Fast-forward to 1987 and little Anne sat outside on the bottom steps of a long staircase. She was a curious 5 year old child and also very naïve. She only believed there were good people, never any one evil. One night as she sat on those same steps, something or someone caught her attention. She peered between the open spaces of the stairs and saw what appeared to be a colorful man, dressed in a leather jacket. In place of feet there were hooves. He didn’t smile or laugh; he just smirked at the innocence of this child almost as if he was telling her that she belonged to him.
A few months after that encounter she fell quite a ways down the staircase, slipping about halfway through the side railings and landing on the cold, hard concrete. Who knows whether it was mere minutes or hours until her older sister Sandy found her! Sandy sent their brother Augie to find their father. As they all await the ambulance, the operator tells the family to lay her down but not to let her fall asleep as the chances are highly likely she would fall into a coma or die.
Anne remembers in bits and pieces of what happened. She soon realizes as the awful, shocking pain rips through her tiny body that she’s in a hospital. Nurses, doctors are all working together to save her fragile life. The next morning she awakes only to find that her hair is gone, she has two very swollen, black eyes, a small blue cast on her hand and a long scar from one side of her head to the middle of her forehead. Her dad stayed with her in the hospital until she was ready to be discharged and after that it would be a long time before she saw him again. Not too long after, she started school. Kids would make fun of her, and she was given a new nickname, “Scarface.” She began to hate herself a little more each day. By the time she turned 13 she couldn’t see the beauty inside and out, she began to battle depression and fell victim to an eating disorder. On top of this, she had just started high school, a place where she knew no one. Then one day a boy named “Dee” sat next to her to ask why she had been crying. Sobbing, she explained she wanted to be where she knew at least some people. He made her laugh and told her from that day on, they would be friends. He became more like and older brother to Anne. She ended up leaving after freshman year and they still kept in contact.
A couple of years passed and she met Alfie at her new school. He was so handsome, curly hair and big blue, green eyes. She fell for him as if he was her knight in shining armor and he confessed his love for her, scars and all. Was she truly in love with him or did she want to fill the void of the male figure she so desperately needed. One morning, she was talking on the phone to Dee and he told her that Alfie better be good to his little sissy or he would find him, that was the last day she spoke with him.
Months later she would hear news that broke her, Dee had died. Time passed and she missed him greatly, but she was with Alfie at every chance she had, he kept her occupied. The first year of being his girlfriend was not all bad; they partied a lot and made many mistakes together. Alfie dropped out of high school and soon Anne followed him wherever he went. She enrolled in the same program he did to receive a G.E.D; he gave up ad she put a tremendous amount of effort in and also worked full-time. She knew their lifestyle could not be the reason to just stop living. Little by little, her new world started to shift, Alfie became angry and violent with her, and then he would apologize as if it wiped away her memory. This pattern went on for six and half years. Throughout those years she found herself a mother twice, to Hope and Mercy. These tiny beings she held, changed her in more ways than she could imagine. Was this the environment she wanted to raise two daughters in? Many times she tried to escape with them and each time she failed. In 2004 on a day where Fathers should be celebrated, she had enough, and ended the toxic relationship; however, he would not easily let go.
In 2005, the real fight began; she would move mountains to keep her children safe at all costs. From visits, to custody hearings, arguments over the phone, Alfie would continue to use his power over her, telling her that he would be able to keep his children and that she could do nothing about it. These words would stay stuck in her head and she would believe him. During a phone conversation with Alfie, she let him have a piece of her mind and told him to come at her with everything he had. She screamed at the top of her lungs her declaration of war; she would be ready for him.
On the other hand, as much as she said with strength, with everything surrounding her, she started to fill the void of hurt with binge drinking, partying. Voices would cloud her mind with thoughts that her children’s lives were better off without her. She fell in and out of love with all the wrong men. People used her and she allowed it because somewhere deep in her soul, she was still this scared, lonely, helpless girl whose desire to be loved was all consuming. Then in 2007 on a hot summer day she found herself extremely nauseous from the severe heat, or so she thought. A lady who was dubbed the “seer,” told Anne that she was with child. To put her mind at ease, she bought the stick, peed on it and waited. A few minutes passed and she blankly stared at the positive sign. Not knowing how to react, she called the person she knew was the father, he pleaded with her not to keep this child. He said he did not one anyone to know that he was the father nor did he want to find a kid on his doorstep years down the road. He was not the only person to share this view, others told her that she was being stubborn; she could not raise another child. A month later she ended up in the hospital from blood loss, and the doctor gave her the option of bed rest to see if the placenta would stay attached or she could have a Dilation and Curettage procedure, he left that decision up to her and her alone. She ended up having the surgery and from that moment on she became numb, it stayed with her every minute, every hour and every year after.
Anne began to change her life, piece by piece; she started taking college classes to be a better example for her children. Although she had the mindset, her heart wavered. She would find herself surrounded by water and struggled to keep her head just above it. In the most recent years, she started to hurt herself to ease the demons within her; she even attempted to take her own life. Did her life have any real purpose?
Fast forward to the present, she graduated college and was able to share this moment with those who truly loved her. It was a day she had longed for, a day she dreamed of but never believed she would see. It took her more than half her life to discern how much of a beautiful person she was then and who she is now. In the midst of her darkness, she kept her eyes on the flickering light.
She reminisces on one of her favorite movies as a little girl “The Wizard of Oz.” The Great and Powerful Oz tells the Cowardly Lion “You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom.” For Anne wisdom was acknowledging that she was in situations that could have demolished her and admitting change was necessary. Courage was the choice to take those first uncomfortable steps in facing reality.
She smiles through the tears when she awakes each morning to face the day. You can say she has strength, inspiration, and unwillingness to give in, or complete stubbornness; and yet she knows her story is just one definition of courage.