I returned to the reservation feeling free. I was safe and sound physically. Mentally I needed help. I dove head first into a new world of self medicating. I spent my life till then trying to adjust myself to fit in whatever situation I was in, but never really feeling like I fit in. I knew I wasn't normal. I knew my life wasn't normal.
The drugs provided an escape. There is no such thing as normal when you are high and I found this to be irresistible. When I was stoned, I was just stoned. I wasn't the girl who was abandoned by her mother, or the girl who was molested, or the girl who watched her mother get raped. The weight of hiding my memories disappeared, because I was empty inside and there was no place to keep them.
I partied with my cousins and fought with my aunt and uncle. My aunt and uncle treated me just like their own children, and I behaved no differently. I snuck out like my cousins, lied, stole and received my share of punishments along with them. My aunt used a long wooden rod to deliver punishment. She use to line us up if we were caught together and dish out the blows one person at a time. It was always worse if you were the last to get hit. The waiting and anticipation was torture!
Native Americans like to punish their children, we even have a specific holiday every year for it. It's called River Man Day in English. May 3rd all the children in each household will go outside in front of their house and dance and throw blessed corn meal while we wait for the River Men. The River Men are covered in mud, dressed in rags and have a hood covering their head. The only part of their face that is visible is their mouth and it's full of sharp jagged teeth!
When the River Men come, they ask your parents if you have been good. Your parents ALWAYS say that you have not been. Then you are picked up in one swift motion and hauled away while you scream your head off. You are taken to the river, where you are told you will be thrown in and drowned. Eventually other relatives chase after you and rescue you. The entire thing is a ruse to scare you into behaving in the future. It's quite frightening.
The more time I spent high, the less time I spent in class. I use to get high before I got on the school bus in the morning. Once I got to school, I would ditch with my friends and drink and smoke all day. I would sober up enough to get back on the bus to go home. Once home, I would spend the rest of the afternoon hiding in my room so no one would know I was drunk. At night, me and my cousin would take turns jumping out the window and getting stoned on the side of the house while the other was the lookout.
When I did go to class, I found the work to be easy and it bored me. I use to be a straight "A" student and I was in honor classes. My new school offered free birth control in the nurse's office, day care for the girls who forgot to take their pills, and a "3 Strikes" policy when it came to getting caught with dope...but no honor classes.
My teacher's didn't challenge me so I didn't see the point in going to class. I actually had one teacher who use to get high with me. I went to his class all the time. He was the automotive teacher. We use to smoke near the exhaust vent so it would suck the smoke out of the room. It was very convenient.
My new family was loving and I was never abused, but there was dysfunction. My uncle got drunk every night. My aunt and uncle would fight about it. My uncle would sober up and then a couple weeks later my aunt would come home high and drunk herself. Then the cycle would start again. I started to grow a resentment towards my aunt because of all the punishments she dueled out. What a hypocrite, I thought. How could she punish us for doing the exact same thing she was doing?
I had spent so much time being an adult, that I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut in situations where children should not speak. I felt like my aunt's equal and it was hard for me to respect her. It was a battle I fought internally, constantly having to bite my tongue. It was tiring. Self medicating not only helped me to forget my past, but it also took me out of the present.