It would be beautiful to say that my mother and I have always been close…
But that isn’t the case.
I know that childlike part of me didn’t understand why she couldn’t save me from the trips to the alley. Didn’t understand that she truly had no idea and had so much on her plate striking out as a single mom. That if she had known, obviously it wouldn’t have continued.
But I didn’t tell her.
I wanted my mother to be Super Woman. To read my mind and see all the horror, know all the pain. All the moments I couldn’t speak of. I wanted to see her fury strike out against Him and her love carry me far away from the dirty gravel behind the garage.
I wanted her to see the spell on my mouth. The invisible glue that sealed my lips the moment I thought of saying anything. I wanted her to take one look and gasp in horror. In comprehension.
But my mask was strong. It was impermeable. My box was strong. It held all it needed to. Nothing overflowed. Nothing got past.
It went like this for longer than I care to describe in true numeric fashion. In the child’s mind, it was a lifetime. A lifetime of secrets, of masks, of boxes. A lifetime of playing hide and seek.
Then we moved.
This is a rare picture of me smiling. It was taken in front of the new house. Far from the alley and the garage of horror. Far away.
Super Woman had, in her own unknowing way, come through. I was free.
But the shackles left their scars. Their marks.
And smiles like this were still rare. And blame lasts a lot longer than you’d think.
It wasn’t until well into high school that I tentatively tried to reach out. To turn a rickety relationship into a bond. And it wasn’t easy.
And I will never forget the look on her face when I finally broke the seal on the box and peeled off the mask for a moment. When I found that long buried courage and told her.
And even then, I looked around to make sure demons wouldn’t crawl through the walls and report my words.
(lies lies lies- He said- no one will ever believe)
But all I was confronted with was the expression of my mother as a part of her withered in horror. In remorse. In blame.
And in that moment, I knew without a doubt- that I never truly blamed her at all.