I need to do more of these lovely Daily Posts, well here we go on the feels train again choo choo!
Something felt wrong. The entire house was exploding with a hushed intensity and I proceed to skulk up to my room like a dog with its tail between its legs. I figured it had to be something I had done wrong. It seemed every day there was something new that made me a less than worthwhile human. The quiet chatter of my siblings was coming from their room, something about ponies and Transformers. They were five and six years old respectively at this frozen frame in my mind. They were both starting to get into reading and were competitive at everything, despite their distinct personality differences. Both of their faces were splotched with freckles and had remnants of their summer glow achieved from hours of playing in the sun and in the oblong kiddie pool in the back yard. She was becoming a beautiful tyrant with long blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that upheld her calm assertion in herself. My brother with his mellow pools aqua and amber hair revealed the softer sensitive personality he would grow into. They mean the world to me. Why he wouldn’t allow me to spend any real length of time with them without my stepmother or himself there to supervise was truly beyond me.
I curl up on my bed that was tucked away in one of the many alcoves of my room and replayed my father’s words in my head. Don’t read to them, you’re just a bad influence on them. It was crushing. All I wanted to do is show them the beauty of books like my stepmother had shown me as a kid, except she was always tired after working hard all day to support our family. It was the least I could do to show how much she helped me grow as a person. My mind sifted through all I could have possibly done wrong that would cause such an uproar that raged on in the garage. She took what seemed to be the brunt of his rage most times, diluting it into easier to handle amounts. However much heat she took off of his words, it was still not enough to keep them from killing me just a little bit more on the inside. I would allow the words to mostly roll off besides some of the more intense ones; those festered beneath my skin and occasionally haunt me to this day. I retreat into a state of non-existence in which nothing in the world mattered. There have been many months where I wished it had mattered to me.
The sun was setting behind the silhouette of the trees outside my window and stress had nearly consumed me. There had to be something I had done that I couldn’t think of. Footsteps creeped up the stairs and the tension in all my muscles increased tenfold. If it had just been my father angry for no real reason, he would have beckoned me down by hollering my name belligerently; but no, this was my stepmother coming to me. Things were serious and possibly beyond all hope of return. I had tucked myself into the fetal position at the edge of my bed and put myself into a near frenzy, so that all outside stimulus was nullified. Her soft knock at the door required me to invite her, which I did so obediently despite my wish for hesitance. Her voice was low and soothing and eased my tears of stress, panic, and fear as she delivered her news.
My little brother had stayed home. What my father had done struck a deep seated chord of hatred which I had feared to play until this day. I needed to be strong. I should have been strong six years ago. Why hadn’t I been able to be the protectorate that this family had needed? Why could I not have saved us? A moderately deep gash was displayed overtop of the banner of freckles that decorated by brothers cheekbones. I saw this when I finally heard the woeful tale that made me rue my performance as the eldest. My stepmother and I had already left for school, seeing as she is a high school English teacher. My father had always targeted my brother once I was gone due to his softer nature. Whenever I see something cowering, I just get the urge to kick it. He saw us as things, second class beings under his authoritarian rule. My sister was normally safe, since she had a fire in her soul that provided her the defiance that earned respect. I had the ability to be a scapegoat and handle whatever he dished out to me. My brother though, he was a creature of docility. My brother had no armor suitable for this battle.
My stepmother had made him leave that night and we clutched at each other like drowning men to shore as we unleashed the pain and fear we had harbored for years in smooth rivulets down our faces. She was terrified of losing the family she had built, seeing as she had no legal custody over me. I was terrified that the nightmare would never end. We watched his truck roll out of sight down the driveway and I prayed in my heart for him to never harm our family again. My prayer must have fell short however, for we all bear our battle scars hidden in our hearts. We clung together and lasted the tempest, but how does one rebuild after the storm? The blame I ladled onto my plate weighed down my heart for years to come.
The questions swirl in my head and make me nauseous from self-hatred. If I had stood up to him earlier, even just three years earlier, I can’t help but wonder if everything would have been better. My siblings would have grown up without recollection of a father figure and would be less burdened by this mysterious figure at the edge of their memory. They wouldn’t have to wonder if he had left because he didn’t love them like I had, spending year chasing the answer to the same question regarding my mother. If I had stood up sooner, maybe my stepmother wouldn’t have memories laced with pain. Maybe if I stood up to my mother maybe I would still have my family intact. My siblings wouldn’t have to wonder when they are going to see their sister again. Maybe I wouldn’t have to shoulder all this pain for years to come. Our lives would be so much different if only I had been stronger.
We would still be home and our family as one. We would all be healing together, because as one we stand stronger against the nightmares of our past. There wouldn’t be a rift dividing all of our lives. If only I had been stronger…