I have been working on my yoga practice to help manage anxiety and all sorts of things. And as part of that I have been working on meditation as well. I have used some guided meditations and recently bought a package from Circle and Bloom that specifically focuses on PCOS and fertility and cycles.
I was listening to today's segment and after some typical relaxation routines, she says to focus on when I was "ten years old and had no worries at all. "
And that kind of stopped me cold and all day long it's been running through my head. Because my life was being turned upside down and shaken when I was ten years old. My mom packed us up and moved us out, they were going to get a divorce, my dad just...unraveled, there were horrible, terrible fights where I was basically sobbing hysterically and begging them to stop yelling. They ignored me until my mother would tell my dad to look at me and see if this is what he wanted. To do this to his daughter. Again. Neither one was willing to stop fighting until I could be the weapon to use against the other: "Look what you're doing to Annie!"
And then he was dead and I blamed myself for it, we moved back to our house and I felt like I had to take care of everyone. Someone had to take care of us.
I can't actually think of any age where I had no worries at all. My mother once tod me a story about how I was such a good baby. On Saturday mornings she did the big housecleaning for the week, and to keep me busy, he'd give me the old TV guide in my crib. And I would rip every single page into strips while she worked. My OCD therapist was quite intrigued at that.
One of my earliest memories is hiding with my mother and infant sister in the way back of this storage closet because we were hiding from my father. He was drunk and spoiling for a fight and we had to hide until he passed out. I would have been two.
When I was five, he said goodbye to us so he could go get help. He did inpatient alcohol detox at Hazelden. I think he was gone for a few weeks. I don't know if he completed rehab or not, but he was sober when he came home and AA was his religion for a long time.
He wasn't drinking, but he was still always up for a fight. Late at night they would argue and one night a large vase was thrown by one of them. Another night it was the phone, a heavy late 70's rotary dial phone. One night they came to check on me while I was asleep and got into a shoving match when they both tried to peek in the door at the same time. I pretended to be asleep.
When my mom would go out for her sorority meeting, he would seethe and get worked up that she wasn't there and would imagine all the ways that she was betraying him until he took it out on us. More than once he would come into my room and wake me up to make me clean it. If it was already kind of clean? He would just walk along the shelf with his arm out and knock everything to the floor.
I was in first grade being kept up on school nights just so he could poke at her, to try and make her stay home.
There was a lull for a couple years, we put on a good face. Then in third grade, things began to veer off the rails just a little bit. I can't remember if there was a triggering event, or if my brain was just already wired for worst case scenarios, but something happened in third grade, I was suddenly too scared to go to school. I could not handle it. I didn't like my teacher at all, but I think it was something at home. I would fight going every morning, looking back I recognize that I was having full on panic attacks. And then resulted to gagging myself until I vomited every morning to get to stay home. And I would take super hot baths and stay in the tub as long as I possibly could, I was probably the cleanest third grader in the world, I don't know if I felt safe in the water or if it was part of my contamination phobia/OCD. It went on for a few weeks. Until they brought me to school and my father had to carry me to my classroom and practically put me in my desk in front of everyone.
And then I had to talk to a nice lady named Karen every few weeks at school. The social worker.
And I would have been nine.
Sometime that summer I found his handgun. And I put it back because I was scared of being caught. But I was also scared that he might kill us with it. And then the next winter we moved out and he was dead by spring. Thirty-one years ago this weekend, actually.