The telling and the taking

Unpacking my house today. Ive lived here a month so far. As I hung clothes in the closet I realized I have a lot of wierd quirks as a result of years in foster care. I never unpack. Not fully. It takes me weeks, sometimes months, before I bother living out of more than just a bag and Im always prepared to have to move again.

I still move in garbage bags and I can still pack everything I own in the space of an afternoon. You’d think that isnt that impressive but I live alone and can fill a three bedroom house. Out of all that stuff Im attached to very little. I can, and have, bolted at a moments notice and started over again just fine. I might weep slightly for the loss of my books but that’s about it.
And Bean, my big savage slobbering teddy bear, but the dog would go with me wherever I went so thats not an issue.

Anyway back on topic, back to the two wonderful years I spent at the Raines residence.

I always thought the Caroline knew what was going on. How could she not know? She asked constantly and I denied it. I dont know why. I dont know why I finally changed my mind and told either. She brought home a lot of videos and books about telling, the last one, the catalyst apparently, starred Henry Winkler. I dont know what it was called but I remember the Fonz clearly and have spent most of my life wishing there was some way to thank him for making that movie. We watched the movie in the rec room, myself and my two brothers and I went into the kitchen and told her everything.
To her credit she whisked us all out of that house in record time, all the while he slept in the master bedroom. We spent what I think was a few weeks at her friends in a tiny apartment making cakes and going to doctors appointments and RCMP interviews.  I remember, rather fuzzily, that the RCMP building had a moose on the wall and a lot of colouring books. I do remember Staff Sgt Bruce Brown, an amazing man who contacted me years later just to see how I was doing. I dont remember ever having to do the “show me on the doll” routine.

I was in Navy cadets at the time, allowed in before I was old enough because my older, adoptive, brother was one. I loved it. Shawn and I went away to cadet camp during this time and were gone ten days right in the thick of the interviews and associated cafluffle. I was spoiled rotten by the counsellors. I assume now that the leaders of the camp knew my home situation but at the time I simply thought I was super lucky. I remember the end of the camp most clearly and pulling into the base after the camp on a bus with the rest of the cadets and that moment where my heart stopped. As we pulled into the lot I noticed that our brown Suburban was in the parking lot. When we had left Fred, he had the Suburban and we had all bolted in the car. Instantly I was completely terrified. For me that meant he was there and he was going to be awfully mad I’d told and caused so much trouble. I refused to get off the bus and had to be convinced by both Shawn and one of our Instructors. Even remembering it today my stomach turns.

It’s strange really as I dont remember him clearly ever saying not to tell or that there would be consequences if I did or even that it was some sort of secret. I just knew and for two years I hadnt told a soul. I have regrets now about having told. It might have been easier to just grin and take it rather than face the nightmare that came after. It bothers me a little that I feel that way. For years I beat myself up over telling. Really, at that point, the abuse wasnt awful, I didnt invite it but it wasnt killing me. Given the disaster my life was afterwards it may have been the lesser of two evils.

Shortly after returning from camp my little brother and I were put back in foster care. Ostensibly to allow for Caroline to regain her footing and get her life back from the shambles my confession had caused. While we were away at camp there had been two separate four hour stand offs with SWAT and Fred at our house and at a friend of his, when they tried to arrest him. He’d threatened to kill himself and kill all of us and disrupted the entire neighbourhood the first time. We made the front page of every paper. We were famous for all the wrong reasons. I was a child, it meant nothing to me aside from all my friends at school wanted to know what had happened and I told them. I had no secrets anymore.

Then, with the return to foster care, we switched schools and slipped back into anonymity.

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