Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn The summer sun ray shifts through a suspicious tree. though I walk through the valley of the shadow It sucks the air and looks around for me. The grass speaks. I hear green chanting all day. I will fear no evil, fear no evil The blades extend and reach my way. The sky breaks. It sags and breathes upon my face. In the presence of mine enemies, mine enemies The world is full of enemies. There is no safe place. --Anne Sexton
I’m feeling very raw tonight. So many reminders of abuse stuff, still struggling with ED stuff. There’s that feeling in my sternum–not pain, at least not physically, just this feeling of constriction. Like someone is squeezing my lungs. I’m frustrated that I still don’t have a therapist I can talk to about this. There’s Pseudo-Therapist, with whom I spent my hour discussing the finer points of sci-fi literature pre- and post-moon landing. She’s fine with things I don’t have an emotional connection to, but I don’t trust her with anything of substance.
I feel like I’m still trapped in the abuse. Like at any moment, someone is going to come into my apartment and hurt me, and there won’t be anything I can do to stop it. Like I never got away from it.
I got away from my mother. I’d been trying to get away for most of my teen and adult life, but it wasn’t until this past fall that I truly got away. It was while I was at Menninger that I finally got closure. It was a family call a week or two after I got there, with me, my social worker, and my mother (via telephone). My mother is a narcissist who is very good at manipulating people who don’t know her tricks–and often those who do know them. She was trying this with my social worker, telling her how she’d always known something was wrong with me but no one would listen. She was making herself out to be this concerned, caring mother, and I got angry. I snapped and said things I’d spent most of my life killing myself to keep from saying to her.
“If you were paying such close attention, how did you not know your husband was screwing your kids for 16 years?” I said. “The only way you can not know that is by choosing not to know. You chose not to notice. You didn’t want to know.”
She did her “I’m crying audibly over the phone so you know you’ve upset me” routine, mostly aimed at my social worker. She refused to address what I’d said and instead just spoke to my social worker, repeating that she’d always paid close attention to me and my sisters and knew something was wrong with me. She told my social workers I lied to all the therapists she took me to–which is partially true, but only because I knew there was no safe place. She kept repeating, over and over, what an attentive mother she’d been.
I snapped again. “If you were paying so much attention, when was the first time I tried to kill myself?”
Cue crickets chirping in the silence.
“I was 10, mother. You looked me in the eye and said, ‘I don’t care what you do. I’m tired of dealing with you. I’m done with you.’ Of course I was too young to know what I was doing, so I took a handful of Tylenol and then puked a lot. I just told you there was a stomach flu at school, and you never asked. I was TEN, mother.”
Another long silence.
“Okay. I’m done, Mom.”
Then I just got up and walked out. Calm. I thought I would feel massively guilty later–for hurting my mother, for not taking care of her like I’d tried to do my entire life. The guilt never came. I’d said what I’d needed to say my entire life, and that was what finally let me escape. I stopped hoping that she’d someday magically become the mother I needed her to be. I stopped trying to be good enough to earn her love. I was done. I was at peace with that. I’ve talked to her a handful of times since then, mostly via e-mail when I was diagnosed with MTHFR polymorphism. I refused to give her any details about my life and just stuck to the diagnosis and the need for her and my sisters to get tested. I barely felt tempted to try again to get her to love me. I’d finally escaped.
I escaped my father physically, but I’ve never truly gotten away from him. I’ve never felt the resolution and the peace of finally walking away. I ran away from him terrified, and that’s very different than choosing to walk away calmly. I ran to save my life, not because I chose to walk away. He still has the power because he made me run.
The memories aren’t as bad now as they were when I first started to remember and face his abuse, and I know I can survive them–at least, I know that most of the time. Tonight, I’m not even having specific memories; it’s just this incredible sense of betrayal and violation and brokenness. I don’t want to be broken anymore. I want to finally get away from my father, but I don’t know how.
I feel so alone tonight, and the constriction in my chest won’t go away. I know I’m breathing, but I feel like I can’t get any air.