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I Was Kidnapped By My Grandma

A True Story

By Amanda WashburnPublished about a year ago 4 min read

The year was 1999. My name was Nicole. I was 10 years old at the time and living what I thought was a happy life. We lived in a gated community right on the lake. It was a beautiful neighborhood in South Carolina with horses nearby. The smell of nighttime hung in the air, drifting in through the open windows.

I was playing in my bedroom when I heard shouting from outside my cheerful, yellow room. The disturbance was coming from my mom’s room. I sat on the floor next to her door and listened. “You can’t do this, Logan. You just can’t do this,” I heard her cry.

What was going on with my brother? Logan was 15 years older than me and about to get married. We were close at the time. I heard the phone slam down on the receiver. Moments later, my mom came flying out of her bedroom. “Pack your shit,” she said flatly, near marks on her cheeks.

I looked at her concerned. Her brow was furrowed, her grey hair sat perfectly in place. I never understood why she wore her hair so short. Her blue eyes were solemn. She walked past me. Sensing the urgency, I ran into my room and packed up all of my teddy bears.

When my mom saw this, she was angry and slapped me across the face. This was only the second time she had ever hit me. She flitted through my room, packing a single suitcase for me. Then, she grabbed her own as I followed her to the car.

I got in and buckled my seatbelt while she put the bags in the trunk. We then drop off into the night. I don’t remember much about that drive, except for what she said. I will always remember what my mom said that day.

It was bright outside but went dark as we went through a tunnel. Without even looking at me she said, “your name isn’t Nicole. It’s Amanda. When you were a baby your dad was going to kill us so we had to leave and I had to change our names. Logan was going to tell the police where we are and your dad was going to find us. If you ever tell anyone this, your dad will find us and kill us. Now, pick a new name.”

Too young to process what she had just said, I picked the name Elizabeth. We then proceeded to Missouri to stay with her friend. Life after that was weird. I knew I was lying but it didn’t entirely seem to click.

I suspect I was simply too you to fully grasp the situation at hand. Days to turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. By the time I was 14, my mom had grown entirely obsessive. Everything seemed to be about keeping me hidden.

I had to dye my hair, weigh a certain amount, no internet, limited friends. Yet, she also seemed to want me to have a perfect life. My mom had me in all kinds of activities, like dance and cheerleading. I knew this was all… off.

It felt as if I were acting in a play. Everything was just some made-up story. Then, one day, after a huge argument with my mom, I ran away from home. The police found me, sent me home, and I ran away again. Eventually, I ended up in foster care.

Determined to get some resolve, I located my brother, whom I hadn’t spoken to since that fateful day when I was 10. When I spoke to him, he told me something that shook me to my core. “I’m not your brother,” he said. “I’m you uncle. And your mom isn’t your mom. She’s your grandma.”

Without saying a word, I handed the phone to my foster mom and went to my room. What was there to even say? What is there to even say now? This happened. This is my life. I later found out that she took me when I was about 1 year old.

The circumstances around that event are still unclear. All I know is, she took me and it turned my world upside down when I found out about it. My real mother and father had been searching for me.

Finding them was… a disappointment in the end. Neither of them seems much interested in being parents. I have my own children now. I couldn’t imagine losing them in any way.

My grandma died several years ago right after my grandpa. She shot herself in the head. I grim end to a grim tale. But, this is the real world. There aren’t very many happy endings. I know I’m still searching for mine.

Even with all the events of life, I still truly believe life is beautiful. Every day is worth waking up to. I’ve told this story a thousand times. It doesn’t hurt anymore. I faced down these demons.

Now I wake every morning, independent and content. I do the best I can with my children. Try to make a living doing what I love. Life is a gift, a glorious thing. It should never be stolen or wasted.

immediate familygrandparentsfosterchildren

About the Creator

Amanda Washburn

Freelance writer and single mom. Lives in Montana with one son, two cats, and one dog. Writes everything from poetry to listicles.

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    Amanda WashburnWritten by Amanda Washburn

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