A Stolen Life - A Memoir Part 9
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What I have learned is the difference between supportive therapy and enabling therapy. In my opinion from reading several reports and from what Phillip told me I think one of Phillip's therapists was an "enabling therapist" who explained away why Phillip didn't show up for appointments. In one incident Phillip had tested dirty on one of the random drug tests he was asked to do. When it came back dirty, he told his therapist that he was at a party and someone must have slipped it in his drink. The worst part is the therapist apparently believed him and made excuses to the parole board for him. He and Nancy both saw this therapist three days before they took me from my home and four days after. I'm not saying that the therapist should have known; I'm just saying it's strange that the therapist would not have seen something amiss. Phillip was given the excuse he had been looking for. His "self-medicating" all these years was apparently due to the fact that he had ADD and bipolar disorder. The therapist recommended Zoloft for bipolar and Ritalin for the ADD. I wonder what would have happened if the therapist had held Phillip accountable?
It's also my opinion that another of Phillip's doctors was also an "enabler." He used to have Phillip come to his office every month or so, and apparently he thought Phillip was a changed man, too. Printing for Less started making and printing his business cards, letterhead, and envelopes. He wanted an exact color and font match and that was very difficult on ink jet printers and the color didn't always come out right and we'd have to do a reprint. In 2008, Phillip went to see him with Nancy. Phillip told me later when he got home that he had finally told the psychiatrist that he has been hearing voices. Phillip told me that for the next three months the psychiatrist didn't return any of Phillip's messages or letters and that he went without his medication for all those months, too. By then he had switched to Dexedrine for the ADD and wasn't taking anything for the bipolar. Phillip said that with G.o.d's help he could control the manic side of his personality. And most of the time he succeeded. Phillip had a hard time focusing on anything for long time periods. His thoughts were scattered, and his mind was going in fifty different directions at once. Everything seemed to be falling apart. We were all miserable. The psychiatrist finally mailed Phillip a prescription for his ADD meds. But what I find strange is: Wasn't this doctor curious as to why his patient was acting like this and what his patient was up to? In my eyes, Phillip was essentially asking for help and didn't get it. What can you say? Then his mom fell and things just got worse.
Phillip says Nancy is really having a hard time when he and the babies call me "Mommy." She says she's had a few miscarriages and her blood pressure problems have always prevented her from keeping a baby to term. That makes me feel really bad for her. Phillip says that she feels like an outsider as she watches me and the kids and it's tearing her apart. He says it would be a good idea to bring us all together so we can all be a family for the kids if we start calling her "Mom" and referring to me as the girls' "sister." I don't want Nancy to feel like she is an outsider. I just don't want to call her "Mom." I have a mom. I love and miss my mom. Doesn't he know how hard this is for me? It would be nice if the girls didn't depend on me for everything. I could use some more help with them, and some adult conversation would be wonderful, too. I know it will be a little confusing for A at first because she is so used to calling me Mommy, but I think she loves Nancy, too, and if she sees me doing it, she'll follow along. If we start now, Phillip says G will think Nancy is her mom and A is young enough to forget about me in time. Nancy will finally feel like part of the family. He says I should pick a name that I like to be called.
After a couple of days of thinking, I decide on my new name and tell Phillip and Nancy my choice. I say I want to be called Allissa. I used to love to watch Who's the Boss? and my favorite actress is Alyssa Milano. But I want a different spelling. I want it spelled A-L-L-I-S-S-A. This is what the girls will grow up calling me.
Pretending to Be a Family
It was the Fourth of July yesterday and Phillip wanted us to go up on the roof of the barn and watch the fireworks. I was scared to climb the ladder and even more scared to be up on that old falling-down barn with the girls. But Phillip said it was really st.u.r.dy and safe and if it could support him, it could support us. So we all climbed the ladder, and he carried the girls up one at a time. A is four and G is already one and walking everywhere she can. She is always on the go. She is saying words like Lissa, Dada, and Mum.
It is a warm night outside. The stars are s.h.i.+ning and the moon is a crescent in the sky above me. I sit on the roof and think of my mom and our compet.i.tion about the moon. I think of her and sing to myself the song we used to sing together, "I see the moon and the moon sees me, G.o.d bless the moon, and G.o.d bless me." Miss her so much.
G is getting restless. Nancy is trying to talk to her and get her to watch the fireworks. I think the loud noises are scaring her, and I long to hold her close but I don't want it to look like I'm taking over from Nancy. G is squirming and fighting to get free from Nancy's hold on her. She is reaching back toward me to hold her. I tell Nancy that I will hold her if she wants me to, but she thinks the fireworks are just scaring her. She tells Phillip that she thinks we should go inside. Phillip is getting restless, too, so we all climb back down and go inside, where Nancy gives me the baby to breast-feed. Sometimes I feel like all I do is feed her. She loves to eat, but sometimes I think it is more of a comfort thing with her. She's always so restless and fidgety. She loves her pacifier. We call it her Bucky. I feel better now that she is in my arms. On the roof I felt like my pulse was going to jump out of my skin. I wanted to just grab her and hold her to me. I would not have known what to say to Nancy after that. Our relations.h.i.+p is so tenuous. I am trying hard to hold on to what little we have built.
Phillip and Nancy are taking us to the beach today. I am a little scared because I haven't been out in public for a long time. What if I do something wrong? Phillip says we will just be an ordinary family at the beach. There's nothing to worry about.
When we arrive at the beach, it gives me an amazing feeling of freedom. I know I am not free, though. We park along a rocky cliff and get out to have a look at the ocean. When A gets out she is immediately terrified of the cliff and falls to her knees in fear. I want to go comfort her and tell her it's okay, that there is nothing to be afraid of, but Phillip is there with her instead and tells her he will carry her down.
We spend many hours on the beach. I love playing in the water with the girls. Nancy comes out to play, too. Phillip sits on the blanket in the sand and reads his Bible. After lunch we all head for a walk down the beach. My legs are burning even though I have been exercising with Nancy. The girls are having a fun day and I'm glad they get to have this experience. Phillip's back starts to hurt him, so we make our way back to the car and go home to the backyard.
A few weeks later, Nancy says she wants us to go get our nails done. She says she is going to work on Phillip to convince him that this would be good for our relations.h.i.+p. On the inside I really don't want to go anywhere. I'm afraid, too. Phillip comes to me and gives me one hundred dollars and says Nancy is going to take me on an outing. He says it will be fun.
I get in the car with Nancy and we take off for the nail salon. I am so nervous. What if the person doing my nails sees my hand shaking? When we arrive, I put on my "I can do this" face and follow Nancy in. She tells the j.a.panese lady that we want a manicure. I sit down in the chair and hand my hand over to the lady. Thankfully, it is not visibly shaking, but I am on the inside. I just want to go back to the girls. The lady asks me questions and I answer automatically. I am not really here. I am not an actual person. I am n.o.body. n.o.body sees me.
My nails are done and we are back in the car. We stop for lunch at Jack in the Box and eat in the car. Nancy really enjoyed getting her nails done. She got a French manicure and says the lady chipped one of her nails. I tell her I can hardly see it and that her nails look beautiful.
We arrive home. Phillip is sitting in his chair reading the Bible and the kids are watching The Lion King. Nothing has changed, yet everything has. I went out today and came back and n.o.body noticed. n.o.body cared to ask who I was.
Our next outing is to Walmart. I stick close to Nancy and feel self-conscious being here. I look no one in the eye. My hands are shaking ... will anyone notice?
I wasn't allowed to leave his "secret backyard" until my youngest daughter was two and we went to the Brentwood Cornfest. By then Phillip had Nancy cut my hair really short and dyed it brown. I had put on about thirty extra pounds from being pregnant and Phillip didn't think there was any way anyone was going to recognize me. I remember being really nervous and when I arrived I stuck real close to Phillip and kept my eyes averted from everyone. Nancy gave me a big baggy black s.h.i.+rt and I wore black jeans. By then I had resigned myself to my fate. The biggest memory I have from that day was, I had no voice and I didn't shout to the world "Hey, it's me, Jaycee!" even though I longed to. I was Allissa, the girl who gave birth to two girls that needed to be protected from the evilness of the world, and that was my main goal. I don't remember too much from that day; I do remember Phillip encouraging me to go on one of the rides. I didn't want to go by myself, but I ended up on the swing ride that takes you round and round. I remember thinking as the ride made circles around itself that I wish I was free like the people I see here. Free to walk around and be me. But I wasn't. The next time we went out was Halloween that same year 1999, we went to the Smith Farm and we all dressed up that year, me and Nancy were hippies, A was Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and my youngest daughter was Blue from Blue's Clues. Phillip wore his old '70s-style rock 'n' roll outfit that he had kept from his days when he was in a band. He brought his guitar and serenaded anyone that would listen. It was quite embarra.s.sing, but everyone was friendly and polite. The kids got to pick pumpkins and it was fun. One thing remained the same: I knew we had to return to the "secret backyard," where there was no house to come home to, just a building and by that time a few tents.
One outing melted into the next. I learned to not look people in the eye. I felt if I did, they would ask me questions I couldn't possibly answer. I stuck close to Nancy. I could feel my hands shaking when I reached out to touch something I wanted. In time going out became easier and we even brought the girls shopping with us. But I could never shake the feeling that one day someone would say, "Hey, aren't you that missing girl?" but n.o.body ever did. I was n.o.body. n.o.body saw me.
There is a stray cat in the backyard that Phillip feeds and she had a batch of kittens. He calls her "mama kitty." She is going to live in the house with Phillip's mother. He found homes for all the kittens except one who he is keeping tied up in the backyard. He named him Blackjack. He is very friendly. It's nice having a kitty around again. I didn't like how Phillip was treating him, though. When he would go on his "runs," Blackjack could sometimes be heard crying at night. He is not fixed yet, so the crying is loud and gets on Phillip's nerves. To shut him up, he tosses the contents of his urine bucket on poor Blackjack. I hate it and tell him to stop. When he's high on drugs, he never listens to me. But I bring it up again when he's coming off of the drugs and he says he feels bad about doing that to the cat and promises me he won't use that method anymore. I tell him it would help to get him fixed, and Phillip says he will look into getting it done.
Blackjack lived a long life. Toward the end I took primary care of him and I was the one that found him when he died. It was very hard for me. At the time, I had made a cat enclosure which he would go in at night to keep safe, and that's where I found him one morning. It was in 2002, he was all curled up dead and stiff. I cried a lot for him. I could tell his time was coming, though, because he was not himself for many days before that.
A few years later, when the girls were little, I used to go outside to be by myself. Sometimes I would feel a pressure build inside of me. The need to run away would feel so heavy that in order to soothe myself, I would sit by myself outside. Not where anyone could see me-just to a point where I felt I was away and by myself. One of my favorite spots was a woodpile that was on the other side of one of the many fences in the backyard. One day I noticed that a stray cat was going back there a lot, so I sat for a long time and watched and, sure enough, out popped three little kittens. I put wet food out for them, trying to lure them out. Only one turned out to be friendly and I asked Phillip if I could keep him and he said yes. The others he took to the local pound for adoption. The one I kept was a male, long hair, he looked like a Maine c.o.o.n. I named him Tucker. I think he was the first cat that I really felt was mine. Although I loved Eclipse, I never really felt she was mine. I found Tucker myself. I fed him. I made sure he was safe, I loved him deeply. He was always so sweet and affectionate and came whenever I called. Well ... sometimes. I remember one evening at dinnertime, I called and called and he didn't come for the longest time. I usually let them out during part of the day and then I put them back inside their enclosure at night by feeding them. Well, that day I called and called and was becoming very scared that I would never see him again. When there he comes over the fence and starts meowing for dinner. I was so relieved. He lived in there with a stray cat that we caught in one of those humane cat traps. We kept seeing this black stray cat around the yard and he was eating all the birds, so we decided we needed to do something. We caught him and got him fixed and I decided to keep him, too. I named him Lucky. He turned out to be a very nice cat, too. Very good personality, loved to eat! He lived with Tucker for many, many years. They were like brothers. The day they died broke my heart. To this day, even writing this right now I feel the tears coming.
It all started the day before Halloween. I was in the office, working, when G came running in saying there were two big dogs in our backyard. I became concerned for the kids first of all and ran outside to see them for myself. As soon as I got out there, two big huskies went running back from where they had come from, which happened to be through a hole they had chewed from our neighbors' yard to ours through two fences. I put up a piece of wood and thought that would take care of the problem; looking back, I wish so much I would have taken the time to do a better job of securing that fence, but hindsight is 20-20.
The next day, about midmorning, I was working in the office again, when in came the kids again saying the dogs were back. This time I wasn't as panicky. They seemed harmless to me, and I was sure as soon as I went outside they would go back over the fence. So Phillip, Nancy, the girls, and I went out to the back and shooed them back over and were getting ready to make the hole more secure so it wouldn't happen again. Everyone was out there helping me get the dogs back over and then I turned around and went to say "Hi" to my cats, Tucker and Lucky, but they didn't move because they were dead. I felt such devastation I don't think I moved for a long time. Phillip saw me, then looked at them and saw the huge hole the dogs had made in the enclosure which they were in. The kids were out there, too, and hadn't seen them yet or even realized what had happened, they just saw me sobbing and on my knees. I just couldn't help it. I was so devastated. Phillip stayed with me while Nancy took the girls inside, I'm not sure what she told them, but I stayed outside sobbing. Phillip went over to the neighbors to let them know what happened, and I soon heard them working on the fence. Surely, they could hear me cry, too; but I just wanted them to fix the fence so it didn't happen again to any of our other cats. I cried all day that day and several days thereafter, especially during feeding time when I didn't have to make as many dishes as I used to; those times were especially hard and sometimes I would have A finish. I stayed in bed a lot and slept; the first night I cried so hard during the day that I got a killer sinus headache that night and wasn't able to sleep well. It took time to get over the loss of them, especially Tucker, who I will remember forever because I found him and he loved me.
In 2006, Nancy and I brought home two kittens on one of our thrift store outings for the girls. They were being given away in a box outside of the supermarket. We picked two out and brought them home. The girls named them Princess and Misty. Princess attached herself to my youngest daughter and would follow her around like a puppy. Misty was more of the laid-back type and spent many hours in my eldest daughter's lap.
A Stolen Life - A Memoir Part 9
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A Stolen Life - A Memoir Part 9 summary
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