Family, love, security, peace, and water…these are the earliest memories she has of a once-normal life. She’s a girl who lives on an island with her mama, daddy, big sister, and dog. The All-American type of family. The type that lives in a house with a white picket fence. Little does she know that life as she knows it will unravel.
The younger of two little girls, she is always the one that gets into mischief. She isn’t disobedient, just full of energy. She’s not satisfied to sit still. She explores, pretends, and searches for things to do. She is a carefree child, energetic, and loves people. She is loved.
Her days of early childhood are spent playing in the cool water, digging in the dark sand, and enjoying life. Her mama is always there, being a stay at home mom, while her daddy works to provide a fairytale life for his family: a beautiful home on the water with décor straight out of Home & Garden magazine. The girl loves her older sister and the fun things they do: playing in the wooden tree house that daddy built, puddling in the rippling river, searching for bright green clovers in the yard, and spending time in their cozy playroom.
Life is great in the eyes of the girl. She has no idea that it will all fall apart soon. One day she is living a comfortable, secure life, and the next day she is riding in the family station wagon watching mama cry as they give away the family dog. This is the day everything changes. But why? At five years old it’s hard to make sense of it all.
Memories are few and far between for the girl in the coming days and months. She does remember moving to the mainland, into a trailer park, with her mama and sister and going to kindergarten in a new place. No dog, no river to puddle in, no tree house to hide out, no big green yard for clover hunting, and no daddy.
Divorce. This is what the girl is told it is called. People assure her it is normal. It sure doesn’t feel normal to the girl. Is she doing something wrong? Is daddy mad at her? Her family, love, security, peace, and home is gone. It is replaced with a trailer to live in, a single mama who has to go to work, and a mostly absent father, except for some weekends and holidays.
Life moves on and her new normal begins to take shape for the girl in her early elementary school days. The girl and her sister are alone a lot. There are a couple of men who come in and out of mama’s life. Her poor mama is insecure and afraid to be alone. There is one man in-particular who begins to stay more and more. Her mama marries this man. Dysfunction is the new normal with drinking and fighting happening nightly.
The nights are scary for the girl and her sister. Mostly left alone they fear the dark, strange noises outside, the uncertainty of when mama and step-father will be home. The biggest fear is wondering how drunk they will be and if there will be fighting, yelling, and furniture thrown. The girl wants to fall asleep fast so she can escape whatever will transpire when they get home. She can’t.
The instability makes life unbearable for the girl. At the tender age of six she feels like she has no control over her life. She doesn’t. She goes to school, gets good grades, does what’s expected so she doesn’t make waves. During the day the girl is normal and happy but secretly wonders what life is like for her friends. Do they have a scary home life? Probably not. Their parents are still married.
The girl and her sister aren’t living but merely surviving. After ten years of the same abuse, neglect, and uncertainty, the girl, who has a mature face from the hard life she lives, leaves home. No more family, no more love, no more home; these things were long gone years prior. Not yet ready for the world, but not ready to succumb to more years of hell at home, she is gone. Scared, insecure, and now hardened the girl looks for her place in the world; something she will do for the rest of her life. The world is a big, cold, unfriendly place. With no job, no money, no love, and no family she will have to do what she can to survive. But, does she want to just survive or does she want to live? She isn’t sure anymore.
Her sister has long moved on, marrying at the age of seventeen to the first man who looks her way, just to escape her home life. The girl hasn’t heard from her since she left over two years ago now. The girl is broken inside that her trusted sibling can just walk away from her. She understands though. Given the chance to get out she will take it too.