Good morning. Come on in. Yesterday I started telling you about the relationship with my father. I hope you want to read more. The picture above is misleading. Except for one sassy remark and a resulting slap across my face, I never stood up to my father. But there was constant conflict. Inside I was constantly silently screaming. This may not be a happy story but the way I feel today it does have a happy ending.
To continue my story from yesterday, as a youngster it was discovered in third grade that I could sing. The music teacher took an interest in me. In fifth grade I was allowed to practice with the seventh and eighth grade choir, although I didn’t perform with them. I LOVED to sing and perform. I would participate (without any family present) at the school carnival talent shows. I sang at church. I sang at home. In eighth grade the choir director chose me and two others to sing a separate vocal part while the rest of the choir sang “Silent Night” in the Christmas program. I was confident that surely my father would come to this performance. He had a meeting. I had no way to get to school. I called a friend, I don’t remember who, and lied to her saying I had an asthma attack, which I often did, and I couldn’t go. Then I went to my room and cried. I never heard how the performance went.
I swear that was the night that my voice started to change. I have always chosen to believe that it was due to the constant allergy drainage down my throat, but in reality I don’t think it was. My spirit was being sucked out of my body. In high school I tried out for a singing combo and didn’t even finish the song before being told thank you. I did sing with the girl’s choir as a junior and my senior year, with the varsity choir, but my voice was never again strong enough for a solo. I kind of blended in.
There was nothing said about my school work as I was growing . I didn’t know it was OK to ask for help when I didn’t understand. I usually did my homework by myself after school or in high school, after supper, when others had retired to their bedrooms. I remember once in grade school bringing home a couple of Bs. I was walking home with someone else and I said, “My dad is going to kill me for this report card.” I knew better but I wanted to pretend someone cared. I gave it to him, he turned it over to the back and signed it without even looking at the grades or commenting. Most of my report cards had more As than Bs. He never ever noticed.
He did come to my eighth grade graduation. I guess he knew I had to be there that time. I don’t remember anything special about that night. There was no big celebration. The class had a party afterwards so he just went on home. I stayed for a while but I was not exactly in any group so I was more or less by myself. I was ranked tenth in the class for grades because in seventh grade I went through the usual “boring” attitude about school. In eighth grade I snapped back. Because I slid through 7th, I fell down in rank. I felt like a failure. It didn’t cross my mind there were fifty five other kids ranked lower than I was. No one in my family ever commented that I had done pretty darn well.
By the time I reached high school, communication between myself and my father had reached an absolute minimum. I was allowed by this time to use the department store credit card so no one had to spend time going with me and helping me shop anymore. The catch was, by this time I felt so invisible that I believed I was unworthy of buying anything in the young adult section of the store. I did all my shopping in the bargain basement among the leftovers, when I did shop, wanting to excuse myself for needing clothes. I came home with outfits, which I did wear, that were often too old for me, but they were cheap and the fit. No one said a word.
My father had no interest in driving any of my classmates and me to school or community functions. When I got my driver’s license, borrowing the car was out of the question. It didn’t take long before others got tired of always providing transportation for me so I was often dropped from social activities. My cousin was a senior by this time and she occasionally drove me to school events, but often I just stayed home.
I had just simply disappeared at home and at school. I was on the edge of three different social groups but not in any of them. My senior year was almost my last year. My father delighted in reminding me my sister had made National Honor Society her junior year. Only ten out of our class did make it that year. The rest were seniors. I was completely serious about being elected so I was doing everything I possibly could for extra curricular activities plus trying to keep my grades up, so I too could be a member of NHS.
That spring my AP sociology class did a sociogram to determine groups in our senior class. When it was done I looked for my name. The idea was to name three classmates you’d like to ride with on a bus trip. I named one person in each of the three groups. No one named me. I found myself in the corner of the chart by myself. That proved to me I was a nobody and invisible. It didn’t matter if I lived or died. No one would even notice.
The following week was spring break and I was home alone. The housekeeper had quit two years before. It was April, the worst month of the year. I felt so cold and alone, the pain was almost impossible to stand. The box freezer was in the basement and almost empty. No one would expect to find me there. I stripped off my clothes and climbed in, the temperature feeling warmer than that of the emotional air in the house. I realized the handle didn’t lock but I figured a way to loop twine around it and pull. I was so despondent I couldn’t even climb back out to get the twine. I curled up ready to fall asleep and escape my intolerable world. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow. Lots to do today. Namaste. Attic Annie