Friday, May 16, 2014

Meet Thirteen Year Old Eden

A couple of weeks ago I was going through the small bin that I keep in the back of my crawlspace filled with mementos from my childhood. I was sort of mulling over the few things that I had kept, the few memories that I hold dear from that period in my life. A novelty flashlight from the circus, a ceramic cat that my grandpa gave me before he died, some ribbons and awards from various activities, and a large binder filled with the beginnings of my writing career.

As I mentioned in the post “I hope the news doesn’t find out my shed burned down,” when I was nine I wrote a play that won a national award, but when it was over, it was over. Being nine years old, writing wasn't really something that was on my radar.

Somewhere around age 13 I started writing in what was the beginning of my "writing career." Things were just so crazy in my house that I remember feeling like my head was going to explode from a mixture of confusion, pain, and rage. I remember one night I was sitting at my desk, hunched over, head resting on my folded arms, and I was sobbing. I was filled with so much hurt, so much pain, so much rage! At some point my arm bumped into a little novelty desk set that I had and a notebook fell out.  Before I knew it I was filling page after page with my thoughts. Hours later, when the notebook was filled, I collapsed on my bed, fingers cramping with exhaustion, and I began to read what I had written.

Something about turning those pages and seeing in print everything that I had not been able to sort out on the inside, seemed to give the situation some clarity. Feeling’s that normally felt just beyond my grasp of understanding, suddenly made sense. They seemed….real. Not just some all encompassing fog that crept around behind me, enveloping my soul and clouding my sight, but something more tangible. Seeing them on paper made them real. It made them manageable. If I could understand them, then I could begin to deal with them.

Still, it wasn’t easy though. The feelings, I was just begging to grasp the concept that was them. The idea that I was allowed to feel. The idea that just maybe, maybe it was alright to have feelings, feelings that I didn’t understand, but feelings that were there no less.

I started writing poetry because it was an acceptably abstract way to write without needing concrete thought, without needing to explain and decipher the exact meaning behind my words. Poetry just flows. It comes from the place that sits between my soul and reality.

So the other day, as I was going through my box of childhood memories, I came across one of my first poetry journals. This blog has become my safe place, the place that I now come to bare my soul, but what is in these journals are the writings of a 13 year old Eden bearing her soul.

Without further ado, I’d like you all to meet thirteen year old Eden.

Eden, who always felt that maybe, just maybe her grandpa was the one person in the entire world that made me feel like a real human being, had just died from cancer.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way,
this shouldn’t be the time or day.
But there he lies upon the bed
as sweet grandma rubs his head.
“Say good-bye” they say to me,
But he can’t leave, why can’t they see?
Why can’t he fight this sickly death,
with all his strength and every breath?
He looks so different, he is so pale,
his body now is thin and frail.
The sheets that keep him warm at night,
now cover his body and mask his fright.
Time is what we’re fighting now,
it’s time to say good-bye but how?
I slowly kiss him on the head
and leave him lying there in bed.
When I return not after long,
his body’s there, but he is gone.

Meet 13 year old Eden who had just run away for the first time. Her parents didn’t try to stop her as she walked out the front door in broad daylight, but rather yelled after her; calling her ungrateful and spewing venomous reminders of all the money they had put into her, prepping her with piano, dance, and voice, a one girl act to show off to anyone who would watch. They constantly reminded her that the only place she had in her family was to hold a position of making her parents look better when they needed to show her off.

I used to think I needed you,
but now I know that that’s not true.
Now the truth I clearly see,
you were the one who needed me.
You needed me to be your prize,
something your reputation could exercise.
So today I walk away from you,
something I thought I’d never do.
You always used to get your way,
but things are changing, starting today.
You have no power over me,
I’m walking away, watch you’ll see.
And as I walk out your front door,
I realize I’m captive no more.
To you I am no longer bound,
because of the freedom I have found.

Meet 13 year old Eden, who at 13 years old, looked at her life, and realized that even without her parents, she might never escape her circumstances.

How come every time I think my life is going good,
everything comes crashing down in the place I stood?
I feel like a racquetball,
flying free – then hit a wall.
But every time I bounce right back,
back to feel the racquet smack.
Smack me back into the wall,
and every time if makes me fall.
So why do I keep bouncing back,
back to feel the racquet smack?
I bounce around from day to day,
while all my dreams just fade away.
I feel the need to break through that wall,
the wall that always makes me fall.
But struggle and pain is all I see,
it’s what keeps me from flying free.
Just like the racquetball that bounces from ceiling to floor,
it can’t get out unless someone opens the door.
But no one ever seems to know,
the pain inside that seems to grow,
So I stay behind that door,
with pain and sorrow and nothing more.
And just like the racquetball game that ends,
my heart is ripped and it won’t mend.
All I can do is sit and cry,
while all my dreams just wither and die.
Sit and die behind the wall,
the wall that killed the racquetball.

Have we learned anything from this folks? Eden was a very disturbed 13 year old girl!

I’d like to leave you with a poem that 16 year old Eden wrote because this one really struck me as odd. I mean this really jumped out and shook me by the shoulders when I went back and read it now. When I was 16 I was on a missions trip in a town that my daughter is now named after (that’s how pivotal the trip was in my life) and I had an experience that really caused me to want to know my life’s purpose. Now granted at that time I had no idea what was in store for my future. I was strictly basing my thoughts on my childhood, but I knew that I wanted to speak out. I was tired of living a fake life, in a fake world, always remaining silent about the reality of my situation. 

I remember writing this and thinking something to the effect of "one day I'll speak up, there has to be others out there like me. If I speak up first, maybe others will come forward too and together we can go back for the ones still trapped." Reading this now gives me shivers because the poem is now the reality of this blog and the nonprofit.

No matter how loud I shout,
no matter how loud I scream,
I’m trapped inside a world,
a world that seems a dream.
When will I wake up?
When will I break free?
When am I allowed,
into the world of reality?
It’s not that simple though,
it’s not that easy you see,
‘cause when I leave my world,
then where will I be?
I will be the one,
to face a world unknown.
I will be the one,
and I will walk alone.
It won’t be very long though,
before other’s too break free.
They will leave their worlds,
and start to walk with me.
And so the cycle goes,
a dream world once again.
To leave the world once more,
and go back where I began.

As much as this blog is about my recovery and my future, it is also the story of where I began. It's the story of Eden at birth, Eden at 3, Eden at 13, Eden at marriage, and Eden now, fresh in her 31st year.

This is the story of my life, the good, the bad, the gym ugly, and the crazy.

Thank you all for walking this journey with me.

Photo Credits


  1. Hugs to the girl you used to be. Hugs to the woman you are now.

  2. Your early poetry was very mature and insightful, and very good as well. A talent for writing even then. And I do not see a disturbed teenager as much as a wounded one, one that chose to move forward! Many do not. The more I read of your life the more I wonder if your mother is seriously, mentally ill.

    1. She is definitely mentally ill. Diagnosed with more things than I can count she is on enough medication to kill an elephant, constantly in and out of the hospital, and has done ECT (electric current therapy) treatments (they essentially put you under and then shock your brain) more times than I can count in an effort to reset her brain chemistry/function.

  3. This did give me a bit flashback into my own growing up. I don't know if I ever wrote about it though. Even I'd I did, it would have been much more immature then your writing. Your writing does sound quite mature and cognisant for your age back then.

    1. I was a really weird kid. I think I was just forced to grow up so fast :(

  4. You are an extremely talented writer. Even at such a young age your talent shows through. I wish you all the best.


    1. Wow. That sounds familiar.

    2. That is incredibly weird. Seriously, incredibly weird.

    3. OMGoodnss!
      When I read about others, and it's so familiar, it's good to know I'm not the only one - I'm not alone - I'm reminded of the goodness of the Internet :)
      I'm saving this in my favorites...absolutely! :) Thank You Anonymous, for sharing!
      Sending so much Love to Everybody out there

      P.S. Yeah, a bit interesting how it does resemble this blog...but that is why we are here, we most likely share similar experiences ;)

    4. I hadn't visited my blog for a long time until recently and wondered why I had a spike in views a couple of weeks ago. :) Glad you found my post and it helped someone, anyone, feel not so alone. It's amazing to me that so many of us have had such similar experiences. I totally get the part about realizing you have feelings and you're allowed to have them. It took me a long while to figure that out. And even then, to figure out what to do with them.

      Hit up my email if you ever want to talk. It does get better - slowly, incredibly slowly - but better nonetheless.

      Hugs, Momalegal

    5. Aw thanks hun :) I hadn't seen your blog before the link was posted and it was eerily familiar, right down to the phrase you used being the title of my blog! Creepy!

      I hope that you are doing well and have been able to move forward to whatever amazing things life holds for you :)

  6. I used to write as a way of coping as a teenager too. I kept diaries from the age of 13 or 14, journalling for pages and pages on end just to get the thoughts out and try to stop my head from exploding. A few years ago, when I was having a clear out, I shredded and/or burnt everything from more than about 5 years ago. I did start trying to read through the stuff from when I was a teenager, but it was laced with so many suicidal thoughts that at that point in my life I couldn't face it. In a way, I regret doing that now. Particularly from a speaking out standpoint.

    I second the view that you weren't disturbed, you were hurt. Sending hugs to 13 year old Eden.

    1. Ive definitely been in that position, where I just want to erase any reminders of my past. I might have done it if I had found this stuff sooner!!


  7. and the continuing story of you leading others out of the darkness and into the light. Way to go Eden!! ♥

  8. I used to write a lot of poetry as a kid and young teen, too. My mother and little brother were both in and out of psych wards when I was 10 - 13. It's amazing how therapeutic a pen and a piece of paper can be.

    You were (and very much still are) a very talented writer. It really shows that you were forced to grow up way before your time. So many of us find ourselves having to be mature, grow up, "be an adult" when we're still kids.

    Hugs to 13-year-old you and hugs to you now.

    1. Yes, the growing up so fast epidemic :(

      Did you keep any of your writing to look back on?

      My mom was always in and out of the psych ward. As a kid you aren't really sure what to do with that and the stigma attached. I mean I feel bad that she is so sick, but it just tears a family apart :(

    2. Some of it I threw away in a fit of rage in my late teens, the rest my mother threw away when she found it.

      It was weird in our house - we weren't allowed to tell anyone that my mother or brother were in the hospital (school guidance counselors knew, and maybe our teachers, but that was it) so nobody in the neighborhoods we lived in knew. It was very hush hush. My father would rage if my sister or I mentioned my mother or brother being in the hospital even just to him, so we were pretty terrified of saying anything. We had no idea what was going on, just that mom and Little Brother were sick, but not sick in a way you can talk to others about, so keep your f***ing mouth shut if you know what's best for you.

      Looking back now, I'm glad my mother and brother got help when they did. They both still need it and both still refuse to get it, but I feel like if they didn't get the help then, things would be far worse now. But as much as those hospitalizations are necessary and helpful, it really does just tear the freaking family apart sometimes. :(

    3. Exactly!!!! We weren't allowed to tell ANYONE. Mental illness is so much less acceptable than cancer or something I guess. We were told on a daily basis not to embarrass our mother by telling anyone where she was. Kinda hard when she was gone for months on end....

      Then if you did tell anyone, you were the kid with the "crazy" mother. On top of that, not that I would have wanted too, but you can't just go visit because they are in locked units. It wa so confusing.

      ** Hugs**

    4. Yeah, I just kept telling people my mother was away on business or visiting family. Luckily we moved around A LOT during that point in my life. It sucked moving so much, but at least I had fewer opportunities to have to make stuff up to random people who asked about where the heck my mother was and why was my 10-year-old self taking care of my 2-year-old sister all the time.

      My fifth grade teacher once asked why I was so eager to get home one time, and I swear I very nearly said, "Well, my mother's in one psych ward and my brother's in the other. They're both threatening to kill themselves. My dad's stoned out of his mind and works full-time, and he sometimes doesn't come home at night. And I've got this two-year-old sister at home and who knows when she was last fed or changed..." But instead I just said, "Well, I just miss my little sister. She wasn't feeling well so I want to get home to see her." *sigh*

      That rant was far longer than I intended.

      This country should be ashamed at how it treats the mentally ill. They're so demonized and and hidden away like they don't exist or something. It's just beyond disgusting.

    5. I remember having to come up with excuses as well. It's so hard when it isn't as black and white as other types of illnesses. I mean in my case my mother wasn't just mentally ill she was also mean as hell, but still, I very much lived the stigma.

      If you've read my other posts you know how I took care of my brothers as well. I still can't believe we don't even speak now. Do you still talk to your sister?

    6. We do still talk sometimes. She was 8 when our parents split and I was 16. Things were insane so I spent as little time as possible at home. She spent A LOT of time with dad and he used to cry on her shoulder and just sob for hours, telling her mom ruined her life and his marriage.

      Now, her mental health issues didn't help, but it was his drug use and some inappropriate jokes (VERY sexual) he told me for years in my eArly teens that ruined the marriAge.

      So anyway, to this day, my sister strongly believes my mother is evil and dad can do nothing wrong. Sister and I do speak, but not very often. I can't deal with her when she's on a Praise Dad grant.

    7. Typing this on my tablet for the first time and still learning. Meant to agree that the stigma us hard to live with and it's so difficult coming up with all those excuses.

    8. Isn't it infuriating when you can see the damage a parent caused to a sibling, but the sibling has been so robotized that they are totally unaware of how very wrong the situation is?


  9. Wow. Wow.
    My jaw is dropped.
    I could have written so much of this, you have blown my mind!

    A) I about **** a brick when I read that: "They constantly reminded her that the only place she had in her family was to hold a position of making her parents look better when they needed to show her off" OMG that is my family! Never put it in words, but there it is... in words.
    B) I disagree that YOU were disturbed. Your family is/was disturbed and you chose to NOT become them. You expressed yourself in an artistic, healthy... "Still moving to this day" way. Just b/c conventional "wisdom" says that the kid is "disturbed"... doesn't make it so. As life has shown you... you were the healthiest one of the bunch. Of course your topics were sad, full of loss, longing, and low self-esteem. Look what you were subjected to! I hope you pride yourself on expressing your experiences artistically... that's miles better than... what? Killing yourself? Killing them? Turning into them? You chose a healthy expression for your pain, fear, sadness, anger... your family did not. No one taught you to choose well, that was all you, yeah?
    Hugs to you as a child and hugs to you now!!
    You blew my mind...
    ps: I'm Erin, from the post on "It happened to me, I disowned my abusive family."

    1. pps: And the part about "The idea that I was allowed to feel.The idea that just maybe, maybe it was alright to have feelings" Holy crap! Me to a T. My uncle (by marriage) once asked me when I was 25 or so... "I don't know if you remember it, but when you and your mom were here 12 years ago (we were moving from NY to GA and she and I drove down after school had ended in NY), I asked her if you wouldn't be bored down there over the summer. No friends, no school to make friends. She said 'Oh, we won't let her feel that' ... what did she mean by that?" 12 years later and he still wondered! I was not courageous or trusting enough to tell him the real answer: "I am not allowed to have any feelings that they don't want me to have. Or at least I had better not show it." Dang, girl... I'm so glad you are giving voice to this stuff!!! More hugs... LOL

    2. Hi Erin! I'm so glad you made it over here :) I'm sorry that you went through that as well :( I never knew how many people went through things JUST like us until I started this blog. I hope you stick around, it's amazing to read the posts and comments and realize that we are FAR less alone than we thought. It freaks me out sometimes to see people post things that I thought no one in the entire world could have felt exactly like I did.

      I hope that you are doing better now and learning that it's ok to feel :)

      Sending you tons and tons and tons of hugs!!

  10. I haven't checked in on your blog in a while, so I decided to today, and while scrolling through your posts, this one caught my eye.
    I can relate to so much of your story, so much of your calling and purpose, and I can relate to how your writing career began. mine began writing poems as well. in fact, somewhere in my parent's house, probably my moms dresser, sits a purple notebook that I completely filled with poems pouring out my fears, my frustrations, my anger and my pain. my mom told me the last time she came down here to visit that she found that journal again, (she confiscated it in the 6th grade and has held it hostage ever since). I have always found poetry to be my friend, my ally, helping me get the words out that otherwise wont come out.

    when I was younger, I thought it was clever of me to put it in poetry format, that it was somehow more cryptic, allowing me to be more honest. (maybe I need to start writing poetry again since I have had an exceptionally hard time getting the words out lately).

    anywho, thank you for sharing those poems, and thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly. I know firsthand how hard it is to be vulnerable and share that stuff, I am in the process of being honest myself... checking in on your blog every once in a while reminds me that I am not alone, that it is okay to have bad days but to keep trying...

    thaks for sharing :)

    1. Hey you! Welcome back :)

      You should totally start writing poetry again! Sometimes I don't even realize how much I had swirling around inside of my head until I sit down and let it pour out on the paper.

      You are never alone! I am so thankful that I have all of you on this journey with me :) Reading your comments reminds me that I am not alone either :)