( Continued from previous post "where it all began")
So as you can see life from 0-6 was hard, but that’s nothing compared to what would be thrown at me in the next chapter of my life
I was still treated like a slave that never changed. I gained more siblings and more baby nappies to wash by hand I progressed to having to wash my step fathers work clothes, always filthy and covered in tar.
Every day I would watch my siblings play in the yard ,my step father built a mini house a replica of our home filled with homemade wooden toys fit for a king, a stove, a fridge, trucks , babies cradles and so much more.
A miniature clothes line ran down the side of the cubby and a mini veggie garden for my siblings to pick and play with. For hours on end they would play in the cubby, on the trampoline, on the swings and slide or in the massive sandpit made from a large tractor tyre. The yard would be heaven to any child.....just not for me.
When I wasn’t working doing chores I would be confined to my room so small I could lay down and my fingers would touch one end of the room and my feet the other. My room wasn’t really a room it was a cordoned of area of a sleep out. My brother had the other entire end; a large cupboard my father built divided the room with a curtain for my door. I had the very end of the room, if I wanted to get out I would have to enter his room and risk brotherly anger for trespassing on his space.
My windows were nailed shut to stop me from climbing out and running away, it didn’t stop me I still got out by cutting the screens.
I had a small bed and foam mattress (which was often dragged outside for me to sleep on), no carpet in my end just unpolished borders that would give me splinters, no dresser or anything nice just a make shift desk almost like a shelf attached to the cupboard which divided the room.
Some days I would be locked in their for hours (my brothers door was lockable) or even days at a time. I remember the sound of my family celebrating Christmas and Easter or siblings having birthday parties, the sounds of the laughter of all those who visit, the smell of the food, the music that played. “Don’t you dare make a sound", “don’t you dare ruin your sisters party you worthless slob”. “You inter-fear it will be the last thing you ever do!” one year it was too much I sat in my room kicking and screaming wanting to come out. I remember my sister and all her friends gathering outside the window to see what the commotion was,
my sister in her usual snobby fashion would yell “daddy my crazy sister is annoying my friends”, they would all run off as my step father would storm in to the house, I would be thrown about, kicked in the side, slapped about, picked up by the scruff of my shirt and dragged to the front door where I was often promptly told never to return.
I would leave crying and injured but happy to be free. The feeling of walking the streets was so wonderful to me; I was never scared and paid no attention to what was going on around me. My favourite thing to do was to walk along the open country roads that led out of town singing songs I would make up as I walked, I would sing at the top of my lungs, skipping and twirling about without a care in the world.
Other times I would walk the train lines for hours and hours, stopping and fossicking through the rocks looking for quartz and little crystals. At times the lines would be scattered with grain, I would pick handfuls up and store it in my pocket to eat latter sometimes I would sit in local parks and use it to feed the birds.
No one ever seemed to mind that I (a small child less than 8) was wondering around aimlessly unsupervised. Some nights I would sleep in the tunnels on the local park equipment, I loved the sensation of the static electricity on my skin.
One morning I awoke in the tunnel to see an elderly man in a funny white jacket with a handful of oranges and a tiny figure of a farm animal.
He was wonderful! He sat and spoke with me, I told him my story and he peeled the oranges giving me each segment one at a time whilst I ate them, they were so juicy and rich like nothing I had eaten before.
He pointed across the street and said “see that building and that house? You will find me there every day”. It was glorious a lovely big house which covered the corner rows and rows of beautiful plants, he took me by the hand and walked me over the road. We wandered the garden and he would tell me stories about the plants and his wife, his children and his passion to grow fruit trees. He loved to live off the earth around him.
Towards the back of the yard on the side of the property there was a peculiar white building, we went inside and to my surprise it was a dentist surgery. “This is where I work" he said he went to the cupboard and pulled out a jar full of miniature animals thousands, they were so lovely. At that moment I remember his wife walking in with a plate of fresh biscuits she sat them next to me and said I could have as many as I wanted. She grabbed a few things then knelt beside me and said “can I clean these wounds for you?” I was a little worried but said ok. I had never had anyone pay me so much attention. The gentlemen had gone in to the next room I could hear him on the phone, he sounded worried and cross. When he came back he whispered “no luck “to his wife.
Shortly after that he asked where I lived and drove me home.
On the way there he said “if you ever need us you come. If your ever hungry go in to the yard and take some fruit”, “visit as much as you like any hour ok” I nodded and as we pulled up I started to feel sick he went to the door and asked for my parents “they yelled and screamed at each other but eventually the gentlemen walked back down the path and said “you have to go now but don’t forget and winked” my mother quickly reefed me in the house.
He drove away and I cried. Mum sat on me and dad laid in to me. “What have i told you about your silly stories! No one will listen, you are crazy you are worthless.” Soon after this mum started dragging me from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist. Every time it was the same “she is mental” “she is trouble””her back is crooked” her legs aren’t straight “her eyes are useless. They would go along with it; I would be subjected to testing, poking and prodding.
Sometimes mum would get a win and I would have to have surgical investigations which always came back negative. Then mum amped it up a bit; according to my child protection file from 1989 DOCS started to pay for all the medical visits my mum wanted and now this included psychologists and psychiatrists. I remember mum getting madder and madder because every time the story was the same they would attack her not me. She resented this and would say if she is crazy it’s only because of me I caused it. Docs sent me to Sydney specialists to try and help my mum. their letters would tell the doctors I was a troubled child with no evidence as to why, mum and dad are struggling to deal with the child...
When recently reading my childhood files I found 2 reports one from a specialist inpatient facility in Sydney and another from a local psychiatrist who had been paid to give a second opinion on the first report.
The specialist facility said “the parents openly disclose they have no love or bond with the child” the relationship is distant and cold” if any improvement is to be seen in the child the bond between the parents needs to be repaired”. My ability to properly asses the child was hindered by; I fear parental influence “I suspect threats of abuse towards the child for speaking the truth”.
This report according to my file went down like a tonne of bricks, mum was not happy and demanded second opinions.
The second report was more damaging to my mother than the first.
some comments in the report were “Even though the child refused to disclose details to me it is evident she is an abused child, to the nature and extent I can not accurately comment”
"This child is detached she feels unloved and worthless to an extent I have not seen".
"The parents openly describe their views that the child is mentally ill or deformed in such a way that she is of no value to them.” “All developmental testing indicates no sign of mental illness or disability in the child”. “This child if not given a loving home will be unlikely to survive through to adulthood”.
It is an 8 page report and other comments are so hard for me to read I simply can’t bear to re-write them. The point is, it was clear someone needed to save me. My parents truly didn’t want me and they didn’t care.
My life continued in this fashion for many more years. No intervention occurred. As I got older things I had dealt with my whole life became harder to deal with as I matured for example , my mother would always shave my head , I would be bullied something fierce, I would smell and get teased for that, have no school lunch and got teased for that. My teachers treated me poorly because mum was on the school board so in their opinion I was just a naughty feral when compared to my spoilt siblings. For many years I would vist the elderly gentlemen and his wife, they would clean me up, give me food and often be heard talking down the phone in stern voices only to hang up and return with glum looks on their face.
When high school started things changed again, new teachers, new kids, more bullies but best of all a few more people who would from a distance look out for me. I scored a couple of friends they were my besties.
The beatings and abuse got worse the older I got, one day I returned home from school and my father threw a large rock at me for being late. It hit my elbow and it bled. I remember screaming then being told “I’ll give you something to scream about you lazy .......”, as my father ran at me, I remember waking up in pain and dizzy on the back gravel stones. I staggered to my feet and walked out the back gates and then just aimlessly wandered the town. It was very dark and late by this time and i sat to rest by the council chambers. A senior from school walked past with her mum, she ran over to me and called her mother to come. They didn’t say much just helped me to their car and drove me to the hospital.
X-rays were taken and I was cleaned up. Docs were called they didn’t talk to me just looked and then after a phone call I was returned home to my mum and dad. I don’t remember the rest of that night or the following morning, but I do remember that afternoon.
as I walked home from school a new car pulled up beside me. A lady stepped out and called my name, I turned and she approached me, introducing herself as a doc’s case worker. She asked me to travel in the car with her and I did, we didn’t go anywhere in town we headed out along a main road. Neither of us spoke the whole way. It was only a 30 minute drive and we were soon there. I walked up to a house sheepishly following behind. We were greeted by two middle aged ladies and taken inside. we all sat around the table and a meal was sitting there hot and ready for me to eat.
The case worker spoke up and said “this is your new home for a little while; your mother has asked for a break and feels she can’t live with you. She has asked that you make no contact until she is ready”
According to my childhood files which I have now read, that day my mother went to the office and demanded I be taken using the words and I quote “if you want her you can f....in have her cause she’s nothing to me”.
That day my mother got a temporary order from the court making me a state ward for three months but at anytime she was allowed to change her mind and take me back. Docs and the court agreed and signed to this making it legal.
For tonight I will leave it there as that chapter closes and the chapter of my time in foster care opens.
This story is only a brief version of the events of my life and is far from over, but I need time to sit and regain strength before writing more.
However i would like to say One good thing which happened recently this year is that after 16 years I reunited with my 2 bestys from high school and we are still as close as ever.
I’m so lucky and so grateful to have two women who shared such a horrific part of my life with me back in my life and now we are all looking forward to enjoying life together without trauma and sadness.