While I was dealing with a lot of the insanity growing up, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with 2 wonderful neighbors for a couple of years of it. I don’t use real names here because I don’t want to deal with the drama it would cause. We’ll call them Jim & Georgia. I’m not a religious person, in fact, I’d probably characterize myself as an agnostic. But if there is a heaven and there are angels, they were angels sent here. I recently saw Jim’s obituatary, he lived a long, full life and he’s now joining Georgia.
We lived in a 2 family home and Jim & Georgia were our upstairs neighbors. They were living there when we moved in downstairs, when I was 9. The acoustics were bad and it wasn’t long before they had no choice but to be aware of our problems, both those between my parents and between me and my mother. They were both very sweet to me and my brother. Georgia, in particular, had a knack for helping me out when she heard my mother screaming at me. If it were night, she’d wait until morning, but during the day, she’d wait just long enough for my mother to calm down not to be embarrassed. Then she’d knock at the door and ask for my “help” with baking or a crafts project.
Normally I didn’t say anything about my mother’s rages. But one day, I was nearly in tears and I mentioned something about it. Georgia told me that my mother had a lot on my mind, but it wasn’t my fault and I was a good girl. Their daughter was a substitute teacher at my school. I think Georgia said something to her, because after awhile, her daughter and a couple of other teachers started looking out for me, making it a point to praise me when I did things well. This continued even after James and Georgia moved. Probably because they couldn’t take the sound of the fighting/arguing!
Looking back, I realize I owe them, their daughter and those 2 teachers a tremendous debt. Getting that positive attention and validation that I wasn’t a “bad” kid probably stopped me from developing worse problems and/or seeking negative attention. I didn’t thank them properly as a kid, but I’d like to take the chance to do so now:
Thank you so much for your help, kindness, time and attention! You are truly proof that a good adult in a child’s life can make a huge difference.