Every time I start thinking of laying alone in my bed, with the immobilizing brace, I get ravenously hungry. That probably explains why I have been raiding the kitchen, each night this past week and waking up to empty bowls, candy bar wrappers and half-eaten bags of chips. Even now, writing about that time period, I get very hungry, even though I just finished breakfast. As a child, left alone, I wasn't given enough to eat. As an autistic child, who frequently slapped away and spit out food that was offensive and disagreeable to my sensitive palate, I was put in my room hungry. If I didn't eat what was served, I didn't eat. There were no other choices.
I remember listening to my brother and mother talking at the kitchen table, in the next room. I'd listen for my brothers voice to change pitch...because I recognized that his voice would change, go up a little, when he'd ask a question. It must have been a question like, "can I bring Amy a cracker or cookie?" because the change in his voice was something I looked forward to. It was what I'm guessing was a sort of hope. My brother would bring me a cracker or two and slip them to me through the bars of my crib. I remember the smell of food on his face. Remember the touch of his hand. While mother never showed any interst in me, my brother did. He would talk to me and interact. He would share his food when he could. He cared about me.
I can recall how the room smelled, kinda old and stale. I remember seeing the well-used and not-so-clean wooden bars with the assorted greasy dirt accumulated under the railing top. The room was a rather dull blue green color with a single add-on closet in the far corner. The floor was of old, bare wood, as if it once had carpeting that was hastily removed and the flooring left unfinished. The window. There was one windw in the room, that I could see from my vantage point.....as I thought about the window...I became quite terrified and felt heavy pressure hands encircle my chest. Something...bad happened there....maybe the reason I am afraid of heights and can only sleep on the ground floor at home and in hotels. But that's a story to be further examined in therapy.
The other overriding feeling is physical pain. I was born with my body overly curled to the right. Both feet turned drastically right. The consensus was to try and straighten them with a single metal brace with a shoe attached to each end. The brace had adjustment nobs on the bottom so the doctor could continually adjust the torque in hopes of getting a better alignment. This brace was worn hours every day and night. Not only did the brace force my feet completely against their will and natural inclination, but every muscle and tendon from my toe tips to my mid back felt the strain and pain. At times, usually at night right before I go to sleep, I can refeel that brace and each and every muscle that struggled and pained me. My right foot took the worst of it. My ankle has never felt right. My lower right leg, well it has an unusual twist, the bottom end turns out and the knee area turns in. I've had countless ankle and knee injuries throughout my life because of it....and it all started way back then.
When I was braced and in a flood of pain throughout my lower body, I tried not to move or squirm, as each action just intensified the hurt. Yeah, a small child under two afraid to move half her body. Anytime someone is in pain, the body automatically tightens up and people tend to hold their breath. I was no different. Even writing about this, my breathing gets more haltering and my fists clench, muscles tighten.
I do remember crying and screaming, so much that my head felt like it was surrounded by one, giant, hurtful scream. I learned it didn't accomplish anything. Crying just made the entire top half of my body hurt, so I stopped. I learned it was best to just lay there,as motionless as possible. Leaving, dissociating as much as I could. As a child, this is what I knew, what I felt.
Hungry, trapped in a body that hurt, having nothing to look forward to but maybe a cracker, a small touch from my brother. I understand why I can't see tomorrow. There wasn't anything to look forward to. Nothing changed from day to day. I felt hopeless, hungry and very much alone.
The early feelings of a child starved in every way.