Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Living In Darkness


C.A. Olson

     When did the darkness begin? Maybe it began as my life did in the fall of 51' on a small farm on the reservation. I was the fifth child of my parents.  My grandparents were Swedish immigrants on my father's side. On my mother's they were indentured servants coming to America from Germany in the late 1800 to early 1900's. 

     The farm life was an isolated one as we lived a half mile off the gravel road. It was either a good six miles east to one village or ten miles west to another village. I found out early that my father had a very bad temper and was a binge alcoholic. Mother was unwed with a baby son when my father met her. Grandpa had lost my grandma to cancer when they still had small children. Mother came to work for grandpa after my oldest brother was born. 

     While working in Omaha at the bomber plant during World War II, mother had met a man whom she fell in love with. Unbeknownst to her, he was living two lives; one with her and one with a wife. After his omission of a wife and the delivery of Mother's baby, he never came back. They paid mother five thousand dollars to stay out of their lives, to keep his dirty little secret.

     After a few other jobs and Lutheran Social Service trying to get her baby away from her, she took a job keeping house for Grandpa. This is where she met my father. It was a whirl wind romance. He needed a wife and child to get out of being drafted and she needed a father. They were married after six weeks of dating.  Their story was told to me by the neighbor kids, as their mother made sure we knew we were considered white trash at every point she could in our lives. 

     Father and Mother had four children together, and he adopted my oldest brother. Dad was a hard worker. For years he worked two jobs: one in town welding and the other farming and raising livestock. He was usually mean to us or was binge drinking and fighting with mother. I knew no tenderness from either my mother or father. Maybe that was the way of the old country people of that time. It was not good for me nor do I believe it was good for my siblings. Our childhood was anything but good. 

     I started country school at four and I walked to it for two years. I walked the lane and the mile or so to the school in all kinds of weather. I often cried because my boots were so heavy with mud and snow. There was no running water in the school. We had a boys' outhouse, a girls' outhouse, and a crock with water in it to drink. The country school was de-solved after my first grade year. Second grade was in the public school on the reservation. There I cried for about a month because of threats made to me because of my white skin. That would last throughout my school days.

     My father binge drank.  My mother was emotionally detached. I endured racism, and I lived with the physical violence of the school kids. Needless to say I didn't learn; I tried to just survive. The only thing I had going for me was my horse. I loved her and rode her every chance I got. My favorite memory is on a moon lit night I cantered in the snow-covered cornstalks bareback, feeling every sensation. My heart soared. 

     Throughout my school years there was mostly heartache, depression, and fear. After I graduated, my father got me a job washing dishes by hand at a cafe lounge in a nearby town. There I stayed with my grandma and grandpa on mother's side. I hated being separated from my horse. She was my only coping skill. One night when I was seventeen I decided to go for the medicine cabinet, thinking if I took enough aspirin I would die. Grandma had not one aspirin in it. 

     A few years rolled by and I met a boy working for my father on the farm. I fell co-dependently in love. I had made the mistake of unknowingly falling for an alcoholic man who knew nothing of being a good husband or father. We had three children. There were lonely days, nights of his drinking, emotional abuse, and so much more.

     The breakdown happened on Christmas Eve in 96'. He had been treating me worse with his resentment and emotional abuse. I ended up that night on the psych ward kicking and screaming all the way. I lost my sanity because of my grave depression, the lack of love, and I thought there was no way out.  

     After about four days of Hell and Haldol, I came to my senses. I was a mess, more so than I had ever been in my life. When I came home I had two and three rushes of fear every minute. I lay on the couch under a quilt with deep anxiety, PTSD, and depression. It was unbearable. At one point in time the depression was so deep I decided I was going to shoot myself. My son had gotten into some trouble and needed to go to court, so I decide I would take my life after his court date. After the court date the depression eased a little and I am here today. I left my ex-husband twelve years ago. I still struggle and always probably will, but I take my meds and do my best with hope for a better future.