I wanted so much to write a poignant, honest, searing post to mark the 5th anniversary of my — disownment? disowning? breaking-free? In any case, it was the start of a months-long process that led to a healthier, happier me, apart from my toxic adult family members.
I started a draft post, then hated it and re-edited it so much I closed the browser tab and proceeded to find something to distract me. Don’t judge: I started binge-watching Hoarders, thanks to Amazon Prime.
A couple days later, I started a new draft post, taking a new tack, assisted by a glass of wine. Some of my more painful previous posts were aided by wine. Liquid courage.
The wine did squat. An uncomfortable pressure settled in on my chest, and my arms and legs started feeling vestigial fear-pains. I closed the tab and binge-watched Hoarders again. And then threw away some broken things I didn’t need anymore.
No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get the words out. Even now, I’m fighting the urge to switch tabs to Amazon or Facebook or Fark or the NYT or…ANYTHING except writing, because I don’t want to remember him.
I don’t want to remember how afraid I felt waking up in the mornings in my basement bedroom wondering what kind of mood he was in, and panicking when the floors and the walls vibrated because it might mean he was raging and storming around. I don’t want to remember putting in my hearing aids and straining to hear and discern the moods from the safety of the basement, hoping my bladder would hold, and cursing the fact that I couldn’t hear so well.
I remember debating whether I could pee in the laundry room drain without making a mess just to avoid having to go upstairs during some of his rages and risk becoming a target or an accomplice. I wish it was easier for girls to pee cleanly.
I don’t want to remember the clutch of panic in my throat every time a chair screeched across the floor because then Dad would grab one of my little siblings by an arm, hoist them up out of the dining room chair, and dangle-march them to the bedroom where he would spank the hell out of them while raging. I remember panicking in class because a professor made the same screeching sound when he moved a table while setting up his lecture space, and then wondering what was wrong with me.
(Aaaand after I wrote all the above, I watched another episode of Hoarders.)
The thing is, I do need to remember, because that memory will help keep me from re-entering a toxic and abusive relationship with my parents.
And I want to remember the good things, like spending time with my littlest siblings, encouraging and letting them be themselves whenever I babysat them while the parents were away. I remember playing toys and games with them in their bedrooms to keep them out of the living room where Dad had parked himself when he was in “weird” mood (meaning, about to rage), in order to avoid having them become targets. I remember making cookies with them, and dyeing snickerdoodles fun colors to match the holidays.
I remember the bitter-good moments of sneaking into their bedrooms when they were grounded without letting Dad know I did so–just because I wanted to help them realize that their latest transgressions weren’t them, it was Dad being in a rage. I wanted them to know that I understand. I understand all too well. It was bitter because of his rages, but good because I hoped to teach them coping mechanisms that I learned the hard way.
I don’t remember very much of growing up. A lot of it got locked away, I think, to protect myself. They only started coming out when I felt safer. When I’ve started healing.
That’s why healing takes so damn long.
Healing is not “I am in no-contact with my family to keep myself safe, so therefore I’ve moved on with my life.”
It’s more like: “I am now safe enough to begin processing some of these memories.”
So it’s like living through the same damn thing over and over again whenever the memories do resurface. That’s why I’m still in therapy. That’s why I have to work really hard not to fall into the old thought-patterns that I lived with while growing up.
That’s why it was so hard to sit down and write what I hoped to write.
Filed under: Abuse