Monday, August 11, 2008

Blast From the Past

Wow. I have no idea what just happened.

I finished writing my last blog entry and went upstairs to go to bed. Happy as a clam I was. As usual, as soon as I shut my eyes to try to sleep, a million thoughts started racing through my brain. Like a flash of lightening, a scene from the past started running through my head like a much unwanted movie preview before the main feature.

The guy I'd been making out with minutes before pulls up to let me off in front of my house. A light in the living room is on and this immediately makes me say, "Oh, shit." I'd been late for curfew on numerous occasions and almost always my parents were already in bed. If they weren't actually asleep yet, I'd have a lecture in the morning. But not tonight. Tonight, the light was on.

I walked through the front door to see my father sitting in the chair in the corner of the room. He asked where I'd been and of course, I lied. Making out in the cemetery to Prince's "Darlin' Nikki" was not what I deemed appropriate to tell him at this moment.

Before my brilliant excuse as to why I was thirty minutes late for curfew had even escaped my lips, I found myself flat on my back with my father straddling me and punching me in the face. I can only remember a certain sense of calm as he told me that he was going to kill me. I also recall being really surprised at how fast he was able to throw me from one side of the room to another. It was like being in some sort of time vacuum.

I have flashes of memory of my mother yelling for him to stop and of my oldest sister walking from her room and gritting her teeth and saying, "Dad. Stop it" and turning and walking back down the hall. My sister Inga tackled him and jumped on his back. I remember him throwing her off and telling her that he'd kill her too if she tried to stop him.

I have no idea how long the beating lasted. It seemed like an hour. At one point I remember that my face was turned and laying against the carpet and as he picked me up to toss me around again, my earring caught in the fibers. As I ascended, I felt a burning sensation go through my ear and later discovered that my earring had ripped free of my ear via the skin of my earlobe, not the hole the earring was in.

When whatever caused him to stop, caused him to stop and I realized it was over, I started walking to the back of the house where Inga's room was. Dad said something to me, but all I remember was that..."next time I'll kill you".

As I opened the door to Inga's room, I saw her huddled on her bed in the corner. When she saw me, she began crying even harder than she was already and put her hand over her mouth to stifle her screaming. I panicked and said, "What?! What?!" Choking back tears and screams she told me to look in the mirror. I walked over to the mirror next to her bed and looked but didn't recognize the image. It took a second to register that the mess I was looking at was me. I put my hand over my mouth to muffle a scream.

Both of my eyes were black and swollen almost shut. My nose was crooked and bleeding. Both of my lips were grotesquely swollen and bleeding and I had cuts and scrapes all over my face.

I have no recollection of how I spent the rest of that night except for hearing excerpts of my mother and father's conversation, post-beating. My father kept saying that it would be best if he just left and my mother talked overtime convincing him that we girls needed two parents and that leaving us one parent shy was not the answer.

I spent the next two miserable days at another of my sister's house who'd had the good sense to get knocked-up and married so that she could get the hell out of our house.

What happened after that? Basically nothing. My sister whose house I'd stayed at was pissed as hell and told the Bishop of our church what had happened. I never heard another word. My mother never mentioned it, no one at my church ever mentioned it and it was only spoken about between my sister and I in a whisper until she decided to get the hell out less than a year later when she was seventeen.

So tonight I find myself in bed with tears streaming down my face because this memory is running through my head. I can't figure it out. I honestly thought I'd dealt with all of this. I'll be turning forty at the end of this month and I'm crying about something that happened over half a lifetime ago.

Before I came down to put my thoughts down, I went into my four year old daughter's room and sat on her bed and watched her sleeping for a moment. I whispered softly to her that I love her with all of my heart and that I will always be her greatest defender and protector.

I have suffered at the hands of those who should have loved me and protected me. Those hands taught me to accept abuse and instilled in me a sense of worthlessness.

I went on to marry (escape?) at the ripe old age of eighteen and fell right into the pit my parents had dug for me. I spent fourteen years digging my way out of that pit.

My life is happy now. I am confident and assured in most aspects of my life. I am married to a man who respects me and treats me with compassion and kindness. I have beautiful children for whom I try diligently to parent well. I know I have failed at times, but I keep growing and learning and trying to constantly do better and to be better for them.

But, I wonder...will these wounds ever heal?