On The Edge of the Window
I stood at the edge of the window in my family’s fifth-floor apartment and wondered if I could fly. Just a few hours earlier, after enjoying yet another dream with my beloved and beautiful brown eagle, I made up my mind that today would be the day. Today I would finally be brave. Today I was going to fly away.
Most of the time, I considered Sundays to be my favorite day of the week. I would spend them alone watching over my baby brother which I felt was a wonderful way to spend a weekend. I always cherished Sundays the most because unlike the rest of the week, we were left alone and we were able to do the fun things that we weren’t allowed to do on any other day.
Even though this was the fifteenth day in a row and I hadn’t been allowed to go outside, I still felt strangely happy and joyful.
from the moment I woke up that morning. In fact, I somehow knew that this day was going to be different and unique even though I hadn’t yet figured out what it was that made me feel that way. After all, I was only a little over eight-years-old, and I did not understand everything in this world so easily. Despite my predicament, and despite the distractions of my one-year-old baby brother who was needy and quite a handful, my mind was still so full of hope. I yearned for brighter days.
It was now 11 a.m. and my regular morning routine was finished. It usually took about three hours to complete my chores, but on Sundays, they always took longer because I would pause to play with the baby and have fun. It felt better to be doing things around the house at my own speed without the pressure of adults watching over my shoulder. And now even my baby brother was happy, sporting a set of fresh, clean clothes and a rounded belly full of food.
I looked down from the window and could see my friends and classmates playing outside as they usually did on the weekend. I, on the other hand, couldn’t go outside. It wasn’t just be-cause my parents had forbidden it, but it was also because I didn’t want to leave my brother alone. So all I could do was watch everyone from my balcony window and enjoy the bright summer sunbeams as they shone through the glass and warmed my face.
Chapter One – First Five Years
I went into the foster care system with my oldest biological sister because we were severely neglected. I did not learn the specifics, but it was bad enough to be covered on the news in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I went to my first foster home when I was between two and three years old. My sister who I went into foster care with is two years younger than I am, so this move did not affect her in the same way. Our first foster home was meant to be a temporary placement for my sister and I until we went back to our biological family or got adopted.
Being removed from my biological family had a negative impact on my behavior. I had built strong bonds with some members of my biological family, so losing them caused me great pain that manifested itself in the form of anger. One member of my biological family I had strong bonds with was my maternal grandfather. He would give me a lot of attention and I would get very upset anytime he left. The manner I expressed my anger about being separated from my family were not acceptable. This resulted in punishment for me; I was made to stand in the corner.
My biological sister and I moved into our first adoptive home about a year after entering the foster care system. Our parents had their rights terminated and this was a closed adoption, so there was no further contact with our biological family after leaving our first foster home. Our first adoptive parents were amazing people who had their own biological daughter who was older than I was. The anger I developed within the last year intensified further and I became violent towards both of my sisters.
My first adoptive parents tried their best to help me control my anger, but it was too intense for them to handle without professional help. My first adoptive parents tried many different strategies to help me improve before they resorted to professional help.
Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. and Robin Personette
CHAPTER ONE – THE MELTDOWN
The story begins with a phone call from Robin. She and I had been working together in therapy for almost ten years. She usually didn’t call between sessions, partly because she was very aware of and careful about boundaries, but also because severe anxiety about making phone calls was one of her symptoms. If she ever called it was only to reschedule an appointment, which was a rare occurrence.
“I’m not doing well. Can I see you sometime today or tomorrow?” Robin asked. I was stunned. This was huge. She had never been this blunt about feeling bad, or this direct about asking to see me.
“What’s going on?” I asked, trying to hide my surprise.
“I don’t want to talk about it right now. I’ll explain when I see you,” she said. Her voice sounded flat, like she was depressed, which was typical for her at that time. She did not sound overly distressed.
“I’m booked today, but have an opening tomorrow at noon,” I said. “Is that soon enough? Are you okay?”
“That’ll be fine. I’ll be okay,” she replied with her voice continuing to sound flat. In retrospect I should have canceled my other clients and squeezed her in that day, knowing how significant it was for her to make this request. But, she said she would be okay. I knew her well and trusted her to be honest with me.
At that time Robin was a 36-year-old, single woman who lived alone and worked as a case manager at a mental health agency in a neighboring county. I was a busy psychologist in the prime of my career, working at a large community mental health center with a full caseload of adult therapy clients. When I walked toward the waiting room at noon the day after her unusual phone call, I knew Robin would be there. She was always on time for her appointments. Always.
When I saw her I immediately knew something was very wrong. Robin was sitting with her head in her hands, looking exhausted. After she got into my office and started talking, I immediately noticed her speech was slurred. She looked very anxious with her leg vigorously bouncing, a sign of her significant anxiety I had seen many times before. I asked what had happened that led to her call the previous day.
“I went to work Monday morning and got a voice mail from my boss,” she said. “She had left it on Friday afternoon. She was saying what a good job I do and how valuable a team member I am, and how important my contributions are. It made me start crying and I couldn’t stop.” Robin said she told a co-worker she wasn’t feeling well and then just went home.
Robin had been depressed for the previous year. I knew she had not been sleeping well, and I knew she had been having suicidal thoughts. Her psychiatrist and I had been trying different medication options to get her significant depression under control, without much success. It had been frustrating for all of us, since medication is usually an effective form of treatment for depression, and Robin had always responded well to antidepressant medications in the past.
There is, of course, a more apt description—the manmade version. Junction City is also a town that seldom listened or looked into the plaintive faces that were trying to reach for the American dream. Imagine, for a moment, 1962 when it was an Ozzie and Harriet world clinging to the old-school, mom-and- pop values with the devil center stage; who doesn’t go anywhere without God, the Bible, church on Sunday morning— you better watch out, you better not pout—with an Oh Henry! candy bar, a white hanky and a yoyo in his pocket.
It was a time when divorce was so unpopular that if a married couple split up after 40 years of marriage it made the national news; homosexuals were called queers and fairies, and African- Americans were referred to as “Colored” politely and nigger whenever they wanted.
The “N” word had a unique dexterity in African-American lexicon and could be used affectionately, i.e., “my nigga;” pejoratively, “Black shiny nigger;” or politically, “nigga, please.” Women were tethered with aprons and the lack of birth-control pills; the word, ecology, entered our consciousness for the first time, John Glenn orbited the earth..
Steven L. Werder
Before my life as a teenager, not much of anything happened.
I was, for the most part, good and rarely got into much trouble.
But when my teenage years came upon me, I was pulled into another world. A world that existed at night.
Whether that was night world was good or bad, right or wrong, it’s for me to know and for you to decide. A night world that existed for me in Callaway County, Missouri. This is my story…
I find it quite easy to remember back through the years, even back as far as three years old, although my short-term memory right now is a bit hit and miss. I am a visual person and the pictures of my past come flooding back very vividly as I recall events and experiences from my life, which is quite useful when writing this, my memoir.
I’ll try to keep to the facts, and the inspiring or emotional things that help it to flow, and not become boring, even though I have limited school education.
I’ll start with Christmas 1963. I was three years old then, although I was born in 1959. I received a pedal car from Santa. I was absolutely overjoyed at getting it, because it was exactly what I had dreamed of, and more!
It was red in colour and made of tin I presume. A typical old style, kids pedal car that you might now see occasionally on the Antiques Road Show. Wow! Was I happy! I couldn’t wait to give it a go.
We lived in a two up—two down terraced house in a small town in the North East of England UK. It was a nice friendly sort of place as I remember, and my Mum and Dad seemed quite happy to me at that time. We didn’t have a garden, we had a yard, which led out into an entry.
I took my new pedal car out into the entry, and away I went, pushing like mad at the metal pedals, where my feet fitted snuggly, and ‘bombed off’ down the entry. I’ll bet my face was a picture, as I was grinning from ear to ear with excitement. In fact, I do have a picture of me in it, and may end up using it for all to see.
After a while I remember needing the loo, probably from all the excitement, like a little puppy when it greets its owner who’s been away all day, and has now come home. So I went inside.
On my return, my beautiful little peddle car had been stolen! I can remember to this day the disappointment, sadness, and sheer horror that it had been taken. That was the first of many disappointments and immense sadness that I would experience in the journey of my life.
I recently told a friend about this moment, and his answer was, “what sort of **** would do such a terrible thing to a little boy.” He was right of course. At that tender age I thought the world was full of nice people.
Of course it is not. It was a very sad way of finding that out. I, of course, went back to being the nice little boy that I was, being brought up by my loving Mum, still totally oblivious to the fact that life was going to become harsh!