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Courage To Move Forward

Discussion in 'General' started by Anna5, Nov 16, 2007.

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  1. Anna5

    Anna5 Active Member

    I am not looking for feedback or anything about the paper. I just wanted to share something. This paper was inspired from a flashbacks I had a lot over the summer. Triggered off from another traumatic event and dealing with the legal system again (Thank goodness this time I was kept out and didn't endure anymore trauma.)
    I could have given up after what happened when I was 13 and felt sorry for myself, instead I keep moving forward to better myself. I will keep moving forward after this recent trauma.

    The assignment was to summarize the paper "Shame" in the first paragraph, and then write a narrative paper about something that shaped your life.-Remember I am just sharing only and nothing more.-

    Courage to Move Forward

    There are many negative feelings the human being is subject to during his lifetime; however, shame is possibly one of the most destructive. This is something that becomes apparent in Dick Gregory’s narrative essay "Shame." The author tells of an occasion during his childhood where he suffered his first romantic disillusion. He was a poor child, who had only one change of clothes, and often he didn’t have anything to eat, yet he polished shoes near a tavern to collect all the money he could get, with a single intention: he wanted to impress his sweetheart. Destiny had a sour lesson in store for him; one day his teacher humiliated him in front of the whole class for trying to pretend he wasn’t poor, and she went as far as pointing out the fact that he had no father. Needless to say, this represented a traumatic experience that deeply influenced the author’s life. His honest discussion of his trauma inspired me to write a narrative essay about a time in my childhood where I was scarred with shame.

    My traumatic experience happened in seventh grade, during the first week of a co-ed physical education class. We were all required to wear a physical education uniforms composed of a golden colored short sleeve shirt and black shorts that hung above the knees. Due to another shameful incident which occurred in my early adolescence, I was feeling very uncomfortable about changing in front of other girls in the locker room. I went into the bathroom stall and changed. I remember that I started to panic as I walked out onto the gym floor. I do not recall much else other than I was crying and shaking. So, after a couple of days of this the teacher’s aid (who was about my age) took me back into the locker room and asked me some questions. I told her my older brother, who was two years older than me, had been abusing me. I changed in the bathroom stall and she took me to the school counselor’s office, and once again I felt embarrassed by having to admit what had being going on. I ended up dropping out of physical education and went into choir. I felt more comfortable singing in a group of people. This was actually something that brought sunshine into my life, but my confession was only the beginning of my shameful experience.

    Just a few days after I had confided to the counselor, two detectives came out to my house. It was a weekday, yet for some reason all of us kids were home. I was lying in bed, not feeling well at all. When the detectives arrived, I was taken outside, a warm day, and questioned. The detectives questioned each one of us and determined that my older brother, fifteen at the time, needed to be removed from the house. So my grandparents were called. I remember my grandparents showing up and taking my older brother away. All of a sudden, I had taken over the role of being the oldest one at home. I remember, I felt deeply confused and I think this is why my memory of this occasion feels so scattered, even now.

    That weekend the girl who was the teacher’s aid in my physical education class, who lived two streets down from me, invited me to go to her family reunion. We left on a Friday evening and came back late Saturday night. When I walked into the house, my parents were sitting at the kitchen table when I walked in. I was told I could not go to bed yet because a police officer would come to see me: someone had reported that I had some kind of mark on my body. I was really tired and just wanted to go to bed, and the whole situation felt completely awkward, but I had no choice. It was already past 11 when the police officer showed up to check me out. He found nothing so he left and I went to bed. To this day I do not know who filed the report.

    I did receive subpoenas for my older brother’s trial but was never called to testify. I still, however, had to appear. Luckily we just waited outside the courtroom. After finding out I would not have to testify, I went over to the place in the building where I got paid eight dollars just for being subpoenaed.

    My mom took me and my siblings to our counselor appointments. The counselor I had at the time was a female and very tall; she seemed like a giant compared to me. I remember she once read me a book about a father a couple of weeks into the counseling session. I left the counseling session, went home, having no idea of what would happen to me later.

    Next thing I knew I was sitting in band class, the last class of the day, just thinking it was just another day, playing my clarinet. Suddenly, I was called out of the class to go to the principal’s office. When I arrived there, there was the female school counselor, a male police officer and a male detective. I was asked questions. Afterwards the police officer followed me back to the band room. He stood outside while I went into the room to gather my belongings. I was so scared that I wanted to run out the back door. I felt numb. All I could do was mechanically take apart my clarinet and put it into the case. Everything seemed to slow down. I hastily gathered up the rest of my stuff, and walked out of the band room. Thank goodness other students were in their classes! It was embarrassing being walked out of the school building with a police officer close by. I felt as though I had done something wrong!

    I was directed by the detective to get into the passenger seat of the detective’s car and driven to the police station on Barrister road. Once there, I was put into a small room. The only thing I can remember was the cold metal desk and chair by the wall. It was very plain. The door had a small window where I could see the detectives running around and working at their desks. All I had was my backpack with homework, as well as an overwhelming feeling of shame and confusion. Although I was physically there, mentally I was not all there because I dissociated. I just have this vague memory of people coming in and out questioning me at random. At one point sitting in the room alone, a scared 13 year old, I heard my mom’s voice and looked out the small window, but I couldn’t see her. By the time I left the room it was dark outside - possibly 7pm - so I think I was kept in that room for about five hours. I was treated like I did something wrong and I couldn’t understand why. Starting that very night I went into foster care for a month. I was taken care of by a chain-smoking lady, along with another foster girl. Provided I was to stay in that school district, she was the only foster care that was available to take me in. The girl was about my age and had been living with this lady for a year.

    The lady was quite strict: both I and the other girl had to get up at 5AM to do our chores. We alternated cleaning the kitchen and the living room each morning. Afterwards, we would walk a block to get the school bus. I wore an extremely ugly brown coat that reeked of cigarette smoke. I kept feeling embarrassed not only because the coat looked so bad but it also had a nasty smell. I just kept hoping no one would notice, but I never felt comfortable. Even to this day, cigarette smoke reminds me of my experience in foster care. In the back yard there was a cow, a horse, chickens, even a turkey that we had to feed. One morning when my foster parent left for work, I was missing my mom, so I did something I was not allowed to do, I called her on the phone.

    While in foster care, if there were any appointments I had to attend, a car with words boldly written on the side door of the car "Health and Welfare", picked me up in front of the junior high school. It felt to me like they were announcing to everybody all about my situation. I kept feeling terrible, by having others see me go into that car. This could have easily been better if it was an unmarked car and the person who picked me up just had official identification. I never understood why they had to embarrass me so much, if they were supposed to be helping me.

    During this horrible period, I was even taken over to the St. Luke’s CARES program, where I was interviewed once again about my dad. The room had two steps on one side stretching the length of the wall and across from the steps was the big glass window, covering up the fact I was being video taped. While sitting on the first step, between me and the lady who was questioning me, there were papers and crayons. Leaving the room I was given a small brown teddy bear wearing a blue shirt with the words CARES on it. The teddy bear brought little comfort, since what I really needed was for someone to help me put things into perspective.

    While I was in foster care there was a court hearing, where I was the victim. I had to testify against my dad. The day of the court hearing I was so scared and my anxiety was so high that I became sick. I remember the prosecutor asking me questions and at one point having me point to a picture. The room seemed dark to me. I blocked out everything about it, except for being asked to speak louder, and I couldn’t. The microphone was pushed closer. It was impossible to have felt worse.

    Through all the multiple questionings I endured, I covered up for most of the things my dad had actually done to me… I never spoke up and said what he did to my older brother, or my younger siblings. I was a very scared 13 year old. Nobody realized the month gap between telling about my older brother and when the topic of my dad was reported. My dad knew that it was only a matter of time before what he did came out. I was more scared of him than my older brother. My grandparents talked my dad into taking a plea bargain for misdemeanor battery; he was going to fight the charges. My grandparents did this to avoid further trauma on me. At this moment I was beyond shame: the hardest part on me was that I felt divided between my fear and my desire for justice. My dad got off too easy for what he did to me. All in all, I did the best I could to survive. People who endure trauma have three choices: to die, go insane or to dissociate; I picked number three. I think that is why I was able to make it through all this.

    My mom finally regained custody of me a month later. My dad and older brother lived outside the home. I remember someone coming in the evening since it was dark outside, and picking me up and my stuff and driving me back home. My mom had to wash all my clothes that night since my clothes reeked with cigarette smoke. This was about the end of October.

    There is a saying that goes, "When you share the family secret you become an orphan." I have never been able to feel like I fit back into the family. I have tried hard the last five years. It is hard being the one to speak up when nobody else in the family would. Only recently did I cut off contact with my parents as a way of emotionally separating from them. This is a painful process but it is the only way I can discover who I am.

    Sixteen years later, I am still working on my road to recovery from all the trauma I have had in my life. If you asked me when I was thirteen years old, I would not have believed that I would have made it this far in my life. My experience has shaped my attitude towards the system and my strong desire to help myself so I can help others. Once I am fully connected, integrated and recovered from my past traumas, I look forward to using my personal experience as well as my education to help children who lived through similar traumatic experiences.
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  3. Anna5

    Anna5 Active Member

    The hardest part is that my dad had two felony counts and was able to plea bargain down to misdemeaner battery. Feb. 1992 my dad was sentenced to the county Jail and with 5 months suspended. The court granted work release for the remaining 30 days if enrolled in a program. He was out of the home for only about four years, when the system let him move back in. My dad got off easy because I was not able to tell everything he did, except for one thing he did. I realize I was a very scared 13 year old then and did the best I could.
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