The Safe House

My Father remained in and out of a slumber.

I don’t recall the small moments of time that Sunday morning but I do remember that something finally snapped mentally for my Mother as she couldn’t take it anymore.

It was time to leave...

Years of her life had been spent nursing a mentally ill husband and saving him from the brink of life, time and time again.

Years of aggression, physical abuse and living in fear had ruptured her own heart and mind and she was at the point of no return.

I can’t say exactly what happened during the course of the morning, I just remember my Mother’s friend arriving at some stage, to take us away.

I so want to tell you that I went into my sleeping father and kissed him once more, whispered I love you in his ear, told him I was sorry for leaving him like that but I don’t think I did!

I can’t remember…

I want to remember…

I just recall feeling sick and frightened, with my stomach in knots as we drove away.

She left our dog behind.

The lady that came to rescue us seemed to be quite harsh in her approach towards us fleeing without looking back. I never warmed to her coldness throughout my younger years and I remember her disliking my father. She too had broken away from an abusive marriage and her response to my mothers anxious and somewhat guilt ridden demeanour for leaving him, was both matter of fact and resolute.

She was a survivor and layer upon layer of personal pain was striving her forward to get us out whilst the sick man was drugged.

She called the police.

The safe house was about a ten minute car drive away from where we lived and I felt completely out of sorts being there. It was uncomfortable and felt awkward.

After all it was her house not mine.

I wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed.

I wanted it all to stop and not to feel afraid anymore.

I wanted my Dad to be okay and not be sick.

I wanted my brothers to come and be with me.

I felt so afraid and so alone.

The police came and my mother gave her statement, her friend, driving home the fact that my father was dangerous.

I am beginning to realise now, how angry I still feel about ‘the friend’ and the role she played. I know she came to my mother’s rescue and yes, it was the right thing to do.

Of course it was…

I am grateful even if you think I’m not, they just never protected me from hearing their cruel yet honest words.

I was taking it all in deeply and damagingly.

My father was served notice of an injunction, restraining him from coming anywhere near us.

How sad

and necessary.

You did belong…

© All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

The Naked Man

“The prisoner, having reached the depth of his depression, gradually reawakens to the life around him. He licks himself and his wounded pride, opens his eyes, and finds that far away on the horizon there is still a ray of sunlight left.” – P. H. Newman

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/prisoner-of-war

There was no ray of sunshine left for my father, in-fact his mind was far, far away and damaged beyond all comprehensibility.

I stood staring at the door.

Fight or flight at its finest…

I looked towards my Mother for some sort of reassurance, but she had none to give. How could she? She was going out of her mind with fear. Those few seconds felt like pandemonium in my frightened little mind, not knowing what to do next. It was the ultimate of dilemas;

Open the door and she might die?

Stay where I was, relatively safe and he might die!

There was still no sound at all from the outside of our room and it was eerily quiet. With every ounce of courage I could muster up, I pulled the door open.

My father was lying naked and completely out of it, having collapsed on the bathroom floor.

I don’t know why he was naked!

I thought he was dead and my mother’s natural nursing instincts kicked in ready to save his life and she checked for his breathing.

Once again…

Not this time.

He was still breathing.

It was my first experience of seeing the male anatomy and I had no time to feel shock or embarrassment.

It seemed insignificant.

And yet it was significant for the 13 year old, who was too young to witness that.

The drugs were taking there toll on my fathers body and he was an absolute mess. His head was floppy and rolling from one side to the other and his face looked blown up with being so swollen. His hair was grey and looked frantic and his belly was solid with bloated-ness.

This was my Dad.

This was the poor, fractured little boy with his ravaged mind living in the sick body of a grown up man.

A husband.

A father.

A brother.

A son.

All these things and yet none of them too.

He never ever left the prison camp.

His mind became his own prison.

My mother said his name loudly several times trying to rouse him into standing up and together we hauled his massive body upwards and he would slump back down again.

He was a big, heavy man.

Eventually he began muttering a slurry of nonsense words in his heavily confused state and we managed to get him up on his feet. He was able to take some of his own weight and we walked him to my bedroom.

My Father laid down on my bed and my Mother covered him up.

I kissed his cheek and left him to sleep.

That was the last time I saw him alive.

How I wish with all my heart that I held him tight that early Sunday morning and whispered ‘I love you Dad’ in his ear.

To love a person
is to see all of their magic
and to remind them
of it when they have
forgotten.


Author unknown

©All Rights Reserved -The boy in the chip shop 2019

Trapped

I could hear him banging around in the kitchen preparing his next available powerful supressant, those tiny little pills that took him some place else.

I don’t remember if he made his sandwich that night!

My mother was shaking, colour drained from her face, terrified he was going to come back into the room and finish what he started. She literally didn’t know what to do with herself and must have felt like a trapped animal.

I know I did.

The front door to the street was closer to us than him and we could have made a run for it but we didn’t.

She didn’t!

I realise now how strong and brave the 13 year old part of me was.

At that point there was no question of leaving him. My mother had always taken her vows seriously;

In sickness and in health.

He was a sick man, she was a trained nurse and you never leave a sick patient.

My father took himself off up stairs and I can’t seem to recall exactly what happened next but I do remember him telling me that he would sleep in my bed and I was to sleep in with Mum. It would safer for us.

He looked directly into my eyes and said;

“Lock the door and keep it locked. Barricade it if you have to because if you don’t I will kill your Mother.”

He must have passed out because it went quiet for a short while.

My Mother and I were in seperate beds in my parents bedroom. I just remember feeling sick in my stomach absolutely terrified and I know its a word that I have used consistently throughout my writing but its true, I was terrified. We couldn’t sleep through fear of him breaking down the door to get to her and it felt like there was no way out. We were trapped and waiting once again for the onslaught.

As the night went on there was movement outside of the bedroom door, I think he was in and out of the bathroom and his drugged up condition created his drunken-like stupor.

We didn’t sleep.

I don’t remember us talking much either.

I wonder now, where my dog was?

Again, I wanted to run to get help, get out of there but I couldn’t.

I couldn’t go through that door.

Remember the doorthe metaphor for my life.

I have been stuck behind that Door for 38 fucking years.

The hours seemed endless, waiting for the sun to rise and for him to be less agitated. My hope was that things would look different in the morning and that he would be different too. Maybe sorry for his actions and willing to get some help for his addiction.

We all needed so much help but no one was coming to help us.

In the early hours of the morning a mighty loud crash came from the other side of the wall where the bathroom was.

I sat bolt upright and got out of bed. Creeping quietly towards the wall, I pressed my ear gently against it fearful of him knowing that we were awake.

I couldn’t hear anything.

Neither of us knew what had happened and I remember distinctly that my bladder needed emptying.

Everything went quiet.

 © All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Remembering when…

I have this vivid memory of me dressed as a pirate standing outside of my parents house just in front of the cast iron black gate. Covering my head is a bright red bandana and I am wearing a little black waistcoat, black trousers tucked into my long white socks and little black school shoes. I think that I was about the age of 6 or 7 years old and it was the day of the local village carnival.

I started dancing lessons at the age of 4.

In between working three jobs at once, my mother made all of the outfits for my ballet shows. She spent hours lovingly hand sewing the little costumes and I still have three of them to this day; a blue Angel costume, a little Dutch girls outfit and a pink tutu. Over the years both of my girls have worn them when playing dressing up and as I think about it now, I’m not sure if I have ever told her how grateful I am for all of the time that she spent making things for me as a child. Dollies clothes, knitted blankets and cardigans, a soft clown with orange hair, cotton sewn purses and a bib and brace dungeree outfit all made by hand.

My mother always worked extremely hard and somehow I feel like I missed out on having her as a wholesome, healthy mum for the majority of my younger days. She lived under a cloud of my fathers depression and illness which prevented her from following her own dreams and passions. As he never worked in the latter years, my mother had to work even harder to make sure she could provide for us all. I wonder how he felt about this and what it did for his own self worth, esteem and beliefs about himself as a man, husband and father? I remember her being so exhausted at times and no matter what was thrown at her, she would soldier on, mustering up the strength, managing, coping, surviving. I think that’s a trait of hers that I’ve learn’t from a very young age; you just have to keep going no matter what… When I look back now it must have been unbearable at times for her living in such an emotionally draining situation. If ever we talk about the past now, she always states quite clearly that leaving my father was never an option and that you made your bed and you lied in it.

My eldest brother refuses to accept the fact that our mother choosing to stay was the right thing to do. He believes that she had a choice and by her staying in such a volatile relationship, my brother suffered the most horrendous abuse and in his words now;

“Because of the old man, my life is fucked.”

I don’t know if she was ever truly happy within her marriage or her life in general and wonder if she just stayed out of fear because she too was terrified of her husband.

My father had threatened suicide several times and my mother picked up the pieces of his desperation time and time again.

http://www.picturequotes.com/suicide-quotes/2

 

© All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019