This morning when I woke up pain wished me “good morning.” My scar decided it was a marvel time to hurt me. The damn thing rarely causes me problems anymore, instead it just hangs on my side like a timed child. It’s nothing more than a trinket, a reminder that the devil does walk among us. I don’t believe in God or Satan but, I’ve seen the eyes of the devil, and she doesn’t want our hearts or souls; no, she wants to survive and the only way she can is to transfer her own scars onto us with a lie dripping in honeysuckle that she loves us.
I still remember the first time I felt true terrier, the kind that eats at your sanity until your nothing more than a poppet. When I came out to my family as an Atheist one of the first things they said was “You will burn in Hell.” I laughed and replayed;
“I’ve already seen Hell, It isn’t fire and brimstone. Hell is the fear of not knowing where your next meal is coming from. That voice in your head telling you your nothing and believing that it’s right. I’m not afraid to die because, I stared into deaths eyes more than once. I’m not afraid of Hell because I’ve lived there.”
My mother had some issues that never really got resolved. She has bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and addiction problems. I lived with her until I was eleven. After that I lived with my grandparents until I was fifteen and moved in with my dad.
While I was living with mother she would have good days and bad days. On good days she would cook, clean and make you feel like the nothing else mattered. Then on bad days she would just lie on her bed or couch, left her children to feed themselves and yell intelligible things at random.
Nothing on these days could stir her from her nest of bottles and wrappers. I once cut my hand on glass so deep I could see the bone. Instead of taking me to the hospital, she gave me a go-gert to clutch onto until my grandma had come with something to wrap it up with.
I held on to that go-gert all day until grandma came. She was horrified by the state of my hand and demand that my mother take me to the hospital. However, this was one of her bad days, and she insisted that I wasn’t in any pain so a hospital would be pointless. My hand took two months to heal completely, and now curls when relaxed.
We relied on the local church for food more often I would have liked. My mother had an Associates degree in elderly care but she never used it. Instead, she worked customer service jobs that paid minimum wage. Luckily we were close friends with our land lady, so she didn’t mind a missed payment now and then. It’s almost comical, we never had the money to pay for food or bills, but we always had a pack of Bud Light in our fridge.
I had enough: the lack of food, the unpredictability of mood and the obvious disregard for my own safety. So I did the sensible thing, I called my grandma and explained to her that I wanted to live with her form now on. After what felt like hours later she pulled up in the driveway. We had agreed that she would wait out there for me as I didn’t know how mother would react to her being there.
I’ll never forget that haunting image, it has been forever burned deep into my subconscious. I almost fear that I’ll never be free of it. When I came out of my room, clothing bags in hand, I saw mother standing in the kitchen, simultaneously blocking my path. I tried to slip past her, unnoticed like the nothing the voices in my head began to make me think I was. Almost there, just a little more.
“Where do you think your going?” she suddenly asked me
Shit. I had to think on the spot, thank God I had years of practice and thought of a quick lie.
“O, I’m uh… going to sleep over to-to sleep at a friends remember?”
“No, I don’t remember.” she said her voice slowly growing an octave “get back in your room.”
I didn’t move, freedom was only a hop, skip and jump away. At grandma’s I didn’t have to worry about food, I could take a warm bath or shower in peace, there was a sense of peace there, I couldn’t take this, hell, I couldn’t take her anymore!
The woman saw that I wasn’t moving, so she did the reasonable thing; she grabbed a chef knife that had just been washed and yelled at a full firth octave that would make Axl Rose jealous “You get back to your room right now before I kill you!” She was blocking my path to the front door, but I could still taste freedom on my tongue.
So I didn’t move. The woman came at me and pushed me against the wall. She held that freshly glittering knife to my throat. In my face she screamed every profanity in her vocabulary. Then at the drop of a hat she started whispering “I’ll kill you,” over and over like it was a prayer that would protect her from demons.
I believed her, this is how I die repeated threw my head as she talked.
The whole time tried not to look into her eyes, dreading what I would see in them. I feared that I would see raw emotion, I dreaded seeing sincerity, and blood lust.
“Look at me!” she screamed
Reluctantly I looked into her eyes. I no longer saw the eyes of my mother. These eyes had been glossed other, dulled, there was no life or emotion in them.
In that moment and in that moment alone I pitied her.
That woman told me horrible things as she held that knife to my throat. I listened because that’s what I had been trained to do. I wasn’t this woman’s daughter, I was her tiny therapist. When she was done spewing her hate speech to me she decided to teach me a lesson. She dragged my shirt up and cut along the side of my breast. I screamed with all the air my lungs could carry. Then she once again brought the now stained knife to my throat and said;
“Never lie to me again, now go to your room.” She released me and I complied.
I examined the cut she left, It only broke skin thank God, so I patched it up with some left over supplies from the hand incident. Only then did I notice the tears falling.
I cursed myself for not just running out the door, I cursed my grandma for not calling the police on her, because “she’s my daughter, I can’t do that to her.” I cursed my mother for having me and dragging me down this life, this Hell.
I cursed my father for getting away from her and not taking me with him. I cursed every child that had a mother that actually cared. I cursed out child protective services and their incompetence.
Then I cursed myself again for still shaking in fear as the hours passed and the sun gave way to the moon.
Both the scars next to my breast and on my hand are my reminder that Hell does exist. I see a therapist every week who is helping me turn my traumatic memories into normal ones with the help of EMDR. I’ve also cut all ties with my mother, she still tries to talk to me on occasion but I refuse too.
Whenever I bring this incident up with her she says that she doesn’t remember it, or that she was drunk when it happened and thus doesn’t matter. I can’t forgive her for acting like my feelings don’t mean anything, especially when I still flinch when someone gets too close to me with a sharp knife.
Hell isn’t fire and brimstone. No, Hell is not knowing where your next meal is coming from. It’s that voice in your head that tells you your nothing and believing it.
The true fear of death isn’t from death itself, it’s from believing that it’s the only way or worse still, that you deserve it. For years after my mother tried to kill me I thought I deserved it, I believe that I shouldn’t have tried to escape.
Only now as I type this do I realize that. Maybe this is why I tried to take my life a little more than a year later? I don’t know. But, as I type this I feel the ghost of that knife on my throat and tears well up in my eyes. It feels like I’m always dancing with shadows and ghosts.
Maybe that’s PTSD? Being able to dance with the shadows and ghosts of the past but, they love dancing so much that they never want to stop.
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