I stood there mindlessly peeling hardboiled eggs, listening to the chaos in the background. It may have been mindless work but my brain was in turmoil, fighting through more than I can describe. I could hear the kids fighting, older brother picking on little sister to make her scream, little sister screaming because that’s just what she does. I could also feel the tension and hear my husband’s frustration as he tried to corral the kids and coax them toward a decent bedtime. And there I stood, present but absent. My mind was a thousand miles away trying to come to terms with my last session at the psychologist. It was then that my brain snapped back to the present just long enough to acknowledge how much my past was hurting the next generation. Queue the flood of angry emotions. It was in that moment that I realized the abuse I went through stemmed back generations, so much so that I have no idea where it all began but I am dealing with the consequences of it almost century later. It made me angry to think that past ancestors were so selfish to perpetuate their anger and abuse onto their children who in turn transferred that anger and hurt to their children, and on and on it goes.
As I watched my kids go to bed, I wanted to hug them. tuck them in, read them stories, pray with them, but I couldn’t. I was so wrapped up in my own painful thoughts that I couldn’t see a way out of them to connect with my own offspring! Night time is when my husband becomes a single parent. Why? Because I am done by the time he gets home. I am ready to checkout. I have made dinner. I have done the laundry and kept the kids fed and clean. My brain is ready to take over and torture me until morning. There is only so much chaos I can endure externally when I have screaming memories and painful emotions echoing inside my head. If my kids come to me with their whining and fighting, my first reaction is to snap at them. I don’t mean to. I don’t want to. But I can’t help it. It’s like someone throwing salt into an open wound. You don’t intend to hurt them but your instincts take over and self-preservation becomes paramount. And this is why I am left alone at night. I think my husband has realized it is best for everyone to allow me this space to writhe in my pain like a caged animal. Stay away, far away lest you become the next victim to the unintended injuries.
I am not blaming my shortcomings as a parent on my parents or anyone else for that matter. But I am mourning the fact that I was forced into a situation that has left me scarred and searching for a way through the muddled mess I have to call a brain. Any little sound can take me hurtling back to my childhood to relive a moment I wish I could forget. Things my husband carelessly says make me cringe and feel like I am standing in front of my dad again, waiting for the slap, food to be taken away, the names to be screamed in my face. And he doesn’t get it when I ask him not to say or do certain things in an attempt to avoid the unwanted trips down memory lane. Thus his frustration with me grows because he feels like he has to walk on eggshells so as not to “awake the dragon.” Then the silence between us increases as does the distance between our hearts. Then the frustration from all the internal agony oozes its way into the interactions with our babies. No, it’s not on purpose but the cycle repeats and worsens day by day. When will it end? I want to fix it, to end the cycle that I was born into so my kids will have better memories and a better example. But what it it’s too late? What if the damage has already been done? What if I have unknowingly set the next generation on an unchangeable course toward the same agony I am trying so hard to end?