I have circled this memory so often, shaken this box more than once to determine if it rattled or if finally what was inside had turned to dust. Close hold, this is one I keep buried in the back of the closet and under lock and key, rarely even considering taking it out for closer examination, I know how these skeletons dance. Truth, I know how hot the firestorm will burn when I finally unwrap the chains, release the padlocks and set a match to the dried tinder, I know what is in this box.
I was fourteen the first time I understood what bastard meant. I had heard the term a few times; my second (adoptive) mother had used it in reference to me on more than one occasion, truthfully though I was never that
curious as to its literal meaning. In January of 1972, I was sitting in the offices of Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers aka “The House of Another Chance” and my mother was explaining to the woman behind the desk “I would not be bringing another Bastard like me home”. Surprisingly, she also told the woman this was where my ‘slut’ mother was when she was pregnant with me, ‘like mother like daughter’. She made clear one of two things would happen, I would agree to a closed adoption or the state would strip my rights from me with her help. The ‘nice’ lady behind the desk helped explain that as a child myself, I would have no say in this matter, I had no rights and could not prevent this from happening to me or my child.
Did I mention I had hidden my pregnancy? By this time, I was just past my twelfth week and already had a small bump. I sat in that office arms wrapped around myself rocking and stunned by what was happening to me.
Don’t let their glossy new look fool you, back in the early 1970’s they met in the basement of an old house in a not so nice part of Seattle. They were ‘famous’ for their approach to dealing with drug addicts and ‘bad-assed’ teenagers; addict-to-addict mentoring and complete immersion techniques that stripped you of your soul, your will, your entire self and then filled the empty spaces left with something new and presumably better. Don’t get me wrong, my badass at this stage of my life included a bit of inhaling now and again, but I was far from any addictions, certainly, I wasn’t in need of hardcore intervention. I was simply a scared fourteen-year-old, with a baby bump. My mother wasn’t having this, she had her heart set on a disappearing act and SeaDruNar was the ticket. After the first session the ex-addict who ran the teenage group told her it wasn’t the right place for me, I didn’t relate to their problems and issues and didn’t ‘share’ with the group.
A few days later, we were back, this time I was shoved into the adult group. These were grown people with grown people problems, led by two ex-addicts. This is where I learned some of my mother’s story, but as part of her sharing with the group she also shared what an ungrateful and wretched child I was. She threw her head back and howled her own pain, instead of chewing off her own leg to release the trap; she gnawed at mine drawing blood as she shred me in front of her willing audience. I resisted their demands I beg for her forgiveness; I should given them what they claimed as due.
Three days of Hell – You Win
For those truly hard cases, those unrepentant hard to crack nuts SeaDruNar use to run ‘camps’. Three-day away camps, where you sit in rooms on the floor with little to eat, infrequent breaks and are verbally, emotionally and sometimes physically abused until you are broken. Sounds fun, right? Back in the early 1970’s, this was common treatment for addicts and hard-cases. There were no real medical doctors, no trained psychologists or addiction specialists present; just ex-addicts, ex-convicts and us the hard-cases who they hadn’t gotten through yet and whose parents signed permission slips for them to abuse.
Did this treatment work? I don’t know, this would be my last experience with SeaDruNar, my mother certainly got what she wanted from it.
I walked into this thinking I would sit for three days and survive. I would ignore the screaming, crying and sob stories. I did not have to give in, I didn’t have to talk to them, didn’t have to answer their questions; I knew the rules. They could scream at me, I could sit silent and there was nothing they could do. They didn’t scare me. I only had to get through three days. This wasn’t quite the truth of the ‘camp’; I didn’t quite understand the rules.
I didn’t know about lack of sleep.
I didn’t know what pressure on your bladder could do to you, or urinating on yourself can do to your ego. I didn’t know about public shaming, or being forced to sit in your own filth for hours before being allowed to change and bath.
I didn’t know. I didn’t know what fear could do under those conditions.
By day three of this hell I was destroyed. My heart, my soul, my fight was gone. There was nothing left of me. I was convinced I was unworthy to nurture life, let alone consider trying to care for it. I was shown pictures of deformed children and they were mine, because I had smoked pot, I had smoked hash and this is what drugs do I was told. I was an addict, I was a slut I was nothing, I was beneath contempt; I believed, but then I had been hanging on by a thread anyway it didn’t take much for me to believe.
“Yes, you win. You win, how could I have ever thought to want to keep my baby, that I might be worthy. You win.”
By now, I was at my sixteenth week of pregnancy. My mother was running out of time, soon my father would find out and she would be out of options.
The Abortion I never wanted was arranged. I was picked up from the “camp” house by mother dear. No time to change my mind to gather back my soul, to rethink or re-feel. No time to beg, though I begged the doctor and the nurses;
“NO, Please, NO. Please don’t do this. Please I don’t want this No.”
I curled on the table on my side. They strapped me down to keep me supine, to stop me from moving.
“No, please don’t please don’t.”
“There will be a slight pinch this won’t hurt,” someone said that just before they stuck needles into my womb.
I was given an Instillation abortion and sent home to wait.
What happens when choice is not choice and waiting is all we can do, the next box I will unlock in Breaking Chains.