The most vivid memory of my childhood is not a visual one.
It’s the sound of her voice crying out for God…to stop…please. It’s the touch of clothes in the closet brushing against my back. It’s the pounding of my heart.
My memory begins inside of the dark closet in my room. I was only ten years old, hiding with my brother who was crouching down– crying quietly. I listened for what seemed like hours to him yelling and screaming the most foul words at her. He would hit her. I knew this because I could hear his grunt of effort. I could hear her cry out. I could hear her beg him to please stop.
With every moment that passed my fear grew. I would not allow myself to cry. Not then. I heard him push her down the stairs. I heard her fall. I heard each sickening step she hit and finally I heard the drywall she split. I heard him blame her. And suddenly I could see her from the top of the stairs, crumpled there, broken, inside and out.
I spent my entire childhood in a closet. Locked away. In the dark. Always hiding. Always listening but never speaking. We were taught that what happened in our house stayed in our house; that what he did with his family and his wife was his right…and her fault. We hid the abuse our entire lives.
She is my mother. And he is my father. And that house was never a home.