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One of the biggest problems I find trying in using a coping strategy of sharing with others is that very few seem to understand what those like myself have been through and our need to talk about it, as obsession or sour grapes. It seems we have to also seek validation of who we are, despite what we have had to survive, on our own.  I have tried to tell my story to those who have no idea other than in the widest sense of understanding, of what child abuse survivors have to overcome, and I feel like I’m shouting down a well.  Even the realization of the fact that I, of flesh and bone, sitting right next to them, went through severe abuse, doesn’t bring the reality home.  I don’t understand that dissonance, or how to bridge it.  I barely understand myself, the abuses I went through, and how I fit in the world around me.  I long for a community of people who lack that dissonance, outside of professional therapy.  We have the burden of that experience, the psychological and/or physical scars, and now the financial (therapy) and societal burdens (perceptions, need to change; i.e. new laws) as well.

That’s a long way of me saying I understand how hard it is to try to connect with people who are so focused on themselves, and are ignorant, sometimes willingly, of the world and the worst around them, those who must pay the price for it, and what that really is in a subsitive way. And if any advice/help comes, it’s of the cookie cutter kind; oversimplified and of no use for those of us who don’t have the usual problems or experiences.  Sometimes It makes me want to seek isolation, rather than endure the constant  echo’s coming from a society with a lack of compassion and understanding, banging in my head daily from the drones who walk around blindly and mindlessly focused on the mundane and insignificant.  Buy this. Dress this way. Put a smile on your face, and everything will be better.  Etc…

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Surviving Childhood

When I was a child, I suffered physical and emotional child abuse and severe neglect. The closest of closest of my friends know I survived child abuse. But no one knows to what extent, even me. As I collect information, I am going through a healing process. Part of which to document what I’ve been through, and I’m hoping sharing will help as well. Here is the physical abuse and some of the neglect that I can document so far, I’m still collecting information. I’m also still documenting the emotional abuse, which is much harder, because of the turmoil it causes. Also of note, because of the physical abuse, I have walked with a limp for about thirty years. My doctors have recently brought into question as to whether or not it can be corrected with stretches and exercise. This is both great and frustrating, and even infuriating news.

Four thirty three pm, November 24, 1975, I, Michael, was born at Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. I was a full term baby boy weighing 6lbs. 10oz. with a prominent left heart border and cardiac apex, thought to be within normal limits, and otherwise healthy. I was discharged to my parents on the 5th day as a normal neonate.

My next visit to the hospital was 1-24-1976, brought from Rescue Squad to the Emergency Surgical Clinic at 6:15 pm, with multiple contusions to my face and scalp.

My mother’s story is that she dropped me from the buggy when I slipped from my blanket, catching me by my feet as I swung back and forth, striking my head repeatedly on the buggy as she tried to catch me, before I slipped to the ground. She claimed this all happened two minutes before I was brought in. The doctor notes, however, that my injuries appear at least several hours old, without being able to rule out child abuse, but suspecting it. Apparently my father abandoned 1-4-1976.

A medical consultation re-observation and Social Services follow up was schedualed, as well as a report sent to Albany, NY. I was observed by Child Protection Services on 1-25-1976, who stated that foster placement was NOT imminent.

At 13 months old I was brought back in for Post Viral Diarrhea, and again at 17 months for a Fever. I didn’t see a doctor again until over two years later.

On 10-10-1979, I was brought to the Emergency Room at 11:55 am via ambulance in a coma. My mother and her fiancé stated that I was alert and well the previous evening, was playing rough and was jumping up and down on my little toilet seat. I urinated on the floor and received a spanking on the buttocks with the hand, no belt. I went to bed and my door was locked from the outside with a latch. At 9 am on the day of admission, I was found comatose in bed. Neither my mother nor her fiancé could explain the fresh hematomas of my left ear, left upper eyelid and temporal region.

I was transported to the Medical Emergency Room and was found to have unresponsive pinpoint pupils. An emergency CT scan showed cerebral edema. My mother denies narcotics, drugs, insecticides or hitting me with any object.

At the time I weighed 11.7 lbs., with an urinary tract infection, considerable gaseous distention of the stomach, sweating, coughing, black and blue marks on the left side of my face with pale greenish hue, large superficial veins noted anteriorly, responding to pain with moans and fists tightly clenched.

I was diagnosed with severe dehydration, with responsiveness waxing and waning. I increasingly gained use of my arms but not my legs. For three weeks following admission, I made very little neurological progress, continuing to use my arms well, but not supporting my weight on my legs, though moving them to a slight degree. I was noted to have severe psychomotor retardation and not able to talk or walk as well as having right eye damage.

On 11-5-1979, I was discharged to foster parents, and at this time, my application to the Rehabilitation Center, at 936 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222 was being processed.

During a routine doctor visit on 8-4-80, it is noted I have had muscle wasting and atrophy of my lower extremities bilaterally with muscle tone questionably increased in my upper extremities. It is thought that I also suffered some brain damage. Also at this time I am quite lethargic with my right eye patched. I am ambulatory with external support, but do have some spasticity in my heelcords bilaterally. It is noted at this time that I should have Speech, O.T. and P.T. three times a week. In Physical Therapy, work should be done on gross-motor activities, lower extremity strengthening, weight bearing and ambulation training, starting in the parallel bars and progressing to independent ambulation with stair climbing. In Occupational Therapy, work should be done on upper extremity strengthening, eye-hand coordination and activities of daily living. Diagnosis at this time is post dehydration state with child abuse and residual spasticity of the lower extremities.

On 11-4-80, I am examined by Dr. Robert Warner, who was the Medical Director at the Cerebral Palsy School, which was also the Rehabilitation Center, at 936 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222. This center is later named after Dr. Robert Warner following his death, and became the Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center. It’s name has changed again.

During his examination he notes my pediatric history and current condition. He notes that I am the eldest child, Brian my brother born May 1977, placed out of the home in October 1979 following my abuse, and the baby, Christopher, born February 1980, placed in foster care immediately, out of our natural mother’s home at once.

In reviewing past illnesses, he notes my hospital admission exactly two months afer my birth, for facial bruising. Apparently, pictures taken on that day, he continues, would appear that bruises, particularly my right eye, were of greater of 24 hours. In his reviewing my chart, he notes that it indicates considerable swelling, bruising and ecchymosis, which appeared considerably older than the one hour indicated by my mother.

He continues, “Although the chart does not specifically state so, since the ultimate diagnosis was child abuse, it would appear that the house staff shared in this conclusion. The child was referred to social services and child protection who let the hospital know that foster placement was NOT imminent and the child was discharged to the mother to be closely followed.”

“There was no evidence to indicate that the child was followed and the next hospitalization was at 3 yrs. 11 months, at which time the child came in, in severe dehydration coma with pinpoint reactive pupils, ecchymosis of the ear, paraorbital and temporal this time with the history that he had been jumping up and down on his toilet seat. He urinated on the floor, received a hand spanking on the buttocks but no belt; was than locked in his room and found comatose in bed the next day. Findings on admission indicated a severely dehydrated child who apparently had no fluid for a considerably longer time and whose fresh hematomas, left upper eyelid temporal region and the left ear, indicated severe child abuse. This admission lasted 26 days… The child was discharged to the foster home of Mrs. Wylie under the care of the Child Protection Agency.”

He continues, “He is still fearful of anything that threatens but no longer fears being left alone. There was a time when he could not be left at all and he was very fearful of bedtime. He was also very fearful of strangers and this is getting better in the last six months. He had no words in front of strangers.”

My developmental history reveals that I could not sit at one year, after my severe beating up and hospitalization in 1979, I could not sit again until march 1980, 4½ months later. I stood at 4 years 7 months in July 1980, crept in January 1980 at 4 years 2 months and walked alone vary falteringly and insecurely at 4 years 10 months, eleven months after the incident. I spoke in December 1979 at 4 years of age, and a Tine test in October 1976 was negative.

“ The foster mother says he was scared and apparently, by history, he had been locked in a room much of the time and was scared of people, any threatening motion and cowered and cried whenever he feared some sort of contact with an adult. One year ago… he could not sit alone, his hands were still fisted, he was in a state of fading in and out of consciousness and could not walk. Gradually these things have cleared… He has made excellent progress both psychologically, mentally and motorwise in the year he has been in Mrs. Wylie’s care.”

At this time I’m 21 days less of 5 years old. “Michael measures 38.8 inches, 3.8 inches less than expected for his age, giving him a height age of 3½ years when he is almost 5. His weight of 29.7 lbs. is 9½ lbs. less than expected for his height. His weight age turns out to be approximately 35 months or just under 3 years. Upper /lower ratio, 20.6/18.2, is advanced with a ratio of 1.13 at a time when 1.21 is expected. He is, therefor, a slightly small, relatively long legged, very thin, poorly developed, poorly muscled boy of just under 5 with a height age of 3½ and all his other measurements more closely approximation those of a three year old, with the exception of the upper/lower ratio which is advanced.”

“The mouth is usually somewhat triangularized and keep partially open. The left eye shows a small, crescentic rim hemorrhage around the iris and the lateral aspect is still a grayish, yellowish red. This is the sequalae of recent surgery of less than a month ago on this eye which seems to have been successful in that the point of light was reflected from the center of each eye and did not vary on the cover test.” (My 2nd surgery to date.) “Visual acuity was not tested as he would not cooperate.”

“The spine is straight and supple. There is spina bifida occulta, quite marked, at S-1 but of no significance. The heart is not enlarged to percussion; good tones, regular rhythm. There is a definite murmur best heard in the 4th inner-space, just inside the nipple line. This is a systolic murmur and of somewhat groaning in nature. It does not seem to transmit to the axilla or the back but is very definite at certain times and in certain positions and probably of no significance and was heard early in life.”

“The extremities are long and thin, poorly muscled. The muscle itself is somewhat flabby. He can stand and walk but with very poor balance and very little ability to hold himself.

When supine, he has tightness of the hamstrings and Achilles and straight leg raising is limited by at least 15 degrees. I got no ankle or knee jerk on repeated try whereas the elbow and wrist jerks were 4 plus…”

His impression of my physical status is “Severe mental and motor delay with spastic dyplegia secondary to cerebral trauma confirmed by CT scan, secondary to confirmed child abuse (reported); status post surgical repair left eye with present orthophoria. Emotionally traumatized secondary to abuse and neglect…”

And his impression of my psychological status is “almost certainly retarded with organic brain damage; diminished gross and fine motor abilities.”

On 4-27-1981 I had my 3rd, 4th and 5th surgery, a Right inferior oblique myectomy and 4mm recession right medial rectus muscle and 6mm resection of the right lateral rectus.

On 8-25-1981 I had my 6th surgery to date, Bilateral myringotomy and tube insertion; Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy.

On 2-20-1982 I had my 7th surgery a complete right subtalor arthrodesis, right fibular bone graft plus anterior transposition of the perineal tendons.

On 2-25-1982, I had my 8th surgery to date, a bone graft from fibula to left subtalor joint, subtalor arthrodesis, plus anterior transposition of the peroneal tendons, plus short leg walking cast.

The past two surgeries were done to correct my severe calcaneal valgus feet, and casts were removed 4-28-1982. I was determined this date to need orthopedic high top shoes, with arch saddles with Thomas heels and a quarter inch medial heel and sole wedges to continue help with the improvement of the valgus. And I wore them for some time. At this time it is recommended that I may need triple arthrodeses when I’m 13 or 14.

By 1983, I’m attending school 84, at 462 Grider Street, Buffalo NY 14215, a school for the disabled. I’m also wearing braces for ambulation.

On 3-10-1989 I have my 9th and 10th surgeries, Bilateral great toe IP fusions. Also noted at this time, the doctor is unsure of my prior surgeries. I received Bunion boots for ambulation.

Running Away

I climb out of the window as quiet as I can, cross the small roof and shimmy down the square 15′ column to the front porch. I land on a railing, jump off to the porch, run down the stairs, to the left, up the driveway and grab the garbage can on wheels I already loaded with bags of stuff to take that is next to the house. I wheel it to the side of the garage, across a cement block path where the dogs are taken to do their business, to a small fence, about 5′ wide, the wire holding it shut already loosened by me earlier when I took Casey, the German Setter out for the last time. I pass through the gate, dragging the garbage can with me, realizing I forgot a bag I stashed underneath the steps of the deck, my heart racing the whole time. Before I can consider going back to get it, my father rushes out of the back door of the house, right to where I am. I retie the wire, grab the garbage can, and hide behind a bush, directly in front of the fence. He gets to the fence, flashes a light toward me and yells to me he that can see me. But he’s to big to fit through the fence. He leaves for something, and I dash off, dragging the garbage can to the next door neighbors garage and stash the it amongst his there and I sit down for a second, sweating, thinking of what should I do next. Realizing that my father probably called the police, and the commotion would wake the neighbors and expose my hiding space, I run off into the night.

I head toward Lafayette High School, the school I was attending. They were doing some work on the front of the building, and had a scaffolding up, going all the way to the front roof. I climb it, and crotch down on the roof, peering over the edge, watching a number of cars go by, including my fathers. I stay up there for awhile until I start getting cold.

Than I climb down, and head to Grant street, not really knowing where I was going. A cop car comes by and picks me up, then takes me to the Grant Street Police Department. It’s a small place with a big hall in the front. I’m told to have a seat, and the officer who picked me up heads to the back. About 5-10 minutes go by, when the attending officer tells me I can go. I don’t say anything, and leave. There was a bar across the street, I go in and ask if I can use their rest room. When I get into the bathroom, I sit on the toilet, catching my breath, and start to think what next. Just then a patron walks in and see’s me, so I quickly walk out. I continue down Grant Street for about a half a block, before I hear sirens behind me. I quickly duck between two buildings, an abandoned Woolworth’s building and a closed sub shop. The space is very small, I could barely fit, but once through, to the left, was an alcove with plenty of space. I hear the police cars race past me, and I stand there listening to my heart beat loudly, shaking uncontrollably, waiting for what seemed forever.

Once I have myself under control and I feel more comfortable about moving about, I squeeze back out of my hiding place and go for the garbage can of my stuff I stashed. When I get back, all is quiet. I grab the can without incident, and head to Bidwell park. There was an apartment building there with a large backyard with large overgrown plants. I put the garbage can next to the others they had there, then I go amongst the brush, lay down on the ground, and fall to sleep.

When I wake, there is a man pointing a gun at me asking me who I am. I mumble something and I take the garbage can I brought. He asks me if it’s mine and my stuff. I tell him yes, and I show him the bags with my clothes. He lets me leave, and I just start walking, rolling this garbage can behind me. I then stash it a few blocks away, next to others that look the same, remembering where I put it. I head back to Bidwell Park. Some guy comes by, probably the same one who I saw with a gun, and asks if I had anywhere to go. I tell him no. About 15 minutes to a half hour later , a cop car shows up and asks me the same question. When I tell them no, they tell me that I can’t stay on the street. My mind is racing, so I tell them that I have a friend who might take me in. They take me to his apartment and knock on his door. When my friend opens the door, he see’s me standing between two large male cops. One of them asks if I can stay with him, me not saying anything, with a sheepish look on my face, praying to hell he say’s ok. He does, and the cops leave.

We go into his front room, me thanking him profusely. His white dog with one blue eye and one brown eye introduces himself, licking my hand. I pet him, and we sit and watch Mighty Python movies, he offers me some food and a bed. I tell him I need to get my things, and will be right back.

I go back to where I stashed my stuff, grab the garbage can, and wheel it toward where I was staying. About a couple blocks away from my friends house, I grab the bags out of the can and ditch it, carrying the bags back with me. When I go to sleep that night, I’m very grateful, and take a sigh of relief, hoping this part of my life was over.

No such luck, within a couple days, my mother calls my friends’ mother and tells her that she will call the police on her for housing an underage runaway. I was 17 years old at the time, and rather then be relieved that I was safe, my mother threatened my friends’ mother. So I had no choice but to go back on the street. I eat one more meal and take one more shower before I leave, thanking them for trying to help. I stash my stuff that are in garbage bags in some bushes near a grammar school nearby, and just start walking aimlessly, not knowing where to go.

It occurred to me that there was a small, private back space behind the church I was going to, so I went to scope it out. It was in a quiet neighborhood, and the space was small, but decent. There was an area that was kinda like a tunnel built in the back of the church. Perfect for when it would rain. I went for my stuff that I stashed, and brought it here. This is where I slept.

The next day, I spent in the library, except going to the public pool where free lunches were still being handed out, but it was getting toward the end of August, and this program was ending. So I would keep an eye out for the collection boxes of food at the front door of several churches, wait until service was going, then take a few things that didn’t needed to be cooked. I figured that it was going for the needy, and at the moment I was needy. One day I was doing that, and saw a whole bunch of food siting in a room with the door opened, probably a dinner the choir was eating, and these were leftovers. So I bagged a bunch, and ate well that day. Other days, I ate nothing. I would use restrooms in public places. One night I was getting ready to sleep, and some kids were playing hide and seek and saw me laying there, then ran off. It was like this for about 1-2 weeks before school was starting again.

When high school started, I vowed I would finish and graduate, because without a high school diploma, I knew I couldn’t do anything I would want to in the future. It also benefitted me that I had a roof over my head for a number of hours of the day, free breakfast and lunch, and at the end of the day, when no one was around, I would be able to wash up in the bathroom. But sometimes I would use the local public pool’s facilities for the showers, it was better. After school, I would do as many activities as I could so that I had a place to go for awhile. Then after that, I would go to the local library. I practically lived at my high school, local library and church. And no one at school knew I was homeless, except my band teacher commented about my dirty nails one day, and it occurred to me I forgot those. I immediately took the pen cap from my pen, and cleaned them. And I did so every day after that, because I didn’t want anyone to know I was a runaway.

But I knew I couldn’t keep doing this, because winter was approaching, and I didn’t want to be outside in the frigid cool. But I had no idea where else to go. One day, my sister Jewel saw me walking down Grant street and asked where I was staying. When I told her, she told me I could stay with her. So for a year, I did.

Amanda’s Suicide

April 29,1998, around noon, my father called me and told me “Amanda’s dead”. I didn’t know what to say because it came as such a shock. Amanda was only 16 years old and in good health. She was a member of junior ROTC. “Are you there?” my father asks after a minute of silence. “Yea”, I say back, “what happened?” I finally manage to ask. “Suicide” he says, “everyone’s gathering at the house” he tells me. So I hang up and head over to my parents house. When I ask what happened, he tells me that she swallowed a bottle of Advil and Mylanta. He tells me he was at the hospital all morning with her, as she died. He said that she tried this before, and Mark, my brother-in-law and her father knew she tried this before. Apparently no help was given after the last attempt. I also was told her mother and my sister Sue and Amanda had a fight earlier, before bed. I went to work that night, still numb with the news.

Oddly, she called me just days prior. I say oddly, because my relationship with my family was strained then, and no one except my father ever called me. My sister Sandy did later, when she wanted me to house and dog sit while on vacation, but other then that, never. When Amanda called, I asked if she was ok, she said yes, and hung up. I didn’t think much of it until later.

At this time, my sister Jewel was also strained from the family, and I called her to give her the news and let her know about the funeral. Apparently, nobody called her to tell her, nor did it seemed anyone would. The day of the funeral, my mother showed up at Amigone Funeral Home with many of the kids in tow, her demeanor striking for the event. It was as if nothing happened. This was her grand-daughter, but no emotion. Completely like stone. While still at the funeral home, she was telling me to do this and that just as if I was still living at home. When my other niece and Amanda’s surviving sister Ashley came to me for comfort, my mother was trying to part us. When Jewel showed up, my father told me he was glad I invited her.

After Amigone, we went to the church, where the priest gave the service. Then came the music selection, which was “I believe I can Fly” by R. Kelly. During this song, I lost it and bawled like a little girl. My brother in law Jack next to me put his arm around me. While living at home, I was responsible for the safety of the kids wherever they went. I babysat Amanda all through her childhood. I loved her very much, and enjoyed being around her. I loved being the goofy uncle, always making her laugh. This is why, when I heard she was dead, before knowing that she was the one who did it, I wanted to find who did and beat the crap out of them. Seriously, I would be in jail today. It was also striking how cold my mother seemed at the service as well.

After the service, we went to the cemetery, where the priest did his thing. When everyone left, the junior ROTC members of her group were there in formation and uniform saluting the family. This was so moving I had to look down, for fear I would burst in tears again. Afterwards was a dinner where everyone was asking what happened. The family told people she had a bad heart. Many saw through that as they knew she was physically active, but that is what the family stuck with. I found it disrespectful to lie about that, but I let it be.

Looking back, my mother never showed any emotion throughout or after. This I noticed as clear as thunder during a clear day. I was so distraught, I did something then I never did before or after. I sat in the middle of the floor, papers spread out around me in a circle, and wrote poetry. It took me a couple weeks to break the funk, but after it did, I caught myself thinking when passing groups of students her age, that she would never do those things again. That took a while to pass as well.

Looking back some more, it occurred to me that this may have been in the cards anyway. I can remember when I was a kid and Sue invited everyone over for a birthday party or Christmas party or something, my mother would criticize her for using the microwave instead of the oven. But my mother never taught anyone how to cook, so she has no right criticizing anyone about their cooking. Anyway, it always felt like the girls (Sally, Sandy and Sue – my parents biological children, the rest, including myself was adopted.) were always trying to put on a show for my mother. I’m just guessing here, but with child abuse having a legacy, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the girls went through some of it, especially Sue. I say especially, because the quiet one’s always got the worse, of which I was one. This may have eroded any parenting skills that would have been gained had she not gone through that. I heard the fight between her and Amanda was very verbal, which sounds similar to what my mother would have done.  My family isn’t very good with conflict resolution. I also found it hard not to recollect that on August 13, 1987, on Amanda’s fifth birthday, Robert Insalaco, a NY Deputy Sheriff who dated Sandy, and was to about to marry her, was senselessly shot in the line of duty while trying to issue a warrant. At Amanda’s birthday party, the news of his death was on tv with Sandy at the news station being interviewed while crying, and everybody was watching. I was surprised that nobody didn’t try to isolate Amanda from this, and just have the party away from the tv or another day.

Years later, on an Easter Sunday, the girls, my mother and myself were sitting around the kitchen table, as my mother talked about a mother who lost her daughter but showed no emotion. The irony wasn’t lost on me that my mother displayed no emotion when she lost her grand-daughter. I looked at the girls, and none of them said a word. It was then that I saw the dynamic that I observed over the years so much more clearly. That is when I decided I couldn’t be a part of the family anymore, and with our relationship already strained as it was, I just stopped talking with them, and walked away.

Spite

When I was in 7th grade, a keyboard player at my church offered to give me lessons.  When I asked my step mother for the money, she said no, she didn’t have any because it was used for my medical care.  I later learned from my adoptive records that she had been paid for me being in her house every month, for ten years, and my medical care was paid for by the county.  She also said no when I asked to go to a new science school that just opened up at the time, with no apparent reason.  I wanted to study A.I.D.S.  These are the only two big things I ever asked for.  When I was in High School, an administrator called home and asked if I could volunteer for the summer Olympics.  She said no, but this time it felt like the reason was retaliation for signing up for the high school musical (Annie) without asking permission first.  Also, in High School, I told both my parents I wanted to study pharmaceuticals.  They both told me I could never do it, because I would have to stand for long periods of time.  Never mind, that skill could have been useful in another science field.  These are clear examples of them not caring about me or fostering growth in me.

Controlling families

How do you know if you grew up controlled?  – “Controlling families are organized to please, protect, and serve one or both parents, not to foster optimal growth or self-expression among family members.”

An example is when I was about 7 years old, I complained to my sister Sandy, who is my foster parents first child, about my step mother’s treatment toward those of us adopted children.  Sandy told me I should stop complaining, because that is how she was raised.  I rejected this argument because this meant that it was OK for me to beat the shit out my future children because that is what happened to me from my biological mother.  Sandy wouldn’t come to my aid.  Because of this I grew distant and distrustful of her.  And lastly, this was a clear demonstration of my well-being not being important, and that I was expected to fall in line, regardless.

And if Ma didn’t have the ability to treat us different than she was, if she lacked that, what business did she have with having foster children?

Journal

 

by Michael Wylie on Sunday, August 15,2010 at 5:39am

I woke up seething about an experience I had when I was a child, here’s what’s making me mad:

When I about 7 or 8 years old, my mother tossed my bedroom as she normally did on a regular basis, this time with my sister Jewel. In the cubby she found a journal I kept. She opened it up, read it out loud, mocked what I wrote in it, tore it up, threw it on the floor and when done tossing the room, threw it away. During this time she would get Jewel involved in the mocking and helping toss the room and throwing away my stuff. Since then, I couldn’t keep a journal, not even in high school, when my math teacher wanted us to do so for 10% of our grade. Because of this, I got a 79 instead of an 89, and could have made the merit roll.