Fifteen years ago, when I was only five, I spent my mornings sobbing, begging my mom not to leave for work. I didn’t do it because I had a weird emotional attachment to my mom but rather because I knew deep down that the next eleven hours would be a living hell.

When I was a child my grandmother used to babysit my cousins, sisters, and I. She was terrifying. She never laid a hand on us, she did not hit, but she was ruthless in the things she said and made us do.

Every day we were locked in the basement. We were not allowed to come upstairs for anything. We had to use the utility sink to go to the bathroom and when we were thirsty we would have to use our toy cups to drink from that same sink.

Around dinner time she would let us come up to eat. She would pile mountains of food on our plates, enough for a grown man, and force us to eat every bite. My sisters, who were bigger than me, would only get terrible stomach aches. Me having many health issues leading to my unusual smallness would often spend the next few hours with horrible stomach cramps, and sometimes I would vomit until only bile would come up.

There were days that I refused to eat all of the food on my plate. On those days, I would sit at the table for hours, crying for my parents to come home.

There were times when she forced us to eat food out of the garbage can and drink spoiled milk because we were being "wasteful". There were also times when our small, clumsy fingers would allow our food to slip onto the floor. She would then make us eat the dog hair-covered food.

A little while after dinner time she would call us to come up again. We would stand in a line and she would tell us what we did wrong that day. My wrongs were usually what I was wearing, how my hair looked, my facial features, how stupid I was, and how entirely disgusting I was.

I'm not sure why, but I was usually sent back downstairs to the basement while everyone else was given dessert. I used to sit at the top of the staircase, peak through the crack under the door and look at everyone's feet. I would listen to their conversation, close my eyes and just imagine what it would be like to be at the table with them. To this day the basement is my least favorite place to be.

I used to tell my parents about this abusive behavior, but at only 5 years old the most I could muster up was a "Grandma is mean". Of course, my parents would have a talk with my grandmother to figure out what I was talking about but she would refute any allegations. They thought that my anger towards her was misplaced.

Then, the next day when my grandmother would come over, she would turn my cry for help against me. Calling me "Tattle-tale" and getting my cousins and sisters to chant it at me as well. She would only stop when I started crying.

When my grandmother died I was relieved. The rest of my childhood and my life was, and has been, haunted by the things that she said and the things that she made us do, but I was able to at least have as close to a normal childhood as I could after that.

It takes time to heal from things, especially from the traumas of our lives. Take your time, regardless of other people that may be telling you to "Get over it". It's not that easy. You need time to heal and to grow.

"Forgive? Sounds good. Forget? I'm not sure I could. They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting" (Dixie Chicks).

xx Lenny