So, when I was 8 years old, I had an old 60 gallon fish tank in my bedroom that I used to keep my pet hamsters in. I don’t remember how many I had but one female had babies so there were quite a few, perhaps about 10. They were so soft and fluffy and friendly because I gave them a lot of attention and love. The problem was my Mom had her first bipolar episode and was manic, delusional and in a state of psychosis. She became convinced that the hamsters were demons.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you may remember that I had been taken away from her and rescued by the SWAT team when her delusions led her to keep me trapped in her bedroom for quite some time. Unfortunately, she had a short stay at a psychiatric hospital and was released, still having full custody of me. So, I already knew I had to play along with her and NEVER show fear.
One morning, I woke up and she was awake as usual, packing up a huge box with my hamsters and everything associated with them. She told me they were possessed by demons and she didn’t want them in the house anymore but she knew a man who wanted them for his son. We were going to meet up with him, she said, and give him the large box containing my hamsters. I didn’t believe her that they were demons. I somehow knew something was wrong with her but had no idea how dangerous she was. I believed we really were going to give them away.
We drove from Margate, Florida to a construction site in Palm Beach County. When we arrived on that Friday afternoon, it was past 5 o’clock and the site was deserted. All the construction workers were gone for the weekend. She told me that he must be running late, dragged the heavy box out of the car and put it down in the dirt, under the stifling hot sun. I asked, “Aren’t we going to wait for him?”, starting to get anxious and scared. She replied, “No, we have a train to catch. He will be here soon I’m sure.”
As we drove away, I looked out the back window of the car and knew that my hamsters had been left to die in the brutal Florida heat. I felt sick to my stomach and struggled to act “ normal”. Now, I knew that my Mother was capable of murder. I was terrified. I was sad but couldn’t shed a tear. I’d already learned that she could be violent with me if I showed any fear or challenged her delusions.
So, my hamsters were left to die and our car got stuck in some sand on the construction site as we attempted to drive off. We left the car there and walked to the main road where we hitchhiked to the nearest train station. Mom bought us two train tickets to Manhattan since we had relatives in Brooklyn and she wanted to know if they were still themselves or were evil, possessed “duplicates” like she claimed our family in Florida was. It was November when we boarded the train to New York, wearing sandals and summer clothes and carrying no luggage with warmer clothes.
I still get sad when I think about that day. The traumatizing trip to New York is a story I”ll share with you soon. Things spiraled downhill after we left the hamsters and got even worse.