This whole credit card thing still blows my mind, and not for the reason you might expect.
I just find it a bit amazing that the credit card company actually noticed. I’d really love to understand the way the program they use works. I’m such a small customer. I hardly even use my card and I have such a small credit card. I’m just glad they caught it.
Maybe if you knew my story, you’d understand why it doesn’t shock me that my own mother would steal from me.
I was born about a month (maybe more; the details are fuzzy) premature, hooked on deloids, which is a synthetic kind of morphine. It was also one of my mother’s drugs of choice. Heroin is on that list, too.
My grandmother didn’t know I existed until I had already made my appearance post-womb. Her son called Massachusetts from Daytona Beach to let her know that he had become a father.
I don’t know much about what my parents were doing down in Florida, but I do know that much of it was illegal.
When my mother speaks of her childhood, she tells tales of neglect and abuse. Sometimes I wonder how much of it is revisionist, and if it is not, why she chose to perpetuate the cycle. I don’t think we are victims of our raising. I think each of us makes a choice in everything we do.
She chose to continue the cycle. I won’t make that same choice.
I know that I spent early parts of my life living in cars, then with my grandparents, and ultimately, in foster care. The first image my adoptive mother has of me in her mind is a thin, curly-headed toddler in a night gown, wearing only one shoe, being carried by a social worker. I came with no other belongings. Just a nightgown and a single shoe.
I wasn’t yet three, but I remember the fear I felt of being in a new place that first night. In my mind, I see that bunk bed the way my two and a half year old eyes would have seen it.
The fear was real. I couldn’t sleep without dreams bolting me awake. The dreams were so real, I would still see the images when I opened my eyes. Many tactics were employed to get me to sleep. The stress was so bad that when I finally did sleep, I would grind my teeth all night long. When things are especially stressful, even today, I still revert to the grinding. I wake up with pounding pain in my jaw and I know that it’s time to get the mouthguard out again.
Finally, for my third birthday, my sister Donna, about 18 years my senior (she’s my adoptive mother’s daughter) gave me a stuffed animal, named Bakoo. He was had the head of a lion, the body of a leopard, and the trunk of an elephant. He came with a book explaining that he guarded children while they slept and ate their bad dreams.
And I believed. As long as I had Bakoo, I could sleep. He was my constant companion until well after I turned ten. My cousin has him now, and he’s undergone many surgeries to repair torn ears and a dislocated tail. His fur is mangy and his mane is in knots. He’s really showing his 21 years. In stuffed animal years, he must be nearing ninety.
From the fragmented history that I have, along with letters I finally threw away in the lastest move, my parents were both in and out of jail for my entire childhood. When I turned nine, they both signed away their parental rights, and I was adopted. That story is complicated enough for a post all its own, and I’m not sure I could actually write it.
During the time leading up to and following the adoption, bith parents had visiting rights. my father wanted more visits, while my mother barely ever showed for hers. I’m not sure there is a more heartbreaking image than the one I see when I think of myself standing on the proch, my hair in a bow, wondering if I were going to get to see my mommy this time. Maybe the one shoe image, but it’s close.
I saw my father even when he was in prison. I became well acquainted with searches and long, locked down hallways leading to huge rooms filled with tables and bunches of toys.
I think I saw my mother a total of four times from the time I entered foster care, until after my 22nd birthday.
That may have been four times too many.