I stood leaning against a wall in the hallway of our home on Scatterfoot Drive in Peachtree City, Ga. It is where we lived at the time, so it was home at the time. A ranch style house with an attached garage on the right as you look up the big hill on which it sits from in front of the home. I think it was a white ranch. And inside this home lived a lot of people, at any given time. My grandma and grandpa, uncle, great uncle, mom, dad, both of my brothers, and a cousin of mine, plus myself. There was a lot of us packed in there at any given time. We seemed to live with relatives off and on. Running down the internal middle of this house was a long L shaped hallway. And right at the 90 degree corner of the hallway is where I leaned against the wall, and crouched down. It was the summer between first and second grade, and we had moved out of the Apartments where the molesting and fights had taken place, and in with my maternal relatives, for reasons unknown.
My parents had been really going through it and going at it recently. This evening was no different. They had been fighting a lot lately. And being that we were living in my mother’s family’s home, I heard a lot of blame shifting, a lot of side taking, and a lot of resentment, bitterness, judgement and conviction from both sides. This is something that really led me to feeling torn and jaded later on in life. Kids hear, see, and feel a lot more than most adults may know when there is conflict in the home and amongst family. I certainly did. The fighting scared me. The name calling hurt me. I would say from the time I was about 4 until the time I was about 37 I pretty much lived my life very much “on edge”. I would suppose this is because from the time I was a child, my emotional and nervous system dysregulation began. My “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” mechanisms began to develop and take control of how I interacted with the world. We are shaped so much more than we know, by how we are taught, groomed, and shown how to process and deal with life at an early age. Everything in my life was reactive. I reacted to everything. There was so much stress and turmoil going on all the time that it kept me in a state of essentially shock I guess. Constantly on guard, watching for continuous and ongoing threats, perceived or real. I was always reacting to shit.
So here I was, leaning against this wall. Silently sobbing. Listening to all this shit go down. All the vulgar language, all the personal attacks, the judgement, the ugly, the threats, I just couldn’t handle what all was happening right now, or what all I was hearing. My mom was leaving my dad for the first time. And to the best of my trauma brain’s recollection it was for another man. This is also what I was told later on in life. And she was so steadfast and selfishly leaving us, that she was leaving us to stay and live in her family’s house on Scatterfoot Drive. Like that’s not gonna be an awkward breakfast in the morning. She was packing bags while her and my dad screamed and fought and plead and bargained and spewed wreckage verbally into my life from the other room. She was serious. And I was’t having it anymore. At the age of maybe 8 or 9 I was gonna handle this situation myself. I was gonna fight back against all of this. It was time to make a stand. I had prepared for this moment. I had snuck into my my older brother’s room, rooted through his closet, found his boxing gloves he used for back yard boxing with my cousins, strapped the massively over sized red Everlasts on to my tiny hands, and strapped the velcro wrists bands on as tightly as I could. And assumed the attack position.
With tears rolling down my face I was ready. This wasn’t happening. Not today. I am not about to let my family fall apart not here and not now. I had no choice. This was the only thing I knew how to do to potentially make myself heard and seen. I had long since felt invisible and brushed aside by everyone in my life, especially the adults who were supposed to me protecting me and teaching me. I did not know how to speak up concisely for myself, I did not know how to interpret what I was feeling, I did not know how to communicate maturely with adults, but I did understand taking a stand. That’s exactly what I was about to do.
I heard the suit cases hit the floor, assumingly from on top of the bed where my mom was loading it up. I heard the steps begin making their way down the hall. Four feet were now in motion toward me, mom in front, and my dad right behind, alternating between begging her not to leave and threatening her if she did. I tensed up. Ready to make my stand. Big breaths in, big breaths out. This was my chance to save my family. Right here and right now. What had been happening in my life, in our lives was wrong and my little heart knew it. Even if I couldn’t articulate it. The time was coming. They inched closer and closer. Seconds passed like minutes as I waited. Finally, mom emerged around the corner of the hallway, large suitcase in tow, and a shoulder bag slung over her shoulder, and I pounced! I punched her in the legs, thighs, butt, and hip. I let those boxing gloves go on her as best I could. You see, I had put the boxing gloves on because I didn’t actually want to hurt her, if I was even capable of doing so, but just wanted to get her attention. I wasn’t actually capable of hurting anyone. I was too soft hearted. But boy did I want to get my point across. And I did, I think. I let those gloves walk all over right side as best I could. Left jab, right jab, push, slap, tears running down my face, high pitched squeals coming out. A child’s fury and heart break exploding all over the corner of this hallway.
“If you leave right now, you’re not my mom anymore!!!!!”
I finished delivering my message and ran bawling into the bathroom closed the door behind me, locked it, and jumped into the bath tub and closed the curtain. I laid on the floor of the bathtub, balled up and cried my little eyes out. Still wearing the boxing gloved as I sobbed and sobbed over the back ground noise of them still fighting and packing bags. Silently repeating to myself, please don’t go mom. Please let that have worked.
It didn’t. The yelling and cussing continued. Probably for another half an hour. She didn’t even try and talk to me. She didn’t even knock on the door. I heard the final trip of suitcases and cussing make its way down the hall, and the screen door slam behind her then the car start. I knew she was leaving. I unlocked the bathroom door, and made my way to the bay window in front of the house, as she backed down the big hill of a drive way and out of our lives. I sobbed silently with my boxing gloves on and mustered a wave as she put the car in Drive to start her journey to wherever she was going.
“I love you mom. I hate you.” was all I could muster as my voice cracked and tears flowed.
She was gone.