How Far We’ve Come.

How Far We’ve Come.

It’s been a long road, I’m still travelling it. Along the way, there have been many ups and many downs. I’ve crossed many hurdles and I am sure there are even more to come, but sometimes it is nice to just celebrate the highs. That’s the purpose of this post.

July 4th. I sat and watched my son graduate from his class in culinary school. He has special needs. If someone had asked me when he was little, the little boy that wouldn’t even talk, I would have not thought it was possible for him.

He made me proud.

This is a short story I had written not so long ago based on a memory of mine, though I am sure he doesn’t really recall the first time he spoke. I am sure I will remember it forever.

 

*  *  *

The snow is falling outside. It started just a little while ago. I see it out of the window as I stare into the darkness and watch it coat the ground, leaving a blanket of untouched whiteness. It’s falling fast, thick and heavy. We don’t get to see snow so often; if we do it doesn’t tend to stay. The sea air sees to that. I press my face against the glass and look out along our street. It’s quiet and peaceful; everyone is sleeping. Everyone but me.

My breath fogs up the cool glass and I wipe it away. Will has never seen snow. Not real snow like this. I wonder if it would be wrong to wake him. Perhaps it would be wrong to chance him missing this.  All children should see snow at least once in their lives. It’s like magic.

I find my boots and coat and put them on. I grab Will’s too. He isn’t sleeping either when I poke my head around his open door.

“Do you want to come and see some snow?” I ask him.

He doesn’t answer me. I show him his coat and  boots as I kneel down beside his bed.

“It’s falling real fast,” I say. “Do you want to come and see it?”

He doesn’t say a word to me, but he takes my offered hand and lets me pull him into sitting position. I put his boots on his feet and tuck his Spiderman pyjamas inside. No need to get dressed. I put his coat on and zip it all the way up to his chin.  I add a hat and pull it down over his ears. I smile at him, but his mouth doesn’t even twitch.

His small hand rests in mine. He lets me lead him down the stairs to the door of our apartment. We go out of our door, across the hall and outside into the cold night. The air is fresh. For a moment I stop and take it in. The snow is soft under my boots as I step out. Will takes one step and then he stops.

“Its real snow Will,” I say. “Do you like it?”

I hope he does. All four year olds like snow.

Will doesn’t say. He doesn’t speak. Not even a murmur. I know he’s in there somewhere as I watch him for any reaction. Maybe the snow would make him utter his first word.

“Snow,” I say in hope, but no.

He says nothing again.

I bend and scoop some  off the ground. I offer it out to him. Will looks at it. His  mouth doesn’t move, not even his expression changes. I keep my sigh inside so that he doesn’t see it.

I reach for his hand and turn it over. Placing the snow in the palm of his hand, I push his small pudgy fingers closed around it. I watch his face as he touches the snow for the first time. I hold my breath a little, waiting for just a spark. A little one. One to say that he feels it.

“Its snow Will, you like snow?”

He stares up at me with innocent blue eyes. Eyes that match mine in colour only. My innocence was never there, but I’m trying. Trying to ensure that Will keeps it and my tainted life doesn’t ruin his.

“I wish you would talk,” I say to him as my hand closes over his. “Do you want to make a snowman?” I ask. “Like in your story book? We can give him a hat and a scarf and then he won’t be cold.”

I’ve never made a snowman myself, but I have seen it done. I put my hand on the snow and push it down to leave a trace that we were there. Will doesn’t make a move. His hand is still out holding the snow that I gave him. His hand has gone red from the cold and guilt bites at me.

What was I thinking? I open his fingers and push the snow away. His hand is so cold. I hold it between mine and try to rub it to give him some warmth again.

“I’m sorry,” I say as I breathe onto his icy fingers. “Let’s go back inside and get warm. “

I glance back at the snow. My chest feels heavy. I hoped it might work. Something new. Something he had never seen before. Perhaps it would break him from his shell and bring out the little boy I knew was in there.

I take Will’s hand and go to lead him back into the building, but he doesn’t move. He stands still; his feet firm. He isn’t going to come.

“Come on, it’s cold,” I say, but he doesn’t respond.

He lets go of my hand and walks toward the road. It’s clear, but I jump down anyway and try and get in front of him without startling him. If I startle him, he will scream. We were one notice away from eviction. I glance at the window of the woman that lives below us and pray that she is sleeping.

“Will,” I say. “Come on mate.”

He stops at the kerb and turns to look at me. He takes off his hat and holds it out to me.

“Talk to me,” I say to him. “I don’t understand what you want. You don’t want to wear your hat?”

He pushes it at me, against my chest. The only sound coming from his mouth is the usual frustrated murmur as I try and decipher what he wants. I don’t know what it is.

He goes silent and lets go of his hat. He bends down to the snow and scoops up a handful. He gives it to me.

“You want to make a snowman?” I ask him, I don’t really know.

I’m guessing in desperation so I don’t set him off.  All I have is what I feel. Maybe I will get it wrong or maybe I will get it right. I don’t know.

I take the snow and squeeze it together into a ball. I roll it on the ground. Will doesn’t move nor does he help as he watches. The ball gets bigger as I roll it. I make it big enough for a snowman’s belly.

I do the same again with another to make the head. Just a little smaller. I lift it onto the snowman belly. I glance at Will. He is just watching me.

“Do you want to make his face?” I ask. “Shall we give him stones for eyes?”

I dig in the yard of the neighbours. I know they have gravel and stones for decorations. They won’t miss a few. Not while we have the snow. I make the snowman’s face and give him a smile.

“Do you want me to give him your hat?”

I wait a second for a reaction before placing it on the bald snowman’s head. Will looks up at him. I pause.

A smile? Please. I wish.

Will turns and walks away; his face blank.

“Will?”

He walks into the building and up the flight of stairs. I stay where I am and watch where he just vacated. I don’t know what to do. Did I upset him? Did I fail as his father once more? I look at the snowman. He smiles at me in the dark.

“I tried,” I say to him and then I shrug, defeated.

I go inside after Will.

Will has gone to his room and taken off his coat. His boots are lined up perfect. His coat is neat and straight. His bed covers look like no one has moved except for the small form of a child. He is lying still; his eyes are open and he stares at the ceiling.

I clutch the door frame and watch him in the dark. Holding onto my failure. He doesn’t even know I am there.

“I’m sorry,” I say to him. “I wish it could be better for you. You deserve it.” I sigh. “You don’t deserve me.”

The night becomes day and I wake. I’m sitting on the floor at his doorway. Will is awake too. He gets out of bed and steps over me to go to the bathroom. I hear him use the toilet and then the sink. Three pumps on the soap like he was taught. He washes his hands. Two exact minutes as he brushes his teeth. He leaves the bathroom and walks over me once more into his room and gets dressed in the right order. Socks, underpants, t-shirt, pants and sweater.

“Do you want some breakfast?” I ask him from where I still sit.

He doesn’t answer me.

He passes me again and goes into the kitchen. The fridge opens and I hear him scream;  so loud, it pulls my heart through my chest.  I am on my feet running to him without thinking about it.

He is stood with milk around his feet. The carton is on the floor.

“It’s okay,” I say to him as I try to clean it up, but he keeps screaming.

“Please don’t,” I beg him.

Soon she will bang on the door like we committed a great offence. Then she will complain. Just one more is needed. We don’t have room for any more strikes against us.

I pick him up and wrap my arms around him. I don’t bother to get his coat from his room. I just need to get us out of the apartment. I grab mine. It’s big enough for both of us and I race down the stairs. He calms down a little, but not much. The store is just around the corner. It isn’t far.

The snow is deep. It seeps into my jeans over my boots as soon as I step out, but it’s okay. We’re just going for milk. He wraps his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck.

“Hat,” Will says, as we reach the snowman at the kerb.

I stop. I’m frozen in time.

His voice resonates around my head. I try and catch up with what he said.

I’m not sure I heard him.

“Hat?” I ask him, but he says nothing.

“It’s okay,” I say as I wrap my arms around him as tight as I can.

He said hat.

JD Stockholm  2012©

I Am A Supporter.

I am a supporter.

I often think that supporters don’t get the credit they deserve. I think in many ways they suffer too. Some days worse than the survivor they support.  I do not envy my partner. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with me on a day to day basis. I couldn’t do it.

She has a voice. She wrote this and said I could share it.

All I can say to her is thank you.

I am a supporter.

I am also a partner, a friend, a shoulder and a confidant.

My partner is an abuse survivor and in the same way that supporter fills many shoes, the term abuse has many meanings.

Mental, Emotional, Physical and Sexual Abuse are all wrapped up in one horrific package called childhood; a loose term for what my partner’s actual learning years were until he was a teen. He lived it; breathed it. Abuse was normal in his eyes. For a countless number of children, the abuses they endured have been implanted into their minds. How they think, deduce, and make decisions. The way they understand their feelings and how well they manage them have been determined by their abuse.

Abuse is very much like a map and a child will follow whichever road the abuse leads him or her as well as fall back on the road traveled, which has become familiar. Actions that feel almost right to an abuse survivor can be very difficult for those of us who have not been abused, to see or even understand. We look at situations from a different angle that does not necessarily exist to a survivor.

These are some of the things I learned through my partner as we got to know one another and conflicts came into our relationship.

I am always in search of what it means to be a supporter.

I have wondered about people such as myself who have found themselves intertwined with the life of a survivor. My partner was reticent. Perhaps due to the personal information he had that I did not.  Abuse creates many fears and one of them is allowing oneself to be close to another person. Closeness implies trust, trust implies faith and faith implies that the relationship that begins as a seed will continue to grow as it progresses.

There was no reason for my survivor to have any faith that anything would go further than the words that were spoken. A thought or a wish was better left in that place; in his mind. Why should he put himself in a place to be hurt? He had a lifetime of it already. Why ask for more?

Yet, as time passed, the layers began to be peeled away and I found myself in a relationship with an abuse survivor. He was more than a man; he was many pieces to a 30-plus year puzzle and his pieces did not always fit. Some carried over from the past while others were like new discoveries; things he remembered that had long been buried.

The only thing I really understood was that he had been sexually abused by both of his parents. I had never known anyone in my life that was this close to me who had lived this sort of childhood and frankly, I had no idea what to expect. The road was rocky and on it traveled triggers, PTSD, DID, self harm and OCD. Some days were up while others were down and it wasn’t until my partner began to seek therapy that the full understanding  of what it would mean to be in a relationship with him truly was.

Mirror.

Mirror 

Note: I wrote this some weeks ago when I was at a point I didn’t see a way out of, I needed an outlet. I thought I would share. Could be triggering to those suffering self harm issues and possibly disassociation. Read with care.

When I look in the mirror I am shocked. That is not my face. That is not how I look. I want to claw his face away. It’s a lie. I am trapped in his body. I don’t look like that. 

I see what everyone sees. I see why they hurt him;   right there in his eyes. It is what he was made for and what he deserves. I hate when I see the tears in his eyes. He looks stupid when he cries. He doesn’t deserve to let the tears go.

You cannot cry for what you are. It’s his fault; he has no right to cry. He is bad. He is worthless. He doesn’t get to cry about that. 

I see his blood in the mirror but it isn’t right. I need to see it for real so that I can feel it. I can’t feel it in a reflection that is a lie. I need to see it happening. I need to feel it; the sharp burn as the skin gets cut.

I grind my teeth down because it hurts, but then I see him doing the same. He doesn’t get to keep the pain away. He isn’t allowed to.

It is his entire fault. I want to smash the mirror. I want to pull him out and beat him. I want him to go away and never come back. I want him to die.

I hate him.

 
He eats and he isn’t allowed. He doesn’t deserve food. He doesn’t deserve to taste things, but I watch him and he does it like he can’t help himself. He has no control. He should eat nothing. He should feel hunger. He should feel everything. 

He is a lie and everyone sees through it. Everyone knows that he is there to be hurt. But it’s not him that gets hurt, it’s me.

They get it wrong. 

I keep drifting off. Not to sleep; just somewhere. I get lost. Maybe he does it. Just like now. I don’t know where I have gone. I don’t really know. My mind keeps wandering. 

I like to watch the skin bleed. I like to watch when it burns from the kettle or the iron. I feel it when it goes over me like calming music. Every nerve reaches to feel it, but then he is there. He spoils it. 

Everything I do, he spoils. I get happy; I get content and think maybe this time things are right. They feel right, but then it’s him and he ruins everything.

I hate him.

Because of him, it all goes. Something happens and it is supposed to be him that gets hurt. Not me, but it’s me that feels it. Me that hurts.

I see the walls fall on the comfortable place I made. They crash down so loud I can’t hear anything else. It’s always this way. It happens every time. I’m a fool to believe that it is different. Foolish to believe in people. Foolish to believe that maybe this time he won’t ruin it. 

Each time is worse. I curl up inside and wish to be taken away. I just want it over. I ask all the time; just take me away. Make it stop. But I am never answered. I know there is no one listening.

 I can’t cut deep enough. I keep trying and it doesn’t go away. It just bleeds. I don’t want it to bleed. I just want to feel that pain and not this one.

He can’t even give me that. 

I want to smash his face in the mirror. 

My Voice Is Silent

My Voice Is Silent.

​ My voice is silent. It has been that way for days, yet today, feels worse. I cannot shift the feeling of being in the wrong for talking.; for letting my secrets out. It is six days, I think, with no real sleep. Maybe it is more. I don’t really know.

​I am floating from one day to the next without having the time to stop and enjoy it. I am just watching . Somehow, I got knocked back inside my head and I am not sure how to come out again. I make myself write this so I can see what I feel and understand myself.

​I was out of bed, in the middle of the night, in a frightening moment when my mind protected me. I was yelling to be left alone before I had even woken up. Suddenly, I was in the memory of a five year old, and the man I do not know was stood by my bed in the dark once more, like he always is and always was.

​I was not dreaming of him. I was not even thinking about him. I had laid there in the dark for almost an hour, getting annoyed with the inability, once again, to fall asleep. I closed my eyes; I must have drifted off a little. When I opened my eyes in half sleep, his face was in front of mine. His hands were on my bed. I didn’t think, I just reacted. It wasn’t until I was at the other side of the room crouched against the wardrobe with my arms in front of me, telling him no that I realised it was thirty years later and he was not there.