Our extended family’s dark secret is that there was a man once in it accused of pedophilia.
Ironically, he was the man who warned me about stranger danger. Once – years before I was in foster care – I went on a holiday with this man and another family member near Sydney. We were in a shopping centre. I was distracted by the Time Zone. I wandered to the Time Zone and got lost.
Ages later I managed to find my guardians. He found me first actually. And this man who used to discipline us with tennis rackets and belt buckles up the back side was furious. “Someone could have grabbed you and taken you off, you had us worried sick!” he roared. And at eight-years-old I learned the world was not a nice place. Evil monsters with twisted faces were ready to grab a kid in the middle of the shopping centre and drag them out, kicking and screaming. They could be any gender. Man. Woman. Didn’t matter. They would stick this kids with knives and kill them. Do other stuff. Hurt them. They were as vicious as the monsters from all the Roald Dahl books – combined!
So, the next time I was in a Sydney based shopping centre I was freaked out by the crowds of people around me. Unfortunately, I was with my mum, and my younger siblings. And a psychiatrist recording our interactions together as a happy family. As the naive siblings wandered off I warned them to stay close, to be careful. I freaked out. Even watching The Emperor’s New Groove at the cinemas barely took the edge off.
And I remember the psychologist’s speech to mum as we drove back from the shopping centre about the type of mental illness I might have, paranoia, perhaps psychosis. This pattern of behaviour was tallied onto the others the psychologists had observed, and one day soon they would define me.
And adapt my medication to it before they figured “problem (kid) solved.”