Defining Yourself

Submitted into Contest #124 in response to: End your story with someone finding themselves.... view prompt



This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I survived my birth mother's attempt to abort me. When I was a few hours old she wrapped me in newspaper, went down an alley, and pushed me deep into a trash can. My big brother who was 4 followed her. He fished me out of the trash and took me to a neighbor's house.

We children lived mostly under the house for protection. We were not bathed because the bruises would show. My big brother & sister took care of me and then when I was 2 my little sister was born, and I cared for her. When our little brother was born less than a year later, I took care of him too. Our mother did her best to protect us. She was beaten many times trying to protect us. For us getting caught meant getting thrown against the wall until we were unconscious. Crying made it worse.

My mother was in trouble for trying to abandon me. The state took us away from my parents because of it. She was trying to save me. I forgave her years ago. She did not tell the state that her husband, my birth father was a pedophile. His abuse was extreme. Eventually, I also forgave him because he was sick. I did not know any better than to love what I hated. I feared him and loved him. My big sister had to have a hysterectomy at the age of 5. I had to have my colon rebuilt when I was 4. My little sister had been protected by me and the others, so she never had to endure our father's cruelty.

I developed a curvature of the spine because of living under the house. Many times we ate bugs because we did not dare come out to eat. I laugh now as I remember apologizing to each bug before I ate it. I was 2 before I tried to stand all the way up the first time. The state kept giving us back to our parents, and we went back to an orphanage with each new birth. Finally, when I was 4, my little sister was 2, and the youngest boy was almost a year old when we went to the orphanage for good. There were 5 kids in all by then. My big sister was 5 and my big brother was almost 7.

I celebrate surviving. I believe the rebel in me was born under that house. My overwhelming urge to protect those I love was nurtured under that house. My intolerance to cruelty grew under that house and has served me throughout my life.

My stubbornness and pure determination to stand straight and tall crawled out from under that house. I had remembered over hearing one of the attendance at the orphanage talking about me. She called me a trash baby and seemed to think the curve in my spine and my not being able to stand up would mark me as a "trash baby" all my life. That woman will never know how much she hurt me that day nor how much she helped me. I may not have known much at that age, but I knew what trash was. I cried myself to sleep that night knowing others saw me as trash.

I started standing in doorways and pushing myself up to straighten my spine. The pain was horrible but I was determined to be straight. I would lay flat in my bed and not use a pillow. I stretched and forced myself to pull my shoulders back and push past the curve in my back so it was straight. It became an obsession for me to stand straight. It worked. I remember telling my new grandmother (after the adoption) about what the woman had said. She helped me with exercises and modified a girdle to use as a back brace for me.

I have to think back on how many times I was told I had wonderful posture for one so young. I started out modeling children's clothes at the Apparel Mart in Dallas. My mother had a small dress shop and I went with her to buy inventory. I eventually talked my parents into letting me model.My wonderful foster father would take me to each modeling gig. I loved the work because I got to keep the pretty clothes. I was a runway model during my teen years because my back was so straight and I moved with such grace. I tell you about my beginning only to help you understand why I do not accept defeat and why standing straight and tall are so important to me. I did not let my beginning or a label define me. I know from experience you define yourself. Do not let anyone else do it for you.

If it is to be it is up to me. Ten, two-letter words, state my case. No one can change their beginning. You either like where you are or you are taking steps to change it. One or the other. Our ending is up to us to change. Stand up, celebrate life, and share the wisdom you collect along the way.

My little sister and I were adopted by a very loving family. I never saw my other siblings again.

After adoption, my grandmother became my best friend. I pass along memories of growing up with her in my little stories. I encourage others to pass along their memories as well. Together maybe we can bring a smile to someone's face or leave a little wisdom behind.

This website allows us to do just that. Celebrate surviving long enough to retire. Tell your story and maybe someone will gleam some wisdom they need or at least find a giggle they can put in their pocket for when they need one. Define your retirement and your happiness each day by sharing something that makes you smile. Then if you see someone without a smile.. Give them one of yours. Happiness multiplies when you share it. Don't get in the habit of saying, "I will be happy when..." Choose something, anything to be happy about right now. Right now is all you really have. Make happiness part of the journey and not just a destination.

I was telling this memory to a group at a nursing home about ten days ago. It seemed to inspire them to start celebrating the time they had left. They all started telling each other about growing up and the different experiences they had. It was not a poor me or whining about "bad luck" or listing excuses to do nothing. Instead, they were helping each other, some started just walking around the facility every day. The administrator said it was as if they came to life. Your story could do that for someone else. Share it. Even bad experiences can be teachers if we share what it taught us, or we celebrate surviving it.

It took me a long time to pull together enough courage to tell anyone my story. I went looking and found myself, the me I wanted to be.

December 16, 2021 03:12

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