What are “turning points” in one’s life? They are the times when something happens that alters your personality, they shape who you become. They can be either positive or negative. They are “significant events in your life that have shaped your character or destiny.” – MIT.edu on Turning Points assignment in below link
From an assignment on MIT.edu: “It is important to take time to consider past events in our lives that have had a major impact on us so that we better understand who we are today. Sometimes we aren’t very conscious of those times and when we stop to really examine them, we are surprised by how much impact they have had, especially the painful ones.” – https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/experimental-study-group/es-240-composing-your-life-exploration-of-self-through-visual-arts-and-writing-spring-2006/assignments/turning_points/
I was six years old when my cousins trapped me in a sleeping bag and hung me on the wall in the garage in it. I was left like that until my aunt and uncle got home the next morning. I had been in there so long that I had to use the bathroom in it while I screamed for them to come get me down. I was mortified. I was filthy, wet, and felt like I was dying of thirst. They left me down there like that with no water to drink, no way to get out, and in the dark. It was then that I learned I couldn’t trust anyone. I became a very suspicious child after that. Anytime anyone wanted me to “come here,” I was afraid to. What if they did something bad to me like trap me somehow? I was scared of everyone’s motives that wanted me to go anywhere with them or do anything for them. To this day it is still hard for me to trust anyone.
When I was seven I had to go live with my mother and her boyfriend. He liked beating her and me both. She didn’t protect me. Just sat quietly with her head down, refusing to look at me even though I would beg her to make him stop. That was the same year that I had to sleep outside, eat outside, and live outside.
My mother and her boyfriend lived in Missouri far out in the middle of nowhere in a one bedroom trailer when my father brought me to my mother and practically dumped me out of the car. My dad had to take my dog, Babe, back with him because all the dogs there wanted to attack her and hurt her. It tore me to pieces to see my dad take Babe away from me like that but she couldn’t stay there. Hell, I shouldn’t have been allowed to stay there.
Mother’s boyfriend was not at all happy that I was there. He made the rules there and after my dad left he laid down the law. I was only allowed in his house if I was cleaning it. I could sleep outside with the dogs because that is where I belonged. I don’t know why he felt this way about me. I had never done anything to him. So outside I went.
I got along with the dogs pretty well. They surrounded me each night, accepting me into their pack basically, and protecting me. That summer I slept out under a tree that was huge and beautiful. When it rained I would lay under the truck until it stopped. I dared not fall asleep under it though because he would happily run me over, I believe.
I bathed in the creek most of the time that summer. When it started getting cooler though I was allowed to take one five minute shower a week inside their house but only on a cleaning day when I had to be in there anyway. I could take it after I had everything else done and before he got home from his job.
When winter came my mother supplied me with winter clothes, a coat, some boots, and a hat. She also gave me a few blankets. I slept under the trailer with the dogs to keep warm. I hated it, I was always dirty.
I didn’t get to go to school that year. We lived so far out in the middle of nowhere that we didn’t have any neighbors to see me and turn me in for not going to school so the state of Missouri didn’t even know I existed.
I think that was the year I decided that I hated winter. I was cold all the time and I got really tired of being outside. I think my love for dogs and animals, in general, grew threefold that year too. The dogs really rallied around me to keep me warm.
I got so many beatings that year that I lost count of them. I would get the belt for the slightest thing. I didn’t put a bag back in the kitchen trashcan correctly, there was a wrinkle on the cover of the couch, or I coughed or sneezed while he was speaking to me, telling me what to do, so therefore I wasn’t listening.
So that entire year was a huge turning point. I learned that year that I deserved to be treated like crap. That I was nothing more than another animal to feed and take care of, but I was an animal that was expected to pull her weight in order to be fed or to take a bath, but I would never earn the privilege of being allowed inside his house. Well, that ended when we moved into a town. I got my own room in the house they got. They couldn’t very well leave me outside anymore due to the fact there were neighbors that lived all around us. That happened the next summer. Yes, I spent a year being one of the dogs basically.
I didn’t write this for sympathy. I don’t need that at all. I survived both these turning points and learned things that have stuck with me throughout my life. Not necessarily good things or even true things, but I did learn.
These two turning points together taught me that I can survive, and so far, I have.