Hello again !
Today is the first Sunday of Summer, June 22 2014. Today I will pick up the little girl that still lives in me and ask her, why are you so unhappy ? Today I understand her but she has never been heard by others. Her story is my story and every child has one. Is that story important ? Now in my old age I say yes. Not the story but the willingness to honestly share what your first thoughts and feelings were.
A small child knows only what it feels and what it is told. I knew I was unhappy, so I cried. I was a cry-baby. That was very difficult for my mother. She believed when a child is fed and clothed, protected and provided with all it physically needs, it should be happy. I remember her asking me, what is the matter ? I could not tell her. What should I say ? So she said, well if you have no reason for crying, I will give you one; and I got a good spanking and tried not to cry anymore. I feared my mother. Once we had a house-party. The men were is the room for the Gentlemen and the ladies were in the room for the ladies. That was traditional because the topics of discussion were so different for men and women of that time. The children were allowed in the room of the ladies and I remember mother while in conversation drawing me close so that I stood beside her. I did not dare wiggle out of her arm but I felt most uncomfortable and was glad when she released me. The people closest to me were our maids. But they were the maids and I knew I could not talk to them about how I felt. I had already learnt that you needed to please people and what you felt and thought did not matter to anyone. You must not lie but withholding the truth was not considered a lie. Whenever I expressed myself, I was corrected or criticized. As a result I started to distrust my inner feelings. I became convinced I was wrongly made and God was responsible. I felt innocent. I tried to be good but that meant always doing what I was told. So hiding was my escape.
My oldest sister, Elisabeth, felt I should obey her. She was older and had a great sense of responsibility but her I would not obey willingly, so she beat me. I could not defend myself. I just cried. With 6 years I started school in our one-room village school. I wanted to be friends with the girls my age but they let me know that they felt I was not one of them. So I felt rejected. I was laughed at in class when asked about my eye color. I said my eyes were green and every one knew there were only blue, grey and brown eyes. There was a tiny boy my age who for some reason started beating me in the schoolyard and I could not defend myself. He used me like a pushing bag and I let it happen. My sister Brigitte, one year younger, was scratching and biting. Once she took both her hands and with her nails like a cat scratched my whole face. I just cried. Parents did not intervene much in these matters. Their philosophy was, children need to learn to defend themselves. Life was challenging and weaklings could not survive. I had a built in knowing of what was right or not. Anyone who acted differently than what I believed must be wrong. I was very judgmental because I could see only right or wrong. And I felt I knew what was right.
But there were times when I was happy. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon the fine horses were put to the carriage and we took a ride for the enjoyment of nature. I was allowed to sit high on top with the driver and at one point he let me hold the rains. I loved it. I also remember a picnic in the nearby woods, the family gathering mushrooms, picking wild strawberries and the games and dances we learned with our governess. Best of all were the summer times when we went to the Baltic Sea and visited with our relatives. We stayed at a hotel but spent time together on the most beautiful white sandy beach and took walks through the park-like woods nearby. There I got to know mother’s mother, my aunts and cousins . All that ended when the war broke out in 1939. I was 7 years old and everything changed.
I will continue. I promise, Tela