This story is by Henrietta Wiseman and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
I can’t concentrate. I can’t learn. My mind. There’s no more room. It’s full. It hurts. So much. My mind is elsewhere. I’m in trouble. BIG TROUBLE. Mummy told me. Before I left home. This morning.
The school bell rings. Everyone in my class rushes out. It’s home-time. I slowly take my time, I’m the last one to leave. I don’t want to go home. I said I DON’T WANT TO GO HOME. Why can’t anyone hear me? Why isn’t there anyone to help me? I’m so scared, I’m so frightened. I take a slow walk home, dragging my feet. I know what’s going to happen. I know what’s waiting for me. I feel sick. I feel dizzy. I can’t breathe. I’m choking. I don’t want to go home. I DON’T WANT TO GO HOME.
Front door key in the lock. If only these walls could speak. Horror awaits me behind closed doors. Mummy is ready and waiting for me in the front room. Daddy not in. She calls me. I’m scared. I’m frightened. Belt in her hand. Hard staring eyes. Body shakes. Questions are asked. Voice trembles. The belt. Can’t speak. Can’t hear. Words don’t come out. Mumble. Something. Or other. Even when they do, it’s the wrong answer. Always the wrong answer. Makes Mummy even more angry. She’s shouting now. I’ve made her angry, it’s my fault. The belt.
Mummy grabs my wrist. My screams. Her yelling. The lashes. It stings so much. My legs. It hurts, it hurts so much. Again. And again. Please stop. PLEASE SOMEBODY ANYBODY MAKE THIS STOP. Make this sting, this pain go away. When will this end? My screams. Her yelling. The lashes.
Mummy doesn’t like me crying. Shouts at me to stop. Hits me even more until I stop. Even harder. WHY CAN’T ANYONE HEAR ME?
It stops. Job done. Mummy lets go of the belt. Stings continues. Tells me to leave the room. I cry myself silently to sleep that night. Next day. Sore legs. Bruises. Different colours. Red – Purple – Yellow – Blue – Green. Can’t do Sports at school. Don’t want others to know. Don’t want Mummy to get into trouble. I make excuses. They believe me.
I’m good at pretending. At lying. That everything’s OK, that I’m OK. When I’m not. Inside. You see, I wear a mask. You can’t see it because it’s invisible. Mummy doesn’t see it, doesn’t see the real me. Won’t let her. She doesn’t like the real me. Why would she? I don’t even like myself. I’m stupid. STUPID STUPID STUPID. I do everything wrong. Can’t do anything right. It’s my fault. I make her angry.
This isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. If it’s not the belt, it’s something else..
You’ve been a part of me and you’ll always be a part of my life. I’ve known you for most of my life. That’s what makes it so hard. If I were to let you go. Because if I ever did, I would feel lost without you, empty. It would be like grieving a death. I want us to be together, always. I’m afraid of losing you.
I’ve said unkind words to you, I know, and I’m sorry. So sorry. I should have treated you with love, patience and kindness that you deserve but it’s difficult to like you at times, let alone love you. I look at myself in the mirror and I see you; you’re with me everywhere I go; you’re a constant reminder. It’s hard when all I want to do at times is shake you off me.
You’ve been both a blessing and a hindrance in my life. If things aren’t going great in my life, I’ll blame you; it’s your fault, of course it is. Who else can I blame? Who else can I blame for developing all sorts of disorders: anxiety, mental, personality. The hardest is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Fight. Flight. Freeze. Any slightest hint of danger – even when there isn’t. Which response automatically takes over depends who the person or situation is.
Life has been difficult and still remains so, made x times worse because of YOU. I’ve made not-so-great mistakes, choices and decisions. But I never want to use you as an excuse, as a reason for not enduring, for not pushing through, for not tolerating the unease, for giving up. Because what you went through wasn’t your fault.
I’ve used my emotional pain for the benefit of other children who have had similar experiences. My pain has been their gain that I didn’t want to have endured in vain. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself and waste what I had been through.
I have to admit that there are times where I’ve wondered whether I should say goodbye to you, to let you go. Not because I don’t want to be with you anymore but maybe because it’s the right thing to do. I’m a lot older and wiser now. I feel I could do so much more with my life…without you. The thing is, you’re holding me back. Your fears and anxieties are holding me back; it’s a heavy load for me to carry on your behalf. There’s been missed opportunities and missed happiness. I’m weary. I’m sad.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve also gained amazing experiences, achieved enduring feats and challenges, and had the privilege of meeting good people who have crossed my path and left an everlasting impact in my life, including you. I doubt I would have overcome so much in my life if it wasn’t for you. You see, I’ve been able to do so much in life as well BECAUSE of what you’ve been through, because of YOU. You were the one who kept me going, to be resilient, to persevere, to endure. I did it all for YOU. Whenever I cross the finishing line, you are there to cheer me on.
It’s hard to let go of you because I feel your neediness for me to protect you. The heavy metal barriers that you erected are now so rusty and flaky because they’ve been there for so long are also stopping the good and lovely things from others to come through. But I want the good and lovely to come into my life, free from fear and anxiety. Ready?
I don’t want to leave you behind, alone and vulnerable anymore; I don’t want others to hurt you and abuse you. Or am I hiding behind you, making you as an excuse and really talking about myself? I wasn’t there to protect you when it happened. You’re fiercely protective of me, I understand, you can’t help it. You know what it was like to be abused. I get sad wishing I’d been there to protect you when it happened. And all those other times.
Me and My Inner Child. My Friend and Foe.
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