And so it begins. Still young, yet innocence begins to fade. One little girl struggling to exist to understand to find her place, her frustration overwhelming. Beth takes her overwhelming emotions, and pours them out over Lorettia. Lorettia is smaller, weaker, unable to fight back, the perfect receptacle for Beth's overwhelming emotions, frustration and anger. At first it's verbal only, shouting, mean words. Quickly it escalates. A smack, a slap, arms wrenched. Lorettia runs, tries to escape. Again and again.
8, 10, 12. Words exchanged. Beth learns to swear, continues to grow stronger. Lorettia is small, fierce in her own way, she tries to use words to hurl back, to stand up. She calls Beth the devil. Beth explodes, cursing, raging. Two girls, still little but with big hurts. By now Lorettia runs at the first sign of anger. How fast can she go? Will she make it to safety this time, bathroom door locked? Or will Beth catch her, smash her head into the wall, wrap her hands around her throat? A cycle is cemented. Two sisters play, have fun. Tension lies beneath the surface. Lorettia never knows when Beth will switch. Good, good, good, explode. Sometimes the tension of the good and waiting is too much. Lorettia pokes at Beth, just to get the explosion over with.
10, 12, 14. Dawn is still there, but still separate. from the world for two. Beth and Lorettia, entwined. They keep each others secrets, closest but oh so dangerous. Lorettia stops eating, struggle with friends at school. Her one friend, her closest bestie, leaves her. Lorettia tries a new group, maybe here she will fit? Boys form a line, "No body likes you, they just pretend, go away."
School hurts, home hurts, church hurts. Always alone. Any attention, good or bad, Lorettia is desperate. Violence escalates. Beth makes a mistake. She doesn't realize Dad is home. Smashes Lorettia into the pantry cupboard. Lorettia hits the ground, dazed. Dad's chair smacks upright. What? Beth freezes. Dad sends her to her room. Lorettia feels a sliver of hope, Daddy knows, maybe now she'll be safe.
Nothing changes. Not for better.
Beth amps up. More careful now. Lorettia knows it'll never stop. Nothing will change. Only hope is to do everything Beth asks, and run as fast as possible. She learns how to figure out if she has a concussion, and keep herself awake when she does. This is life. Two girls trapped in the cycle.
12, 14, 16. The littlest girl. Lorettia is still small. Middle School. Cigarettes and alcohol. Diet Pepsi and carrots are lunch. Small, but not small enough. New friends. Good and bad. Home is the same. Beth is stronger, more violent. Rapid cycles. We don't know it yet, but ADHD has been joined by bipolar. No one recognizes the signs. Beth is flying high and low, bad choices, overwhelming emotional swings. Lorettia receives it all. One time Lorettia is fast enough, locks the bathroom door. Sits on the counter, panic attack, fear. Beth smashes the door, the crack of wood is deafening. Both are shocked. Beth disappears. Lorettia shakes, what if that door was me?
14, 16, 18. The last year all three are at home. Dawn is in college, even more separate than before. Beth still full of ravaging emotions, no way to regulate. Either through the roof happy or in the pit down. Anger reigns in both. Lorettia enters high school. First real boyfriend. He's bipolar. Any intimacy equals him hitting, hurting himself. Lorettia starts to cut. Depression overwhelms. There seems to be no way out of the unhealthy cycle. Everyone struggles, no where feels safe. Everything is out of control. Eating and cutting provide control for Lorettia, a place where she inflicts the pain, punishes herself for every wrong word said, any perceived imperfection.
Dawn goes away for college. Mom and Dad leave for a cruise with Grandma and Grandpa. Beth and Lorettia (17, 15) left at home alone. Panic, fear. In desperation Lorettia goes to the school counselor. Suicidal. Gets admitted to the psych ward. Safe. What a crazy place to be safe. Lorettia is able to relax. Her counselor is unimpressed, doesn't think Lorettia belongs there, she doesn't understand the danger at home, alone with Beth.
16, 18, 20. Dawn is still away at college. Beth has moved out to live with a boyfriend. Just Lorettia and her parents. Relief, but now she is stuck in her habits. Starving, cutting, so addictive, they let her feel something. She dances now, another release, but healthy. Changes friends at school, to a better crowd. Less drinking, no mind games, no mental abuse. Change.
Graduation. Lorettia is 17. Still mostly innocent, having kissed and made-out, but not more with boys. She quits drinking. Works for a year. Then off to college (18). Free, she slowly begins to learn to trust, one friend close, a few a little less. Healing starts. Still locks her dorm room door 24/7 trying to feel safe. Even though no one is hurting her now.