Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Case File Quotes- Possessed by the Devil

"...last night she and Leigh had gone in where Steve was working and “out of the clear” she asked him what her biological father had told him about her.  He told Leigh that he was going to be painfully honest with her and explained that her father had told him she was possessed by the devil." (July, 16, 1985,  Barr case file notes/proper citation?)

I found this quote in my file, and honestly couldn't believe my luck. (Yes I've cried about it too.) Thank you social workers for recording the craziness of my early life. So, the quote is from 1985. At that time, I'm in my third adoptive placement which also happens to be the family who were former friends-members of my bio father's church-cult. That didn't work out... The event itself- when my bio father begins telling people I'm possessed by the devil, takes place in 1980, After Evil-- which is the second chapter/section I'm working on now.

That Winston Churchill quote keeps coming to mind: When you're going through hell, keep going. Which for me means- get through chapters two and three. Chapter four will be much more fun.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

First Draft Prologue


(written from Golden, Colorado, fall of 2012; reverie from Austin, Texas, circa 1975)

The middle-canopy of autumn purple ash blur into sun-shot gold and distract my approach to the stop sign on Fifth where it crosses Washington Avenue. Instead of braking, I’d like to gun the gas and cruise right through--would the sea of traffic part for me too?  It’s something my father used to do, way back when, on his motorcycle. His chuckle would rumble down his spine and I would grip even harder from behind, burrow my face in the expanse of his back and work to become one, even as I braced for impact.  Living for him was sharper this way, a honing of his edge, and my edges too. I brake, of course, no illusions that ‘one willing body is never as good as two’, but I can’t help counting the times when we would have made it through, right here on the corner of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue.

Friday, November 23, 2012

First Draft of First Chapter

Riverside Drive, Before Evil

The only difference between group sex and group therapy is that
in group therapy you hear about everyone's problems,
and in group sex you see them.
—Dennis Miller, Playboy Magazine, June 1979

My dad, it turns out, was one of those guys.  The kind you shouldn't marry, if for some reason you end up a single mom, with daughters, or even one daughter --because all it takes is one.  I’m not that one, just her younger step-sister, six years younger-- I’m the other one.  The one who told.  
Before my dad was one of those guys, he served in the air force, he went to college in Eugene, Oregon and he was a dad who made lemony cream cheese danish from scratch --the kind whose icing was a tart-sweet drizzly line that hardened into white before he could finish criss-crossing the flaky pastry line. They’re still my very favorite and I try them in bakeries that take the task seriously enough--usually small bakeries that haven’t desecrated the surface with a lake of icing or clear-glazed the whole thing.  Thank you, Lee Forrester Barr, for excruciatingly specific taste in cream cheese danish.
The only time I witnessed him defile one of his danishes was in service of God, which in this case meant teaching a lesson to one of our hunkiest congregants, whom I thought of as Bo because he looked exactly like the blond and blue-eyed Bo Duke of the early Duke’s of Hazzard years. My Bo, who wasn’t mine at all, because I was seven and he was something like twenty-two, dressed in cut-off, grey sweats and came to meetings for the food, it seemed, as much for the connection to God.  My dad, at thirty-two, was as tall and dark as Bo was light. His shaggy brown hair fell around his squarish glasses and dark beard and he’d run his fingers through his hair and then trace  his thumb and bent forefinger around his mouth before starting in on something important, like meetings.
I was never the only coveter of Lee’s danishes and on this night it was clearly the very last one, so Norma, my bottle-blonde, soft-spanking stepmother stationed me in front of the last lonely danish to deflect people through the kitchen into the dining and living rooms --with smoking preferably on the deck!, I was supposed to emphasize.  For Bo, late as usual, the hot pepper flakes and whatever else my dad put in, went undetected, until far past his mouth. In the low light from my spot across the room, I watched it go down and kept wondering how he could have missed the crunch. Maybe he did inhale food.  Lee had moved through his moment of silence and introductions to a stern reminder about greed and graciousness when entering a person’s home, that it burned him when people rushed through the love and toil of their hosts. His stare rested briefly on Bo, whose face had developed a sheen of sweat with cheeks so flushed I thought he’d explode.  He didn’t, though, just excused himself and made for the commode.
I adored my new big sister Shay, in ways only little sisters seem to do.   Opposite my ‘small for my age’ dark haired self, Shay was tall with perfectly feathered dirty-blonde hair and bangs that hid her eyes when she wanted them to.   Eyes that would crinkle when she pulled her hair back and her blue parakeet peck-kissed her ear and then, though I cringed at first, the very middle of her tongue.  I loved where we lived, off Riverside Drive, catty-corner from the movie theater, in red-brick apartment-landia that seemed wrapped in green, almost as much as I loved Shay.  It wasn’t a farm in the country stocked with baby animals, as my dad had promised, but kids by the dozen made up for it with their pure socialness and availability. It was heaven, really, for swimming, wiffle-ball and learning a few things about life, like that time I was trying to impress a new friend and when she asked me what the pink plastic thing in the bushes was for, I shouldn’t have picked it up, spread my legs and demonstrated. Especially with Bo, my dad and my step-brother Chad watching from a window, the only window our apartment had on that side of the building, a story up.  I tried to explain that my clothes were on, and that it was like air guitar, except it was air used-plastic-tampon-applicator instead, but my words somehow didn’t do the trick.  My dad decided Norma should handle this one, so she sent me for a time out into her room.  I ended up tuning into Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy and prancing around the room. No wonder I preferred Norma’s punishments to my father’s-- no bruises!  
When it wasn’t being used for meetings, my bedroom was a combination of the living room couch and hallway closet.  I didn’t mind the arrangement at all. It meant I couldn’t be sent to my room (!) and that my bed was not only in the middle of meetings, but right next to the stereo and across the room from the ever mind-expanding mecca called HBO; a little black box sitting on a big black box. Over that first summer, I watched the movie Piranha a few times with Shay and Chad, which taught me that freshwater fish in the Amazon, a continent away, could make their way into U.S. freshwater and eat you alive, especially if you’re a skinny-dipper or if someone wants you dead and stocks them in a secret government tank. Weren’t we skinny-dippers? And wasn’t  Austin,Texas pretty far south?  One of the Hardy Boys books confirmed the use of piranha in swimming pools too.  The boys were invited to take a swim at the home of  a family under investigation and just as they were about to dive in Joe halts the action with a “Whoaah, I saw something glinting in the water, like a fish.” and so the brothers run through the house, find a ham-hock in the kitchen and throw it into the pool as a frothing shimmer of fish devour it before their eyes, bones soon plunking on the bottom of the pool. Yikes. As a Texan, who would not identify herself as a Texan until she lived far, far away from the place, I interpreted this to mean that any handy meat, aside from oneself, should be tossed into dubious lakes, rivers, ponds and pools as a tester before entering.  Furiously frothy water was a bad sign I never encountered and fortunately highly populated areas were in and of themselves safe places too.  
Summer bedtime off Riverside Drive meant collecting my sheets, pillow and current array of stuffed animals from the hallway closet and then walking the eight or ten feet over to my dad who was usually sitting in his armchair, illuminated by the TV.  I had to stand at his shoulder, or slightly beside and behind him until he acknowledged me.  At that angle and through his glasses I would watch TV in long distance miniature, all tiny and distorted. He loved 20/20, the news and late-night HBO, and so I would wait for some sort of intermission and with permission I would move across his field of vision and dump my things at the end of the couch. I’d tuck the sheet around the bottom cushions and arrange my animals just so.  I would add the top sheet, cotton blanket and slide right in, facing the back of the couch, of course, so I couldn’t watch the TV, just listen. I fell asleep to the flickering light and woke up, most days, to Chad crunching through a plate of toast slathered in peanut-butter and Karo syrup.  He would sit alone at the oblong dining room table, illuminated by a swathe of kitchen light.  The front door would shudder-shut behind him as he left, before the rest of the world was up.  
When Shay couldn’t go out, or be on the phone with a friend, she taught me how to hook rugs. She and I would sit cross-legged on her bed in the corner of her room and spread out the pre-painted grid fabric, complicated hook-tools in hand .  She approved of my one foot by two Winnie the Pooh ambitions.  “Devoted hooking, she’d say, would result in such a cool Pooh.” In year one of being a teen, her walls were a mix of mirrors, Tweety Bird hook rugs and Kiss posters.  I will never forget Gene Simmon’s tongue.  Who could?  So triangular, wet and red.  I would stare at it, tacked to the wall above her twin bed and sing along with Fats Domino songs.  I would think of a blueberry balanced on the bottom of a hill, which was also the tip of his tongue. Shay complained that her nose was too round and that her breasts were too small, but I didn’t agree or even see those things about her.  What I remember from lazy summer days and then hurried school mornings, was Shay feathering her hair --her brush and dryer working in mesmerizing tandem, while Fats or the Beatles, singing Here Comes the Sun, crooned and misting puffs of Aqua-net stung my eyes and settled around the room. Her hair obeyed, by God. Something mine seemed never destined to do.
My dad joked that the apartment was so close to the movie theater we could pick out a movie and be there, in our seats, before the newspaper had a chance to settle to the ground, which really meant five minutes, door to door, and me half flying-running by his side, Wheeeeeeeeee. I wanted to throw the single leafy newspaper page off the balcony and race it to the theater, but I never seemed to think of  doing it except when we didn’t have time. The first movie we couldn’t be late for was The Black Stallion. A boy and his gambling father are on a boat (what kind?)and the boy develops a sugar-cube relationship with a huge Arabian stallion, the Black. When the ship is going down, fires raging, the boy’s life vest ripped from his body, the black stallion squealing in terror... let me just say, it engaged a faith in myself and in people my own age being able to figure things out.  Piece it together and make it work --whether on an island, under a bridge or in a railroad car-- make it work.
My worst nightmare when I moved into Riverside Drive, involved a car-sized tarantula chasing me through a dense city street.  Originally it was a cockroach with a fluttering, scratching sound of pursuit, but cockroach evolved into tarantula, another nocturnal hunter, and the sound of death became clicking, like eight tap shoes in spidery concert.  I was a good runner, but out of the city all I could hear was my breath and the clicking. Starting up the mountain my chest would ignite, my feet sliding through dirt and rubble and at the hoary rock summit the tarantula’s fuzzy pincers would hold me, so it could inject it’s paralyzing venom and turn me into soup. According to my dad, hell is reset button that makes you live your worst nightmare over and over again, so in this case hit reset and  I’m back in the city, alone at night and the tappity-clicks of danger aren’t quite discernable from other city sounds.  Except this isn’t the worst anymore.  But I don’t want to admit it, because I don’t understand it exactly --and exactly matters.   Does hell become literally your worst nightmare, which means you actually have to dream it?  Or can it be the worst thing you’ve ever seen or heard which means you could dream it, even if you haven’t yet?
The last movie we watched together  was Time After Time, a modern-day (1979) time-traveling Jack the Ripper tale.  For adults, it’s campy, cheesy even but the images that still blaze are of arcing splatters of blood across white walls, white everything.  Of a night scene  with the ripper creeping out of a wide watery ditch to slit the throat of the stupid woman wandering alone (thank you 1970s for making us all out to be ‘stupid whores’). After that, I feared for everyone in my family.  Anyone out after dark was the source of gut clenching fear and prayers, bargaining prayers that they would be spared.   So, some nights on the couch, I didn’t fall asleep to flickers, I fell  asleep entirely alone and worried.  To soothe myself I decorated odd spaces in tree houses.  Tree houses for squirrels, who lived in little apartments and rooms up through the tree.  All the trees I ever drew had holes in them.  A black hole on the trunk of every tree.  Which is where the squirrels lived, of course.  I went room by room in my head and placed rugs, lamps, couches and curtains- all with a patchwork Holly Hobby flair.  Decorating didn’t always eject the ripper from my mind.  He lurked in every sultry night, and Austin Texas had a lot of sultry nights, not to mention squirrels.  I would worry about  my parents while they were out and I would worry about myself and where I would hide if the ripper came here to spread blood everywhere.  On the top shelf of a closet , I decided.  Curled up and still.  Or spread out stiff on the back of the shelf covered in closet debris.  Had I been smart and say forty instead of seven, I would have been praying that Jack the Ripper was gay, and on the prowl for someone tall dark and handsome.  That was my dad, tall dark and handsome.  Able to climb any mountain, perform, with grace and ease, any sport.  Is frisbee a sport?
Sometime that school year Shay fell in love, but what pierces her foggy teen layer was the wrongness of the love. Was he a high school boy?  A Puerto Rican boy?   Whatever he was, he was the wrong boy and when Shay came home with hickies it sent Norma over some kind of edge. Due to Shay’s hickies and my very public and wrong version of air guitar, I was given an up close and personal sex education demonstration by my forty-two year old step-mother.  I’ll start by saying that no one wants to be stuck in the bathtub, while their mother, no matter what kind of mother, opens her robe, sits on the closed toilet right beside the tub, spreads her legs and proceeds to pry her vaginal lips apart. I didn’t understand what she was up to at first, but when I caught on and squeezed my eyes shut, she told me to open my eyes and take good long look, long enough to understand and recite something about tampons, penises, vaginas and babies all having a lot in common. Ugh.  Not even soap in my eyes could delete her even more obviously bottle-blonde self from my mind. Naked is one thing, and eye-level pried apart anatomy is another. I was so busy wishing  her lesson out of my head, that I didn’t stop to think what version Shay might be getting, or from who.  
One afternoon’s meeting, my father’s marker was tapping down the San Andreas fault, already heavily outlined in red.  The US map was thumb-tacked to the white dining room wall and the tapping emphasized the shifting cadence of his words. “...those fool Californians. They’re going to die in the sea, and they’re going to hell because they don’t believe in me.”  When his words became at all sing-song and rhyme-y, it cued me to focus again, that he might be moving from sermon, to summary questions, and he liked to ask me questions to get the conversation flowing.
“Leigh-Stephanie,” he said, focusing his gaze on me.  “ What is hell to you?”  
My real worst fear was being hunted down and skinned alive by Jack the Ripper, with my blood spattered against the white apartment walls, my hiding place curled on a closet shelf, not good enough; the ball of me, there, on the shelf, not tight enough.   My mother, Lee’s first wife, was a whore to him, which made me at least half whore.  A perfect ripper victim.
All I said though was “A giant, prickly tarantula turning me into live soup.”  and I resumed an inspection of my toes.  His smile of approval was a tight commiserating pucker, including me in something I didn’t even understand.  “Hell,” he said, looking around “is your worst fear lived over and over again; an endless loop of the scariest thing you can imagine.”
Though Lee couldn’t send me to my room, he could send me to take a bath and so the bathtub became my literal and figurative holding tank. We had two bathrooms but only one bathtub in that apartment.  Chad with walls covered in Styx, Cars and Kiss posters too, had the bedroom with an attached bath at the end of the hall. Meanwhile, there are only so many glistening coats of baby oil that one seven year old can coat her skin with, really.  Did my hair come out looking afro-sheened?  There are worse places to spend time, I know, like closets- those come in the next chapter, but I was not allowed out without permission, and if I asked for permission I was an irritation to my father, who wouldn’t give me permission, so I just had to be quiet, and stay in the tub.  No draining that tub either.  Not a noise he wanted to hear.  Be quiet or get a spanking, the thought of which ignited primal fear.   It didn’t matter if  images from  Jaws and Piranha and some awful movie with nightcrawlers spooging out of the showerhead and up through the drain, were trawling through my brain.  Add sinking ships and Jack the Ripper, with a penchant  for all  things wet, and I started developing a fondness for staying dry.  
If I’d been just a little bit older and had just a little bit  less imagination I might have understood what it meant that my father made time to drive Shay all the way over to the pet store, the one near Fifty-First Street and Airport Boulevard.  I realize now that I was an oblivious cover.  I could get lost in a pet store for hours, inspecting birds, cats and jingling cat collars.  All the animal related ‘sparkly things’.
Over the years, I watched him slay Shay, in some way, but he didn’t do it alone.  I  never heard him say such a thing, but actions speak volumes and the distillation of his volumes goes something like this:  “If Shay could fuck the wrong boy, couldn’t she just as well fuck me?”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A visual of chapter one... almost done!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

name a hero, explain and thank them for it

Steve Martin is one of my heroes, not for his fiddle playing or even his stand-up, but because  the first time I ever saw The Jerk, which he co-wrote and starred in--it resonated.  I had finally found somebody who understood my inability to belong in any place that I actually fit. He nailed the ambivalence of foster care and my alienation from a crazy family before that. It wasn’t just that I was black on the inside and white on the outside, at least sometimes, but that I was a variation of white, black, brown, yellow and red on the inside- from all my families- even if the outside never seemed to match up.   

“Ashy-white thing.  Four-eyed, buck teeth and your momma wasn’t a glassmaker.”  Turns out my momma was a glassmaker, an hour-glass maker, anyway.  

Thanks for being alive, Steve and putting your misfit characters into the world.  It made me darkly-optimistic at eleven that I could find my place to be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

February 12, 1982: recommendations and my delayed response

This psychiatrist made five recommendations, single spaced- a page long. I'm happy to post all of it, but these sentences stand out:

1) The child should be removed from the home.  I do not think this child will develop normally in this environment.

2) Many of her conflicts are internal (depression, phobias) and I think intensive therapy two or three times a week with this child for a period of six months to two years could mean the difference between a totally dysfunctional borderline adult and a productive member of society.

Thirty-one years later, all I can say is thank you dear psychiatrist. Thank you for using your words and getting me out.

At forty I understand a few things that didn't make sense at nine.  The deep down dirty secret is this: I told.  My bio-father was transitioning from guru to cult leader, right before my eyes.   He wasn't alone, he was pushed even, by a wife with a Ph.D in communications and a business in stress reduction workshops.  My step-mother's  arsenal included the Meyer's-Briggs and a teenage daughter who was as backfische as can be.   My father's arsenal is best described by the psychiatrist who interviewed him thirty years ago, "a bearded white male who was quite tall and muscular."  In other words: hot young Jesus material.  A carpenter to boot.

A year after your death, all I can say is thank you dear dad.  Thank you for finally moving on.

February 12, 1982: diagnosis and dynamic considerations

Psychiatric diagnosis:

Access 1 - Conduct disorder a typical  with depression
Access 2 - Borderline personality traits
Access 3 - None
Access 4 - Severe
Access 5 - Fair

Dynamic considerations:

This young girl shows many classic signs of the abused child and the neglected child.  Her superego is quite severe and her world is split into good and bad.  She also has suffered multiple traumas which include abandonment, physical abuse, and sexual overstimulation (by history).  She describes her feeling at home as being one of constant tension and not knowing whether she is being good or bad.  She does not have enough internal reality testing in her superego to internally know whether she is good or bad.  She seems to be in constant fear that her anger will overwhelm her and cause her to be abused.  I would suspect that she feels the reason she was abandoned early by her mother is she was bad.  It seems that her early dependency needs were not met at least by her father and probably also not by her mother.  She probably is in great conflict when she gets in close proximity to something she wants.  Since as an infant when she had basic needs she was simply locked in a room and cried herself to sleep.  I would suggest that she has a tremendous amount of unconscious and preconscious rage which is directed mostly at herself during this interview and probably episodically at the environment.

February 12, 1982: interview with the child

Lee Stephanie Barr is a 9 1/2 year old, white female, who looks smaller than her age, has short, brown hair cut in a pageboy and has a hint of hyperteleorism (sic).  She came willingly to the interview room and shared a coke with me.  She was a very anxious child and many times she would be pulling on her fingers and biting on her fingernails.  She sat quietly in a chair throughout the interview and seemed to be extremely over-controlled.  She was able to discuss with me her reading habits, that she liked mysteries.

She stated that sometimes, she felt very sad and lonely inside.  She stated that she hated her natural mother's guts and this was a constant source of irritation to her.  She also stated that sometimes she felt she might die.  She said the way she might die would be to be in a car wreck or something like that.  When I asked her if she ever thought about hurting herself she said that she guessed that someday she might commit suicide but had made no plans.  When I asked how she would commit suicide she said she would take a knife and stab herself but she didn't know how she could do that.  During this time she was very tearful and her affect was appropriate to the suicide thought content.  She, however stated that she had no intentions of hurting herself at this time.

At this point in the interview I asked her how she would feel about living outside the home at this time.  Her affect brightened considerably and she stated she thought that would be a good idea, although she was going to miss her parents.  We talked about several issues about ambivalence about leaving so many people.  She stated she was extremely frightened of her father.  She did this in a forthright and open manner and did not seem to be manipulative at all.  She stated she was frightened  that if she said the wrong thing at home he would take out the belt again and hurt her.  She described the beating incident as a fifteen minute yelling and screaming session in which he put her up against the wall and beat the back of her legs with the belt.  She was terrified that it might happen again.

She stated that she had a lot of trouble with anger that was in her.  She also had a lot of trouble figuring out whether she was bad or good.

She described her peer relationships adequately.  She had one best friend who never sits with her on the bus.  She said school was a constant source of irritation since the children pick on her there.

She stated if she had a child that didn't act right she would give the child a spanking.  She said she could do this because she owned the child.

However, when I gave her an example of doing the same thing to an animal she said it wouldn't be right because it would hurt the animal.

Throughout the second half of the interview the patient was tearful and required kleenex.

Monday, September 10, 2012

February 12, 1982: interview with the parents

Mr. Barr is a 34 year old white male.  He stated in his social history that he has been married three times and divorced twice.  The patient is his only child.  Allegedly, first wife was five years older than he.  His second wife was nine years younger than he.  His present wife, Norma, is 10 years older than he.  Mr. Barr is the second child of three boys, his father was a general practitioner in Florence, Texas.  It is stated that he had a poor relationship with his father.  The social history also states that Mr. Barr demanded lots of love and affection from his father and never seemed to get enough.  As an adult it is alleged that he was trying to hurt his father by telling him things like:

1.) I am heavy into drugs;
2.) My wife and I were taking LSD to see if we can produce a normal child; and
3.) When Lee Stephanie (sic) was in the grandparent's care,  Mr. Barr would take her away when he would notice that they were enjoying her company.

Mr. Barr's mother died when he was 14 years old.  His father died four years ago of a heart condition (quoting Mr. Barr).  Allegedly, Mr. Barr emotionally abused his first wife, Juliet Habsburg-Bourbon (sic) in the same manner that he allegedly abuses the child (interrogation, accusations, yanking, pinching, poking, and hitting).  Mr. Barr was in the Air Force for four years and was stationed  at Lackland in San Antonio.  He has three years of college and took courses in pre-med psychology.  Presently he works as a carpenter and helps his wife teach communication skills seminars.  Allegedly he and Norma attend the Unity Church of Positive Prayer.

The patient's step-mother, Norma Barr, is a white female approximately 44 years old.  She has been divorced once.  She has  two children.  Her oldest son Chad is 20 years old and her daughter Shea is 18 years old.  Her ex-husband is the dean of ________ in Clarendon, Texas.  She has been married to Mr. Barr since 1979.  She has a Ph.D. in communications skills and teaches seminars in stress reduction.  Little is known at this time about her early psycho-social development or anything other than the facts already stated.

The parents were slightly anxious people as they came to my office.  Mr. Barr is a bearded white male who was quite tall and muscular.  Mr. Barr was directed by his wife throughout the interview into what general areas she should talk about.  As an example, his wife told him to start the interview by relating to me the early childhood of Lee (sic).  He did this in a very detailed manner.

He stated that he and his wife had married when he was living in the northwest and attending the University of Oregon.  They had the child after two and a half years of marriage.  He stated that the child was " always strong willed" and if wasn't until she was 18 months old that he realized that she cried and tantrummed when she didn't get what she wanted.  He stated that the only way to stop her tantrumming behavior was to put  her crib and shut her door and let her cry herself to sleep, or to give her what she needed.  He preferred the former method.  He stated that he and his wife had great difficulty in their relationship and had several separations before they were divorced.  They came back to Austin and finally divorced here.  The child was given to the mother and remained with her until age 4.  The father states that the mother had multiple boyfriends and that the child slept in the same bed while the mother had sexual intercourse with these several boyfriends.  He then described the child's natural mother as being "crazy"and described her fascination with witchcraft.  He stated that she tried to drill a hole in the front of her head at one time and that she also put a very large bell on her right ear and ripped her earlobe.  He stated that he thought she was doing "drugs and that these were causing her to become crazy."  I asked him about the family history of the mother and he statd that her mother was living in San Antonio with 8 dogs and in his opinion she was also crazy.  He stated that his first wife's father was an internist in New York who many times would abuse his first wife.  He stated that even when she was an adult he would spank her across his knee when she was nude.  He did not elaborate on this.  He stated that at the age of 4 years the patient was taken to his parents' house in Vernon, Texas by her mother and left.  He said that the mother told his parents that if the did not take the child, she would start ringing doorbells until someone would.  He then stated that he did not even know this had happened for 2 1/2 months.  He was not able to give an explanation about why he had not kept up with the whereabouts of his daughter during that time.  He stated that after his father died he had remarried, his present wife, and he sued of custody of the child.  The case was settled out of court with the stepgrandmother giving custody over.  He stated that ever since the child had been in their home she had been a problem.  She is described by him as being extremely manipulative, always wearing a happy face but being very angry.  He did not describe his own feelings about the child but did give an objective description of the child's behavior.  He tended to lump the child's behavior into bad and good character and did not give my any insight into why she is the way she is.  Rather, he stated that there was something wrong with the child and that it was he who was the abused person and not the child.  He denied abusing the child except for one spanking incident which the child had reported to the school.

Norma Barr was a meticulously dressed, silver haired lady.  She gave a very detailed account of her feelings on family life and also her feelings that rules are made to be followed.  She stated they did not allow the child to watch soap operas or the t.v. show "Dallas".  However much to her dismay the child would not follow the 17 rules that had been written down to the house and this had been a constant source of disagreement.  At no time did she express any dismay over the fact that the child had been beaten by her father.  Mrs. Barr became quite anxious at every point in the interview at which I mentioned family therapy or trying to "fix this situation".  It was again an objective descriptive type of interview with this lady.  She described all of the behaviors of the child in a matter of fact way.  She stated that they had "done everything in their power that they know how to do."  

When I mentioned the possibility of placement the parents were very supportive and stated they wold do whatever it took.  They were also receptive to permanent placement of this child.

Friday, August 31, 2012

outline of book one in four sections

I now have four large binders with the following titles:

1. becoming evil
starts with the exact moment evil enters the conversation- age eight.
traces the seed of evil to an exact moment-age two
observes evil unfold
until the grinding clacking Polaroid wakes her up- age nine

2.  therapy tastes like butterscotch
ages nine through eleven in foster care

3. adoption itches like psoriasis
ages twelve through thirteen in foster care

4. getting fixed
ages fourteen through sixteen in residential treatment

Doesn't seem like much, but it's a framework that makes sense.  A natural beginning and a natural end for the first book of three.  Chapters will emerge from the sections, but first I'm filling each of the binders with 'the all of it'.

Which means my:  writing,  state file, pictures and documents.  Each pass through the material  helps me understand more, or less depending on the day.  Once I've shuffled this strange deck of material into chronology, and filled in some gaps,  the excising starts.  Removing what doesn't apply to the arc of this part of the story.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Age Thirteen, 1986 (Metabolizing Material)


Dear Mrs. Barr,

This letter is to let you know, in case you had not been advised, that Leigh has been adopted by my husband and I.  My reason for writing  was to seek your cooperation because the circumstances of this adoption are slightly unusual.  The state had picked Leigh for us and at the same time her paper work was presented to us we realized we had known her father, Lee, and her stepmother, Norma.  Although we hadn't seen them for quite awhile, we were quite shocked - we just didn't anticipate any familiarity w/ the child or her parents.  What we asking is that this fact remain confidential.  We don't think Lee and Norma know we adopted Leigh.  We figure they will know eventually, its just that we would like to put that off 'till later - after Leigh and the rest of our family had adjusted.  

Leigh speaks fondly about you and we hope you feel like corresponding with her.  

Carolyn Nelson (my third failed adoptive mother)


Dear Diary Entries, spanning April 12-16, 1986 
I hate myself right now, I spent the night at Andrea's and my mom said to come down to the gate at  20 till 10, but Andrea thought 10:20 so I was in trouble! (Gym starts at 10.) Well the ultimatum has arisen as I expected.   Will I go all out gymnastics or quit?  Well anyway my mom was mad and I wanted to apologize but I didn't think it would help.  When we got home, my mom had a cow!  She's pissed at me and because I live here she and everyone in this family are getting uptight and strung out!  She yelled at Chris in for pigging out (which he really wasn't, he's only 7). And in the van she slapped Erin but Erin knew she would get spanked if she kept bugging her. 

 I wish I was little sometimes because I would be innocent.  I'm not.  

Andrea has some good books but sometimes I don't like her because she always wants revenge.  I'm like that but at least I know it and I'm trying to stop.  What shall I do? Erin is to (sic) wrapped up in "clothes" and no one else really cares.  Is there really a GOD?? Boy was I surprised.  Mrs. Reinheimer isn't baby-sitting us any more, I wonder why. Maybe it was me, I hope not.  What will we do?? I think I'm really going to work hard and try to do good in gymnastics.  It's me that's breaking this family up, maybe I should leave.  I don't know.  Who am I?  G-Bye. Talk to you later esp. about my dreams etc. 12:54 Maybe by then I can talk about Karen G-Bye friend. 

Hi!  Wow, I do want mom and dad to let me try out for drill team, I want it so bad I ache.  I have everything on my body crossed with hope! Oh well!  Oh God I miss Karen, so it's hard to accept she's no long a part in my life . That's hard!  Right now I'm not letting my emotions get ahold of me.  Oh well.  About my dreams, they scare me because I've had so many bad ones!  Anyway you know when you get that feeling of deja vu , well it used to happen alot, and it's from my dreams and that scares me.  
What also scares me is that I talk and walk in my sleep.  Someday I  might do something and not even know it! 
Wow! You know Drill Team costs $200.00, that's not cheap.  They better decide soon.  I'm sitting on pins and needles!  I have to do the play "The Cactus Wildcat."  I'm Nancy and I'm nervous about it.  WHO AM I? WHAT WILL I DO ABOUT MY LIFE? Got to do my homework! G-Bye!

4-16-86  10:21
Oh God they said no! And all because I'm on that stupid medication and "I can't control myself".  I HATE THEM RIGHT NOW!  How could they do this to me.  It mattered so much. I was counting on it.  I want to tell them I sort of understand where they're coming from but I want to try out so bad!  I'm too scared they'll laugh or something if I go to them.  I don't know.  There are other years, but this one is most important because
1.  I love to dance with music
2.  I've wanted to from age 9 or 10.
3. I want to show people I can do that and that I can work hard enough.
Mom and Dad don't see that I told them it was so I would belong because I thought that's what they wanted to hear.  Boy am I dumb! I really didn't want to work in that camp for the disabled.  We have people like that at our school and they give me the creeps but since they're not that old it won't be so bad. Boy I'm a Great Liar.  I feel better now but the problem's not resolved, I think I might try and talk to them.  Uh oh, I'm crying again!  Boy do I cry at inappropriate times.  And it is true about M (actually Carolyn) putting up the brick wall. The only time she laughs or smiles is when she's with her family.  I don't belong anywhere but Hell!  I always end up hurting people so badly.  Why ME? Wish I had a key to this.  People are so nosy.  Don would have to side with 'them'.  


 Leigh Nelson to Mary U. Barr

Dear Granny, 

I"m so glad I heard from you and I must admit I'm not the greatest at writing letters.  Thank you for the necklace and the earings they are really beautiful.  

It's really strange hearing about everyone and I often wonder where time goes myself.  Anyway, I'm going into High School!  Wow, huh?  I'm slowly getting older.  I'm trying to brush up on my algebra and other skills like that but it's not going very well. There's one thing I want to say... Happy B-day and I love You!

Granny I think of you alot and I will make a serious effort to work on my letter writing skills. 

Bye, Bye. 

Love, Leigh

P.S. Tell everyone I said hello! 
P.S.S. I will send pictures in the next letter

Age Twelve (Metabolizing File Material)

(This is a breakup letter, sort of, from one of my adoptive fathers. )

To Whom it May Concern-

Leigh Ball (Barr) is a petite twelve year old girl, weighing approximately 86 lbs and standing right close to five feet tall.  She is very pretty and maturing physically but has not completely reached puberty, but this can (??) any time. Leigh is healthy, rarely ever ill.  She wears glasses and should have her eyes checked in the immediate future to see if her prescription should be changed.  She has recently complained of not being able to see well enough.  Leigh has also expressed an interest and desire to wear contacts.  Her teeth are beautiful and are in excellent condition, but probably still should see a dentist in the near future.  Leigh is a very strong little girl, fairly well conditioned and is capable of lifting unusually heavy loads if necessary.  

Leigh is a little girl, very feminine, likes pretty things such a  frills and lace.  She still occasionally will play by herself - such as playing "house", or with dolls, but is rapidly approaching the point where she would not want anyone to know this.  Her absolutely favorite pastime is reading books, and she will spend hours doing this if permitted to do so.  She feels that her books should not be screened first by adults, but is quite willing to accept this condition in order to read.  Her vocabulary is very large and her comprehension and retention of what she reads is exceptionally high.  She has well-above average intelligence and is capable of making As in all school subjects.  Math appears to be difficult for her and she really likes to receive assistance in her studies, but primarily because she likes the attention.  She is accustomed to a very strict schedule on school nights with studies and homework being the top priority.  Leigh, to our knowledge, has only been false on one occasion  pertaining to homework and we believe her to be a very honest child.  She resents very much if she 's not trusted, but an adult review from time to time doesn't hurt a thing.  Her chores at home consisted of caring for her rabbits in the morning before school and in the evening before dinner, setting the table for dinner and then cleaning the kitchen after dinner.  Although she may "piddle" a bit she has done exceptionally well with her responsibilities. She must have her room neat and clean before leaving for school each day, and she folds and puts her things away after each wash.  Bathing is not her favorite thing, but she is used to bathing and washing her hair each night at blow drying her hair before bedtime.  She can read or watch television only after her studies  are completed, but she is in her room at nine and the lights out at 9:30 p.m. Leigh likes to go to sleep with her radio playing and with a fan blowing on her.  There is a set routine she follows each night in getting her many stuffed animals and pillows in the "just right" position. She is used to being tucked in after lights out and seems to like a little conversation with daddy prior to sleep. Leigh needs and requires a good nights sleep every night.  She awakes fine each morning  but does require prodding to keep moving.  It's important to realize that Leigh is not a morning person but more a of  "night" type, consequently she is not the happiest person to be around in the morning. 

Leigh loves material things and has been receiving $7.00 a week allowance.  She is very frugal with her money and yet very generous when buying gifts for someone else.  Adult advice and supervision is required in this area.  She will give herself freely in areas that don't require "attachment" type love and affection.  Leigh is very sensitive to people's feelings and is smart enough to recognize when falseness or dishonesty prevails.  She is capable of handling most any type of serious discussion as long as you are honest with her.

Leigh does not make friends easily but will do so if prodded.  It doesn't seem to bother her and she functions very well with or without friends.  She has learned to dance Country Western and learns quickly, but will definitely not be aggressive at a dance that includes her peers.  Light makeup has been permitted and she has done very well with it, and she likes to go to the beauty shop and feels it is important to look nice.  Bless her heart, nightly baths and deodorant are essential.

At first Leigh may lead you to believe that she is sincerely afraid of the dark, and will demonstrate this by locking all doors, pulling blinds down and drapes closed before going to bed.  This action ceased shortly after coming to us and it has not been a problem since.  She will do this even when visiting friends and /or relatives if permitted.  Although there is probably some degree of fear involved, it appears to be an "attention getter".

Leigh is somewhat shy when first in the presence of strangers, but will come on stronger as time passes.  At first Leigh was very modest in our home, but this changed very rapidly, and now must be reminded from time to time that she is a little girl.  In observing her watching television and movies, she is fairly negative towards love making and sex in general.  There is a definite need for advanced sex education from a basic level and upwards.  It is important to explain things to Leigh in advance if possible - especially when changes are being made, or new responsibilities are added.  She was a very negative person at first and has progressed really wall into having a more positive attitude towards all things.  Good manners in the home , at the dinner table and away have been a high priority - bud does require  being reminded from time to time.

Occasionally Leigh has been able to express anger verbally but probably not nearly as much as she should.  She is pretty responsible for her clothes, glasses, radio, etc. , but just like most all 12 year olds she slips from time to time.  Leigh has difficulty expressing love and affection to others and may even resent someone also showing affection and love to her - but deep down I really do believe she likes to receive those two things.  Often times it just has to be on her terms and conditions.  Leigh feels badly and very guilty when she hurts or disappoints people that care about her - but because she does not know how to do so she gives out a vibration of being fakey or false.  In many things Leigh will give an impression of being a fake, but in reality I think she simply does not know how to communicate or what to say nor how to say it. Leigh will have a tendency to attach to the "daddy" figure long before, if ever, to the "mother" figure.  At one time I was concerned that Leigh simply would never be ale to attach, or bond to the mother - but I don't believe this anymore.  If given time and patience I think Leigh can and will become an attached and integral part of an adoptive family.  By her own words, she has stopped missing her biological Daddy and grandmother - which is a good sign.  She's never really had a mother to miss and she does not have too many good memories of her biological and step mothers.  The adoptive mother of Leigh shouldn't expect too much too soon of this little girl, and she should not have to compete heavily for attention, love and caring.  It may take many months , or even years, but I feel that Leigh can eventually form a mother/daughter bonding.

Leigh likes animals of all kinds but kittens and cats are her favorites, and like most children the responsibility for caring for a pet soon wears thin.  She loves new clothes and likes to go shopping.  She likes to go for walks in the woods alone, and she likes to help mom and dad with with their chores.  Leigh is a good strong swimmer and is safe alone in a pool since she rarely will try anything foolish, and she is a very logical person.  She is really a pretty neat kid and hardly ever causes any problems.  She avoids "rough water" and does not like to rock the boat.  Leigh is excellent college material and will probably be successful in whatever endeavor she chooses as a career.  She has high morals and does not approve of "minority" slang words.  She took tennis lessons this past summer, and has the potential to be good if she would practice often.  She also can cook pretty well, especially spaghetti and meatballs, but should be supervised.  She also had had beginning lessons on how to knit, and she can wash, iron and is good at needle point work. Leigh needs to feel secure and she likes to be loved and she needs to be accepted for just what she is- nothing more and  nothing less.

In closing, permit me to say that Leigh Ball (Barr) is a fine wonderful kid and very precious in many ways.  She really deserves her own complete family and will prove to be an asset if given time and adequate space to grow and develop. My fervent prayers each day will be that this little girl can find that special family real soon and if you the reader of this message at this time, happens to be part of that special family please do me the following favor..... be kind and tender to Leigh, love her every day and make sure you do something to let her know she is important, special and really okay, both as a daughter and an individual person.  If you've a mind to, you might tell Leigh  sometime that there are other people in the world that will always love her very dearly.  Thank you!

Ted F. Ball
Leigh's Daddy
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