On with the Isolation Tank post, have I or someone close to me been arrested? Someone close has been arrested and in direct correlation to me. Those details will remain private. However, I will share a tale directly associated with my time spent in jail, although I was never arrested.
As we know, I've spent the majority of my life in a struggle with my mother. Our relationship has never been carefree. Even now, we watch words and strain to avoid hurting feelings. It's during teenage years that our relationship began its most tumultuous time.
We lived in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in the enlisted family housing of the Marine Corps base. It was homecoming week for my high school including daily spirit day dress. On that day, it was the Sixties and I was dressed superbly as a hippie. I'm not sure of the exact reason we were fighting that time. Those details are fuzzy but everything set it off between us during those times. And the fighting wasn't specific to mom and me....Pop was involved too. Still dressed in my hippie clothes save shoes, I climbed out of my bedroom window and walked around housing after whatever fight it was.
Soul full of rage and despair and my face red with tears, I walked...and walked....and walked. I never left the housing area. I saw my mother's red Chrysler Lebaron drive the streets as she, no doubt, was looking for me. And knowing full well that Mom would find me there, I went to my friend's house.
Beth's mom, Elaine was a lighthouse for me. She listened to me when I needed an adult, a mother figure who eased my pain when I needed. She became my surrogate during those years; and time and time again, Elaine offered advice and safety during rough times. My mother was quite jealous of the relationship. She always managed to make me feel guilty for it. Mom hadn't gotten there yet so when I sat down to talk to Elaine, I felt I had a few moments to calm down before she would collect me.
Only a few moments. Very brief moments. Soon, my mother was standing at the door with her purse in her hand. I was sitting in one of Elaine's blue swivel side chairs as my mom stood at the door with a face swollen with rage. She had a look that was entirely too familiar. That look that preceded her beating me. The tension in her facial muscles. The grip off her fingers. I had but a brief pause to say aloud, "Go ahead! Go ahead and hit me!"
Within a second, my mother flew across the room and with the same expert swing of an epic battlefield warrior, she swung her heavy purse. It landed with precision against my face and without rest, like there was no concept of linear time, the purse struck again and again. I don't know how she was on top of me and striking me at the same time with that bulky bag. I remember Elaine and her husband were there trying to separate our forms. Beth was standing somewhere there, perhaps at the hall's entrance. She was crying, I think. I heard voices but don't remember what was being said.
Somehow, we were removed from our hostile embrace. Then I heard words that struck my heart like a poisoned arrow. Elaine yelled that my mother was right. I was doing all this for attention. My soul sank. Every adult in my life was or had abandoned me. I was lost. I was damaged. I knew this from my early childhood. And all I sought was someone to love me and value me and confirm that my place on this earth was justified.
I fled from the house to the front yard. It was probably after ten in the evening. I started yelling obscenities and calling out for the adults in the house to call the cops. Call the cops before I do something worse. Pacing back and forth in the yard, I yelled and cried and suffered. I picked up Beth's little brother's tricycle and threw it at my mother's car. I called out again for the cops. I wanted nothing more of that place and knew I had no other options. I waited.
The military police showed up along with emergency personnel. I approached the MP's car with my hands out and my wrists linked skin to skin. I wanted to be removed. With no resistance, I climbed into the back of the car. I leaned my head against window and seat. Exhausted, I cried with no sound.
I don't remember the walk from the car to the holding area. Blurred. I remember no words from anyone at that time. They sat me down in the cold cell in a cold chair at a cold table. My clothes were tattered. Those jeans that were roughed at the knee just perfectly for the hippie day was then slashed from the top of my thigh to below the knee. I sat there for hours. Alone. I was ignored. I was not offered solace. No one came to check on me for the longest time.
I sat there freezing. When someone did come to me, I told them I was cold. They left and returned with a blanket. Anyone who has an association with the military understands this particular blanket. It's wool and itchy. It's for warmth but used on top of a sheet or something of comfort. This one was dirty and smelled of fuel and trunks. It was half its size having been torn, and its remaining piece was tattered and worn. It was the only comfort I had that night. It was thrown at me but some unremembered person who left quickly after.
It was approximately four in the morning when an officer came in and sat at the table with me. It seemed surreal. It still does. He told me I had a few options. I could go home and forget it all happened. I could go to a local facility and be locked up. I could go to my friend's house and then talk to counseling that morning. All I had ever wanted was someone to help me with the problems I was having. I wanted relief from my home. From my family. From my own emotions. With hope, I chose the last.
They drove me back to Elaine's house. I remember Elaine standing at the door waiting. Mixed emotions. I hated her for what seemed like a betrayal, and I needed her to comfort me. I just wanted normalcy and love. She talked with me for a couple of hours before I crawled into bed beside Beth. Beth said some simple things to me that probably expressed everything about the hours before. Full of concern but unable to describe the confusion. Something simple like, "Are you ok?" And then I slept.
Hours later I woke, took a shower, and walked into a building with a lighter heart. I thought I was going to be saved. Instead I was institutionalized. I was fifteen.