I am up late like most nights of course, it’s incredibly difficult for me to shut my brain off most nights. Going to sleep also means facing the unknown – or the forgotten – all while I am supposed to be resting. As I have mentioned before, I have the worst night tares – most of my nights. My dreams are so vivid, painful and mostly exhausting. They have the ability to absolutely ruin my whole day, week or more… My therapist tells me that while I dream I am actually working through my shit. I am more able to go through that trauma while asleep – it’s near impossible to really get into it while I am awake. It’s too painful. Mostly, it’s too real and unbelievable at the same time. I hope I am making some sense… Other survivors must know what I am describing. They often cause a visceral reaction when I wake up, and sometimes throughout the day the feeling of filth, dirt, and shame sit on my skin and fresh in my mind.
Today one of my nightmares was real, and it was in my face. I left my work after a long twelve hour shift. I was exhausted and looking forward to the next few days which I have off. I wasn’t paying much attention until she got my attention. As I was walking towards my vehicle I looked up and saw my mother standing across the street from me smoking. I don’t think I have ever turned my body so fast. It was seconds that had passed that I went from feeling peace to feeling utter fear. My body immediately began to shake from the inside out…I felt as though I was going to either puke or pee myself. My mother scares me like no one else. I know that she is capable to anything… and I know that I bring out a special kind of anger in my mom. I was afraid that she would say something too me like she always done when she gets the opportunity. No matter what my mom says – it’s guaranteed to instill fear and a deep routed feeling that I am worthless.
As I was making my way back into work – into safety – my mind and body started to play flashbacks of when I was very young. The memory was so intense I swear I could smell it, I could feel it. I was remembering when my mom was attacked by my father with a large knife. I can see my parents in front of the TV – it was one of those old big ones that had mostly wood around them, that sat on the floor. I was sitting on the couch watching the TV, watching cartoons. It was very early in the am. No one had gone to bed yet, they had been up the entire night drinking and partying. I can remember the living room and dining room was full of stinky empty beer bottles. This is not a “new” memory, but I have never remembered it like this before.
My mom and dad were on the floor in front of the TV that I was watching cartoons on. I was told to sit there. Sometimes my parents made me watch them while they had sex or watched porn. When a social worker talked about this with my parents – of course they denied it with a strong warning that I was a fucking liar. But, my mom knew I wasn’t lying…and eventually the workers knew it too. I knew too much, more than any kid my age should know. When I was questioned how I knew they were actually having sex I remember replying with a description of how my mom always had her leg positioned during the act. As vulgar as this sounds – my mom ALWAYS lifted one of her legs in the air. Every time I saw them doing it – my mom was always on the bottom with her one left straight up in the air. I said this once in front of the social worker and my parents. The look on my moms face was clear. She was humiliated. She laughed, tried to make it all seem harmless – and sometimes she just blamed it all on me. I was the pervert. I liked to watch.
I know I just went off track a bit – but I think it’s really important I explain myself so you can’t read this any other way – other than how it was. My parents had no boundaries with us. We saw and heard too much for our young selves. We were forced to be apart of horrific violence and ongoing abuse. I sometimes feel like no one in my life could possibly understand the level of violence and trauma I survived. I survived – but over thirty years later the memory stops me in my tracks. It makes me feel alone, ashamed, angry, sad…and hopeless.
As I walked away from my mom today I flashed back to that morning. I see a lot of blood. I can smell it even. I know it’s strange to say – but as my brain recalled the memory, it’s like my body went right back to that moment.
They were having sex… then for some reason my mom started to fight with my dad. She often talked down to him and I would say even tried to provoke my dad into a fight. I cant remember what set it off – but I know that while my dad was still on top of my mom he grabbed a large butcher knife that was on the coffee table beside them with his right hand and swung it over his head and down onto my moms face. I can remember my mom trying to stop it and screaming at him..I see her arm trying to block the blow.
My dad had stabbed my mom right between the eyes. To this day she had a deep scar between her eyebrows. I am actually grateful for that scar – it’s lets me know that my memories are real. That as insane as the whole experience was – it was real.
My dad stood up, I can remember him doing up his belt. He was still drunk, not steady on his feet. He was breathing heavy, and telling her to look at what she did. For her too look at what she made him do. I can recall my dad snickering too himself and my mom started to panic and scream. My mom was wearing a night gown that was white with red sleeves, with a black drawing of snoopy. As I remembered this today it was as though I could smell the blood, that I could feel the cold and wet nightgown rubbing against my arms. I remember as I dragged my mom from the house and out onto the front lawn of our home just in shock that she was covered in blood. What was once a white nightgown was now drenched in bright red blood, the fabric sticking itself too me as I dragged her to safety. The blood was squirting from her face. My mom was screaming..my dad was no where to be seen at this point. I know my brother was inside the house with him. He always staying with my dad, he was always on his side. In fact he often laughed and cheered on my father as he beat our mother. I can recall hiding in one of our bedroom closets while the violence escalated – I was crying, shaking – I was terrified. Jason was laughing… he was enjoying it. I guess he was a lot like my father in that way. My dad often found it humerus how we flinched or begged for his mercy. And, when I was a lot older I had conversations with my dad about how he used to beat my mom pretty bad – and he still thought it was hilarious. He would brag about how her head sounded hitting the wall, floor or against his boots.
My next memory of that day was all the people from the neighborhood coming out of their homes to watch the nightmare unfold. No one ever helped…I think they saw it too often, and it was also a time that people didn’t get involved. What happened behind peoples doors what their business. They were just there to watch… I remember the police taking my dad away, and the ambulance taking my mom too. I know that we were not removed that day – so I know we went back with our parents. My mom didn’t leave my dad from that…she always went back..and scary enough – so did we.
I don’t know why that memory came to me today when I saw my mom. Maybe it’s to remind me that she is not as powerful as I allow my mind and body to believe. I have no idea. In all fairness though – like she kinda is all powerful! All the evil she has done and she is allowed to have a great life – despite the fact that she has three kids out there that are damaged and suffering still. Each time I see her, or hear from her I am right back to my child self – afraid. Every time I see her I only feel fear. I feel it with all of my being. She represents all that I have tried so hard to escape, that I am still trying to escape. I want to feel free of my family, I want them to let me go. I don’t want to see my abusers walking about in my world…as cliche as it sounds – it’s just not fair.