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After many sad, sad weekends with my family and many complaints, my sister J and I were placed in a foster home. I can’t remember a lot about that time, I don’t think we were there very long. However, I do remember being in a school play about an evil queen who hated Christmas. It seems to me that we lived just outside of town in a nice little house, but it wasn’t happy. The lady of the house was mean and mad at us most of the time. I remember having to do a lot of work and it had to be done just right or she would either whip us or make us go to bed without dinner. I was hungry a lot. I do remember being afraid of her; her moods would change so quickly. One minute she would be loving and comforting and the next, she would pinch you hard, for no apparent reason. I can’t picture her husband; I don’t think he hurt me. But by then I was learning to shutdown when things were bad. I would go somewhere else in my mind, like a fantasyland or maybe no place at all, I would just disappear and everything that was bad would go away and I would come back to reality and things would be okay. I think the lady died or something, because the next thing I knew we were back at the Center, in the Receiving Unit. I think I was about 9 years old.
Mr. L was in charge of the Receiving Unit; he was an evil man. I remember one incident where someone had chewing gum and it had somehow gotten on the floor and he was convinced that I was the one responsible, but he was wrong. He took me into a bathroom and had me grab the sink and then he whacked me with a wooden paddle and told me I was a liar. I was angry and I determined in my mind right then and there that I wouldn’t cry, he whacked me again, I still would not cry, he wacked me again and again harder each time, I would not shed a tear for his satisfaction. My backside was on fire and the lump in my throat nearly choked me. I could barely breathe. When he quit whacking me I could barely walk I was shaking all over. I thought I would faint. When I finally reached a place to hide I cried and cried. I couldn’t understand why bad things kept happening to me. I did however learn something that day. I had power! I didn’t fully understand it but it filled me with a sense of pride. There would be many more times in my life when that power would show itself.