Matthew West has this new song called Broken Girl. It is a song he wrote after many survivors of childhood abuse wrote in telling their stories to him. The words of his song can grab at the hearts of anyone who has been abused. I made a youtube video to the song just click on the title to see it.
This morning my sister and I took our dad in for an outpatient procedure that he was being put under for. After an hour and a half a nurse came and got us and lead us down a few hallways into a recovery room of where he was. When we walked up to the bed he was at there was a nurse at his side. I immediately looked at her and said, “I know you.” She looked at me and said, “you do?” It was all coming to me at once. At first glance I knew I knew her but I didn’t know how. Suddenly it all came flooding back to me and I said, “You were the school nurse at my high school when I was there.” She said, “Oh you went to Schaumburg High School.” I explained to her that I was a student that never saw the school nurse or went home sick my 4 years of high school. I saw her once my freshmen year for a TB test for my first job at a daycare and the next time I was in her office I describe in my first book Stolen Innocence. A day I have not gone back to remember in so much detail until today standing in front of this nurse. That day came my senior year of high school in October 2003. It started off as any ordinary day in school but after returning from lunch I felt uneasy entering 5th period. Suddenly I felt myself being pulled into a panic attack so much that it got other students attention who got the teachers attention. Suddenly the panic attack pulled me into a flashback. The teacher tried talking to me but I couldn’t talk my voice was silent, she pulled a desk out in the hallway and tried getting me to talk there but I wasn’t there I was somewhere else unable to communicate. She told me to stay there she was going to go find the school psychologist. I was at a point in my life where I was still struggling with self-injury but with the panic attacks I found throwing up as what would stop the flashback/panic attack. A part of me looked at that as getting rid of those dirty awful memories that were haunting me. When the teacher left I took off at a fast past to the bathroom just wanting this intruding memory to stop and was ready to stick my finger down my throat. As I entered the bathroom I stop myself and said to myself, “I can’t do this, throwing up is only going to make things worse it won’t solve anything.” I turned back around and headed back to the desk in the hallway. When I returned my teacher was there with another teacher and she informed me that this teacher was going to walk me down to my guidance counselor. The entire walk down the hallway I was going inbetween past and present with that final time my cousin ever abused me haunting me. Reliving every step of it. Once in the guidance office I sat in a chair and was told by this teacher my guidance counselor would be out shortly. I was once again alone and pulled back into that terror of that night.
My guidance counselor was soon by my side asking me what was wrong. I couldn’t talk I tired but my voice went silent. I wouldn’t even look at her I was focused on the ground consumed in my pain. I kept trying to talk but couldn’t find my voice. My guidance counselor told me to follow her and she lead me into the nurse’s office. I was now standing in front of the nurse (who I saw today). She told me to sign in on my card. Each time a student comes to the nurse they have to sign in why they are there. I couldn’t do it. She was looking at me asking what was the reason I was there. I couldn’t talk so my guidance counselor asked the nurse if I could just lie down in one of the beds. My guidance counselor encouraged me to go lie down until she could locate the school psychologist to come speak with me. I entered the small dark room which had several beds but no one else was in there. I closed the door and was soon in complete darkness curled up in a ball. That is how it was for the next half hour as I laid there now crying to myself and planning in my head how to end my life. I had sleeping pills at the time and figured that would be the easy way to end this pain by going in my sleep. Eventually my dark thoughts were interrupted when I felt the hand of someone on my back telling me
“I am okay”. A voice I recognized the school psychologist. She asked me if my mom knew I was in here. (My mother worked at my high school). I shook my head “no” and she said she would be right back. She went and found my mom who got me sitting up and drinking water. The school psychologist turned to my mother and explained that she is really concerned with how much I have been struggling. They both felt more needed to be done and got up to go call the private therapist I saw outside of school. With the door now open they asked the nurse if they could step into the office right next to the room I was in and use the phone in private. The nurse agreed and the two of them called my therapist whose voicemail they received. The school psychologist had to get to a meeting and my mom had to get back to her job but they both agreed they didn’t feel safe sending me home by myself. The school psychologist asked that I come down to her office 7th period and that my mom would come back to the nurses office to walk me down there. Soon they both left. I sat consumed with thoughts of wanting a way out of this life because I could not find a voice to share not only the horrors of that final night I was abused by my cousin but the many other days and nights he abused me. Especially when I actually felt like I was reliving these flashbacks because I was trained not to talk about it and the shame of it all consumed me. Things were said and done that kept me in silence.
The events of that day ended with me ending up in a partial hospital program for a week and a half. Where I would learn more ways of healthy coping yet still kept so much in the dark about my life. I still had so much left I needed to give a voice to. A voice to the broken girl I once was.
As I wrote this blog UPS pulled up to the house to deliver a box in my name from a producer at Harpo Studios. In that box was images and videos of that broken girl I was that was used for my piece that aired in October when I appeared on Oprah talking about Erin’s Law.
As I relived this high school moment today I finished it by sharing with the once high school nurse that asked what I am doing now and started to mention Erin’s law and she immediately said, “Your Erin! I’ve been reading all about you in the paper following what you have done. I have to go get your books what are the titles?”