I huddled in the corner, watching him smash things with a baseball bat. Screaming, begging him not to hit you, too. Grandma was coming–coming to take us away. I was terrified–where would you be? Were you coming, too?
I sat on his lap, squirming in pain. The lights were off, and huge dinosaurs were on the screen. He held me in place–I couldn’t get down. My objections were drowned out. Nobody was there to stop him.
I was scared. So scared. And so alone.
I became anxious. Terrified of being on my own. I had my first panic attack at 8 years old (though I never realized that was what it was).
The stomachaches started–I would get nervous and then I would get sick. I became a “hypochondriac”–at least, according to you.
I worked hard–hard to be good enough, to trick people into thinking that all was okay, to try to make you see me.
Imagine if it had been different.
Imagine if you had picked up that curly, tow-headed little girl and held her close, whispering, “I am here. You are safe. Don’t worry, sweet girl…we are leaving.”
Maybe we could have packed our bags and all moved to grandma’s house–you holding my hand, stroking my curls, promising me that things would be better.
Maybe then–maybe–I would never have been on his lap.
But. It wasn’t different. So, instead, I am here, stuck.
Stuck remembering. Stuck wishing it was different. Wishing we were different.
Wishing I had you–healthy, caring, loving.
But. I don’t.
I saw the quote, “Be who you needed when you were younger,” yesterday and I just stopped and cried. Sobbed to myself, by myself. I needed you.
But all I have is me, working to mend the brokenness.
Working to fix it–fix me. Working to never do this to my kids. Working to see the patterns and release myself from the place of sadness and darkness I am finding myself in–gently, and with the love I wish I had always had.