That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be undreamed.
When I was younger, not much younger though, I would withdraw from the chaos into a daydream. In case you don’t know, a daydream is a “dreamlike musing or fantasy while awake, especially in the fulfillment of wishes and hopes.” This is me.
I’m not just a pipe-dreamer. There was no scheming with my daydreams. They were, and sometimes still are, an escape from reality. When my home life became too much, I’d indulge in this idle reverie. In my mind, I created the family that I didn’t have then; the one that I would never have. I was beautiful, desirable, loved, intelligent, confident. Yes, there was a place there I was really confident, and my existence meant something to someone.
One of my earlier memories of idle reverie is when I was seven, and my mother left me home alone with my older brother, who was nine or ten years old. We lived out in the country in a house that was on a highway. The house had a pretty long driveway, so although it was not near the road, we could still hear the traffic. My mother had ended her second marriage from a man who abused and sold drugs. This was my youngest brother’s father. He also beat my mother and humiliated her in front of us every chance he got. I always thought of him as a monster and wished it would die. She had gained her freedom by having the courage to get away. That act brought us all new energy. At last we would have our mother, the way it should be, but she wasn’t interested in spending her glory days with her three children. My younger brother was only five when we were first left home alone without adult supervision, which makes me seven.
We were watching television, sitting about three feet from the television which was housed in a large case that had a stereo cabinet. My mother comes into the room and announces that she is going out and that we, however, are not. We are to stay inside (as if we would venture out in the dark in a country setting) and not answer the telephone. I don’t remember any questions being asked of her. She really didn’t invite them nor did she stick around and wait for them. We had learned not to ask any questions because we never got an answer; we just got a tsunami of execration.
So, with a flip of her bleached and teased hair and a turn on her heels, she flitted out the door. We continued to watch television in our dazed and bewildered state, but did so with an eerie quietness as if we were listening for sounds that were not there. The worst thing about brothers is that they tend to gang up on me, the middle girl. As they attempted to scare me to lighten the mood, I looked through the thick glass of the door, out into the darkness of night. What was out there frightened me and intrigued me all at once.
To ease my mind, I began to unfold me the scenes of a perfect childhood existence where my mother held me in her lap as she read to me. As I lay there on the sofa, living in my head, while my brothers watched TV, I made an entire new episode in my mind that I played again and again on subsequent nights of idle reverie while my mother was somewhere out there living in the moment of now.
This was the start of how I began to cope with abuse and neglect, my coping mechanism that kept me safe and sane. As my story of change unfolds, some people may roll their eyes and say, “It could have been worse.” That’s right. It could have been worse. I am thankful that it wasn’t. I did survive physically with very little evidence of the anguish I endured. With that being said, it’s the scars of the emotional trauma I have carried with me throughout my life. I am ready to shed those scars and the coping tools that no long serve me. I am not the seven-year old girl whose mother was nearly a phantom. That was forty years ago.
I write my story now so that people will understand that I lived with abuse and neglect on the inside. If you were on the outside looking at the outside, you would never believe it. I did not look like a child who was beaten. I did not look like a child who was called a clumsy bitch by her mother on her first day of kindergarten because she dribbled milk on her dress. I did not look like a child who was left alone at night with her nine-year old brother to watch over her, with no food to eat, no one to tell her when to go to bed, to tuck her in at night and kiss her, tell her they loved her. I did not look like a child whose step-father sexually molested her when she was home sick from school in first grade. I looked like the kind of child that you see on TV, the one with the nice house on the nice street. That was the picture that we painted. We didn’t let many people see the inside. I didn’t even want to see it years after it happened. Only recently can I see it for what it really was. I have my idle reverie to thank for hiding it from me until I now.