Sidonia Chronicles: My Uncle Turtle
Dr. Allana Da Graca
Sidonia Chronicles are tales of a young adult who shares her struggle with various forms of abuse. All stories in these tales are fictional. Let’s put a halt on the secret and shame of child abuse.
I hate having these discussions about my past with you but since we are getting to know each other, I figured I would share another story about my broken past. Now if you read my first story you may recall the nature of my anxiety and where it stemmed. Abuse is something that robs you of your feelings of worth. Remember when I mentioned that I felt like a black marker on a black board? The word Invisible is what I used in my self-definition. The hardest part of my secret is when I realized more people knew about this unsaid agreement then I realized.
One thing I did love about being raised by my caretaker is the fact that I did have an Uncle who people called Turtle. It would take many years later to realize why he was given this nick name. With that said, let me tell you all of the reasons I loved Uncle Turtle. He was a man that loved to dress up on Sunday mornings. On certain Sundays I would be forced to wake up early to hear my Uncle Turtle preach to a Pentecostal Christian Church. I loved watching his special performances. Uncle Turtle would have the same red shiny shoes on every time it was his day to preach. He made sure to have a starch white suit on and a fresh perm to slick his hair down for the best presentation.
He loved to talk about the role of faith and how we all had to pray daily for God to give us strength to get through the tough times. When he was ready to drive home a key point in the sermon, Uncle turtle looked like James Brown at the last part of his sermon giving the organist cues as he did the two step in a very fast motion. He got us all so excited there would be one or two people doing cart wheels as the pianist rambled his fingers up and down the keys. We sang spirituals and felt like we were ready to fly off the roof of the building by the time the service ended. Everyone loved to hear Uncle Turtle.
My thought of Uncle Turtle changed when I observed a peculiar trait about him. After church service we all returned home for a major dinner. My caretaker took me and placed me in the tub to get ready to eat the after church meal. At six years old I was petrified of caretaker and literally would be frozen from fear. I was her robot. Caretaker was so scary to me that I would flinch and raise my hands to protect my face if she decided it was my day to get beat. I did this once and fell down two flights of stairs. Child protection service came to the rescue but I was too scared to tell them the truth.
With that said, on this particular day I was in the tub as she asked me to be and stood frozen out of fear. Caretaker came in said, “I have been waiting for you for ten minutes to start this shower and you are still standing there!” She proceeded to take the shampoo bottle that was on the tub and began to hit me with it on my head and chest. I was so scared that I stared at her in disgust with all my six year old strength! This really got her angry so she made me take a cold shower with a brillo pad.
I zoned out and played cartoons in my head as Caretaker continued her rant. I could see Uncle Turtle through the mirror and saw him staring with big eyes as this went on. How could my superhero sit and watch this occur and not step in? He was God’s representative and somehow I felt that his inability to step in was my just punishment. Uncle Turtle eventually put some gospel music on as I dried myself with the towel and rushed into my home gear to eat.
Uncle Turtle was my first realization, that God could not be real. If he was great and mighty, why would he let my Uncle Turtle turn his head away as though nothing occurred? I sat at the table with scars on my back, arms and chest. Uncle Turtle told us all to bow and pray before we ate. All I could do was bow and cry. I ate my meal one morsel at a time, hoping for nightfall to come.
October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month