The summer of my sophomore year found me in a town called Bennett. My best friend moved there the year prior, and I was happy there. We used to stay with them when my mom would be in the hospital or rehab, and they had asked me if I wanted to move in with them permanently. Of course I said “Yes!”
That summer I joined them on their trip to see their family. It was a long ride, but we had a van to ride in and it was exciting to see another state. The coolest part of that trip had to be the train bridge. It spanned the Missouri River and their cousins showed us how to climb out over the river-then they jumped off! I was scared, but I totally wanted to do it. It took something like 5 seconds to hit the water, and when I did hit, I went so deep I barely made it back to the surface for breath. The second time I jumped I decided to spread my body out a little so I wouldn’t go so deep, but I hit so hard I bruised the entire insides of both my arms and legs. It really hurt, but I was “cool” so I hid it. We couldn’t tell the mom, so I suffered quietly. It’s a great memory of mine, which inspired me to jump off the cliff at “Rick’s Cafe” in Jamaica on my honeymoon.
When we returned from our holiday, I went to Deer Trail to get my stuff to move in with my friend. The problem became my younger sister; she didn’t want me to move, and her family invited me to live there with her. It was very difficult for me because I really wanted to live with my best friend, but my sister was crying and didn’t want me to go. I made the decision to stay in Deer Trail with my sister, which upset my bestie and her family, but I felt that my sister needed me there.
I moved into the basement room that was nice and new, with closet doors that were mirrored. I felt very alone, and the worst part was that my little sister’s tears dried up and got mad at me for moving in! We fought a lot then, and I didn’t really know the new family much, I mean I knew them, but I never visited their house, or even stayed the night, so it was all very new. I was not doing very well, and when I talked to my Aunt “Phred” (my mother’s middle sister) about my problems she invited me to come visit her in Seattle, Washington over my Christmas break. I really wanted to go and spend time near my aunt, but when I asked my new “mom” she said “No”. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go, but the new family wanted to celebrate our “new family” unit’s “First Christmas” together. That caused a lot of issues in my head, and I was already messed up from losing my mom. “Purple Rain”, “Twisted Sister” and Cyndi Lauper” blared off my cassette player in my “pity party” room.
Now, while I was unhappy where I was, our old landlord and friend of my mom “Terry” was worried about me and we started talking a lot. What I really needed at that time was someone to encourage me to do the right thing and stay home for Christmas, and try to develop more relationships with my new family, but that is not what I wanted, and that is not what she did. To be fair, I knew Terry and her family better for sure, as Terry saved my mom’s life by calling 911 when she found my mom having a seizure. I was a headstrong teenage girl without a mother figure, and I was easily convinced to move out of where I was living, and in with Terry and her family. She did make it sound like the best place for me, and Terry agreed with me about the trip to Washington for Christmas-all I needed to hear! Heather exit stage left…enter “TerryTown”. Population: 4 plus 1.
TerryTown seemed ideal, and I got to go visit my aunt and all was happy, or so it seemed. Don’t get me wrong, I love this family, I still love this family, and all the extended family is my family too. There was a few major problems with living in TerryTown. Terry was only ten years older than me, and she and her husband had a small boy called “Kevin” and a baby nearly four months old named “Jessica”. I think between my upbringing (or lack thereof) and her age and her upbringing it was a recipe for disaster. Within a few months I had decided that I made a bad choice, but I needed to lay in the bed I made. They were very strict with me, and my “learning curve” was more like a vertical line. They did want the best for me, I just needed a lot of shaping. We had a lot of good times, and there were also a lot of bad ones. Of all the “issues” we all dealt with, the one that I struggled to forgive was regarding a letter.
I had been dating a guy who was a few years older than me, (Ok four years older….but he was a great guy) but had never had a girlfriend before. We had a lovely, innocent, playful relationship, but Terry wasn’t happy with me dating him. I won’t begin to explain or excuse her opinion regarding him, but it made it very difficult to spend time together. My boyfriend and his family were very respected in my community, and I personally think his family wasn’t excited about him with someone like me, but they always treated me kindly. We were together for a long time when we decided to fully commit physically to each other. It’s was a huge step for both of us, and I needed to talk to someone about my experience, so I wrote a long letter to my “Christmas Aunt Phred”. It was really an emotional time for me, as my past kept telling me I wasn’t worth a relationship like the one I was in. I wrote it all down in pages (way long ago before instant gratification from social media) and I waited and waited for a response, but none came. I felt like I was a “slut”, like all those people said I would be. I felt my Aunt didn’t love me anymore as she didn’t respond to one of the biggest “chosen” experience in my life. I felt so happy inside, so in love, but outside I was crushed.
My Letter, full of emotional and personal life situations that my 17yr self was juggling, meant the world to me, and I was waiting and checking the mail everyday for my Aunt to write back. I so needed to hear her say that I was “ok” in my world and the decisions I was making. I needed to hear that she still loved me, and that she was proud of me. The Letter never came: Terry never mailed, Terry opened up the letter and read it. Terry knew what happened. Terry went to my boyfriend and talked to him behind my back. Terry told me my boyfriend was “pressured” by me.
Ok, I need a minute…