Mom and I did have a relationship, but it formed over her pill use. She would give me pills to get high. I was 18 and that was the first time I tried to commit suicide. I used her pills.She found me slumped down, in front of my bedroom. I didn’t make it to my room before the pills took over. I was taken to the hospital and had my stomach pumped. They asked me were I got the pills, I told them from the street, and they said ok and sent me home. They didn’t even ask me if I tried to commit suicide, I was so upset, because this just confirmed for me that my life was worthless! Why, did I attempt suicide, I ask myself that too. I think the first time It was because I realized, with a heart-wrenching pain, my mother never did or would love me. The fact that the Dr.s that saved my life dealt with me with such callous indifference, hurt me to the core. It just firmly set in my mind that my mother had very good reason not to love me. I was not valuable nor was I lovable.
The second time, we were at the same place, in Edmonton, just off of skid row. This time when they pumped my stomach the Dr. just said you can’t keep doing this. I thought to my self your right, one of these times I have to get it right, so I don’t bother you anymore. There was no social worker or therapist evaluation, they never asked me if I was suicidal, this time they didn’t even ask me any questions. I asked one though. I said”what is all this black stuff on my mouth.” Short answer “charcoal!” I was silently yelling for help and no one was listening, as is the case with so many children and young adults in extreme emotional and mental anguish.
It never ceases to amaze me how a person can be so busy that take a few minutes to let someone know they are valuable to the world, isn’t even an afterthought, it is not even a thought at all.After that I convinced my friend, the man I was staying with, to let my mom and her man move into a trailer he owned on his property. He agreed as long as I would stay at the house with him. I wanted to stay with my mom but I knew if I wanted to get her out of that house I would have to agree with the man to stay at the house with him. I asked me mom if she would like to move out there with her man to the country, she readily agreed and they moved into a fully furnished trailer. It wasn’t the best situation since the man was jealous of the love I had my mom. Because I spent so much time with her, doing pills, I learned that if I did as many as her I would OD, so I only did half as much…
Things went well, for a few months before, that summer, my mom’s new man ran a very big and expensive piece of farm equipment into the barbed wire fence and damaged the machine and pulled up a lot of the fence. The man was so mad, he wanted them both out! Mom was willing to kick the man out if she could stay, but he said no both of them had to go. Mom was so mad, she didn’t have to pay anything for rent or utilities, all that was necessary was to sacrifice her daughter to the man who owned the property. I tried so hard to convince my friend, and of course I am using that term loosely, to please let my mom stay. He said she can stay long enough to find a new place then she is out. I already made up my mind that I would be going with her when she left.I am glad the man my mom was intimate with was kicked out, he was abusive to me and my mom, and he looked at me in a predatory way, and I had no interest in being raped by yet another one of my mom’s men.
So we moved to Westlock, Alberta. Mom wasted no time in getting a new man, she took another woman’s man from her, and boy was that woman mad! I really don’t blame her, I mean honestly I wouldn’t want to be the woman who took another woman’s man, even if he was a person that hand a wandering eye.There was one more time when I OD’ed on mom’s pills that was more of a accident though. I say accidental, but honestly I knew the risks of mixing her pills with alcohol. If I looked deeper, I would see it really was just another cry for help, that went unheeded. I was drinking Vodka with mom, and doing pills with her. I took my drink outside so I could sit on the steps. A combination of the pills, alcohol, and hot sun, was just to much and I blacked out and fell down the concrete steps. They pumped my stomach again. I told them it was an accident, and they sent me home without questioning me…. again.
Sharing these painful memories, I have to stop and think what is it that makes one person, a child, less important than another. Was it just a busy day, each time, that I was unlucky enough to not warrant closer scrutiny? Was it that I just appeared to be disposable humanity? Or did I cause people pause, to reflect inward and they didn’t like what I represented in them. Or was it true, I was unlovable…some one targeted to be a victim, to be the one to carry others ugliness. To be used and abused, then ignored, while I carried their pain as well as my own so they could live in a reality of their own making, while making my reality a living hell on earth.
True to form, mom made a decision to leave the bad memories behind. We were again packing up our belongings, and heading to Slave Lake, Alberta. instead of getting help for us, she tried to run away from ourselves. Sadly, every time we turned around there we were.
During my life I had struggled with depression but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to go through. I do not think I was aware how much the effects of the trauma that occurred during my younger years had on me. I thought that I had dealt with all the issues. I did not realize that abuse has far reaching impacts that can be so deep, they do not surface until later in life. Perhaps it was my minds way of protecting itself against pain I was not ready to deal with.
A pivotal moment for me was when my boss had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had only a few months to live. This woman was my friend, confidant, and my boss. She was so much more to me than just my supervisor. The diagnoses was even more devastating as it was the first summer that she decided to take a vacation. Before the vacation she had a medical and found out the diagnosis. I made a phone call to see how she was doing and asked if the information was true and she said “yes”. She did not tell me that it was terminal but I knew deep down that it was bad. The tone in her voice was low and could hear the cry that wanted to come out but she was being strong. I asked if she was scared and she said “Yes”. That is when I knew she was not coming back to work, I was crying inside “please don’t take her, she has been my strength during this difficult time”. We carried on a short conversation after and said our good bye. Little did I know that it was going to be the last time that I would hear her voice.
The symptoms of depression were all around me. I was constantly tired, just wanting to sleep. This just was not me, I was the go getter, always striving for more. I was fighting with my husband and we never fought before. I did not want to eat, just wanted to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. Then one day I had pain in my bones. I honestly thought that I had bone cancer that had progressed so far that it was affecting my bones. I finally made the decision to see a doctor, they ran a bunch of tests, when the tests came back everything was normal. All the doctor could say was “most of the time when this happens it is related to mood, how is your mood”. That was the breaking point for me. I was healthy physically but broken mentally. I started crying “why does this always happen to me?”. He just sat there and listened to me and asked if I was on medication for depression I stated “yes”. He gave me more time off work and told me to see my family doctor for adjustment in my medication.
My first meeting with my family doctor I had taken my husband with me so he could understand what I was going through. This did not work as he was not the one going through the experience and had not experienced depression like this before. The doctor tried to educate him on what was happening inside my brain but the understanding was not there. He just wanted to know where did his wife go, and when will she be back.
I ended up being off work for several months due to the illness, then I had to be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. This was a ordeal for me as it was a psychiatrist that prescribed the medication that eventually killed our mother. I was wondering if this was going to happen tome. During the interview we discussed what the issues were and what was happening at home. Then the diagnosis was made. I have major depressive disorder, anxiety, and care giver burn out. This is not what I wanted to hear I wanted to hear that I would be ok and there was nothing wrong with me. This time I knew I needed to do something about the condition I was in. I was not just going to snap out of it this time.
During the time that they were trying to get my symptoms under control, I contemplated suicide. I just did not want to hurt anymore. I was suffering. I cried all the time, did not want to do anything, even things I enjoyed. I did not want to have sex, I would sleep all day and all night. I remember this one day I had to go the town for groceries, a simple task. When I walked out of the store I just did not want to go home, I sat in my truck and cried as I did not understand why I did not want to go home. I just wanted to run away from it, but where would I go? I finally decided that it was time to leave the parking lot and start the drive home. During the drive home I was like, would anyone really miss me? what could I do to make the pain stop? Oh ya, I could just drive in front of one of the big trucks and then it would be all done. I did not want to die, I just wanted to find a way to end the pain.
The worst moment during my depression came after having a bath. I had a curling iron on the counter and I just sat in the bathroom wondering what it would feel like to die by electrocution. I said to myself I could just hop back into the tub and drop the curling iron in the tub. That was the plan, I was going to electrocute myself. Then this overwhelming sense of peace came over me and that is when I really got scared. I knew at that moment that I needed to talk to someone to help me get out of this mind set and I called my sister. I was on the phone crying telling her what I had planned and why. I just wanted to end it but I did not. My sister on the phone was trying to console me, and was having a hard time. I just did not know where this feeling of peace came from and why did it scare me so badly. She continued to talk to me about it and finally I was fine.
The next day I was at the doctors and telling them to help me, as this is what I was thinking and I had a plan. All the doctor could say was “Oh my God”. That is not what a person suffering from depression wants to hear, they just want the pain to go away. She came back to the room and adjusted my medication once more and stated that if I should feel like this again to call. I took my prescription and went home. It took time for the medication to start to work for me, it just seemed like forever. I kept questioning if I was ever going to be better. I realized I was going to have to give my self time, time I wasn’t sure I had.
During this time the disability company decided to make me attend a exercise program. At first I did not see the reason for doing the exercises, it just seemed like a waste of time. During the work outs I was waiting for this euphoric feeling that some people talked so much about. All I felt was pain, and tiredness. I had to fight through the work outs to get them accomplished at first, then I got stronger and stronger. I was getting physically stronger but mentally I was still fragile. I finally got to the point where I did not mind going, realizing that I was not going to feel the same as other people.
Allowing my self to feel my pain and nurture myself through it was excruciatingly difficult. It took me 18 months to get out of this depressed state. I had to go through several programs to get to the point where I could work once again. I attended a psychotherapy, exercise program, plus I would journal everyday. When people say just snap out of it, this upsets me, as they do not realize the pain that I was going through. It was a constant internal struggle, just me and my pain.
I had left off with divine intervention. That segment played on my mind for days on how to put it into words to make it understandable for everyone. Having a visit from a spirit is kind of unbelievable but knowing things prior to them happening is even more unbelievable.
This is a topic close to my heart, as who would not know what will happen in the future. The only problem with knowing what will happen you usually do not know the time or the date that it will occur. You just have to trust that it will happen at the right time and the right place. I recall my old boyfriend telling me “you always know, I don’t know how you know, but you always know”. I did not understand what he was saying to me. I did not know that he always felt that way about me, and I did not know that I knew things without knowing.
The first time that I knew some thing, was when I predicted my mothers death. The premonition came to me after I was asked “how is your mother?”, it just came to me and I stated that “she would be dead in six months”. I had not seen my mother for a year and half, the next time I saw her she was dead. I struggled with knowing that information and did not believe it until the day came that I was told that she had actually died. I honestly thought that I had caused her death by predicting it seven months earlier. I am not sure why I knew that information prior to her death or why God told me. I blamed myself for years, an unrelenting painful guilt.
The next time that I knew something, was when I told my ex-boyfriend “I am sorry can’t come back to you” and “I have to leave the city”. The words just came out of my mouth without even thinking. He was so angry with me and hung up the phone. Then he called me back saying he was sorry. I carried on the conversation stating “I am being called to my home, and do not know why, but I have to go.” He was ok after the explanation and we went our separate ways in life and not to talk again for a year.
That is how my premonition’s come out for me, I blurt them out without even thinking. It is like someone else is speaking for me when they happen. I just get transfixed on a spot when someone is talking and they are triggered. The odd thing is that I do not know when they will occur, I just have a “knowing.” Some people maybe thinking it would be great to know things prior to them happening. However, as you can see, with the premonition of my mothers death, for me, this was not a gift. We all would love to know the numbers to a lottery, or happy events, or to keep us safe, but those are not the premonitions I would receive.
Dreaming is also another way that I would derive guidance from my Spiritual Guardian. There were several times that a deceased individual would come in my dreams and warn me about certain situations. One incident, I had a dream about my deceased manager, whom I love dearly, and she was guiding me to pay closer attention while at work. I did not know why she was coming to warn me. It came down to me paying closer attention to detail and to documenting. I received a message in a bottle, and I was to be grateful!
I paid closer attention at work and boy was I glad. The next few months were going to be utter hell. A individual in a position of authority set out on a campaign to maliciously destroy my career. If she could have she would have destroyed me. This all started because I questioned her about a questionable practice. It made me question why I was a nurse. I was obligated to attend meetings and investigations several times. I had to defend myself and my practice, just to keep working in a field that I had dedicated my life too.
While this was happening to me my sister was completing a year and a half of chemotherapy for stage 4 breast cancer. She was going to begin her radiation treatments and I needed to be there for her during this time. My only support was my dying sister. I could not talk to my colleagues. I was separated from my husband and living alone. To financially make it I had to continue to work under this individual.
After defending and proving my competency for a year, the association cleared me of all charges and insinuations. Receiving that vindication was the best Christmas present that I could have ever received.
May contain content that is triggering for some, self first.
Looking back through the years it is difficult for my sister and I to remember a Christmas that wasn’t plagued with addiction and abuse. This is true for the Christmas that we will talk about today.
People always say that Christmas is for the children and not really for the adults in life, I think that is because the children bring the magic back into the adults life for just one time of year. Children have the excitement of santa coming to see them and all want to stay up late waiting for him to show up. children wonder if they will get what they had hoped for the most for the whole year. This was true for us also.
In the beginning of the season was wonderful. we would put up the tree and decorate it as a family and sit and enjoy the lights like any ordinary family. There were a few gifts that were under the tree from friends and family but not too much as we were children of a welfare mom. Then the santa anonymous came to our home and brought our food hamper for the holiday season. We knew at least we would eat good during this time and there were a few presents that we received also.
The Christmas excitement was in us this year, not sure what made this year better that in the years but us kids were just in the Christmas spirit. Maybe it was because our little brother was of the age to have the excitement and carried over to us older kids. we would play with each other and behave wondering what santa would bring to us this year.
Christmas morning came early for us as our mother could not wait till we woke up, but to her surprise we were already awake waiting for the call to open presents. I do not recall all the presents that we received that year as there were so many of them, but remember the tree being full of presents, more presents than I had seen before. The one gift of mine that I do remember was the sleighs we received to play outside. Tammy remembers the nurses watch she received that year also. We were always playing outside whether it was to build snow forts or ramps for our sleighs to jump. those memories bring a smile to my face.
We would build the ramps so high that we would fly in the air and land on our tummys and take our breath away. We would get up laughing and walk up the hill again and try it all over again. Looking back I am surprised that we did not get broken arms and legs from the crazy down hill slide me made. it took the whole community of children to build and went that one was made we would make another more extravagant one for the older children to play on. Wow what a time it was, to be a child and just play without no danger in mind.
Then came the alcohol in the scenario and that is when this Christmas took a turn for the worst. Our mother just could not seem to enjoy any of the seasons or celebrations without alcohol, there needed to be alcohol for it to be a celebration. For us children we just wanted a quiet family season with no worries about fights and other distractions. to my dismay it did not happen.
It was the week after the greatest Christmas that we could remember, to turn to the worst Christmas we ever had. I think my sister and I would give all the gifts back if we could not have gone through the loss of our innocence this same Christmas.
Our mother and her boyfriend of the time, went to a party and of course they were drinking. The story went that our mother did not want to come back home so her so called boyfriend decided to leave her there and came back home alone. I do not recall much more about this night, so Tammy will share more about it, in her piece.
I do not recall any Christmases were it was memorable before or after this one. Typically mom would either skip Christmas or we would get a gift basket from charity. I really didn’t mind charity, as when you are hungry, if food is offered you take it. This Christmas was different, her man was a working man and made good money. We had a beautiful decorated tree, and nuts and candy. We even had stockings. I was so happy. I thought maybe we were going to be like regular people. I had a couple of friends and one did not come from a dysfunctional home, that friendship did not last though. The blame for that rest squarely on my mothers shoulders.
However, I have a bad habit of going on tangents. That year we had turkey with all the trimmings. It was delicious! We were sent to bed, and as expected we had a hard time getting to sleep. My sister and I stayed up late, softly talking and giggling. We were determined to stay up and see Santa. However, like most children we fell asleep. To wake up really early to sneak up stairs and see what Santa brought. If I would have known our Santa was a devil in disguise, I would have never asked for a thing. However, being a child I was so exited, all the brightly wrapped packages, and two sleds for riding down hill fast,
Our mom, her man and the younger ones came down stairs, and the young ones were so excited. They were so giddy, prancing around like little elves. I was happy for them. I do remember looking at our mom, and she looked happy. Her eyes were shining, and she had a smile on her face. I think she really loved that man, but the price was so costly. I still can not put my mind into a set we’re I would ever be ok hurting a child, or letting some one else hurt them.When it came to loving me she was heartless.
We unwrapped our presents, and I was confused. Why was I getting items Tyra wanted. I was really confused and upset too because I could see Tyra really liked the stuff I was getting. She did get a watch too, but she liked mine better. Honestly, I liked hers better, but to trade would have infuriated our mom. So we made do and enjoyed the day. We went sliding on those last very red sleds all day! Pink cheeked and happy we tumbled into the house wet from the snow, but warm from the exertion.
Things soon went back to normal, our normal. Mom would stay in her room all the time and her man had free reign of the house, and us kids. He was such a vile, repulsive man. I had no good will for him, but at the same time I was scared what he could do to me, or even worse my siblings. I hated it when mom would abandon us and let him get away with his odious behaviours.
Sadly, my Christmas was ruined, in fact I did not celebrate Christmas ever again. There was just no reprieve from abuse, especially from him!! I was torn between running away and leaving my siblings behind, or staying to be destroyed bit by bit for a mans twisted desire to possess and ruin. He just would not relent, not even during a holiday meant to honour family and goodness’s. He hurt me again when mom was not there. He said she was not there, but maybe she was just on the other side of the wall passed out on drugs and booze. I Was going to my place in my mind, I could run away in my mind, and then what he did would not matter. I told myself this, even though it mattered, it mattered a lot.
Our mother and her man went to a party, Tyra thinks it was a New Years party. I am sure she is correct in her memory, as dates are hard for me, I tend to tell time by the seasons and the weather. I heard the door close, upstairs, and rushed up to meet our mom. However, the only one standing there was that monster, disguised as a man. I stoped dead in my track, dread filled my body and made it tingle with fear. This was going to be another night of horror and pain. My soul retreated even deeper into my secret place, my mind screamed silently, run away, run away. I was paralyzed, crippled by my mothers teaching me I had no choice, no value, no reprieve. I was not allowed to have boundaries, therefore I had none. Our mother created the perfect victim, me. Just even writing that statement down, makes me profoundly sad, the lessons she drilled into my very being were to haunt me well into adulthood. Even to this day, I fight my demons, sometimes I win sometimes I don’t, but I never surrender.
I went back down to the basement, we’re I slept with my sister in a big bed. I always felt safest when I was with her. However, in our house there was no safety in numbers, and no were to hide. Mom’s man was on a mission, hell bent to get what he wanted, and it was me he wanted. Sometimes I wonder what goes through a grown mans mind when he is sexually abusing a child. Then I think, I really do not want to know, because if I did my mind might shatter irreparably forever, because their mind must be even more frightening and dark than mine.
Calling me, demanding my presence, every time he said my name, my feet would move towards him, while the rest of my body wanted to disappear, never to be found again. I went though, for fear that my sister would be targeted if I didn’t. I remember looking at the Christmas tree, and remembering how magical it looked. Now it reminded me of a gaudy, and grotesque bar I seen on tv once. The smell of his alcohol stink didn’t help matters. He demanded I drink with him, I had drank before, sips of my moms tia Maria, or sneaking a beer or two. However, this was different, he wanted me to drink so I would be more compliant while he went about his dastardly deeds.
I remember eating chestnuts, now if I eat those, they turn to fouled goods in my mouth, as they remind me of the night Christmas became a nightmare. I would go downstairs and I hid behind the furnace, hoping that he would get tired of this cat and mouse torture. However, he wouldn’t give up, and when he targeted my sister, I knew my time had run out. I could not sacrifice my sister, for one night of reprieve. I took a deep breath, and stepped forward, and accepted another night of hell and anguish. I was ten years old, Tyra was seven, and I felt like I had already lived to many lifetimes, for the short amount of years we had been on this earth.
Stripped of boundaries, self and dignity. Robbed of choices and self determination. Feeling like I was going to shatter into a million pain filled fragments. He took my body, my childhood, my innocence. I knew to much, yet not enough. I could regal you with the horrors of suffering, pain and abuse, but for the life of me, I could not tell you how to save yourself. I could teach you how to survive, but not how to live. A flash of brilliant white pain, the penetration, the invasion, the sickening feeling of being smothered. I am hurt… I am going away now…
This covers in more detail events that were shared in our memoir. If you would like to join us on our healing journey, please, feel free to star, “two sisters perspective, or the beginning of our memoir “ The Beginning” It is Christmas, and I am happy and I want you all to be happy too. I want you to create memories that will last forever, as I will be doing the same. “So have yourself a Merry little Christmas.” Enjoy, be blessed, eat lots of Turkey.
For the first time in my life I was getting my way!! I was going to be with my sisters! I was so happy. My current foster family was sad too see me go, but they had no idea what was going on with my foster sister. My sister Tyra had already been in this foster home for a while, so it was not as uncomfortable as going some were new and alone. We only had a foster mother who was probably in her sixties, so I felt hey this wont be so bad… I was wrong, when would I ever learn.
she always gave us cereal for breakfast, but the milk always tasted sour to me!! I would ask my sisters if the milk tasted sour to them? They would say yes, and it just made it worse for me, I couldn’t eat that cereal with sour milk! I would just leave it and tell our foster mother I wasn’t hungry. I would then proceed to eat some of my lunch on the way to school. We laugh about this sour milk now, I have a real phobia about milk, and if it gets to close to the date of expiry I wont drink it, even if it is not bad. I just don’t want to take the chance. This is Pavlov classical conditioning. I mention this as we will be going deeper into our psyche and mental illness, behaviours and more later on. Our mother on the other hand was using operant conditioning.
I was exhibiting behaviors of severe mental illness, but I was so hard to reach, I guess no one took the effort to try and reach me, so my metal illness just ran rampant. It was so bad, I was having nightmares, and would get up and literally walk off the end of my bed, waking my self up and jumping up off the floor, into my bed in a panic. The first time this happened my foster mother came to see what the loud bang was, I told her I fell out of bed, I did not tell her I walked off the end of my bed. Hiding my oddities, was becoming second nature to me, I had to protect what little self I had left. I did not trust Adults, actually the only people I trusted were my siblings.
Our Foster mother had a little adopted daughter about the same age as our littlest sister. Our foster mother loved her little adopted daughter. However, her adopted daughter was so jealous of our little sister. I recall one time our foster mother encouraged her adopted daughter to beat up my little sister. I felt so helpless, and angry! However, I did not want to jeopardize staying with my sisters so I kept my silence and would only intervene if my little sister got really hurt. That was what I believed, thankfully this first little spat did not amount to much. Our foster mother praised her little girl and that was that… We are in a mad house! Shameful just dam shameful to do this to children, especially children who have suffered so much in their short lives!
Some children in foster care are very seriously disturbed and evidence symptoms of psychosis.These children are not just immature. they behave in a way that is different from normal children of any age.”(Vera I.Fahlberg, M.D.)
Signs and symptoms Requiring Full Psychiatric Evaluation in children:
Extreme withdrawal from interaction; behaving as though others are not present. Inappropriate affect ie;laughing, crying, or rage for no apparent reason. Fantasies that are so marked they interfere with day to day functioning. Total lack of interest in interacting with peers; no normal peer interactions. Extreme lack of responsiveness to other people. Lack of appropriate fears/or abnormal fears that interfere with day to day functioning. Auditory or visual Hallucinations. (I have both) Failure to develop speech or disappearance of speech after it has developed.(Tyra had a speech impediment, she stuttered very badly. it was non medical, it was because of the abuse and extreme stress.) Non communicative speech. (My sister Tyra and I had our own language,we understood each other fine. We had no interest In Communicating with any one else except us four} Persistent abnormal rhythm to speech. Sing Song or chanting over and over. Abnormalities in reactions to stimulation; may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to auditory stimuli, tactile stimuli, and the like. I was Hypersensitive, and Hyper vigilant. Self mutilation: self explanatory. Developmental delays combined with areas of normal or above normal functioning.(Sometimes we were immature in the extreme and in other areas scarily mature). Marked insistence on sameness, such as routines or object placement. Both my sister and I have varying degrees of Obsessive compulsive disorder.any changes in plans or routine is very upsetting for us also, and the emotional response is extreme.
There was on activity that I did with my sisters that I absolutely loved doing. That was dancing, I had a mini pop record that I would play over and over while my sisters and I danced to it. I would swing them around, hoist them up in the air, throw them in the air and catch them. Looking back I must have been unbelievably strong, because they were not all that light, although to me they were light. I know our foster mother’s daughter wanted to play too, and I would oblige, but I had no bond with her what so ever. I didn’t feel one way or the other about her. The only time I felt anything was when I thought about her fighting my youngest sister, and then my anger was directed at our foster mother, I never blamed the child.
This incident happened when our foster mother and a group of her friends male and female, thought it would be funny to see two little girls fight. It was atrocious behaviour for adults to not only instigate a fight, but to cheer it on. It was like a dog fight, except with two little girls, instead of dogs. Our foster mothers little girl was viscous. It wasn’t a play fight at all, it was hair pulling, biting, kicking and punching. I understood on some level that our foster mothers little girl resented my sister. Probably just her being there was enough for resentment. Maybe it was my disinterest in her’ and my affection that I showed my little sister. I really do not know the why, I just know that I felt helpless and a bone crunching shame that I did not have the courage to try and stop it. All the adults were laughing and clapping while I watched my little sister trying to defend herself against a viscous attack. Our mother, had conditioned us so thouraly, that it was Impossible for us to set healthy boundaries and enforce them…
Some might say well they were the same age and size. It wasn’t that bad…please, have you ever seen a dog fight, it is viscous, ugly and brutal. My little sister was conditioned by our mother to be a victim. We all had a victim mentality, we were not like other children, we were emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even due to malnourishment physically crippled. Please tell me this was fair, or right. For us that find any form of abuse intolerable, this event is shocking, horrific and way beyond wrong.
For the most part I was a ghost to my foster mother, I could not meet peoples eyes, there was no sparkle or joy in my eyes. I was afraid to look at people, I was so afraid I would see myself reflected back at me. I didn’t want my ugliness, my brokenness mirrored back at me through other people’s expressions. I was quiet, the only time I really expressed my self was with my siblings. They were my world, my safe world, the only ones that could see, sense, feel my pain, and the joy that they brought to my dark reality. It was easier for people to see through me, than to see me. A broken child that was suffering silently.
Trigger warning, please be aware there is sexual abuse in the next piece I am sharing:
I ended up going out to Wainwright, and Army base town. I stayed with a younger couple, and The mans younger sister also lived with them, I remember my social Worker bringing me to this home and I was sitting there as the Social Worker introduced us. They had a little white poodle. I was sitting in a chair with my feet out and crossed, and that dumb dog started humping my foot. I didn’t realize what he was doing till his owner said “Ramsey! Stop that!” When she said that I was so embarrassed!! I didn’t know he was being a dirty dog, I wish she would have waited to get me alone to explain to me what that dog did was wrong.
After that happened When my Social Worker got up to leave, and go to her car I panicked and bolted out the door. I ran to her car and she just got to it, so we stood there by her car while I begged her not to leave me here. I was so embarrassed, you remember how modest I am, so this humiliation was just to much for me! How could I possibly bare to meet these strangers eyes after that awful dog did that to my foot!! My social Worker said “Tammy you have no choice you have to stay here there is no were else I can take you.” the only words that rang through my ears was “Tammy, you have no choice.” She was right I didn’t. However, I didn’t realize the impact those words would have on until after I had been there for a while.
The man’s younger sister , who was about 19 approached me and said if you get lonely you can sleep with me. I felt comforted by her and did cuddle with her. I missed my siblings so much. One time I accidentally touched her boobs and pulled back like I burned myself, she laughed and said”it’s ok don’t worry, I don’t mind”. I didn’t even think to beware, as I had never been abused sexually by a female before.. until her.
I wasn’t sexually attracted to girls, so I didn’t even think it was possible, as I never met a lesbian before. Or if I did, I didn’t know it, because I never had a female come on to me. I became very attached to this girl and I went every were with her. When we were at home, we would spend hours in her room listening to music or reading, or laughing together. I didn’t love her but I was growing to trust her. I did love their little baby though.I would play with him and loved when he laughed, that little baby I loved and bonded with. I still miss his baby laugh and smile, when I think of him.
So my relationship with this young woman progressed from sleeping together with clothes on to her sleeping naked. I never slept with no clothes on I felt too vulnerable, but she was very comfortable naked. My only thought was she was so brave and I wish I was more like her. she plucked her eyebrows so I wanted mine plucked, she had pierced ears so I wanted pierced ears, double like her. She wore make up So I wanted to wear make up. My foster mom let me do this, for the first time I was some what happy and began to let my guard down a bit.
I didn’t like that they cut my hair short though, our mother always had waist length hair and all us girls always had long hair. When she cut it I felt cut off from my sisters. She didn’t understand this, but it didn’t matter I cried silently in my room. The girl I was bonding with heard me though and came in to comfort me, and that was our first kiss. I didn’t like it, but I had no choice right, isn’t that what the Social worker said…I don’t like kissing at all, I can’t even stand watching people kiss on TV it is so gross to me. It just escalated from there.
One night my foster parent went out for the evening and there baby was at his grandparents, that left me and my foster sister alone to our own devices, or rather her devices, I was just alone. She was in her room when she called my name and told me to come to her room. Seeing her naked I just thought she was going to bed early. She had that gross little dog with her on the bed. She said “let me show you something, you will like it”. She spread her legs and that little dog dove right in like he been doing it forever, which he probably had been. He started licking her private parts. I was shocked and sickened. I had no idea people would do this to an animal. I now felt bad for that little dog, as I understood like me he had no choice and was a victim. After she was done, she tried to entice me to do the same, and I said I didn’t want to do that with the dog, she said ” OK, next time I will show you something else, come give me a hug.” I did and she gave me a kiss with tongue.. so gross!! Of course I didn’t say that to her though, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
The next time she gave me oral sex, I just lay there, I wasn’t a participant, I wasn’t even an observer. I was far away some were no one else can come. This female on female sex was very disturbing to me. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t like it, this was not comforting to me. I didn’t understand that although a lower percentage than men woman can be sexual predators as well. No one was safe, except my siblings, I had to get back to them no matter what, but I didn’t even know were they were!
There was no visits or even phone calls. We were truly and what I thought irrevocably separated. When my foster sister said, “next time will be even more fun!” I was galvanized into action. As soon as I was alone I called my social worker frantic and upset, I told her I needed to talk to her right away like today! she came a few days later, and I was still frantic and told her I needed to go today like right now! She asked me “why?” I didn’t tell her why I told her that I could not possibly stay here it was not safe for me and if she made me stay I would run away. I was still very much a minor so running away was not an option. I told her in no uncertain terms I wanted to be placed with my sisters and brother. she told me it was not possible to be placed with my brother as he was in a boys home. I said fine, but demanded to visit him. However, I wanted to be with my sisters! I was adamant, and was ready to run away and try to find them, an impossible task but to my mind it was do able.
You may be asking why didn’t you tell? This is normal for children who are being abused not to tell on their abusers, especially in my case, since every time my mother showed me I was bad for telling, and my social Worker said I had no choice, even the justice system failed me. Even if it was a male abusing me I do not think I would have told. I don’t know how long I could take this abuse, before I either lost my mind or killed my self. Thoughts of suicide were prevalent, and this was an option for me. I was about eleven years old at this time. It seemed like I had already lived a life time, and I suppose I had. I did not feel like a child, in the sense, I knew to much. However, I felt powerless, like a child. I really don’t know if all children feel powerless, I just know I did.
I remember the day that the social services had come to take us away, due to the physical abuse Tyra and us children were enduring. I had no idea, that a teacher had found out and reported it to child protection services, or child welfare as we called it. Since I was in a different school, I was already at home when the Child protective services and the police came to collect me, and get the younger ones things. Mom didn’t even blink an eye, all she said was” I will just get them back you know..”
The Social worker said nothing to my mom and I asked the Social Worker what was going on? She didn’t say anything until I took her upstairs to collect our things, what a joke that was, we didn’t have anything much to collect. I had one pair of pants and a extra shirt. No underclothes and couple pairs of mismatched socks. The Social Worker told me that they had been called due to abuse and neglect by our mother, by a concerned individual. The Social Worker also explained the youngest children had been apprehended, due to signs of sever physical abuse. She then asked me if this was true, that we were being physically abused. I simply said to her, “which day would you like to know about, she just looked incredibly sad.
She asked me to take me to the children’s rooms to collect there stuff. I took her to the bathroom to collect Tyra’s pair of pants that were hanging up to dry. They were still damp, the Social Worker said these are still damp we can leave them, were are the rest of her clothes. I said your looking at them. We ended up leaving with nothing but me, in the back seat of the Social Workers car. There was no belongings to collect other than us children. I was wearing what I already owned, and the other stuff was just raggedy garbage. I remember once in school the school nurse bringing me a out fit to wear. If it wasn’t for that kindness, I don’t know what I would wear. I would wash my outfit in the tub every second day, to try to be clean.
We had come and gone from mom’s care so much it is very difficult to remember each instance, but it was a lot. So we are just talking about the most clear instances that we can remember. As time goes on if we recall other instances we will tell of them but for now, we just speaking about the most clear instances we remember. So once again, we were shuttled of to receiving homes, I was separated from the three youngest. This constant separation was causing serious attachment issues, with all of us.
Attachment and Bonding:
Attachment between humans is a complex process. How attachments develop and function is not yet completely understood. However it is essential that those who participate in making major decisions about the lives of children and families have a basic understanding of attachment theory. Attachment and separation are the heart of Child welfare work.” (Vera I. Fahlberg M.D 1991)
Strong Attachment or bonds, help children develop strong social, emotional and metal skills. having a strong attachment to parents and siblings is vital especially in the early years. It helps them built trust and self reliance, which in turn makes them less likely to be a victim, and to have healthy interpersonal skills. “These earliest relationships influence both physical and intellectual development as well as forming the foundation for psychological development…Many children who enter foster care are in jeopardy of losing some or all of these strengths.” (Klaus, 1976)
Home is a place called no were:
So now we were separated again, since the youngest three were together Tyra will have to tell you about that experience, for me I went to a receiving home way in the boonies . Was only there for a couple of days before they sent me back to the city, were I resided with a police officer and his wife and two young boys. I know you might be thinking, what I am thinking a frigging cop?! Some one with ultimate authority over people? This was not going to be good and it wasn’t. However, it was not the Male that caused me issues, but the mother and her two boys.I really do not think they thought through what it actually meant to take an abused child into their home, I mean it wasn’t like we are peaches and cream on a Sunday afternoon! We have issues!
Those two boys were so spoiled in my estimation, I mean it was already awkward being in their home, but to be made to feel unwelcome by those two was even worse, and the mother never stepped in to correct them. They continually and constantly said to me “That is our mom! This is our house, that is our dad, this is our food!” I tried my best to avoid those two brats, and yes they were brats, thanks to their mothers absent parenting. She was more interested in her “church” duties than to be looking out for a lowly foster kid. Guess the pay didn’t warrant decency and respect for a foster kid.
I didn’t like going to church with them and eventually started asking them if I could please just stay home. They would not let me as they had to parade me around to their congregation introducing me not by my name but as our “foster child.” Are you F’ing kidding me?! Sorry, I just got a little heated remembering this, I apologize for the profanity. I hated the fact to them I was a good deed that others should praise them for. I am a human being, that has been brutally traumatized by bad people, not a check mark on your to do list. I really don’t think God is looking down and says no yup those foster parents are definitely getting into heaven, for taking in that sad, hurt child. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are foster parents that take in children like me, with pure and honourable intentions, they were just so far and few between.
I loved staying in my room and dancing to tapes, especially Pat Benatare, she was my favorite artist of the time. I enjoyed all her songs. I always wanted to be a dancer, and sometimes I would make my self so sore I could hardly walk trying ballet poses. “Fame” was my all time favorite movie. I did have a dream…I dreamed of being a Dancer.
It wasn’t to be long before I rebelled against these people. I mean who did they think they were? Oh ya they thought they were better than every one else. I can’t stand that kind of attitude. It all came to a head when the foster mom slapped me across the face multiple times, because she thought I pushed one of her kids. I didn’t but that is what he told her; little liar. Those boys just wanted me gone, I hope the next foster child was treated better. I just quietly said, “I would not hurt your kids, lady, but you sure don’t seem to have a problem hurting me!” I ran away the next day, and was picked up by the police that night, guess who picked me up, your right the foster dad. I think he understood what was happening even if I didn’t say a word to him about what happened. I had to sit in the police station all night on that hard bench, waiting for my Social worker to find a place to put me. They were running out of options, and I was running out of Hope.
Because the abuse in that facility was so rampant, it is no wonder that both the girls and the boys were being sexually abused. However, because that was so normal for us, the ones being abused never spoke up. I did do some investigating an there is a group of Boys that were sexually abused in that facility who are having the courage to speak up.
On Feb. 6, the Edmonton Police Service announced it was laying five charges of sexual assault and five charges of gross indecency against Dominey. The charges stem from five alleged incidents at the Edmonton Youth Development Centre in the 1980s. The complainants were all youth at the incarceration facility at the time of the alleged incidents.
It is so heartbreaking to me how many youth that have been victimized, continued to be victimized by those professing to be extending the hand of help, safety, refuge. It is deplorable to me that any one professing to be a humanitarian or person of spiritual intent uses that to get close to victims, in order to cause them even more harm.
It has taken me two decades to share my experience, so I understand why it has taken them two decades too.
An incident I recall is one that haunts me to this day. So much is vague memories or foggy. However, some things are hard to forget, no matter how much I wish I could. I was so drugged up, all I remember is being naked and men coming in to solitaire and shutting the door. I remember one man getting down on the mat with me, while another man stood up against a wall and watched, as the other man wrestled with me, as I tried to get away. I was so tired of fighting, I am not even sure how long I had been struggling for. I blacked out most of the incident, and I’m sure there are many instances I have blocked out. Although they do come out if I drink or use drugs, which in another segment I will talk about the drug and alcohol abuse. I do recall one female worker being present, however, she removed herself from the solitary confinement space. I remember her looking at me as she was leaving the room. What I remember most about that event is the look of contempt on those two men’s faces. There was no compassion or empathy what so ever.
One day my worker called me to the office and asked me if I was addicted to drugs or alcohol. remember I was 12 when they incarcerated me and I was now about 15 and a half. I was eleven going on 12 when I was put in the detention center, so all in all I had been incarcerated for around four years. She wasn’t seriously asking me if I was an addict was she? The only drugs I took during that time was the drugs they gave me, I had not even been outside the facility in all those years! How was I going to get drugs? No one ever came to see me! What a odious woman!
Because I had been around teens who were into illicit drugs I had some working knowledge what they were about, even though I have never seen it done or even what they looked like. I remember asking why she would ask me this, and she stated that she wanted to see if ADAAC would be helpful for me. I was dumbfounded..seriously? These people were more crazy than me! I saw a chance to actually get out of the facility, however, I did not realize that after being locked up for so many years it was not like when I was a child living on Whyte Ave with my siblings. I thought I would be accompanied by a staff member to integrate me back into society. That was not the case, she gave me a map and bus fare for the bus, and sent me out of the building by my self!
What the hell was wrong with these people!! I stood out side that building for a few minutes and just looked at it. It looked so very large to me. This was the first time I had been outside the facility with out a staff member, I felt so alone, panicked, anxious and very afraid. I did find the ADDAC office, however, I never went in. Instead I was going to take a trip to Whyte ave and go to my old home, and just look at it. I never even got that far, instead I ran into a girl I knew from lock up. I told her I was running away from YDC because they didn’t want me there any more, I was to much for them to handle. That is what I told myself. They created a monster and then just let her out of the cage, what the hell is wrong with those people? However, I was afraid, this was a big world and I was still a small child in my mind.
My emotional development was stunted to a point were I was like a two year old. Tina.C. took me under her wing. It became official I was now a fugitive, and after 24 hours a Canada wide warrant was issued for my arrest. I became one of Canada’s most wanted at the age of 15, and the biggest crime I ever committed was stealing a candy bar when I was ten….All because I ran away from a correctional facility. Back then under the Government system I was ruled by, you run away from any correctional facility, no matter if you committed a crime or not, you have committed a crime by going awol. This means even though I had never been sentenced with a crime, I was deemed a criminal, because I resided in a correctional institution.
I only knew I was wanted by the authorities because I saw my face plastered on a poster in the wainwright police detachment. You could imagine my shock, that they wanted me arrested! I got my but out of the detachment on the double! I will share about that in a different piece as that was further down the road. For now, with Tina I was blissfully unaware I had A warrant out for my arrest. I thought my biggest worry was child welfare, boy was I in for a reality check.
In over a century of youth justice legislation in Canada, there have been three youth justice statutes: the Juvenile Delinquents Act (1908–1984), the Young Offenders Act (YOA) (1984-2003), and the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) (2003-present). A set of amendments to the YCJA was adopted by Parliament in 2012.
I met the first YOYO or Young Offender to be incarcerated, it was a 12 year old girl who was caught in a stolen car. I do not recall if she stole it or someone else did, and she just went for the ride. I think she was just along for the ride as she looked like she was 12, very young looking. However, looks can be deceiving so maybe she did hot wire it. I met her before I was transferred to the open unit. If she by chance reads this, “Tammy, me, says hello, and hopes you had an amazing wonderful life.” I was transferred to the open unit very shortly after that.
I would also like to send a thank you to Lauren, who came into my room on the open unit and prayed with me as I gave my will and life over to the care of Jesus. I felt an immense peace come over me. I didn’t understand a high power, nor did I know a higher power. However, I do believe my Higher Power kept me as safe as he could in the coming years, when there was so many times I should have died by another’s hands, or my own.
Alice in Wonderland Quotes “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” …
Tammy : sharing my experience in the open unit of a institution for youth, under the Juvenile Delinquent System.
I“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!” —Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole
When I was finally transferred to the open unit things got really bizarre! For the first couple of months I was heavily supervised and not allowed to go out side with out a worker with me. so it was still kinda like lock down, just more girls. I think they could hold up to 24 girls on that unit, and we shared rooms. I had a roommate, and I thought she was a, well we didn’t really get along, but I tolerated her.
It is odd to me to be on all this medication, because I do not really recall meeting with a psychiatrist while I was in lock up. However, I was so drugged up, sometimes it was hard to remember anything at all. Being in the open unit , did give me more freedom, I was able to go to the school rooms on the main floor, with out a staff member accompanying me. during class I would either write in my journal, which was pretty much all I ever did, or I would sleep due to the drugs conking me out. The Teachers never bothered me. As long as I was quiet they left me alone. Sometimes I would attempt to do the work, but my mind was so heavily drugged it was really hard to comprehend what I was supposed to do with all the X’s and Y’s. I preferred to just sit quietly and write, or sleep.
I also, started going to appointments on the out side to see a psychiatrist named Dr. Maurice Blackman. I remember going into his office and they had a large observation room, and the kids in that room were absolutely bonkers. I recognized one of my old classmates from HillCrest, and when I talked to her she was just crazy, I was shocked! What happened to her, she used to be so calm and fun. Now she was bonkers. My Dr. Blackman started me on a new regime of drugs, and things went to hell in a hand basket. I would have to go to his office twice a week to get a needle in my hip, have no idea what it was, on top of the daily doses of pills I was on.
I started to hear people talk to me that were not there, and see shadows and things that were not people. Scared the heck out of me. I also, started to act out aggressively! I was not happy in this open unit surrounded by all these people! I never picked on the smaller kids, I always picked fights with the biggest girls and the biggest boys as being in open unit it was more co ed. No one ever met my challenges they always backed down.It was the drugs, that was not my nature at all. My case worker would discuss me with other staff and some times the girls would over hear her and report back to me.
I was thrown in to solitary almost weekly, stripped naked and put in a cell with nothing in it but a flat mattress. I spent a lot of time in solitaire, at the time I was locked up there was no set limit in how long you could be kept in solitary, you could be kept in there indefinitely if they wanted.The worst part about going into solitary was I resisted vehemently, and I was really strong, like crazy strong, I think the drugs had a lot to do with it. Typically three to four big burly men from the boy’s unit would come help the female staff put me into solitary. It was no easy feat, if they sat on me I just bucked them off, if they grabbed me I would swing them into a wall. For such a little girl I was scarily strong, and had no censorship what so ever, the drugs took away all inhibitions, I had absolutely zero fear and zero remorse. This was nothing like I was before I came here, my sister can attest to that. I think if my sister Tyra was able to visit me, she would not recognize the person looking back. Not because of how I looked but because of how I acted. I was no longer me
Dr. Maurice Blackman:
Dr. Blackman has been practicing for over 40 years. CPSA Physician Details Dr. Blackman was trained in Dublin Ireland at Trinity College and came to Canada after postgraduate training in Psychiatry in 1973. Initially he was employed as a Consultant Psychiatrist involved in youth and family care. Dr. Blackman then moved to the University of Alberta where he undertook the teaching of medical students and psychiatric residents, reaching the advancement to Clinical Professor of the University of Alberta. He also continued to consult with Alberta Health Services and developed a number of programs for severely dysfunctional youth and families.
KMedicine Hat News (Newspaper) – April 6, 1993, Medicine Hat, Alberta WestManagers gone EDMONTON (CP) — Two senior managers are no longer working at an Edmonton psychiatric facility for disturbed adolescents that was investigated last year for its treatment techniques. Both Dr. Maurice Blackman, the child psychiatrist who served as program director at CASA House, and nurse-manager Karen Pentelchuk have left the program, confirmed CASA president Margaret Shone. Shone also confirmed a consulting psychologist at the centre has been suspended for a week. Blackman resigned at the beginning of February for health reasons, Shone said, and Pentelchuk’s position was axed in a management reorganization
It is unbelievable to me that he practiced on youth for so many years, and even after YDC was shut down, he went to CASA house and continued, his practices there. He then resigned? How many often do we hear of people in positions of authority or power turning in their resignation , when things start getting uncomfortable for them.
The following are quotes from actual patients, and parents of patients of Dr.Blackman:
“THIS THING traumatized me so bad that I STILL have nightmares of the “care” that his GOONS gave to kids WAY back in the 1980’s. I remember telling him that the meds were CAUSING me to hallucinate. His response was “45 days solitary confinement. For talking out of turn and not asking with raised hand.” IT WAS A 1 ON 1 MEETING!!!! I was 10 years old. I TRIED to commit suicide 45 times while in his Care”
“My daughter saw this Dr years ago.. experience was traumatic. Sent her to the children’s mental heath at the Royal Alex after overdosing her on her adhd meds. She was seeing hair growing out of her finger tips. 9 year old on such a cocktail of meds.”
“This man nearly destroyed my 15 year old daughter when he ran CASA house. His method was to used candy to reward “acceptable” behavior or to put my child in a straight jacket and lock her in a padded cell for many, many hours at a time for unacceptable behavior.”
“I am starting a malpractice suit against this evil man. He must be stopped. Was a abused traumatized child but wouldn’t recognize my abuse instead accused me of drug use and threatened me to keep me locked up or incarcerated until I was 16 if I didn’t admit to the drug use. I was 13 and was very anti drug at the time and had never even been around it. While I was there I was lock in solitary confinement for 12 days, was stripped nude of clothing by two abusive nurses. I know their names and addresses. I compare him to Joseph Mangula using children as experiments.”
How this man was able to experiment and practice on trouble youth is beyond my understanding. Those dysfunctional youth they talk about were traumatized, abused children, calling out for help the only way they knew how, and in my opinion just continued to be a victim to those in authority over them.
Somehow I rallied and when I went to see this awful Dr. And I use the term lightly, I yelled at him, I am not going to come see you any more! He just calmly looked at me and said “you have no choice…” I was just a kid, stripped of rights, identity, dignity, and truth. I vowed to myself that enough was enough. Although, I still took my medication, I firmly believe I was a prescription addict, by this time. I acted out so violently and for hours at a time, any time I had an appointment to see this man, that I would be thrown into solitary. I never saw him again and the needless in the hip ceased. A victory for me, although it cost me dearly.
I am going to stop here, and do a continuation. please feel free to carry on reading if you wish, or stop here, but please do come back, there is more to share.
Cascade YDC lock down unit, was on this unit for over two and a half years, almost three. The longest any girl has been on this unit, to my knowledge. Tammy 2019
I was transferred to my new permanent dwelling, A place called “Youth Development Center” in Edmonton Alberta. It was called “YDC” for short and that is probably how I will refer to it in this next segment. There were four units in YDC, the Girls units were called Cascade, which was the girls lock-down unit, will explain what that means in a bit. and what was called an Open-Unit,named Lowpine. The girls were given more freedom after being in the open unit for a while. It was not as secure as the lock down unit. Most Of my time was spent in the Lock down unit. I was still 12 when when I went to the Lock down unit, I turned 13 in YDC , we did not Celebrate birthdays at YDC. you will understand why in a bit
The Lock down unit I was on only had six rooms, and we did not share a room with any one. We were put into our own dorm and that was it. It was very much a lock down, we didn’t even go outside, They just did not have the staff to take us. We did have a big window though so were able to look outside. I didn’t like looking outside, it looked to big to me. I was very rapidly becoming institutionalized, which would affect and effect me for the rest of my life. We would eat our meals in our rooms, we were segregated from the other inmates who were in open units, so we only pretty much had interaction with a very small group of people.
I was put on various medications, which kept me so docile I would actually fall asleep in the middle of talking. My mouth was perpetually dry, and I could never get enough water to drink. I really had no idea why they put me on all theses medications since I was already a timid and withdrawn child, it made absolutely no sense! I know I was on a lot as one time the worker assigned to me freaked out and made the mistake of saying out loud”OMG we forgot to take her off the old medication and have been giving her new ones at the same time! She has been taking them all at the same time!” I asked her how many she told me over the course of the day I was taking 26 different types of medication! That is what the worker assigned to me said to another worker, I overheard her.
My brain felt shut off all the time, like my body was just moving of its own accord, with out any interaction from my brain. It was awful! My thoughts, if I had any, were so slow to come that I didn’t bother talking. Then there were times I would talk with rapid fire, just to get the thoughts out before my head exploded. At least it felt like it was going to explode. I honestly believe that some one was experimenting on me, and this would become even more true when I went to the open unit, and started seeing the psychiatrist associated with YDC. it was this psychiatrist that had been treating me ever since I went to YDC. This medicating with different medication went on for years. From shortly after I arrived till the day I left. They even diagnosed me as schizophrenic at one point, because the medication was giving me auditory and visual hallucinations.
At that time treatment for JD’s was medication. There was no talk therapy, or counselling when I was in lock up. I was just kept isolated in this block called Cascade. I didn’t really mind, I was so medicated and out of it, I really did not want to be around people any way. On the wall they had a board with all the things they observed during the day and you either got a star or an X. Things like Hygiene, interaction with others, attitude, Decorum ecetra. I can’t remember all that was on there but I think there was like eight different things they would evaluate during their shift. Apparently I was having difficulty meeting their standards, because they had to have a special evaluation system for me with 1 being very good and 3 being very bad.
I didn’t like being different from the others. It made me very uncomfortable as, that board was in the hall were all the Cascade inmates could see it. I felt ashamed. Being different was never a good thing, and I do not recall being a troublesome child, I think it was part of the experiment to see how I would react to being singled out. It was not to end up well for any one! The more they experimented and tried to single me out, the more my brain was switching off. I was going into survival mode, and was almost becoming feral. Scary as hell. Is this what they wanted? I do not know, but this is what was happening. I was changing from a quiet, timid girl into a feral child. I did not have any one touch me, hug or any kind of touching at all, it wasn’t allowed. The only time they touched me is when they restrained me and put me into solitaire, I will talk about that in a bit as that happened on the open unit, not the closed unit I was currently on.
Time just became one day meshing into another, if you were to ask me what day it was, I would not have been able to tell you.To this day I have trouble retaining dates, and have to look on my phone constantly to see what day it is, if I even care to know.Time for me is the seasons. Winter it is time to sleep , fall is time to get ready to sleep, spring is time to plan and start waking up, and summer is time to have fun and wake up all the way. That was my time, and how I lived my life. I am also nocturnal, as I spend all my time alone for the most part, and night time is when I come awake. I guess I am like that great Owl, always living in the night… I spent almost three years in Cascade, I would have to count back to remember, but it was a long time indeed.
All that Time I was on a lot of medication, and very drug out. Most of the teens that came to lock up were on the open unit with a matter of a few months, for me I was on the Secure unit for years. I really could not understand why?! I felt that I was being punished because I told on those men that had sexually abused me…what other answer could there be, I must be bad for doing that therefore I was being punished. Maybe I was being punished because I told that man that “If you ever touch my little sisters and brother I will find you and I will kill you!” The look in his eyes was one of pure terror, but I had been abused so badly that rage had to be stuffed down. Maybe that was why people were scared of me? I don’t think so, I wasn’t willfully mean. If I did act out it was simply a mode of survival, not maliciousness.
One saving Grace, all the workers on the closed unit were Women, and the men from the boys unit were never called to Cascade, there was nothing that the female workers could not handle, so I was saved from having to interact with men. The other girls for the most part stayed away from me, even though they were bigger, I think they were afraid of me. I do not know why, I had no intention or desire to hurt them, I just wanted to learn what it was to be a girl from them. I would watch them put on their make up and do their hair. I observed how they dressed, these were things I never learned from my mom, I learned from girls who were junkies and prostitutes.
There was a radio built into the wall, one Chanel as it went through the whole institution to all the units. I had that music on constantly when I was up, thankfully the other girls didn’t seem to mind, at least they never said anything to me. If I was in the common room the radio was on and TV was off, that was just the way it was. Because I had been on that unit for so long, maybe they thought I was the boss. Or maybe they were just scared of the ticking time bomb I was… I don’t know. I really felt nothing either way after a while, I was totally numbed out. That is not a safe thing to do to a child that has been traumatized so mercilessly. I mean really make it so they have no empathy, no worry no conscience? They really must have been experimenting on me! I wanted to get out, and asked my worker how long I was going to be there in that institution, she looked at me and just said bluntly till you are 21 years old. I was about 14 years old when I asked her, and another year and a half was to go by. We can legally keep you till you are 21 years old. I was floored, I was going to be institutionalized for ten years?! What did I do! Would I even survive it, and would it matter? My mom had cut off all contact with me, and would not allow my siblings to see me. By the time Tyra was old enough to come see me I may be a vegetable from all the drugs or dead by suicide.
You may be still wondering why they didn’t celebrate birthdays in the locked unit. We didn’t even have calendars in the locked unit. The days just passed into one day into another, the only reason I know how long I was there is because it is documented, and I seen the dates. I think they thought it best if we didn’t consciously recognize the passage of time, maybe it made us more manageable I do not know. It was a strange time, and a strange place.
I had a friend in YDC lock up her name was Sandra. She was 12 years old, and was a very odd child, but then I guess I was too. However, she would self mutilate, and that bothered me, as I did not self mutilate. She got mad at me once, because she told me she was going to swallow tacks. How she got the tacks I don’t know as we were not allowed stuff like that. I told her no, and tried to convince her not to do it. However, she insisted that she was going to do it! I was frantic, she would not let me take them away from her, so I told my worker and the staff restrained her and took all the tacks and anything else that could be dangerous to her from her room. she asked me”why did you tell on me”, she was so mad at me. “I told her because you are my only friend and I love you”. she forgave me after that I loved that sad little girl so much, I took her under my wing, at least she wasn’t scared of me, and accepted me for who I was.
Sometimes the open units would go on field trips and leave the institution. I liked those times, because our unit would go down to the swimming pool and have some fun. One time when Sandra and I along with the other girls were in the pool. The boys from the lock up units were allowed in the pool with us and sometimes the boys and girls would be masturbating each other. I never did that, I didn’t want to. I saw Sandra face down jerking in the water. She had epilepsy. At first I thought she was playing a game, then it dawned on me what was happening! To my horror! I quickly swam to her and turned her over yelling “STAFF! STAFF! that what we called the workers. I saved my friends life not once, but twice, I miss her so much. the staff quickly did something to her, and she was taken to the hospital, she was having a Grand Mal Seizure. She was taken to a different facility and boy did she fight, she wanted us to run away together, of course I would have but I wouldn’t even have made it out the door. The only time I was not in arms length of a staff member was when I was sleeping. I never saw her again, I hope she had a good and happy life..
The next piece will be a sharing of when I went to the girls open unit: Lopine