This chapter of my memoir has been the hardest to write because no matter how I try, I can’t get past the pain. Not fully. I’m still unable to talk about what happened to me without it making me cry.
Full disclosure – this is a long-ass chapter, guys. Ngl. But I’m hoping you guys can give me some feedback on it and I’m also hoping that in sharing it with you, it will be less of a heavy burden because it will finally be out in the open. I’ve kept it secret for so long. Maybe too long.
Is there a statute of limitations on trauma?
Anyway…*deep breaths* here it is…Thank you in advance for bearing with such a longgggg chapter. I really appreciate it.
Chapter 4: Annihilated
I was 17 and ½ when depression first hit me. It came at me like an unexpected tornado – tearing up everything I thought I knew and changing my world (seemingly overnight) from colours and happiness to a misty, thick fog of grey. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t understand the sudden (yet invisible) lead weights on my body that held me down and made even simple things 1000 times harder than they used to be. Everything became overwhelming. Showering was too hard. Brushing my teeth was suddenly “too much”. Making breakfast seemed an impossible feat. Getting dressed seemed as improbable. How was this so easy only a few days ago?
I was confounded by the invisible thick, cloudy bubble that had appeared around me and kept me from being able to participate in life. I couldn’t connect with anyone. I couldn’t feel anything except sadness. I was either deeply unhappy or I was frightened. There was nothing else. I was teary all the time and everything hurt so much – no matter how innocent things seemed, they somehow felt like an attack. I just didn’t understand it at all.
Back then, there wasn’t a lot of information on mental illness and what was known was scary to my friends and I. In the 90’s, mental health was thought of as something wrong. Something shameful.
There was so much fear and judgement because there just wasn’t enough awareness or knowledge. I didn’t want to be labelled “a psycho”.
My parents and I were fighting constantly – they didn’t know how to help me, so they backed away and I took their distance as a rejection. I ended up asking for help at Church and it was recommended I move out of home and into a Church girl’s home “for a while”. I moved into the “Girl’s home” and shortly after, was hospitalised in a Private Psych ward because I completely fell apart.
I remember unpacking in the hospital room and seeing the world through weary eyes. I’d never felt so broken before. Nothing made sense. I felt as if I was a little boat suddenly adrift in a deep, scary ocean and I didn’t know how to get back to land. It was an absolutely terrifying shift.
This was the most frightened, alone and vulnerable I had ever felt.
That’s when Enna decided to pounce.
Enna was another young girl living in the Church girl’s home I’d moved to. Our bedrooms were next to each other, and we attended the same Church and Youth group – so the physical closeness and common lifestyle made us close friends. I even thought of Enna as a best friend. I trusted her.
Enna is a master manipulator, you know. She had me convinced she was friendly, sweet and funny. Enna looks deceptively nice. She had a cute giggle. She was slightly overweight (or was at that time) so she came across as cuddly and non-threatening.
I had only been in hospital maybe a week before Enna came to visit. We were sitting on my bed in the Psych Ward when she made her first move.
“Hey Janet…has your Dad ever…um…touched you?” Enna asked.
“We hug all the time!” I replied happily.
“No…like…touched you” Enna repeated herself firmly.
I didn’t understand. I didn’t like the odd feeling it gave me in my stomach.
“What do you mean?” I asked, frowning.
“Well, he’s not your real Dad, is he?” Enna countered. “So really, he could have sex with you, and it wouldn’t be incest at all”
I gulped. I was appalled by the very thought of it. In hindsight, had I been stronger, I would have shut that conversation down. But when Enna spoke to me on that visit, my head was fuzzy with new meds, I was dizzy and nauseous. I had Gareth’s (my controlling boyfriend at the time) crazy ideologies floating about, plus I was still thinking about my recent psychiatry session and the things I was working through in my personal life…so Enna’s prompting was really confusing to me.
“No that isn’t right…” I started. “He’s never…”
“That’s how it all starts” Enna interrupted me and patted my hand “Just a quick hug here and there…but I bet he brushes against your boob or something, hey?”
I frowned. This didn’t make sense at all.
My breasts? What did this have to do with my Dad?
“It’s okay” Enna soothed, stroking my arm – the repetitive motion of it was distracting me “You can confide in me” she said. “That’s why I was moved away from my home…because my Dad was having sex with me. I can see it in your eyes that you’re suffering the same thing too. Why else would you be in hospital?”
No no. This wasn’t right.
“But my Dad, he never -“
“Shhh” Enna soothed again. “We’ll keep it between us girls”
“There’s nothing to keep between us” I tried again, blinking and trying to clear my head “My Dad hasn’t done anything. I’m not…I’m not” I wanted to say “I’m not in hospital because of sexual abuse, I’m here because of depression” but Enna cut me off.
“You’re not well” she soothed. It was almost like she was hypnotising me with the soft, leading voice she used.
“I’m not well” I found myself repeating.
“That’s right” Enna encouraged “You aren’t really in control of your thoughts, you’ve probably blocked out what your Dad did to you, you poor thing”
“My Dad didn’t touch me…like that” I felt so uncomfortable even saying this. But I had to defend Dad. I didn’t understand why Enna was pressing forward with this awful topic.
“He did. That’s why you’re suffering now. Your Dad used your body for his pleasure and now you don’t know what to do” Enna was planting seeds and in my vulnerable state, they were quickly gaining ground.
“My Dad would never…” I tried again. I felt like I was trying to swim against a really strong current.
“He did” Enna urged “He did it every time your Mom fell asleep. He snuck into your room and because you were so ashamed, you couldn’t tell anyone. Thankfully, you’ve confided in me, Janet” at this, Enna beamed a smile at me “That was your first good step and I’ll take care of you. I’ll look after you. I’ll make sure it never happens again”
This strange coaxing went on for about an hour that day. And the next day. And the next and the next until I was convinced Enna was right and that I had been in danger all along. I know you’ll probably read this and wonder how I was so stupid to have believed her. I know you will want to know why I didn’t just stop Enna in her tracks and refuse to hear another word about it. The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know why I gave in to her. All I can say is that I was heavily drugged every day that I was in hospital, highly susceptible to suggestion and easily manipulated.
Enna saw an opportunity and she grabbed at it with both hands.
Over a period of about 3 months, Enna visited me daily. Training me. Coaching me. Pressing and prodding me until I was powerless. Looking back on it now, Enna always visited alone. She would ‘corner’ me in my room and distract me whenever I tried to leave or ask her to leave. On every visit there was constant subtle coaching from Enna to “tell my secret” until even I started to believe I’d been badly abused and had just “buried it in my subconscious” (Enna’s words, not mine). Enna talked to me so much about “what my Dad had done” that she convinced me it was fact and that I needed to do something about it.
When Enna felt secure in ruining my relationship with my Dad, she moved on to my friends.
After a few months of being an inpatient, I was allowed a few hours of “hospital release” and I was excited to return to Church and to Youth Group. I was really looking forward more than anything to just feeling “normal” again, surrounded by my friends. Over the years, I had built up great relationships with Church members and was surprised to be popular in the Youth group. It seemed every Friday that everyone wanted to talk to me and be around me. It became something I absolutely loved.
When I arrived that Friday night at Youth group though – no one was there to greet me. My ‘fan club’ (a group of girls who usually waited for me in the carpark) were all inside, gathered around Enna – with adoration on their faces. I came into the Church building and felt confused.
“Oh Janet” Enna narrowed her eyes “Nice to see you again”
I didn’t think that was true. If anything, I felt disparaged.
Enna kept talking, regaling the girls with a fantastic story and they all drank it in. No one welcomed me back and I didn’t know where to stand or what to do with my arms. I felt like an outsider. It felt awful.
As the band started to prepare to lead songs, Enna got up onto the stage.
What was this?!?
Enna picked up a microphone and held it to her lips.
That was my mic!
She sang in the band in my place! What on earth was going on here? I couldn’t keep the worried frown from my face.
My best friend Cara was singing along beside me. “Cara” I said, nudging her gently. Cara smiled and raised her eyebrows in question “What’s Enna doing up there?”
“You didn’t know?” Cara replied “She volunteered to do all your duties and leading while you were away in hospital – isn’t that sweet of her?”
I felt it was anything but.
I felt like I was being replaced and I hated it.
In my vulnerable state, I couldn’t think clearly. What had I missed? What was going on? Maybe Enna really was just trying to be helpful and I was reading too much into it?
I went back to hospital feeling I was more at home there than I was in my Church and at Youth Group.
As the next few weeks went along, Enna kept talking to me about my “sexual abuse”. Enna somehow convinced me to ask Nursing staff to prevent my Dad from visiting “It’s just not appropriate” Enna had commanded.
I felt so worn down by Enna; I did whatever she told me to. Looking back on it now, I think that’s exactly what she wanted.
My Mom was really angry about my Dad not being allowed to visit. She stopped talking to me. Enna had caused a huge rift between my parents and I. Enna was systematically separating me from the people I loved. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was now even more vulnerable and there would be no one there to watch over me or protect me from anything Enna else wanted to do.
I remember my 21st birthday. I was in hospital. My brother rang to say happy birthday. We had been very, very close in all our years growing up and hearing his voice on the line meant everything to me. I could hear commotion in the background.
“Jay?” I asked “What’s all that noise?”
“Oh that” Jay chuckled “We’re going on camp, we’re sooo excited! Enna arranged for me to come even though I’m the youngest person going – how cool is that? I think she’s awesome. She really listens to me and has made me feel so welcome”
I don’t know why, but I didn’t like the sound of that.
Jay had never looked up to anyone but me before.
Enna was moving in on my only sibling, now.
I didn’t know the Youth group were even going on camp! I had always been the first to know. The first to be invited. Why had no one told me about this? This was the first time I wasn’t included.
Enna came to visit a few weeks later. I asked her about the Youth camp, but she dismissed my questions and instead distracted me with an entirely new problem.
“Janet – I have a wonderful idea”
“We should get a house together!”
“Yeah – so we can finally get away from our Dads”
I was so tired at this point. So worn down. So confused. I had psychiatrist appointments and changes of medication every other day. I was so lost and so broken. I believe Enna was fully aware of this.
“I don’t want to move into a new house” I complained.
“Pssht. Don’t be stupid. Of course you do. That’s the control your Dad has you under. You need to be free of him, Janet”
I couldn’t breathe. I felt so upset and confused.
“But we live in a girl’s home right next to Church. We’re already away from our family homes – don’t you want to stay there?” I offered, hoping we could just drop the whole thing.
“No. I need my independence. I can’t be living in a little girls’ home. That makes no sense! Don’t you see?”
“I have all the papers here” Enna put a thick bundle of documents on my lap. “Just sign where I’ve marked it with a highlighter”
Woah. There were so many papers – and they’d all been prepared in advance.
How did Enna already have these? Didn’t we both need to see the house first? How much was this going to cost?
A million thoughts raced around my head. This was a huge decision. I was already struggling having moved out of my family home into the Church girl’s home – that was enough change for me at that moment in time. I didn’t want to have to move again – especially to somewhere I hadn’t seen.
“Janet – you need to move as far away as you can from your abuser” Enna coaxed.
Oh right. That.
I rubbed my forehead. My thoughts were spinning, and my heart was racing. The new medication was making me feel queasy. This was all too much.
Why were there so many papers?
“Shouldn’t I read over them first?” I asked, head throbbing as this was all so overwhelming.
“No need” Enna pushed a pen into my trembling hand “Hurry up. I need you to sign these papers and get this house with me” Enna said that part really quickly, I could barely catch it. Then she went on slowly and with passion: “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather share a first home with than you! You’re my best friend”
“But Enna…I don’t think I’d like -“
“Shhh” Enna squeezed my arm. Hard. It was hurting me. “You don’t know what you want, Janet – you’re in no position to make rational decisions. Just trust me. I’m the one looking after you”
“But I don’t think-“
Enna squeezed my arm harder. It was starting to throb. I looked down at it and back up at her in panic.
“You need to trust that I know what’s best for you” Enna instructed.
I tried to think back to when a friend apart from Enna had visited me last and I couldn’t remember. I tried to remember the last time I had spoken to my brother, and it seemed like weeks ago – which was painful to accept when we used to speak daily.
Maybe Enna was all I had now?
“Well okay…” I started to relent. Enna’s painful arm squeezing stopped immediately.
“Great!” Enna nudged the stack of papers towards me. She was hurrying me to sign them.
“You know people are also talking about what a weirdo you are – being in a psychiatric ward, don’t you?” she asked. Enna knew how important it was to me to appear successful and happy to others, so she had definite leverage over me and knew what it took to convince me to do things I wouldn’t normally do.
“You don’t realise it, hun” Enna coaxed “But you come across as a real psycho. I’m defending you, of course. But…people are still talking. I think it would show them how normal you are if you move out with me. It shows you’re independent and maturing”.
I wanted desperately to convince the people I loved that I was indeed “normal”, so I felt the urge to sign the papers for Enna…yet something inside me was very uneasy.
“Shouldn’t I…I um…sleep on this? Wake up fresh and read over all of these?” I offered, gesturing at the mound of official-looking papers in front of me. These big decisions were usually something I went to my Dad with. Enna had made sure she ruled his positive influence out months earlier.
“No. It’s all sorted. I found a great little place” Enna beamed at me “You want to be seen as normal, right? As strong and capable? This will help. Sign here.” And again, she pushed a pen into my shaking hand.
So I did.
I scrawled my wobbly signature again
This went on for page, after page after page. They all looked very official. Some pages had stamps in the corners with official emblems. The amount of signatures Enna wanted from me seemed endless. Any time I stopped to peer closer at a page and start to read it, Enna would put her arm over the page, covering the text and hurrying me to sign at the bottom. I couldn’t read anything because the words swam in front of my eyes due to the strong medication I was on and Enna continued pushing me to ‘just sign it’. My arm was hurting where Enna had squeezed it and a bruise was forming. I felt so attacked but so helpless at the same time.
Enna was tiring me out. Quickly. Maybe if I just did all this as fast as I could, I could finally lie down. I was so very, very tired.
“Also” Enna continued – again at such a fast and loud pace that I felt bulldozed by it all “They need the bond, but you know I can’t afford it all on my own. don’t you? We need to pay half each. I’ve asked my brother Paolo to pay your half and when you get out, just send him the $2500.00 (!!!)”.
I gulped with difficulty, my mouth was bone dry.
“Actually, just give me your bankcard, I’ll sort out your share of the rental payments”
Enna held her hand out and clicked her fingers impatiently.
“Come on, come on – I’ve got shit to do” Enna said, clicking her fingers again.
I couldn’t concentrate. I was so tired. I was also unaware that Enna swore – a small detail, but a telling one.
Enna picked up my purse from my bedside table, took out my bankcard, other forms of my ID (why was she doing that?) and offered a sweet smile.
“Aww honey, you look exhausted. Lay down. I’ll be back tomorrow. You’re moving on with your life, Janet! This is a good thing” She assured me.
I nodded, eyes already so heavy with the medications I was on.
“See you later” Enna whispered, pulling the door slowly shut behind her. “Shhh”
I allowed the darkness to take over and fell into a fitful sleep.
I had no idea that I was about to enter into hell.
I woke the next morning feeling sick with dread.
What had gone on? Had I dreamed it all? Did I dream Enna’s visit?
Was I now renting a house?
When Enna bounded into hospital that afternoon, I tried to back out of the house agreement. Enna was so angry. “You signed everything already” she was disgusted “You can’t wuss out now”. I told her I had only just recently signed and that I wanted to retract my signatures. I didn’t want to live in a house with her. I didn’t even want to live in the girl’s home anymore. I missed my parents. I missed my brother. I wanted to go home.
Enna responded by baiting me: ” You know I’m doing your duties as Kindergarten Sunday School teacher, right?”
I didn’t know.
“I am taking over all your duties at Church so you can rest. And I’m looking after the little ones…” at this, Enna sighed and picked at a loose thread on her denim jeans. “Little kids are so cute…but you know…they need a lot of protection, too”
“Protection?” I asked. I was getting a strange pain in my stomach as Enna talked – a sense of foreboding that I was getting more and more uncomfortable with.
“Paedophiles…they’re everywhere Janet” Enna sighed as if she was explaining a simple math problem to a child. “It only takes one to ruin a child’s life forever” she continued.
I didn’t like where this was going but I didn’t know what to say or how to stop it.
It was like watching a car crash in slow motion.
Enna pointed angrily at me: “All I have to do is tell one of the little kids to say you touched his little pee-pee and that will be the end of you, Janet”
I was so stunned I didn’t know how to respond.
“Maybe I could even say you made him put it in your mouth?” At this, Enna laughed “Kids are so stupid, honestly”
This was a new and unexpected side to Enna. I didn’t know she had it in her. My entire body started shaking. Tears were welling in my eyes. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn’t believe what she had just said.
“Oh Enna…” she was breaking my heart.
“All I have to do is give a little boy a bag of lollies, tell him what to say and where to point on the doll…and you’ll be in jail before you know it. It’s disgusting how you would do that to such an innocent baby…but that’s what people who have been abused do. They abuse others. You poor thing, so confused and so dangerous. I think jail might even be good for you”
I couldn’t breathe. I was terrified. Could she really do this? The way Enna was talking – it was as if she’d planned this long ago. It scared me how cold and calculated she was.
“I would never…” I started to say, wanting desperately to defend myself.
Enna’s usually friendly façade finally came down: “It’s your word against mine, you pathetic piece of shit. Who do you think people will believe? My word – someone who is a Church leader, a Sunday School teacher and someone they all know to be completely sane – or you, a nutcase who’s been in a psychiatric ward? No one will believe you, so you’d better keep your mouth shut. You’ve signed for this fucking house. Just let it be, Janet. If you don’t make a fuss, then I won’t make a fuss and we can both go on with our lives, can’t we? Wouldn’t you rather be here than in a jail cell? Oh, those poor little children…”
“This is wrong” I was crying hard, wiping tears away and feeling my world spinning out of control. I was panicking, trying to think of someone to tell this to and I was coming up empty. I couldn’t talk to my parents about this. I hadn’t heard from my friends in months. I had a devastating sense of being completely alone against Enna’s disgusting threats. I knew I was losing, and it was so painful.
Still, I tried to stand up for myself “But my friends…they will stand by me…they know I would never…”
Enna laughed. It was not a nice sound. “You ever wonder why people don’t visit you anymore? I’ve turned pretty much everyone against you already and you know what? It was easy and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s why you didn’t get invited to camp, Janet – no one wants to be around you, dipshit”.
My shaking was now out of control and my mind was racing while at the same time, my heart was in agony.
“I will put things to rights” I said, not knowing where I would even begin to do such a thing.
I felt sick with the knowledge that Enna was systematically tearing my life apart. Everything I thought I knew, she’d turned upside down. One by one, Enna had taken from me everything I held dear. My life was all falling down around me. Crumbling to dust.
What have you done, Enna? Why didn’t I see this sooner? Why didn’t I stop this earlier?
How do I fight against an invisible monster?
My head swam with all the horrific possibilities. How was I going to handle all of this?
“Well” Enna got up and began heading for the door “I got what I wanted. Thanks Janet”
“Enna…” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do.
“Just keep your mouth shut if you don’t want to go to jail” Enna repeated “Leave the rest to me”
And she left.
Enna stopped visiting me in hospital once all those papers were signed.
I want so badly at this point in my story to tell you that I won. I want to tell you that I fought the good fight and that everything worked out okay.
But it didn’t. I didn’t win. In fact, I lost so badly and so dramatically, I to this day don’t know how the sheer force of the grief of it didn’t kill me where I stood.
I had hardly any friends by the time Enna was done with me. I tried calling my friends and one by one, they backed away from me. Every phone call began with the friend I was calling speaking first: “Hey Janet, Enna said you would call…” and ended with a lost friendship. I worked my way through my entire telephone book and was devasted to get to “z” and only have 2 or 3 friends that were still willing to associate with me. Enna had gotten to everyone before I could. I had no idea her influence could reach this far.
When you’re young, your friends and in my case – my Church community – are your whole world. By turning mine against me, I felt like my world had crashed down around me. I was devastated. I didn’t know how to cope with all the rumours and gossip. I felt as if Enna held all the cards and I was stumbling around in the dark. It was the most awful time of my life. I had lost my community. My friends. My Church. My little students. I had lost everything.
Over the next few weeks, I found out that “someone” had put a call in to Social Services about “incest” (Incest!!!) in my home; my parents had been visited and my Dad severely warned against it.
The pain my family must have gone through breaks my heart.
I was mortified to find out that my family had been through such an atrocity and absolutely heartbroken that they would think I was at the middle of it. I was so ashamed and embarrassed that this had happened.
Because it had happened without my knowledge, I wasn’t there at the crucial time to stand with my family against such evil allegations.
Mom will be beyond livid with me.
There’s absolutely no way I can get help from my family anymore. I’ll be lucky if they ever speak to me again.
Because of Enna, going home was no longer an option and my family would definitely not be there to support me.
Guys, I was alone.
Alone, alone, alone.
I was nowhere near ready for it, but I had to get out of Hospital.
I managed to get the Medical team at the Hospital to discharge me.
Enna was the last person I wanted to see but I had nowhere else to go. After all, it was agreeing this “shared house” that got me into this awful mess in the first place. I may as well see it, right? Enna begrudgingly agreed to collect me from the hospital and ‘take me home’. I waited in the hospital lobby for 4 hours for Enna to finally get me that day. She made me wait and wait and wait. I had to call to remind Enna to ‘please pick me up’ 6 times.
Enna drove me to ‘our’ house – a small 3-bedroom place in Beechboro. Grey roof and dark bricks. Laminate floors inside. Lots of expensive furniture in the living room, new whitegoods in the kitchen (I could tell they were brand new – they had that ‘just bought’ scent and look to them) and Enna’s bedroom looked like a resort hotel room from what I saw when we passed it on the way to the main living areas. Her sister “Nicole’s” room was next. “Your stuff’s in there” Enna pointed down the hallway, and the smallest room to the back of the house was “my room”.
All my things were there. How had Enna managed this? Everything was strewn across the floor as if it had been ransacked. It broke my heart to see it like that. I spent my first night in my ‘new home’ cleaning out the dust and dirt and making it cosy and comfortable. All of my jewellery, cd’s and valuable items were missing.
“Stuff got lost in the move” Enna shrugged it off when I asked about it.
In total, I probably spent 3 nights in that house. Enna threw me out. She said she didn’t want “a boy staying in a Christian household” (my abusive boyfriend insisted on ‘escorting’ me everywhere at the time) and made Gareth and I both leave.
We both slept on the floor of a friends’ house that night. I couldn’t go home, so I stayed with different friends on different nights, ‘couch surfing’ and doing the best I could to survive in a world that had dramatically changed while I had been an inpatient in the Psych ward. I had gone into hospital with the support of my family, Church and a huge group of good friends. I came out badly (emotionally) beaten, bereft and alone.
I don’t remember in detail the next few months, but I remember it all going very, very wrong for me. I couldn’t sleep, I barely ate. I was constantly on the move from one friend’s couch to another – not wanting to burden any one friend for too long but quickly running out of options and panicking constantly about where I was going to go to next. I was emotionally wrecked and operated solely on adrenaline.
Instead of remaining cool, calm, reasonable and rational, I would panic. I remember physically tugging at friends when I was around them, trying so hard to make them like me and stay with me despite what Enna had said – that I pushed away what little trust I had left with them.
I remember the wariness friends would approach me with and how they’d give each other ‘that look’ between themselves when they were around me – the raised eyebrow look you give your closest friends when you’re around a nutter? I got it a lot. I was so scared all the time, so emotionally mutilated by what Enna had done – and heavily drugged on my anti-depressants. Instead of talking to my friends calmly and rationally; trying to find out what I was up against, I was a hot mess.
I screamed, I cried, I laughed hysterically when I felt so lost that I didn’t know what else to do. I cut myself. I didn’t know how else to show I was in so much pain. I ranted. I raved.
In doing so, I was every bit the ‘psycho’ Enna had warned others against.
I think I lost almost every friend I ever had in that year of hell. It was a year of loneliness, pain, shame and hopelessness, by the way. A year of feeling the ground constantly shift beneath me. Twelve long, lonely months of different couches, the same clothes, constantly battling the plethora of lies, rumours, stories and heresy Enna had left behind for me to wade through. It was a year of feeling the entire time like I was drowning.
I don’t think I truly took a deep breath that whole year.
I was in so much pain, so distressed, wounded, tortured and damaged that entire 12 months. It was so hard for me to tell the truth from the lies; Enna had sewn seeds of untruth everywhere I thought to go. By the time I uncovered the mess she had made, it was often too late and whoever was involved would back away from me as quickly as possible “It’s too intense, Janet – I just can’t…sorry”.
I was also dirt poor. I didn’t have a cent because Enna had taken my bank card.
I couldn’t get a job because Enna had taken my bank cards and passport, too. Enna didn’t just take my money and my identity…she took my family, my friends and most importantly; my belief in myself. She stole my faith, my hope and my dignity.
Enna humiliated and systematically destroyed me.
I found out that apparently, I had been on quite the giddy spending spree in the last 4 months. Those papers I’d signed in Hospital weren’t just for a house, they were for a load of credit card loans, and a heap of other expenses that required signatures first – signatures Enna had gotten from me that day when I was so drugged up, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you up from down without trouble.
I’d worked the previous summer alongside my Dad helping sand door frames and clean walls in preparation for Dad to paint various houses and instead of paying me in money, he gave me my first car – a red Toyota Carolla. While I was laid up in hospital, Enna had that car signed into her possession. I never saw that car again. I suspect it got sold for a good price.
Enna bought herself an expensive mobile phone, erratically paid rent on-and-off with the house of ‘ours’ (that I never actually got to live in) so that we were in arrears with the Real Estate company by months. I now had a black mark against my name in the Real Estate market. Enna had bought expensive clothes, shoes, handbags, watches, activities, lavish meals.
While I’d been deteriorating in hospital, she’d been having the time of her life.
All the furniture and whitegoods I saw on my first night in that house? I had paid for that, I just didn’t know it at the time. Enna’s fancy bedroom furniture and accessories – she’d used my ID and ‘my’ newly acquired credit cards to buy anything she wanted.
Can you imagine? I remember commenting that first night in ‘our’ home on how nice the brand-new fridge was. How Enna must have laughed at me then, thinking “you idiot”.
Because of Enna, I was cast out, judged, and homeless on the streets for a lot of that year – a nomad with no place to call home. No place to lay my head. No place to get any peace.
I was so dejected, demoralised and heartbroken that I honestly just wanted to die.
God, what do I do now?
I spent so many nights over the next year suffering the trauma of being betrayed and disgraced. I can look back now and be grateful for God’s love, protection while I was on the streets, and be grateful for the few friends who stayed by me even though it cost them (Enna made sure anyone who stood by me was also judged and persecuted), but back then – when I was smack-bang in the middle of it, I felt absolutely miserable.
Deeply hurt, badly abused and weirdly, ashamed.
I’d signed those papers after all. I’d brought shame to my family. My poor Dad!
Because I’d trusted this girl, I was now $30,000.00 in debt. Thirty. Grand.
I was badly suffering from a life that someone else had been enjoying to their fullest extent – on my bank roll. Money can always (albeit eventually) be paid back. Everything else…took me years to regain.
Because of Enna, I wanted to die.
I had two choices in that year of hell – give up…or recover.
I chose the latter.
I started out by looking at all ‘my’ bills. All the debts I had to repay. I researched how to budget and how to negotiate reduced payments on accounts from companies. Little by little, I paid everything back. I bought an A4 book from Target with ‘graph pages’ and I made columns where I could work out the incoming Centrelink payments, outgoing rent and bills and how much was left over so I could pay back the debt Enna had left me in. I literally ate 2-minute noodles and tins of soup for years so I could afford to pay things back. Oh, how I longed for a steak.
It took all the strength I had in me to do it. It took me over 15 years to pay everything back.
But I did it.
I’m extremely proud of that.
I don’t know what became of Enna. She somehow disappeared in that year of hell. Enna moved away in the midst of all my suffering. Did my money pay for her flights? I know she had an active Facebook years later. I know her happy, jokey posts on my brother’s Facebook wall angered me in ways I never thought possible. It made me honestly feel sick to the stomach.
I’ve yelled at God with tears streaming down my face many times about Enna. How is this fair, God? She’s so happy! She’s not suffered at all!
Where is the justice in this?
To console my broken heart, I’ve indulged a thousand times in daydreams where I choke Enna to death with my bare hands. I hold her under the water’s surface until the bubbles stop.
I would enjoy killing her. Soak it up, bitch. Let it fill your lungs.
What did I actually do, though? I moved on with my life.
I blocked Enna from my Facebook so I wouldn’t have to endure her happy ‘living my best life’ photos and posts on my brother’s news feed. I wonder which poor gullible, trusting person is financing your happy holiday posts these days, Enna? Hmm?
I forced myself to move forward and surrounded myself with the best people I have ever known; friends who cherished me, loved me, showed me how to shine and lifted me up when I thought I could no longer go on.
I called my parents every week, begging for forgiveness.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to get trust back when your family have been torn apart by incest rumours? It’s damn near impossible. It took my parents a year to talk to me again and 6 more months of constantly having to prove myself – that I was not in any way involved – to start to repair the horrendous damage Enna had done in my family. I had to consistently show my parents how very sorry I was. I had to gain back their trust and that took years.
I had to prove what I hadn’t done. I’m thankful in times such as these for my Mom’s built-in “bullshit detector” because I know when she looked into my eyes, she could tell that I honestly had nothing to do with the incest complaints. Dad was hurting, but I think when you tell the truth; especially if you continue to tell it consistently over time – people can feel it and I think my Dad could tell I meant what I said every time I apologised and begged forgiveness.
I went back to Uni, worked hard in various jobs and eventually (oh my word, it took years and years) corrected my credit rating.
I moved forward one agonising step at a time until I could run again.
And I’m proud of that, too.
Because of Enna, I read over everything that requires my signature and make sure I fully understand what it is before I sign it. My signature has a lot of power so it’s crucial that I know what I’m agreeing to/taking part in before I sign any document.
This harrowing experience has taught me that not everyone is a friend.
Some people are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and no matter how much I love to collect sheep (stay with me on this metaphor), I need to hold back until enough time has passed that I can really trust and befriend that person.
I’ve learnt that people tell you who they really are over time. If you see someone doing dodgy things to other people, I promise you it will only be a matter of time before they do those things to you, too. You’re only immune for a certain amount of time when it comes to shady people doing even shadier things – even if they call you their best friend.
Trust is something that has to be earnt now – not something I give away freely the way I did with Enna because that girl annihilated me.
I can’t go through that ever again.