Take me too !
My finger-tips came to rest upon the golden door handle supported by a steady hand, delicately placed with all the resolve of a surgeon preparing for the first incision. It was quite a feat actually considering the rest of my body was shaking and I could no longer feel the carpeted floor beneath me. I was aware the slightest movement of the handle would create a squeak and I had not made my mind up yet if I wanted to make my presence known to those on the other side of the door. The internal struggle was creating havoc in every aspect of my being. My lips quivered, sweat ran from my pores and the beating of my heart could not catch up with the pace of my breathing. Thoughts swirled around my head as if my mind was set to a rapid spin cycle. Should I or shouldn’t I? The temptation pulled with magnetic force but the risks involved were also quite prominent in my mind. This could mean an escape…a way out, the voice of hope persisted in my head, Given what’s happening they may not need to much convincing. Yes, but would they really take me seriously?
I can’t entirely recall the events that had lead to my predicament that afternoon as most of the visual memories present as images of the interior of my bedroom. Possibly I had the music turned up in my room to drown out the sounds of physical scuffles and hysterical voices on the other side of the walls. Plus, there were many scenarios in my family experience that were similar to the one playing out before me. This time it related to the youngest of my four brothers Aaron, and the constant struggle he found himself engaged in as he grappled with his intensifying anger towards our parents and his growing acknowledgment of their contribution to the miserable persona that engulfed him.
It is interesting how each child’s personality and specific traits impact upon their experience of survival from an emotionally destructive childhood. Personality impacts upon one’s level of resilience that in turn, affects the inevitable choice to either confront or deny the behaviour. My brother was at last attempting in his own way to confront our parents for the years of soul-destroying torment he had endured at their hands. Tortured by a stutter that manifested as a consequence of the anxiety experienced due to living within an explosive and unpredictable home, ridiculed for his sensitivities and set up to be ostracised by his older brothers, he had a fractured sense of identity that left a gaping hole in his core. I don’t think at that stage he was able to identify the link between the years of their belittling of him and his current state of social isolation and unhappiness, but the anger had risen to the surface and was directed fairly and squarely in their direction. I was glad of it. I was hopeful that in lashing out at them and at the world, he might be steered in the direction of help…outside help that was bigger and braver than anything I at thirteen years of age, could offer.
It seemed that he had already sought that help. And this afternoon’s experience taught me that therapists can sometimes offer rather strange advice. Apparently my poor brother had sought the guidance of a highly respected psychologist who suggested he “have a couple of stiff drinks” before approaching my parents to challenge their behaviour towards him. It may have seemed reasonable to the therapist to offer this type of advice to a twenty year old male but the risk of him taking the recommendation just one step further was indisputable and, I suspect it may have resulted in consumption of more than a “couple” of drinks. During the confrontation that ensued in the living room that afternoon, my parents who were unaccustomed to their authority being challenged, would have looked intently for any signs of influence to my brother’s newly ignited courage and located it on his breath. Unfortunately, this was perfect fodder for their catch-cry claim as innocent victims at the hands of the bullying of their children. And so they dialled 000 and requested the police attend the home as soon as possible.
“Our son has turned on us, he is going crazy and I fear he will attack my husband”, I hear my mother say down the phone in feigned tones of fear and distress.
The presence of three marked police cars in one’s street is not a welcoming look in a quiet middle class neighbourhood. No wonder none of the housewives who regularly witnessed such commotion at number 24 through their lace curtains, ever came knocking at the door with offerings of home baked muffins. As a child my world-view was one based on fear. Every occurrence, every outsider, every belief system or custom that differed from my own, was ingrained within me as having corruptive influences. It took a while for me to understand for those on the outside looking in to my world, the view would have been as scary as hell itself. For almost all, it was in fact too scary, to really want to get involved. I soon learnt there was no hope of rescue by an outsider.
With my ear pressed up to the gap between the bedroom door and the wall, I heard a police officer guide Aaron from the front of the house away from the commotion and down towards the end of the hall way, just outside the door to my room.
“Ok, have you had a couple of drinks mate?” inquired the friendly sounding female constable.
“Well maybe…” responded my brother breathlessly as he tried to elaborate on his distress.
“I can see nothing is going to be resolved here”, the policewoman interjected.
“How about I walk you outside and you head off then?” she offered.
Take me, oh take me too!, a voice inside me screamed silently as my body stood frozen behind the door while my energy pulled violently towards the hallway.
The police had no idea I was there bearing witness from behind the scenes to all that was going on that afternoon. When I had glimpsed their vehicles arrive from behind the heavy curtains that framed the front living room windows, my parents had ordered me to my room. I was happy to comply.
Maybe I won’t need to come out voluntarily. Maybe they’ll come looking for me? Surely they’d want to know if there were any other children in the house?
I stood immobilised as I listened to their footsteps walk back up the hall in the direction of the front door.
So I run as fast as I can expecting the mushey love stuff…………………..holey moley for lack of a better adjective expletive, you are a real pro. Excellent writing. Simply heart topping. I lived it so many times with my 3 younger brothers. Beautifully written, heartachingly remembered. May I send this out on my blog?
March 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm
Sara these are lovely sentiments coming from a lady of such talent ! Thank you for the pingback to me on your blog. What a compliment ! I am happy to share my story because it seems to help others realise the scared child within them is not alone. xox
March 18, 2010 at 10:04 pm
interesting, and very thoughtful
March 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm
Hello Dean. Nice to see you here again ! Thank you. It’s always very sepcial to hear that others appreciate one’s writing and story.
March 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm
Pingback: Take Me Too « Sara Arizona
A very moving piece of writing Colleen.
It reminded me of the time my own father knocked me out cold. It was the last time he ever touched me. Not long after that incident I too confronted him and luckily for me he backed down. I was absolutely terrified of him but had taken enough and was willing to accept whatever the consequences were. I haven’t spoken to my father in over fifteen years, my mother in about five. I used to think she suffered too but now I realise she was complicit in it all. She betrayed us all but mostly I hate the fact she betrayed her own daughters.
I hope everything turned out okay Colleen, and everyone is well.
March 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm
Hello Paul. Yes, these are sadly common stories. My family is now completely fractured….all due to the years of manipulation. I haven’t seen my parents since I walked out the door at sixteen. I’m good now. Motherhood has helped me heal. There’s great strength to be gained from consciously ensuring that patterns from the past are not repeated.
Thank you for your kind comments and concern.
March 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm
“Personality impacts upon one’s level of resilience…” Definitely, and the childhood fear you convey runs deep. Very emotional. Hope all is well. Thanks
March 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Hi Adam. Yes I think the factors that contribute to resilience are facinating. Even then, I considered my own ability to separate myself from my environment and challenge the unhealthy behaviours of my parents as being quite distinct from each of the varying approaches of my five siblings. I’ve learnt to term this as resilience…and am so glad I possess it ! Largely I consider that personality and the stage our souls are at in our spiritual quest has much to do with the degree of resilience we possess.
All is well, thank you. I am finding every way possible to distract myself from work this Friday afternoon !!!
March 19, 2010 at 12:20 am
Colleen, dropped in to catch up on my reading and was whisked away on a roller coaster of emotions and it indeed was a thrill! The prose posts are poignant, yet with a slight edge, the poems you have posted lately are simply powerful! Your journey continues to be an inspiration, as well as a challenge to me to go on, take one more step, believe in choices … Thanks for sharing!
March 19, 2010 at 11:27 pm
Thank you. Your words and those of everyone here are very humbling.
March 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm
WOW…I couldn’t imagine being in your ‘shoes’, I was fortunate to have very loving and wonderful parents. Your one strong woman.
March 20, 2010 at 2:43 am
Hi UC ! Nice to see you here. Thanks for your comment, and yes, I am proud of my strengths. 🙂
March 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm
You’re right, Colleen. While a few people have experienced worse childhoods than yours, most have not (though I’m beginning to think we’re all wounded in childhood somehow).
You truly are an inspiration because you survived. Against all odds, you have children and are full of love. You may have been born into your family, but it was not because you fit, but because you had a mission to fulfill that would include helping to heal other hurting people. And, dear girl, you’re doing a bang up job!
March 20, 2010 at 5:08 am
Hi Pam. Thanks so much for your kind words and your vote of confidence !
March 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm
Oh Colleen. You shot me through the heart with this one. The last lines came as a bullet. I gasped outloud. This is amazingly told. It’s odd, but I think I remember You telling a version of this a LONG time ago. It wasn’t mapped out as detailed as this. I just remember You so desperately wanting to be taken away as well. Maybe I’m remembering something else altogether. But that lonely, scared, sad, little You behind the door is SO very poignant in all You write. Hugest hugs, and Biggest Thanks for sharing Yourself. Namaste. 🙂
March 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm
Maybe it was my post A Glimpse into Another World…? Not sure…Interestingly though I’m seeing a re-occurring theme of doors pop up in my stories. It’s funny how these memes just evolve alongside the unearthing of the memories. Thank you as always for you wonderfully supportive feedback. It does mean so much. xox
March 21, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Very nice. I liked the post a lot.
March 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm
Hi Sandra, Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment.
March 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm
Such a difficult thing to say,
and so tremendously said.
Good writing, Colleen!
March 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm
Thank you Uncle Tree. 🙂
March 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm
my name is roger and i’ve started something of a literary journal at indood.com
with your permission i’d like to feature this piece there. the byline would link back to this website and I’d assume you’d want a byline of Colleen DuBois (unless you said otherwise).
If you’re interested let me know at email@example.com
no pressure, but I’d love for this to be there.
let me know too if you have any questions.
March 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm
I’ve taken a look at indood.com. Thank you so much for your interest in my writing. I’ll shoot you an email now.
March 24, 2010 at 8:06 am