It’s hard to think of when I really started to remember more vivid details of what had been happening at home growing up. A lot of it is more snap shots or feelings, than detailed memories.
One of the earliest memories I have about the volatility in our home was when I was starting grade 1 at school. I vividly remember the screaming, yelling and arguing between my parents. The anger, hate and pure toxic venom that spewed from my parents mouths, my mum’s in particular is still there at the back of my mind even today. It’s like snapshots in my mind. It was a hatred and rage that I don’t think I could do justice by trying to describe, it’s a deep rooted, weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I never understood why the arguments began, but I just remember how quickly they escalated. They went from just being angry words, to screaming, then things getting thrown around the house or someone slamming doors and leaving, out the door and off into the car. Again, this was normally my mother, she didn’t have the ability to regulate herself at all. She had so much anger and rage, and I remember being terrified every single time these incidents happened. Once it was all over and things had settled down again, it was like nothing had happened and both my parents carried on with life like everything was completely normal. They’d be happy, would have friends over or go to friends houses taking us with them to play with their friends children. Alcohol was almost always involved, and inevitably all the adults would end up in some state of intoxication. The alcohol wasn’t an issue early on when we were kids, that would become an issue when my brother and I were young adults.
There are a few things that I do remember though from those early times that have affected me, and sometimes still feel like they only happened yesterday. I remember one time being so upset because of the arguing between my parents that I ran down the corridor of our house and shouted at them both, saying please just stop fighting! Both of them stopped, looked at me and then my mother screamed at me “Shut up you little bitch, and go back to your room.” It was the first of many scathing comments, words that cut so deep, and left a lasting wound.
On other occasions when the fighting got really bad, that’s when I felt like I was a pawn in a chess game between my parents. The fighting would get so bad that at some stage during the night, my mother would come into my room, snatch me out of bed, put me in the car and tell my father she was leaving and she was taking me with her. Mostly she only took me with her but sometimes my brother as well. We would drive around for what felt like hours, I would be asleep on the back seat of the car, and then in the early hours of the morning, she would return back home.
The memories of any mental or physical abuse happening to me or my brother, that’s when things didn’t just involve mum and dad fighting. This was horrible uncontrollable treatment that we received at the hands of our mother, the one person we always thought would do anything to prevent harm from coming to her children. But, in those moments when she was in a fit of uncontrollable rage, something in her eyes changed. Her eyes were dark, empty and her face it changed in a way that I can’t even explain.
The first time I remember her really screaming at me with such anger and annoyance was a morning in Grade 1, when she was getting me ready for school. She had asked me to find a particular matching pair of hair ties so she could tie my hair in piggy tails. When I came back and said I couldn’t find the matching pair, she went off on me with so much anger and I couldn’t understand why it made her so angry. She was screaming at me about such a small thing, spewing hateful words and she was so angry. She wouldn’t let me go to school until I found those hair ties, so I was late to school. And to punish me further she made me walk to school after terrifying the living shit out of me over such a simple thing. I was six years old.
The first time I remember my brother really starting to cop it, he was slightly younger, maybe five years old. We had moved again, my father worked in the bank so moving was a regular thing in our lives. I now know that this constant upheaval of our lives was a big factor in why my mother was the way she was to some degree. She has never been one to cope with change and uncertainty, a product of having to grow up so quickly herself because her father passed away from cancer when she was only fourteen. My grandmother had to go out and support her two children, working full time, so my mother stepped into the role of helping out at home and looking after her younger brother.
To paint this particular scene, that first memory I have of my brother being at the end of both physical and emotional abuse, it started something like this. From a very young age we were told that we should be making our beds ourselves, along with other chores we should be doing around the house. On this particular morning my brother had made his bed as he was told he had too. When my mother came to inspect his bedroom, something in her just snapped. She grabbed him so forcefully and shook him, screaming “This is not how your bed should be made, do it again!” He made the effort to make it look better, but she was still not satisfied, it needed to be perfect. The poor kid was five years old, I don’t know any five year olds that make their beds so well that it would pass for something in a military inspection, but that was her expectation. I just remember my poor sweet innocent baby brother crying uncontrollably, and this crying just infuriated my mother even more. Of course anytime I tried to step in to protect him, then I would bear the brunt of her scathing horribly hurtful words. I lost count of how many times she called me a little bitch, or told me you’re a spoilt little bitch and the worst of all…… being told by your mother that she wishes you were never born.
I don’t care how fucked up or hard someone’s life was growing up, as a mother, to me there is absolutely no excuse ever, to tell your child you wish they were never born. Those are words that you can never take back, they can never been unsaid, those words have a lasting impact on that child’s life. Words like that hurt me even more, because my brother and I were both adopted. Already feeling like you have been rejected by your biological parents and then being told by the only mother you have ever know, that she wishes you were never born, that is a cut that is so deep and I don’t know that kind of wound ever fully heals. It hasn’t for me……. yet!