I heard the questions from behind as I excused myself.
“By the way, you’ve got mail-” she handed me a stack of 6 envelopes. “All from Russia. I have to watch you open it though to make sure you’re not sneaking anything in.”
“Of course you do..” Each envelope was a letter filled with my Russian acquaintances racist joking, ranting about work, and telling me to fuck myself. His taking time to write me was at least endearing. I held up one paper with only the words ‘fuck you’ scrawled in enormous capital letters, with a laugh.
“That’s horrible! Who is this person and why do you even talk to them??”
“We don’t talk anymore, he was just the only one I told about coming here. An old online chat room buddy- I asked him to send me something. Guess he did.” I smiled faintly. “Besides, aren’t ‘fuck you’ and ‘I love you’ synonymous? Who really knows what that shit is anyways, but he wrote the damn letters didn’t he?”
“Oh no…We’ll definitely be revisiting that one…How’s that autobiography going?”
“I can’t help you if you don’t do anything I ask.”
“I’ve been reading through the old one though. Nothing else to do once I get bored with staring at the ceiling and being told by Jacqueline ‘down girl’, like a dog. Sorry, but it’s really hard to get my brain into any kind of writing mode when it’s convinced it’ll be dead in six rotting months anyways. But maybe I should just keep telling you the goddamn story and then get the fuck out of here.”
“Stop it. That’s why we’re here. Did anything you read stand out to you, that you didn’t remember?”
“I don’t just say that to get a rise, it’s really the most honest part of the truth that I can put into words. Actually yes; I remembered that I used to have a little brother- well a foster child that my parents had just signed the papers to adopt. I think it was maybe a year or so for the adoption process, but I was the one who spent the most time with him, because I had been home on unemployment for a long time. He was 9 at the time. I read about how I used to take him to the park, taught him to play chess until he beat me, and prayed with him each night, teaching him everything I could about who I thought then God was.”
“Used to? Isn’t that kind of an important thing to have forgotten? What happened?”
“I don’t know how important it is- everyone is just passing through, right? I don’t think he could or should have stayed anyway, for his sake. Oh yeah, his sister we were adopting too- but I never could relate or get along with her. I’ve always had difficulty with other females- much more, little ones- and she was 7. But that’s not the point- it’s that the state came and took them away late the night the adoption papers were signed- and I was evidently the one to blame.”
“How could you have possibly been to blame; it sounds like you took care of at least one of them- not even being the parent- and I’m sure you didn’t mistreat his sister, despite your differences.”
“No, of course I didn’t. Well first you would need some background on these kids’ parents. They came here from Mexico- for some time for whatever purpose- but here in California, more than just abuse charges had been pressed against the both of them enough times that state took the kids away and placed them in foster care. But there was only a certain amount of time in which they could be adopted before- through whatever completely fucked up legalities- they would be returned to their parents, who then had intent to run with them back to Mexico, so State couldn’t take them again.
But Ulysses was a very difficult child; violent- uncontrollable at times- and I knew that if he couldn’t be reformed in some way, we wouldn’t be able to keep him in order to protect him from his family. Maybe I didn’t see in his sister what I saw in him- Maybe that’s why I tried to spend so much time with him, because I know a cactus when I see it, and I know that sometimes the most beautiful people can be the most horrid. It’s all about the thorns and spines. Uly- as I called him- had been in the foster system so long he’d gone from one family to another to another; always unwanted, wrong, or just unable to act the ‘right way’. So it would make sense that he’d become bitterly angry and unconsciously use that to keep from getting attached to anyone else or them getting attached to him, to only lose that “love” shortly down the line; or perhaps it’s more like tape that’s been stuck to and removed too many times, so it’s not sticky anymore. But I should know better than anyone that not everyone can be “saved.”
“I disagree, but go on- why did they take the kids away?”
I sighed. “That’s why you became a therapist. So I’ve struggled with depression since I was 14- and not just the being sad or ‘disinterested in your usual activities’ kind- but like reading in that red journal about how I wanted to die as young as 14, always asking God when it would be, could He move the date forward, what did I have to do, why did He even make me; feeling alone, without any love I could feel, without any place or purpose. It was all eerily like reading a prophecy of how my life turned out today. I wrote
“My mind, my heart, my body, and my intentions are a closed book that likely no one will ever find to read. So who will ever know?”
So you see I’ve been completely entrenched in my tiny little isolated warzone and hell in my mind for a long, long time- with Its little ups and downs of course; but the foster care agents when they’d frequently visit our house noted that I always appeared ‘despondent, tired, brooding, dark, and generally unwell’, so I first had to do months of individual therapy with an associated therapist to clear me with the agency as not dangerous, psychotic, or a negative influence on children. Of course when she actually talked to me for any length of time, this was quickly given clearance. But then out of nowhere- a man I used to babysit for, and an employee under my father pressed charges against my father, saying that I had been sexually abused.
I remember the July afternoon, I had just pulled up to the house after a long day of classes at Moorpark College, and a police officer who had been waiting there for me approached me, saying he needed to ask me some questions. He simply asked me if my father had ever done such things to me, to which I was so surprised by such a ridiculous claim that I first just laughed, and of course denied it all as absolutely a malicious lie of jealousy. Now I suppose the man who pressed the charges thought I seemed the same way that the foster agency initially had- only he never talked to me to even support his suspicion that my visage was a result of such abuse. So a few nights later, I was standing in the living room and a case worker arrived at just before eleven at night, stating that the police officer had filed his report and the children were to be indefinitely removed from our care. I don’t know what that officer wrote, but I can only guess it had to do with my appearance; as I was very weak looking- that was right before I took that last trip to Colorado.
Ulysses could never have stayed anyways with everything that was soon to happen between the family and I- but that meant he was back in foster care for a mere month before being finally turned back over to his parents. Uly never directly told me, but I knew that his father was molesting him, and would continue to do so if foster care fell through. So we waited and prayed that someone who could handle him would take him and the agency then just happened to place Uly in the home of very close family friends- basically a Mother Theresa and a distant uncle of mine I used to get coffee with. But they couldn’t handle him, and he was quickly pulled from their home and placed in a lock- up type of home for violent children; and when I looked into the matter some years later- he was still there. I remember in one of the last few weeks I sat on his bed and prayed with him, that he looked up at me and asked me if I thought God would always listen to him, no matter where he was. I don’t know if God is really always listening, but I told him to always try and that he would know one day. I hope he did still try and that he found where God went.
His sister got put with a family then, because I ran into her in a restaurant those years later. I recall that she barely remembered me, but I hugged her anyways and asking about Ulysses told her if she ever saw him again- which I doubt- to tell him I was sorry I couldn’t fix him- or myself. So I didn’t directly do anything to blame myself for where he ended up, but it’s just another instance how my life- or lack thereof- has strongly affected others.”
“That’s a lot Kat… How does it feel to say aloud?”
“How therapist-y of you. I’m fine. What’s the saying- it’s all merely a flesh wound. Nothing can compare to the torment of what’s grown inside.