#WhenIBecameFree - My journey began at 5 yrs old

I once was a carefree little girl. Big eyes, long hair, and "oh so pretty," as so many would tell me. I was a girly girl in that I refused to wear pants, only dresses for me and I also refused to have the short hair that was becoming popular with some of my friends.

 I loved my dolls, my baby doll carriage and my Siamese cat, Kelly. Often I would dress up Kelly in my doll clothing and push him around my home in the baby carriage - he never argued.

At night, for bed, I would dress up in my prettiest nightgowns, the ones that made me feel like a princess when I wore them. I was a textbook little girl - innocent and wide-eyed.

Yes, no cares in the world - I was all smiles, smiles that is until the age of 5. That is when something happened to me that would change my life, and send me down a dark path riddled with ruts of doubt, predators waiting around turns, and air heavy with shame not allowing me to scream out for guidance and help.

At the tender and innocent age of five years old is when I was forced down a decades long path of fighting to be free.

The specific details of what happened are not important. A summary of the event will do. At the time we lived in Evanston, Illinois. We moved there from California when I was just two years old. We moved back to where my father had grown up and to be near his parents who were aging in years. I loved Evanston, and despite the horrific things that happened to me there, I still do love that city. A gorgeous lakefront, and a population that makes it a true melting pot. Northwestern University, beautiful churches, the "L" and interesting shops make it a place to call home.

The first apartment complex we lived in was near Chicago Avenue and Main St. Turn of the Century buildings with large windows, rooms and wood details throughout. In the center of the complex was a yard where people gathered, and children played.  Where I played.

I cannot remember exactly why I ran alone into the foyer of one of the buildings. I do remember I was playing a game with the other children, most likely a Hide and Seek type of game. I do remember that right after I entered that foyer He followed. He was the son of one of my mother's friends and he was 16 or 17 years old, maybe even a little older. Much older than I. To me he was like an adult. Someone I should listen to.

He backed me into a corner of that foyer and did things to me at the time I knew where wrong, but didn't know they even had a name or would be considered a crime. In a rather short time period he molested me and warned me to be "a good girl and not tell anyone or else," That "or else," to me, meant he would hurt me or my family.

That is when my carefree childhood existence, died. When those huge smiles ceased to be and when my shoulders started to grow weary from carrying a shame that was not mine to own. That is when the chatty girly girl turned silent.

It was not long after that incident my family moved to another part of Evanston. Yet another Turn of the Century building - an apartment at 900 Washington St A place I thought I would be happy at even though the secret went everywhere I did. Little did I know then there would be another neighbor who would target me, Him, I will discuss in another post.

As for the very first predator to lay hands on me, there would come a time again when he would cross my path. It would happen when I was 11 years old and living in yet a different city. It was the first day of middle school. The doors to my school bus opened and my mother was excited to see that the driver was someone she knew - then I realized who it was. It was Him. That realization was a trigger in me and for something, yet again, I didn't know existed - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and will be the topic of yet another post on my journey of #WhenIBecameFree. 

While the following song may seem sad and depressing, when it first came out in the mid 90's it was my go to song when I was on the path of healing from the child sexual abuse I endured. As most survivors know you have to dig deep to treat the wounds. This song helped me to see what I needed to, and for that I will always be grateful for it - it no longer causes me pain.


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