Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck is a tough, loving, sad and painful story about a little girl adopted to give her adoptive mother a reason to live and fight the cancer eating her away. Her 9-year-old brother tells 7-year-old Jennifer she is adopted. “Adopted,” B.J. says, “not real, not one of us,” after a social worker comes to call and questions Jennifer about who is caring for her. In truth, it is she caring for her mother who, at the culmination of the visit, wets the couch because she did not want the social worker to know she needed a urine bag and then “poops” in her pants on the way back to bed. Young Jennifer gets her cleaned up and back into bed, cleans the bag and hooks it up, gives her mama her pills, washes out the soiled clothes and then goes out to play.
Not too long after her mother dies, on B.J.’s 10th birthday, Daddy informs them they are moving in with a lady and her three children (yes, the evil step-mother). It’s not that her handsome father ever did not love her but he works himself to death trying to provide an upscale lifestyle for this California hippie, new-age, health-nut wife, who clearly favors her own children.
Then things get really bad.
For the young Nevada native, her time in California was pretty much all bad memories except her annual day at Disneyland on her birthday, with her dad. She hates living in Hermosa Beach and is afraid of the ocean, a dislike and fear that stay with her into adulthood. She’s talking about the places I grew up.
Since we cannot as children accept that our pain and suffering is the result of abuse by our caretakers for how else should we survive? I believe we attach these feelings instead to places—from houses to neighborhoods, to towns, cities, states and even countries.
I love the beach and the ocean because of beautiful memories garnered there. But I dislike a particular neighborhood and hate a style of house (pastel-green stucco, tract home) for the trauma I experienced from adults in those locations.
Do you hate or fear a particular place as a result of childhood trauma?