My Keys To Freedom - Adopted By PsychopathsI was adopted at a young age by very abusive people. Some part of me knew they weren't my parents. They didn't smell right. The first four years of my life were spent in this creepy old house with big corrugated iron fences around it. If I was ever taken out in public, I had a harness strapped onto me like a dog. I was not allowed to talk to people. I never knew what was coming next, but I knew it wasn't good.
I found solace in nature. The trees in the yard, the flowers, the corn, all these things were safe on beautiful to me. I would lie on the grass (I thought if I was really quiet, I could hear it growing) and watch the clouds. I loved the wild thunderstorms.
I never saw another child during those first four years. I thought about life beyond the fence. One night I had a dream that I could simply pass through the fence into a place of freedom. This place was a field of beautiful flames of all colors that did not burn me. In that moment, I felt joy and bliss, I was free. Unfortunately, morning came and I went out to check whether it was possible to pass through the fence. I couldn't, but I had a key to freedom in dreamtime.
Through the years, we moved many times. The man who raised me was in the military. For a short time we lived in a trailer park. This was my first taste of freedom. I saw the vastness of the outside world and the ocean. I learned to make friends with other children. I prayed this time would never end. Soon enough it did. We moved into a house with bars on the windows, but by then I was old enough to sneak out whenever I could. I taught myself to read from the newspapers and magazines. I had another key, words became my friends.
When I started school, I was unceremoniously dumped at the gate and left to fend for myself. I got into trouble often, because I didn't understand the rules and because I was bored. I discovered to wonders of the library and read everything I could. My world expanded. When I wasn't at school, I had a formidable number of chores. The most tedious was polishing the wooden floors on my hands and knees for hours. If they weren't perfect (and they never were), I would get beaten and have to do it all over again.
We moved again when I was 9. I learned that I had to lie about my life. The people I lived with weren't like my friends' families. I created a fantasy life with kind parents. I lied about religion, politics and most other things that were discussed. It was hard to keep all these stories straight, but being accepted was important to me. I became very adept at sneaking around and not being caught. I also became an athlete and the top student in my grade. Sometimes I wondered where I really came from. My favorite theory was that I had been abandoned on this wretched planet by a bunch of aliens.
Just when I had settled in, my entire life was disrupted and we moved to a nasty right wing town. High school was insane. I literally had to fistfight my way into acceptance. Life at home never improved and the beatings and other abuses never stopped. I was good at fooling people. I learned the art of deception and subterfuge. I also finally had a best friend. I thought her mom was the kindest human being in the world. My friend and I were often in trouble. We skipped school (I wrote the sick notes), and together we plotted and schemed how to make it possible for me to date and have a fairly normal life.
Once in a while things got really bad at home. I was outraged by the unfairness of it all. I was malnourished, especially when I couldn't get fed at a friend's home. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed with despair. The light at the end of the tunnel was that one day I would leave home. Once I graduated from High School, my best friend's mom talked to me. She knew more about my situation than I could ever have imagined. Once I had been working for a while, and saved up enough money to leave home, she cosigned the lease for an apartment for my friend and I. The age of majority was 21 in South Africa, but as long as I was working, the police couldn't force me to go home.
The first day in my own place was the most blissful thing I'd ever experienced. I didn't tell my family I was moving until the day it happened. They simply watched silently as friends loaded my few possessions into the back of a pick up truck. It was a few weeks later that I found out for sure that I was adopted. The woman who raised me finally told me the truth. I was now really free. I had a huge party to celebrate the fact that I wasn't genetically related to my abusers.
Since then, I have moved halfway across the world and changed my name three times ( I didn't want them to find me and abuse my children). I got a Masters degree. I lived in 3 countries. I had 2 beautiful children who are now adults (and yes, they smelled right!). I still know nothing about my biological family. I probably never will. I made peace with myself and let the past go. My children are happy, well adjusted adults.
I will never forget my best friend's mom, Anne Evans, the woman who gave me the third key, the key to freedom from abuse. She was the first adult I trusted and still a saint in my eyes.