it was 2nd grade, the school year after the abuse. my teacher was mrs. wilson. it was 1973, but she still had a huge beehive hairdoo and cats eye glasses with the cord that held them to her neck. her classroom was a wonder to behold for my 7 year old mind. there was a library and a story carpet and a science center - with a real, live octopus floating in formaldehyde, and a paper wasps nest hanging from the ceiling suspended on a branch. this was a place of learning, a place of inspiration, a place that i adored.
my favorite place in the whole room was the three cardboard refrigerator boxes at the back of the room that were for reading.
i loved them. they made me feel safe. no one could sneak up on me and i could always see them coming. why couldn't more of life be like that? places of safety that allow us to see what's coming. i hate feeling out of control or blindsided.
those boxes gave me an island of security that nothing else in my little life held for me. my own home had become a place of fear and loathing. i remember i started wetting the bed after the abuse, and having terrible, frightening nightmares.
they were always the same. the tin man, lion and scarecrow would be walking toward me, and i was excited, feeling like dorothy on my way to oz. then they just started to float at me at high speed, and i couldn't move. my feet were cemented to the ground, and it wouldn't stop, over and over until i woke up ashamed in cold, wet sheets.
i'd lay in bed and cry. failing at comforting myself and so confused as to why this was happening, i'd strip off my wet nightgown and crawl into my parents room. i'd sit inside the door listening to them breathe, so sound asleep, and i'd shiver. i was so cold, i remember being so very cold.
i'd crawl to the end of their bed and try to wrap myself in the bottom of their chenille bedspread to keep warm. it did't work. by the time i'd finally crawl under the covers at the base of their bed it would be almost morning. rarely was i well received to be found smelling of pee at the end of their bed. i was shamed and ashamed. i would slink to my room and roll up my bedsheets and take them to the basement.
so getting to school and finding a box that kept me safe, even for the 20 minutes a day was a godsend. thank you mrs. wilson.