“Once upon a time I was sweet and innocent. then, shit happened” -unknown-
Expressing my true feelings have never been easy for me. As a child, I was SO very quite that in today’s standards I would be evaluated by doctors and school officials and sent to doctor after doctor after psychiatrists. I would more than likely come out with a diagnosis of some type of “condition”. Whatever the flavor of the decade may have been, It may have been Autism, Bipolar, Social Anxiety, Schizophrenic? and some type of medication and therapy would have been forced on me. Not saying that would be a bad thing but I can’t imagine who I would be now if I had gotten treatment that early.
I am not making light of these serious mental disorders at all. I am just saying that in that day and time, people just didn’t take the time to figure out what was going on in a child’s mind. They just dealt with what they had and if it was very bad or disturbing they just denied it all together.
My parents, for example, did not have the time to deal with their youngest child (me) that wasn’t even born until they were already in their 40’s and they were way too exhausted to be bothered. They were farmers and raised tobacco. They worked very hard all day and if I could at all, I would help them. If I couldn’t, if it was a job too hard or if I was just too puny or sick, I was at least expected to be quite so they could get their work done. After all, they had my mentally challenges older brother to worry about and dote upon. To then I seemed normal, which I guess was a compliment. So I didn’t need much attention.
I spent many days quietly playing in the dirt and climbing the trees beside the tobacco fields that they labored in.
Once when I was about 10 yrs old, while playing in my self-made tree house in our backyard, My foot slipped from a limb and was caught by a rope that I had tied on to make a swing. I was left hanging upside down saved from certain death, or at least several stitches, only by one shoe that had gotten tangled up in the rope. If I had fallen,, my head would have been busted by several huge rocks about 10 ft below me. I hung there for a few seconds trying to figure out if I was dead or alive, My arms and my one free leg was flailing around and I was slightly spinning. The thought of yelling for help entered my mind. Then I quickly
dismissed that idea thinking of what my Mama would say about me being in the “tree house”. Not that she didn’t know about it, she had seen my crude design. But she probably just shook her head thinking how it was soon going to be a source trouble of some sort. Being built by a 10 yr old, it was probably not too safe. I then wondered. if I fell and got hurt would anyone be able to take me to the hospital? What if it killed me, would they stop long enough to have a funeral for me? So I decided to not make any waves or cause any unnecessary problems for anyone. I wiggled and pulled my tall, then skinny self, up the rope onto the limb and was able to loosen the rope from my foot. Just in the nick of time too. I heard my Mama yell “get down here and set the table! I got “work hands” to cook for!” It was like she was watching me to see if I could get down. I just strolled to the house like nothing had happened. I didn’t mention it at the time and neither did she.
As the years went by and I became a little more chatty, I told the story of the fall as me screaming my lungs out for HELP! and Mama yelling at me to come and set the table. She would defend herself and say she never heard me scream for help, and she was right. I didn’t ever scream. I think my mouth was open but no sound came out. I didn’t dare make a ruckus.
This is not meant to say that my parents were cold and uncaring. That is far from the truth. We were very poor but we were loved. I had a warm house and 3 meals a day. They were just strict and very busy trying to raise 6 kids. I always felt like my being quiet, staying out of trouble and not asking for anything was my way of helping them. I just tried to stay out of everyone’s way
My adolescent and teenage years were also spent not talking..ever! The more people would make fun of me for not taking, the more I didn’t talk. I felt like it had gotten to the point that if I said one word, people would be in such shock that they would all look at me and point and laugh “Well it can talk, can’t it?” Every word would be analyzed and my face would turn beet red, then redder than red. And the redder my face got, the more I was embarrassed and so I would shut down and get even quieter.
Whether I was asked a question or even if I was in danger, I never, ever talked..or screamed.
Nothing I had to say was worth all the fuss everyone would make.