The Loss of Innocence
When I was five years old, I lived with my mother, Jxx (my mom’s boyfriend) and grandpa & grandma in a large one-story white house. I had my own room. It was painted sky blue and had bookshelves with a bench underneath on the south side of the room. My bed was positioned in front of the window so I could look out of it.
My bedtime was always 8:00 p.m. In the summer, I would sit on my bed and look out of my window at my grandma’s garden and to the woods beyond. I especially liked to listen to the crickets sing their lullabies and watch the fireflies flit here and there with their glowing yellow tails.
After everyone was asleep, I used to creep out of my room into the dining room. Once there, I would play with my shadow friends. I even had names for them. My grandma’s corner shelf was named Emma. Her sewing machine, Jennifer and grandpa’s desk was Fred. Every night I would talk to my friends. Then I would dance for them. Sometimes I would dance all night. Other times mama would catch me and send me back to bed. When I danced, I was a fairy princess. I would twirl and twirl around in my socked feet till I slid to the floor with dizziness to the thundering applause of my shadow friends.
One night after an especially happy and busy day of chasing kittens, helping grandma pull weeds in her garden, and running around trying to catch butterflies, I fell asleep before the grownups did. Later a strange voice woke me. I opened my eyes all the while lying very still, to find two big, hairy hands on each side of my pillow coming from just above my head. Then I felt a moist and foul-smelling breath against my right cheek. It was a man’s voice filled with rage. “Your grandmother is a whore,” the man whispered evilly.
I lay on my bed trembling with fear, too afraid to move. I prayed someone would come and save me. Then the voice said. “Soon, I will kill that whoring bitch then I will come after you. Don’t think you can run from me. I am always watching and no one not even GOD can protect you! One day when you least expect it I will come for you and hurt you like whoring little bitches are supposed to be hurt!” At last my fear invoked paralysis broke and I sprang from my bed. As I frantically ran from my room, I took one last glance back to see the hands disappear and two glowing red eyes staring back at me. I started screaming.
Grandma found me on the hallway floor crying hysterically, “Stacey, my God, child, what on earth is the matter?”
“A-A m-man,” I stuttered pointing toward my room.
Mama came rushing towards us. “Whats going on? She asked concerned.
“M-Man my w-window,” I stammered, clinging to grandma. We all went to look, but there was no sign of anyone ever having been there, even the screen was back on.
“You must have just had a bad dream, Honey,” mama said tiredly.
“I didn’t dream it! There was a man at my window. He said he was going to kill me and grandma,” I said. “I am not sleeping in my room ever again,” I wailed, burying my head in grandma’s stomach. Grandma told me I could sleep with her & Grandpa so, I slept all night enveloped in grandmas arms. When I woke to go to the bathroom, I woke grandma up too, so she could go with me. When we got back in bed, grandma whispered, “I believe you.”
The next morning after breakfast, grandma told all of us to come outside, she had something to show us. Grandma led mama, Jxx, and me around the side of the house to where my bedroom window was. There, in the mud, were two sets of large foot prints, one set leading towards my window from the woods and the other leading away from my window across grandma’s garden and finally into the woods on the other side. I fainted.
Sometime later I woke up to hear mama talking to her boyfriend Jxx.
“Those footprints prove that someone was really at her window. Maybe I need to take her to the doctor, mom said she wet the bed last night and she has changed overnight. Maybe this man did more than just…”
“Stop right there, you believe that brat?” “If you ask me, you spend too much time worrying about the kid.” “What she needs is a good spanking with my belt!” Jxx said.
The word “spanking” perked up my ears, and I ran into the other room. “Mama, I don’t need a spanking. I’m a good girl! I said tearfully. “I won’t potty in my pants no more I promise!”
“I am not going to spank you. Mama is just concerned about you,” Mama said.
“Now get your ass outside and leave me and your mom alone!” Jxx yelled.
I quickly ran outside, but not before I heard mama say, “Jxx you are not to talk to her that way you hear me! She is just a child.”
That’s your problem, Sxxxxx, you treat her like a baby so, she acts like one!” He yelled.
I ran out in the garden to find grandma bent over pulling weeds, sweat beading on her forehead.
“Grandma, Jxx is trying to get mama to spank me, and mama said she wanted to take me to the doctors, cause she said she I not acting right, cause I went potty in my pants.” I started crying again. “I sorry about being a bad girl,” I sobbed.
Grandma put her arms around me. “Don’t worry sweety everything will be okay.”
At 8:00 p.m., as usual I went to bed, but mama was right; I had changed. I never again got up in the night to play with my shadow friends, nor did I ever dance for them again. I never sat on my bed and listened to the crickets or watched fireflies anymore. My window remained down with the curtain and shade closed. Grandma woke me up every night for several weeks to go to the bathroom till I finally got up on my own. A lot of nights I would find myself curled up in my grandma’s bed with no idea how I got there. I still had nightmares, and I was no longer the bubbling, smiling little girl I once was. I was extremely withdrawn in school so much so that I almost failed kindergarten because the teacher thought I was mentally retarded. It was only with my mom’s intervention that I was allowed to go on to 1st grade.
Over the years I locked that memory of that man away. The dreams continued, but they had changed. Now I was being chased by someone whose face I could never see. One day when I was 31 years old and working at a nursing home as a nurse, I was passing medications when I happened to notice the exit sign at the end of the hall. Two glowing eyes stared at me. My pulse began to race. The floor started spinning, and I couldn’t breathe. The next thing I remember was I was at home, undressing, my shift over.
I started seeing a psychologist for depression and I told her about the incident along with similar episodes. Through psychotherapy I have been able to completely regain the memory of that fateful night so long ago. I also found out that I had a dissociative disorder, and post traumatic stress syndrome. Basically whenever I was stressed I would lose time because another personality would take control of my mind. With the help of extensive psychotherapy I have come a long ways in over 14 years. All three of my personalities have met and integrated. However, they never told me that sometimes very strong personalities will appear to integrate and instead hide out. Or in my case integrate with the ability to split again. I found that out in 2011 when I was working the night shift at an assisted living facility. Just working nights messed with my ability to cope and I started becoming more & more stressed over my inability to cope; then I started losing time again I making terrible decisions. Finally to the point of losing my job!
I have finally let go of the fear of this man who traumatized me. Though I do not know for certain and perhaps I never will, I suspect the man at the window was none other than my mom’s old boyfriend Jim. Because he physically abused me as a child while my mom was at work, shoving my grandma out-of-the-way when she tried to stop him.
Although some of my innocence was lost that day I forgive him. To not forgive would hold me a prisoner of that day.