Monday, January 3, 2011

Post 6- Meet Anne Frank, My best friend.

Dear Journal,

My third grade teacher knew I loved to read. I read through all of the class books in a matter of weeks. I could literally finish a novel in a day or two. I ran into the building from recess that day and into the classroom, and that is when she introduced me to Anne Frank. She gave me a copy of the book and told me about Anne. She told me she had been up all night the night of the fieldtrip thinking about me and my situation. She said normally she wouldn't introduce the holocaust to a nine-year-old, but I was more mature for my age then any nine-year-old she had ever met, and she thought I needed Anne at that point in my life. She also gave me a black and white composition book. That conversation with my teacher changed my life forever that is the day when I began to journal. And my journals would become my best friends. My first journal, I wrote to Anne. I pretended she was alive and sitting next to me and we were exchanging words.

I stayed up all night that night and finished "The Diary of Anne Frank." I felt like Anne. I know that sounds stupid, but I felt like I could relate to her. I felt like I was hiding in an attic. I felt like my entire world had been picked up, shaken and I was forced into hiding. I didn't comprehend right away the seriousness of the holocaust, because, that is not touched on as much in her diary. At that moment Anne was a girl, who was like me, and could relate to me.

I wrote to Anne every day. I wrote to her in class when Amanda was being mean. I wrote to her at night when I was tired of eating ice cream. I wrote to her when I was picked up for my weekly visits and driven the three hours to see one and then my other parent in prison. I wrote to her when I missed my sister. I wrote to her and wrote to her and wrote to her.

And I wrote to her on the way to my new group home a week later.

My caseworker came to school to get me. All of my things were packed in the back of her car. She was taking me to a group home. She didn't have time to find me a foster home, and besides who was left that would want me? I was an "older" kid, at nine, hard to place. She let me know how I ruined another placement, asked me what was wrong with me. Why was I so bad? Why was I so unlovable? I remember she had plans that weekend and I was ruining them because I ruined everything. She yelled at me the entire time we were on the way to my new home, a group home, for children who were one step away from being thrown in jail. Most of them had been arrested at least once before. And now it was being used as a go between for state foster kids. Because, you know, being with juvenile delinquents was going to teach us better behavior and coping methods, right?

I was the youngest child at the group home, by five years. All the other kids in my "cabin" adopted me. The other kids were super nice but I didn't open up to any of them. I kept to myself, I read my books, and I hung out at the farm. The farm on property had horses, dogs, and lots of farm animals. I'd help out, and I'd bring a book. I'd sit with my back to the door of a horse stall and the horses head would be right above me. I would pretend he was reading over my shoulder. The barn workers constantly told me I had a natural way with the animals. The dogs would come running when I'd round the corner. Animals were amazing. Animals never hurt me. Animals loved me unconditionally. They wouldn't reject me.

And neither would Anne.

So I continued to write to her. I discovered the "Box Car Children" series that year. When I finished them I read the "Orphan Train" series. I was constantly looking for others to relate to, who could understand what I went through. I continued to visit my parents in maximum security prison, I continued to go to therapy and get in staring contests with my therapist, and I continued to journal. No one would take that away from me. No matter what happened, I always had my pen and paper. Security in words. Security in books. The only security I had in my young life.

I discovered the holocaust while at the group home. I truly discovered it. I found a book on Auschwitz. I was entranced. I was nine and I had an obsession with the holocaust. I read everything I could get my hands on. I felt relieved. How sick, and twisted is that? I had been physically and sexually abused to the point that my step father was sentenced to prison for life and my mother was serving a sentence in a maximum security woman's prison. And I had never met anyone else who had gone through the same things I had. I wouldn't talk about the abuse to anyone, at the time that was my secret. Holocaust victims had gone through so much, had suffered such cruelty, and I was relieved that other people had gone through worse than me and had survived, had overcome, and endured. I was nine-years-old. I didn't understand the magnitude. I didn't understand the horrors. I didn't comprehend it fully. And later I would be ashamed for being relieved, but at nine, I was simply wanting someone to relate to my pain, and in these books I could find the millions of someone's who could. I don't expect anyone to understand that. I read every book the library had on the holocaust, then sent out for the rest through inter library loan. This obsession went on for years until 8th grade when I met a holocaust survivor and my perception changed. That's a story for another day.

I remember clearly the day that it clicked that Anne Frank was dead. I was crushed. I was still nine, I was still at the group home. I had worn out my copy of "The Diary of Anne Frank" and had gone in search for another copy at the library. I found an entire row on Anne Frank. I found a biography. I sat in the middle of the isle, on the floor, cross legged, eating up every word. There were lots of photos and I was excited to see them. Until I found out how Anne died, in Bergen Belsen, a death camp, with her sister Margot. I felt the wind go out of me.

Tears cursed down my cheeks. I can count the number of times I've let people see me cry on my fingers. This was twice in one year. I was ashamed of the tears and tried wiping them away as fast as they were coming.

I must have cried out loud, for the librarian was standing beside me. She knew me by name.

"Did you know?" I asked her

"Know what?" She asked me. I pointed to the words. She nodded. I didn't know why no one had told me. I didn't know why my teacher gave me a book without the ending, mine didn't have the end, not this end. It was just the diary, and I guess at some point I never thought to find out what happened. I had a happily ever ending in my head. I thought Anne had escaped, proved them all wrong, survived. I think realistically I didn't want to know, I didn't want to find out. I wanted my friend to win because I wanted to win.

I thought she was the victor.

And she died. She betrayed me. I know, doesn't make sense. How someone who died over thirty years before I was born had betrayed me. But she did and I punished her by never writing her again. Man, I showed her.

I know silly thoughts of a nine-year-old girl. But I was tired. I was tired of being disappointed, tired of being abandoned, even my make believe friends were letting me down.

I learned a lot that year. I learned that to depend on other people will hurt. You must only depend on yourself. I learned about friendship, I learned about family, I learned about love. I learned all the wrong things about all of it. And unfortunately, those feelings would be reinforced over the years.

My ninth year was one of the most defining years of my life.

Twenty eight years later and I still fight the lessons I learned that year. I still fight the feelings that come cursing back to me, the feelings of Amanda, Indiana, and Anne Frank.

But I never stopped writing.

I never said my blogs would make sense. But I can tell you that writing this all out has given me an unbelievable feeling. I can't vocalize a lot of this out loud, I may never be able to. But the other day my friend Jess gave me the gift of "listening" to me as I rambled on and on about the past and about some of the things I went through. And I felt relief and I felt good about sharing it. I found that I need to get it out, in any way I can. I decided to blog it. Maybe it will show some insight. I don't want pity. I don't even want understanding. I just want it out.

As life went on and as I grew older I began to reanalyze the events that occurred back in third grade. Why hadn't my teacher said anything to Amanda's mother? Why had she let this behavior go on? Why did she let me get singled out and tortured in class? Why didn't my foster mother go to the school and stand up for me? Why did the teachers at recess stand next to the doors, talking, instead of protecting me? There are lots of questions to ask but I could never come up with an answer. Why was my case worker so God awful and put thoughts in to my head that would affect me for decades to come? Why did Gail not want me anymore, why I was I so awful that they got rid of me instead of keeping me in their forever home?

I was eighteen when I was able to get the answer to the last two questions. Gail and Judy were in a head on collision earlier that day, they both died, and thus I was moved. Of course, the caseworker didn't tell me that. I am not sure if she thought I wasn't old enough to understand, or just angry that her weekend was spent moving me, but instead she took it out on me and led me to believe I was unlovable, unwanted, and nothing but a huge hassle.

I know my last few blogs have been heavy. They won't all be like this. But I think this year is my year to really discover, rediscover myself and I plan on doing so. We can't always pee out butterflies. I cant always be positive, bubbly Bekah. But I can be real. And right now I need to be real, and right now I need my journal, my old friend, my best friend, my friend that has never let me down.

I don't even care if anyone reads this. Although, there are some in my life I really want to understand me better, to decide with all the facts, come to a verdict if I am worth keeping around, but in the end I am writing this for me, just me, just my heart and soul. And I hope at the end of it I will be a better person for it.

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  1. And some of your friends will continue to be here and will cheer you on through all of this! As much of a fixer as I am, I now understand why I can't help fix your problems, but can only cheer you on. You are the artistic mess in my very analytical and orderly life, but I love all your messiness and wouldn't change our friendship for the world! You're my real world battle buddy and sister, we've got those ties that bind!

  2. We are so much alike in so many ways. I was completely obsessed with learning everything I could about the Holocaust and I still have a 3 inch binder full of information tucked away in my closet. I can't tell you how many times I've read the Diary of Anne Frank and researched about her and her life (and death). Journaling was also my outlet growing up and still is to this day. And I couldn't get ENOUGH of The Boxcar Children and I actually want to buy all of the books so that my future kids can read them. I love you even more now :)