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With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

Feelings From My Eleven Year Old Self

19 Comments

Writing my family history from my parents’ perspective is emotionally hard right now. The idea that it could some day become a novel is distant. I’m writing about the time when my dad was in Vietnam and my mom was trying to cope with her anxiety and depression and what do to with the family dog. That is the gigantic issue for me. Hoppy.

Hoppy 1967

I was 11 years old. Hoppy, a Newfoundland/Shepherd mix was my confidant. We had moved from Philadelphia to Michigan to New York staying with other families while Dad was in Vietnam. That summer we would stay in Quantico until dad finally got stationed at Camp Lejeune again.

Hoppy had been with us through each move. But something happened to him that spring in New York. I don’t know the truth. My mom made up as story about a sick little girl who needed him more than I did. I believed it. I suppose it could be true. Now, at the age of 65, I wade through my dad’s letters from Vietnam with fear as I approach the possibility of more clues. Any day now, I could read a letter that tells me more about what happened to Hoppy. My parents loved each other very much. It was a terribly hard time for them. I’m trying to look at the big picture and have compassion for all. I wrote this note to myself in my work in progress:

Note to self: Step back and look at the big picture with compassion for all. Allow your feelings. The truth is you don’t know what happened You might was well imagine something good.

So I tried to imagine Hoppy being adopted by a loving family. Then the grief broke through from that 11 year old girl who was me.

I LOVED HIM.

The sobs came and I prayed for guidance, for comfort. All I can do right now is reach back across the 54 years to that eleven year old girl whose body was changing in crazy ways, whose father was in Vietnam, whose mother was on the verge of another nervous breakdown, the girl whose dog was gone – and wrap my arms around her and hold her and tell her she is going to get through this.

In 1967, that eleven year old girl learned to shut down her feelings. She focused on school work and escaped into Star Trek. But she still had that pain and confusion buried all those years ago trying to accept the story her mother told her about her dog.

I guess that’s enough writing for today.

Here’s a family photo from happier times. Probably right after Dad got back from Vietnam since he’s pretty thin.

I’m the big girl on the right wearing hushpuppies.

I wrote this before checking the prompt for Just Jot January which is “button.” I guess we never know when we’re going to bump into a button that takes us back to our childhood, for better or worse, offering an opportunity for healing.

Linda’s Just Jot January story looks interesting. Click the following link for details:

#JusJoJan prompt the 15th – “Button” | (lindaghill.com)

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

19 thoughts on “Feelings From My Eleven Year Old Self

  1. stay, the truth can hurt so much sometimes. At least you’re now able to deal with whatever you find.

  2. I prefer collaborative decisions-making in families, or, at the very least, an honest explanation. If you had known the truth when you were 11, you wouldn’t still be wondering about it now. Whatever happened, I am sure your mother’s intention were good. It sounds like everyone had a lot to deal with at that time. I still get angry once in a while over incidents in my childhood.

    Interesting and relatable post. Great candid shot of your family! Have a wonderful weekend, JoAnna! ❤

    • Thank you for your support and understanding, Cheryl. It means a lot. I do believe my mother’s intentions were good. She probably felt like she was between a rock and a hard place.

  3. Excellent (heartbreaking) post. Thanks for giving us another personal slice of your history/mystery. Definitely sounds like a book in the making!

  4. Revisiting the past can be very painful. I, too, broke down in tears on writing the latest chapter of my work in progress. We think we’ve gotten over it, that we’ve healed, but the wound is still there. Blessings ❤

    • It’s like peeling the layers of an onion. I was surprised at how painful this still is and decided to have a nurturing attitude toward myself for the rest of the day. Thank you for your support and understanding, Rosaliene. It means a lot. Take good care of yourself. Blessings. ❤

  5. What a moving post, JoAnna. Writing the truth can be cathartic but it will undoubtedly bring up a lot along the way as you are discovering. Stay the course. I am glad you took the time to feel your way through it all.

    • Thank you for this helpful encouragement, Maggie. I’m realizing that along with feeling the feelings, I can explore what I learned from this experience with a new perspective.

  6. Creating space by making a cuppa is self-love on action. ❤ You've got this and it's entirely at your own pace now. A moving and poignant post, JoAnna. ❤

  7. Those old memories can sneak up and hit us hard, JoAnna! I love the idea that if we don’t remember something…it’s nice to frame it in something good! Sending lots of love and compassion for your new project. As I know, when we look back it can be very difficult at times. I pray you have all you need to do it with grace. Sending lots of love and good energy ❤

    • Thank you very much, Lorrie. I took a break for a while on the topic, but I’m getting ready to jump back in, so your love, understanding, and good energy means a great deal! ❤ Blessings to you, my friend! ❤

      • I feel like we are so similar, JoAnna! We have sooooo many projects in our minds…in various mediums. But here is where we are different…it is so difficult for me FOCUS. I usually like to work on whatever I feel intuitively connected…and that means I leave a lot undone. I have this vision that with all of these projects in various stages of completion…one day, when they get near to completion, there will be a treasure trove of finished projects 😉
        Hope your week is going well!! 🧡😊

        • I am trying to get myself to work on finishing one project in particular before I start something new. Doesn’t always happen that way though. It’s nice to have choices and be able to go with those intuitive connections. 🙂 Going well! Hope you’re having a good week, too! Enjoy! ❤

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