[Please be careful, some of what will be written in this could be upsetting to you, it contains glimpses of domestic violence. If you do not wish to read such contact, please skip this post.]
All years pre 7 years old, surround the King that was my Dad. It was the only time the man was in my life so he remains the focal point. When you are a child so young most of your memories surround your family, parents, sisters, brothers, possibly aunties and uncles and grandparents.
I have a few good memories, ones that cause that nostalgic smile to cross your face.
I also have memories that should be best forgotten. Both spend their time circling around each other in my mind.
In a tiny flat most of them live. This three bedroom box attached to the back of a pub. It was homely in it’s petite way. A fish tank separating the kitchen and the living room. A small garden in which lived two little rabbits for a short amount of time. The third room had not enough room to swing a cat in. The furniture took a 1970’s theme. Lots of oranges and dull yellows, a slight flower print hint throughout. It did not take a lot of time for my mother to turn the flat around and bring it into the future. That is her show-piece. She has the ability to change a house into a home single handed and in a record amount of time. The determination she adheres unfortunately was not passed on to her daughter. If only.
My room was pink, not a choice I made, mother’s favourite colour, not mine, but I was a child who was happy to just please. I don’t remember every detail of this room but I do have a memory that warms the heart. Many a night my father would read to me, a common parent habit with their child. He would read whatever he found interesting, I remember hearing many a fact about animals, a few short Disney themed fairy stories and sometimes, funny little stories he had found to make me giggle. But this isn’t in the forefront of my memory. It was the fact that all the way through this story telling he would hold my delicate little hand. Some nights, or I should say mornings, I would wake up to find my father laying on my bedroom floor still holding my hand. I guess he just never had the heart to let go. It is a possibility that he knew his actions would one day mean that my mother and I would no longer be in his life, so he took all the chances he had to create lovely memories. I don’t blame him if that was the case. I too would want my children to at least not completely fill their hearts with hatred.
He wasn’t so lucky with that. I wouldn’t say it is totally full. Part of my feelings for him are of indifference. I suppose you could argue which one of those was worse.
I know I am not the only one who had a childhood like this. It is believed that 750,000 children in this day and age are still living in a home full of violence. That dread a bad move, tremble when they drop something and cower when they see a parent pulling the wine out of the fridge. My father’s violence was brought on by alcohol. Alcohol and low self esteem. Years of having his father belittle him, which is ironic, as my father mirrored this behaviour later on in my life.
At first I think my mother covered most of it. I was out with family and out of the way. Then one night it must of been too much. I was in my room when this cry out of my name reached my ears. I recognised the voice but it just didn’t sound quite right. Suspiciously I leave my room to a sight I don’t think any parent would wish on their child. I can only think now that my mum was desperate. The vision plays so clear. Seeing straight into my parent’s room, I see my father, my hero, I see him with a piece of furniture in his arms and above his head. His strength was powerful and dangerous. The next few seconds seemed so unbelievable when the piece of furniture left his hands in such a force and straight at my mother. I saw her. It pinned her to the window frame and the wall, bending her spine in such a way that a squeak left my throat. Somehow I had got to my room to their door in this time. Its the look in my dad’s eyes I remember the clearest as if it was painted on a wall. Pure fear. He heard me make a sound and the realisation of his actions was written all over his face. I looked scared. Who would think that the site of their 6 year old would put the fear straight through them? Only a man who had shattered their child’s idealisations. In a split second. We make decisions in seconds all the time and I am sure a few we wish we could take back. I would hope this was one of his.
Before I could say or do another thing the door to their room slammed shut with my little finger still firmly in it. The ear piercing scream was answered by my half sister, 6 years older than me and the polar opposite to me. She opened the door and quickly shut it. Before this ridiculous pain I caught one last glance of my mother. The caring, softly spoken and kindest woman I knew in my younger years. She was a homely mother. Always woke me with a song and a smile. Always puts the feelings of everyone else first. She didn’t look like this woman in that second. She looked dead. If you have ever thought one of your parents was dead at a young age you can sympathise with the feelings that rushed over me. I cannot put them into words. I could hardly breathe. Hardly cry. My sister, who I didn’t and still don’t share a caring sisterly bond with, took me into her arms and cradled me while sitting cross legged on the floor in the hallway. She said absolutely nothing. I don’t remember her face because mine was buried so far in my knees as the tears fell from my eyes.
It was just never the same after that. The fairy tales had felt so far away…
My whole world had just smashed into pieces.