Back at the Dragonladys house, without my brother to direct her loathing, I became the target and finally knew what it was to endure daily, constant punishment and bullying. At first I tried hard to be good enough. I did any extra chores she needed, stayed out of the way, was quiet and good and tried to be everything she wanted me to be. Thus far in my life that strategy had worked but it was never enough. I was her little workhorse; a built in maid that she actually got paid to care for. I was ostracized in the same manner I had watched my brother be before we left for the last adoption. I ate at the counter. I stayed in my room unless I was doing chores. Punishments expanded to include cold showers and I was punished for things such as not being able to get the burnt food off the bottom of a pot, not vacuuming the living floor so that the lines left behind formed a shark-tooth pattern on the carpet, not filling the wood box up to the lid in a manner that the wood was piled a specific way or refusing to eat the plain oatmeal that served as my breakfast every day.
Unlike my poor little brother, so small and so used to and accepting of being abused, I started to fight back. This was new territory for me and I didnt like it. I was the Belle of the Ball and my brother was the bad one. I dont know now how much of the change in me was just a result of having had enough, or if it was age and puberty or if some sort of switch had finally been flicked. Prior to that moment all I wanted was to be wanted. All I wanted was to be good enough. All I wanted was a family that wanted me as much as I wanted them. I could sell myself to anyone and be anything they wanted me to be. If they wanted quiet I was quiet, if they wanted me to be confident I could do that too. If they wanted me as a sex object, well hell, I had an extensive skill set there. I had it all and was an accomplished chamelion with a pretty impressive manipulative streak.
And I was a survivor and a fighter and now the fight was on.
One of the Dragonladys favorite things to do was time the length of my showers. I had exactly five minutes from the time the bathroom door closed to get naked, shower and be back out the door or she came and in turned on the cold water. On one of her attempts to punish me for taking too long I fought my way out of the shower and still bear the scar of the door hardware slicing through my foot so deeply it probably should have been stitched. That was my last cold shower. She never tried it again. Oddly it’s cited repeatedly in my file that I had hygiene issues attributed to being a sexually abused child and not wishing to rub my own naked body. What? I remember having no such hang ups just a severe dislike of freezing cold water. I struggle now to try and think of a reason behind the cold showers and the resulting impression that I had poor hygiene. Why? How did presenting me as a typical abused child benefit anyone? The wooden spoon to the palms stopped shortly after that as well. Rebellion flared up in me. On one of the final attempts to make me hold encyclopedias I had a complete temper tantrum and was pinned to the floor with her sitting on my back. She was a very large woman, tipping the scales at over 200 lbs easily, I couldnt get back up but I managed to kick the crap out of her kidneys. I cant help but smile with pride and hope she remembers that moment as much as I do. Shortly after that I ran away and refused to go back. I’d run away before, repeatedly, and now was at the point where I was AWOL more than I was in residence. I spent a good deal of time in Kiwanis, a youth shelter, until the government figured out what to do with me. Generally that meant a day or two cooling off before I was returned to the Dragonlady. This was the routine for the last few months until my final refusal to return.
The Dragonlady was, according to the file anyway, an accomplished liar. Once again I struggle to try and figure out why no one questioned the difference between her reports and that of anyone else. According to her I developed an issue with “wetting my bed as well as my pants.” I remember no such issue nor does anyone else report this problem. I was “overly energetic and reacted incorrectly to boys.” I remember being a book worm and having a small circle of female friends and not really being around boys much at all. They still had cooties at that age.
This difference of opinion was questioned once to my knowledge and only to me. I had a camp counsellor at Camp Thunderbird summer camp pull me aside and show me what had been written about me. I would have been about fourteen at the time. The first line of the paragraph is burned into my brain “Melodie has been sexually abused and acts inappropriately around boys.” No other explanation was given. My camp counsellor found this odd since I had been at camp for 2 weeks and not so much as given any boy the time of day, nor showed any interest in such things. We both puzzled over what that meant exactly. She assured me that, as far as she was concerned, I was totally normal. She was one of the first people in my early life to do that.
Privately I realized that the abuse I had suffered would be used to define who I was for the rest of my life. I realized, in that moment, that every person I met associated with foster care or school would know my history. I could either own the label or accept the stigma. From that point on I had no secrets. From that point on my whole self image fundamentally changed.
On the upside of my final year and a half at the Dragonladys I had discovered horses. They provided my escape from everything else in my life. I sort of stumbled on horses by default having basically attached myself to a barn down the road until the owner probably took pity on me and decided to teach me how to be around them before I got myself killed and he was nailed with a liability suit. This began a whole new chapter, separate from my daily life. The Krulls were amazing and had me enroll in Pony Club as well as lease their older horse. I learned a ton. Horses became my sanctuary. They didnt judge me nor did the people in that world. They knew nothing of my history, nothing of the labels I came with, or if they did they hid it very well, and I revelled in the freedom the anonymity provided.
This is also the point where my life really became a bit of a shit storm. Mostly self inflicted and, in hindsight, due to the fact that I knew everyone I encountered had already made a judgement about me based on my history. My final escape route from the Dragonlady had been to hide out at my best friends house. Her mother tolerated my presence but it was not a long term solutions. It took five weeks for the Ministry to find somewhere to put me. I spent a couple months in a receiving home. The Edwards were amazing and I loved it there but, as a receiving home, my stay was limited and so I was shuffled off again.