When we were around 13 or 14 we went back to the land of the long white cloud, once again as an unaccompanied minor. By this stage of our life our mental health was declining rapidly and we were just beginning the downward spiral into what would eventually become full blown Anorexia.
That’s a whole other woeful tale, but for the purposes of this story, you need to know it was a time when we were becoming increasingly paranoid about our strict food and exercise rituals being disturbed or noticed. Losing more weight had become the most important thing in our world and we were extremely scared of being stopped. Some teachers at school had expressed concern but our antics largely weren’t questioned at home and we were silently drowning in a haze of calorie counting and calorie burning. I remember desperately trying to plan ahead valid sounding reasons to skip meals and go for long walks when we got to NZ.
I have no recollection of this plane ride or arriving. I have no idea how long we were there or what we did. I don’t remember flying home. I do remember that when I got home I knew everything had changed forever.
Diamond and Mal had moved to a new home in a fancy subdivision, even more pristine than their old one it felt like it had fallen off the cover of Home Beautiful magazine. I think I remember this mostly because when I took myself off for walks the houses all looked quite similar from the outside and it was hard to find the way back again.
One night while I was sitting at a table in her kitchen, Diamond reached into a cabinet, took out two shot glasses and offered me a B52. I must of looked at her like a stunned mullet, I wasn’t exactly close to the legal drinking age and my parents never drank. I think I stammered something along the lines of “I’m 14” by way of reply and she’d raised an eyebrow at me in return. “Don’t bullshit me girl, I know you drink”.
I think I tried to deny it but the comment had caught me completely off guard and she saw right through me. It was true I did drink, but due to the calorie content not as often as I smoked pot. Now none of the adults in my world ever had any idea about my substance use. I’d lived my life as an only child, with no siblings in the house to dob on me, a father who didn’t want to see and a mother who didn’t know what to look for.
At home everything I said was taken as gospel. I’d taken advantage of that fact and told my parents what they wanted to hear while I made my own rules in life, set my own boundaries and soothed my own wounds. My parents didn’t have a clue what I got up to, I literally brought a marijuana plant into the house one day and my mother saw it not knowing what it was and commented how pretty it was. I claimed I’d found the planted pot on my walk up a local hill and thought it looked thirsty. She agreed and I sat it on the back deck to water astounded by her naivety. Later that day my father got home, he was less naive and a keen gardener. I was in my room just chillin’ I guess when I suddenly heard his voice scream out “What’s a marijuana plant doing on the back deck?!”
Honestly I’ve got no idea what I did or said to get out of that one, I know it wouldn’t have been condoned at all, my father hated ‘druggies’ with regular rants about what a waste of space they were. Somehow I guess I’d lied well enough to get away with it, he apparently accepted whatever my explanation was and the plant even stayed for a little while as a point of interest, not that I could risk picking any leaves off of it now. It eventually started to flower and the smell it gave off was too noticeable so he got rid of it.
But I digress, Diamond, unlike my mother, had never been allowed to be innocent. She’d basically raised herself through hellish conditions and then had three kids of her own so she knew every trick in the book. Suddenly I was being not only called out, but seen for the first time in my life and it was petrifying. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I accepted the drink while quietly freaking out about the calorie content and we sat down.
Diamond tilted her head knowingly and sighed
“I need to talk to you about a few things… I know about the world girly, I notice things and I’m worried about you. Firstly you’re not eating properly but I think you know that already…”
At that my skin prickled, my vision got hazy and Diamond was still talking but her voice suddenly sounded far away and I couldn’t understand or hear her properly. It felt like I was really stoned. Strangely I could hear a voice leaving my mouth in reply but I no longer controlled what it said, nor could I understand it. I noticed a hand reach for the still untouched drink on the table in front of me and lift it to my mouth, that was my watch, that hand belonged to me but why couldn’t I feel myself moving?
At this point the somewhat familiar voices in my head were losing it at me, fuming, freaking out, planning, sobbing. Unbeknownst to me I was dissociating hard, stuck somewhere between worlds humiliated by the fear that she could somehow hear my racing thoughts. I was terrified I’d been busted, that things would never be the same again. And they wouldn’t, but not for the reasons I’d imagined.
My head swirled as a chaotic cacophony of broken souls howled within and the room got further and further away. It was as though I was watching a scene unfold before myself through binoculars, and then everything faded to black.