men in my life. I don’t hold this guy responsible any more, I do know he was just a kid, too.
Tough stuff though, it took me years to be able to put this behind me. And yet, the patterns live on!
@earthtoholly – Yes, I’m glad I returned to my family. I have no idea what would’ve become of me otherwise. Certainly I doubt very much I’d be living the life I am today. I’m just sorry any of that had to happen in the first place. I don’t blame my parents either – things happened as they did, everyone doing what they knew how to. And me, well… I was wilful and confused.
the beauty is in the expression Svasti…
of course the memory of the pain is not beautiful…
my teenage years were equally horrifying.
when I read the first part I was literally wondering if I should keep reading I was terrified something was going to trigger me….REALLY terrified…
I got through the story, instead, with a strong sense of identification and empathy for the little girl and the woman she has become and in turn could apply that to myself as well.
Woah! I remember having a first serious relationship with a guy my parents hated and who, after 3 months, I was repulsed by. Maybe I’ll write about it sometime, but for now…
I thought I’d share with you that I have always felt removed from my mother (adoptive) and could never open up to her closely. This started when my periods happened at age 12 – I had no idea what they were and my mother made me feel ashamed and dirty. I wasn’t allowed to wear tampons (for fear they would disappear up inside of me) so I used to save my pocket money and buy tampons and hide them in my room. Can you imagine how bad massive surfboards (what we called sanitary pads) were for a very active tomboy like me?
Anyway, I resolved NEVER to have this kind of relationship with my own daughter. And sure enough, Rhiannon has had all kinds of experiences and has been able to talk to me knowing that I will not throw her out (because she’s had sex!), make her feel shameful or push her away. I’m so much closer to her than I will ever be to my mother.
And so happy for that!
Thanks for sharing, though. I saw myself in some of those lines.
@giannakali – why, thank you! 🙂
I’m glad this story wasn’t triggering for you. I keep meaning to stick a trigger warning on some of my posts… really should do that I guess.
Seriously, if I’ve written something that you can relate to, then I’m incredibly honoured.
@Amanda – I love my parents, but I’ve never felt close to either of them, unfortunately. For all kinds of reasons. They are good people, but I am very, very different to them, and to my siblings.
My mother has a wonderful heart, but its marred by her own incredibly over-powering emotional baggage. My father is lovely, but emotionally distant. And something of an enigma to me, still.
They never made me feel bad about my body at all. In fact, they made me feel quite comfortable with nudity, for which I’m grateful. They just kinda left me a little clueless. Then, is that about them, or also about how I take in information, how I learn?
I know all of us would like to be closer but I don’t know if that’s going to happen in any kind of hurry. I’m sure events like this story underly part of the reason why things are the way they are.
It must be harder again with adoptive parents. And not everyone is good at explaining about sex and geez, I can’t imagine there’s many mothers who’ve done brilliantly at explaining to girls about their period!
I had to use tampons as a swimmer, as soon as I could manage it. Lucky me. One of my friends at the age of 39 has only just learned to use them (I tipped her off on the slim-line kind!).
If I’m ever fortunate enough to have children… well, all I can say is yeah, I’d like to have a better relationship with them than I’ve had with my parents. But then, is that not most people’s wish?
Gosh this was amazingly well written. Oh it takes me back to that age (seems like a lifetime ago). I totally get the way your parents are too.
@Lilly – thank you so much for reading my posts. Its a funny old world being so young, isn’t it?
Alexandra Cohen said:
I had kind of a similar story when I was 15 and fell in love with a man twice older then myself… although it ended in a different way. A painful experience which taught me a good lesson though. Thank you very much for sharing your story. As read it I suddenly thought that my story… the one that lead to a continuous depression.. it could’ve had even worse ending!! I’m scared to think what if.. but anyway now I’m a happy wife and seem to recover from my depression that lasted far too long.
@Alexandra – thanks for stopping by and commenting – and for sharing part of your story, too. I’m very glad you’re now happily married and recovered from your depression 🙂
another parallel with our lives, dear…..
I arrived on this post from your comment on Linda’s birthday blog post. I have to admit that I can not relate to anything in this episode from your life. But I can not stop thinking about it.
I make me humble and more and more appreciative of the my upbringing. Not just my parents but extended family, school, teachers, town, and my country. Your post makes me realize how incredibly fortunate I have been all my life.
It made me aware of the challenges I will face, raising my little girls.
I wish you the Best from all my heart Svasti.
@Linda-Sama – Really? How interesting…!
@Dhanashri – Thanks for taking the time to comment here. Yes, you were truly fortunate to have such a well-rounded upbringing. Everyone should be so lucky. I wish you all the very best in raising your own little girls. I hope they feel as supported and loved as you did at their age. 🙂