|Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 10, 2009||Chapters:||...40 41 -42- 43...|
Valerie's downhill spiral continues.
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
Sexually abused as a child Valerie was raised in a family that refused to acknowledge the abuse. As an adult, Valerie shows serious psychological damage from the abuse. Her marriage is falling apart
"Change is inevitable. Change is constant."
It was only nine o'clock in the morning but the temperature outside was already 80 degrees. It was going to be a very hot day. I debated whether to stay inside and clean the house where it was cool, or work in the garden under the hot sun. I opened the door and stepped out onto the front porch. I glanced down the street and saw my neighbor Sandy coming toward me. My heart skipped a beat, I immediately turned around, and went back inside the house. I turned off the kitchen light and sat down on the floor beside the kitchen window to hide.
Sandy, the mother of Tina and Sarah's best friends, was a sweet but eccentric woman. My neighbors included two physicians, a psychologist, two lawyers, and a retired army colonel, a dentist and two architects. Like me, Sandy was just a housewife. We really didn't socially fit in. Everyone pretended to like Sandy, but behind her back, she was the brunt of cruel jokes and ridicule. Once, a neighbor laughingly described her as having the social graces of a warthog in heat. Their treatment of her was shameful.
During the summer, the neighborhood often threw large block parties. Unknown to me, everyone, except Sandy, was invited. Families would gather in the backyard of designated house to enjoy a meal of potato salad, baked beans, hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecued chicken and a dozen other delicious items. The previous year I met Sandy at the neighborhood Safeway and asked her what she was bringing to the block party.
"What party? No one told me about a block party," she exclaimed, looking bewildered.
"It must have just been an oversight." I then told her where and when it was being held and who was hosting it.
When Sandy showed up, the neighbors were shocked and, quite upset. They didn't try to hide the fact she was not wanted there. Sandy was not a pretty woman. She was overweight, spoke with a strong Dutch accent and had a loud irritating laugh. But she was a kind person and had a good heart. When she tried to engage in simple conversation with the women in the neighborhood, they ignored her and giggled when she walked away. My heart ached for her and when she suddenly disappeared from the party without saying goodbye, I was ashamed for not standing up for her. I never attended another block party after that day.
Still hiding on the floor in my kitchen, I suddenly heard a loud knock on the front door. My heart began to race and I found myself gasping for breath. Adrenaline pumped through my body causing me to feel lightheaded. A shrill ringing in my ears gave me a headache.
What was wrong with me? Why did I panic every time I saw someone walking down the street? Sandy had never given me reason to fear her so, why did I freak out when I saw her?
I sat on the kitchen floor for more than an hour before finally peaking out the window. Sandy was gone but my heart was still racing and my headache had turned into a full-blown migraine. I took ten aspirins and went to bed.
I walked over to the bassinet and looked down at little Tina who was smiling up at me. She was beautiful. My heart swelled with love as I watched her wiggle her nose and giggled as a tiny squeal softly escaped from her chest. Carefully, I picked her up and cradled her in my arms. As I kissed her on the cheek tears of joy streamed down my cheeks. Suddenly I felt my hands go limp, Tina slipped from my grasp, and fell crashing to the floor. I shrieked in horror and desperately tried to pick her up, but my hands refused to respond. Frantic I began to call for help but there was no one around to hear me. I looked up toward heaven and begged God to help me, but as usual, he wasn't listening.
I opened my eyes to find myself covered in perspiration, my heart was beating frantically, and although I knew it was just another nightmare, the horror of dropping Tina was still with me. I dreamed the same nightmare a hundred times.
It was 8 o'clock in the morning. The girls had just left for school. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. Tired from another restless night of more nightmares, I couldn't decide whether to go back to bed or force myself to get dressed. Doing the simplest things became an effort. Just getting dressed was a major accomplishment for me. I slowly sipped my coffee and mulled over the disaster my life had become.
As usual, I was not hungry. I lit another cigarette. I took a long drag and told myself, tomorrow I should try to quit smoking.
A cold shiver went down my spine remembering when Lee, my ex-boyfriend, locked me in my room for two days demanding I quit smoking. Since then, every time I thought about quitting, I was immediately filled with rage, and over powered with a desperate need to light up a cigarette. My anger was directed at Lee for locking me in my room and my parents for allowing him to do it. Since then, I could never seem to muster up the will power to quit.
I looked up at the clock and wasn't surprised to see it was already 10:20. Lately time seemed to slip away. I found myself sitting in a chair for hours yet it felt like only a few minutes had passed. I usually spent the entire day doing nothing. I considered it a good day if I brushed my teeth and had enough energy left to start dinner twenty minutes before Richard arrived home from work.
Other days I would wake up in the morning filled with a terrible sadness so overwhelming that I often cried for hours. Sometimes I didn't even know why I was sad. If Richard suggested we go to a movie I found excuses to stay home, but encouraged him to take the girls. I preferred to be alone. I seldom left the house.
"Valerie, you need help. You have become a zombie. You don't sleep, don't eat, seldom get dressed, never smile, and walk around in a daze. You have to tell me what's wrong."
Richard and I had had this conversation before and my answer was always the same, "Nothing's wrong. I'm fine."
Richard shook his head. "No, you are not fine."
He got up and poured himself a cup of coffee, took a sip and then said, "I'm worried about you. I think you need to talk to someone. You obviously won't talk to me."
I sighed and rolled my eyes.
"Richard, I'm fine, really,” I said. “Just give me a few days and I'll be back to my cheery old self."
Richard shrugged his shoulders and left the room. I knew he was right but the idea of talking to a stranger frightened me. Shame alone kept me from telling anyone what my father had done. Telling a total stranger about my irrational fear of people passing by or about my absurd fear of mailboxes would surely convince them I was crazy. I would just have to work harder at putting the past behind me. Maybe then, the nightmares, migraines and insane phobias would finally go away.
Unfortunately, they only got worse. Little, by little my marriage began to fall apart. I knew it was just a matter of time before it would end.
Earned A Seal Of Quality
For those not familiar with the signs of serious depression, Valerie's symptoms are classic. No appitite, poor sleeping habits, irrational fears, mood swings, no energy, not getting dressed or staying in bed all day are just a few of the symptoms.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
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