Part One of This Memoir is entitled Crescendo click this link if you have not read it yet
My mind was like the cursor blinking on a computer screen, endlessly waiting for any kind of input or contribution. Blink.Blink.Blink. My stepmother and I had been fighting for close to two hours now, I was starting to wear down, my voice had become hoarse from shouting.
The Stepmother was towering over me now, shouting from the top of her lungs as she reached into my shell that I dragged me into her wrath. I thought of myself in that moment, as being just like the garden snail that I'd found hiding in the laundry. Just like she was doing to me, I'd fingered it's fleshy parts, fascinated by the creature's natural instinct to contract and retreat to the safety of its shell rather than counter-attack. My 'shell' was all that kept me hoping - it was the thing that made me different to my abusers. As long as I could remain hopeful about emerging from this childhood of pain - I stood a chance of making a shot at my life. So, in order to protect my real identity that everyone seemed to hate, I hardened everything on the outside when I turned seven years old.
I thought this would be the only way to stay true and not turn into her. That was my worst fear to turn into the Stepmother. As far as I was concerned, I was only like my birth Mother and that was all I had.
So I did whatever she asked so she wouldn't find me, the real me. The one my real mummy would one day return for. Maybe?
For as long as I remember, my childhood seems like a sick fantasy that I wish for. It's like I can't let go of a longing - like I could actually make it better than it was. Since then, I have grown up to realise family is everywhere.
I have family now. I am happy again at last.
I ran away from home because I knew I had the right to smile. To be a happy person and to not have to deal with other people's demons. I had a right to be my own person.I wanted to be really smiling again, you know the kind of smiles that make your cheeks hurt ? I never lost sight of this day when I could help others, when I could be my own special experience to share with the world.
By sticking it out I was gradually losing the battle against the major undercurrents of hatred that had formed from The Stepmother's constant belittling and powerplays. A deep resentment that could penetrate my private moments, clinging like mercury to all the broken hopes that I had ever had and making them stained with spreading sad.
I remember that day so well. I remember the flash of wildfire in her beady eyes but her body was so cold and rigid to my hopeful embrace. I clung to her as I wept in her arms as I spoke rushedly of my dreams to begin my life, away from the family. My sentences piled on top of each other and I couldn't see her face but I noticed a shift in her breathing. Her embrace become tight and sweaty and I pulled away as the air become palable with uncertainty.
"You are only fifteen years old - I will not allow this - neither will your father!" she said calmly yet her face was flushed pink as if I had physically slapped her silly. I stood on my feet. I would have to make a run for it. I pushed past her and accidently knocked us both to the floor, a crashing and then she clawed at my arms , flushed with fury. It was horrible and desperate and sad.
Her face was a crimson contortion of l rage, as she fumbled forward to strike me, lost inside her own emotional violence. Her fleshy fists were wild and desperate but my skin had become jaded to her pain, so she flayed about, unable to be satisfied. She wanted tears and so I obliged. It made her stop for a moment. It allowed me to refocus how I was going to escape today - I didn't want to be this daughter anymore. Tommorow was no longer an option.
I cannot recall the exact dialogue of the fight, initially, she laughed off my plans and attempted to unhinge my will - I remained steadfast in my reason and thus a highly emotional confrontation unfurled. Right now - it was finally happening - at last I was saved.
I could not spend another moment with this women lurking in the shadows, I would not feel her menace for a moment longger. I wanted to regainsome privacy as a developing woman, I wanted to be constantly safe and I knew as long as I was here, I would be damaged goods. I was about to turn sixteen and I was going to leave today. I didn't know how I would do this. I just knew I had to go. I have never gone back either.
Nothing she could say - no many how many times she screamed and spat (merely inches from my face) that I would never escape her - that I would be ordered to return home and continue to be controlled by her. She paced in front of me , livid with my stuborness to emotionally crumble.
I ruined your family? Fine. I'm leaving it.
"What about your brother and sisters ?"
"You will never see us again. If you leave - you're not our daughter ! You decide."
"Mum, I am going. I'm sorry but this is killing me. "
I gesture towards my arms raised with welts from her stinging slaps.
"I don't expect you to understand this, but it doesn't matter anymore as I am going no matter what. You'll try and stop me but I'll never stop trying to escape. My mind is set." I stared at my feet in spite of myself.
My voice wavered with infringing sadness, but I steeled myself and only displayed a new kind of brave. The stepmother ran towards me hysterically and I shielded my face as I felt scalding hot tea seer my body. I tasted the sugary sweetness leech between my shaking fingers and I winced in uncontrollable pain. "I hate you" she spat. "You are a stupid bitch , I hope you die in the gutter" I was seated at the table and all I could hear was the steaming tea puddling onto the floor. I made my move towards the stairs when she turned her back. The Stepmother is three times my size and she tried to block me with her hulking frame. I started to cry and my arms ached withthe futility of trying to battle for my freedom and most importantly - for my sanity.
"Let me Go !" I grunted in a shrill voice. I felt the rage , bubble and boil. I clenched my teeth so hard that I felt the salty sweep of blood wash down my throat. Our breath was raggard, punctuated with grunts and the sounds accompaning a desperate struggle.I looked at her with warning and my eyes flashed with defiance.My voice, a cold and tight whisper now, as I struggled with her pressing on top of me.
"Let me go please - I don't want to hurt you." I felt panic rise inside me.
I felt like she was crushing me with her weight. I just wanted to be anywhere but here.
But she only smothered my body, with her dumpy shape, her arms and legs pinning me down. I had no other choice but to fight with all I had. It was to be our final physical fight.
Our limbs became twisted almost becoming futile with fury.
"LET ME GO !!" my voice shuddered with rage. I felt a tightness spread throughout my body and heat radiated from my cheeks.
My body unleashed all the years of abuse and agony and the white hot pain overflowed with vengence as I shoved her off me with almighty force.
"LET ME FUCKING GO!!" I was half screaming - half crying. Just saying it over and over and over.
I only realised that she had already loosened her grip, when I emerged from that dark place. She was panting and her nose was bleeding. I scrambled to my feet and ran to the doorway.
"Im calling your Father and you will not leave this house young lady" She shouted out to me as I had my hand already on the doorknob. It stuck and the door refused to open. I gave it a ferocious rattle and prayed to whatever was watching - and it clattered open, sunlight hitting my face. Fresh air flooded my nostrils as I started my walk to the bustop, her screams behind me now. I knew she wouldn't chase me out in public - it was only in private she could be brave. I heaved my bags up the hills, all I had was a garbage bag and a pillow yet I felt like a millionare. My skin was burnt and I had scratch marks covering my body. In spite of the roads being a little tougher on my own - I can't tell you how much I will never regret that day.
That day my rebirth, it's the real reason I know am a survivor.
The busdriver saw my smile and said it looked like I had just won the lottery.
But it was so much better than that - I'd won my life back !
I have never, even to this day, felt so free and so fresh. It was a magical moment I will never forget, what a magical busride of discovery and courage. I smiled the whole way.
I knew it wasn't over - but at least that house and the ghosts of the past were now behind me.
I knocked on Georgina's door and collapsed into her arms.
Safe at last ?
To Be Continued.