The way that the shadows played under the door, I could see that my favorite tree was gracefully dancing in the wind. The sunlight shot like a laser beam into the closet. “Hey, lets play shadow puppets.” I whispered to my little brother. “Okay,” he said.

This time, his lips only turned a small shade of blue. My brother faced his head towards me and I made myself look into his eyes, holding my own grief so I could contain his. I remember looking at my mother and wondering if this time was it, would she kill him? She would always stop -before she would suffocate him.

Mom had bad days. Her children were the face of every single person that day that had hurt her, that had let her down, a family member, an argument with my Dad. My brother and I never knew when our turn was going to be for mom to release her anger. I always wondered when it would begin. Would we be able to have the comfort of the closet, would we be able to see the closet this time around? That was always my hope. Mom would always begin with me. I would lay down on the sofa and she would put a pillow over my face. She would then sit on top of me and she proceeded to suffocate me. I always turned my head to the wall facing away because I knew that my little brother was there in the hallway. I never wanted him to see my face. I never wanted him to see the fear and sometimes even the hope – that maybe I would die.

I remember times I would stop breathing and a comfort would come over me, it was this silence but there was also a comfort and when that comfort would come, all of a sudden my mother would get off of me and I would have to stand in the hallway as my little brother would walk past me with tears in his eyes. That was one thing about my brothers and I; if we cried, we would never make noise, tears would just come from our eyes and that’s how we learned how to cry – we learned to cry by making no noise – we knew as children that if there was ever a noise to escape us, the stakes were higher.

When the abuse would be over mom would make my brother and I go sit inside of the closet in the same room that the couch was. I wondered if my brother was experiencing the same comfort that I had when I would see him begin to lose consciousness – that comforting peace when his lips would turn a different color. I wondered if maybe he would be able to leave this life and be safe away from her.

For the first few times, my brother and I would cry a little bit in the closet, but then, I wanted to make it a happier environment for him. I thought of some games that we liked to play and having just the light from underneath the door, it was enough light to be able to play shadow puppets. We never knew how much time had passed by. I would try and tell the time by the way that the shadows of the sun off of the leaves changed their position on the rug. I was learning about the sun in science and I had learned that during certain times of the day, the sun moves. There were a few times when we would meet dusk as Mom would unlock the closet door. Mom wouldn’t talk to us for a day after and my brother and I never once discussed it. Perhaps because we had so much time in the closet that we didn’t really have to speak and to speak would be an acknowledgment of each others reality. 

Years of abuse would happen before the above incidents and after the above incidents.

Being the only female out of four brothers, looking back, I was naturally inclined to be a mother like protector over my brothers. From a young age, cooking, cleaning, taking care of my brothers when my mom was not able to, became important to me. I wanted them to have some kind of normalcy, the normalcy I would see at my friends house when the mom and the daughter would be playing with the baby in the kitchen, when the brother and the sister were being silly and fighting, when the mom and the dad would just hug the kids because. Our parents weren’t able to give us what they didn’t have themselves. My dad was an alcoholic and my mother had major depression. We were all living daily, playing Russian roulette with each other, knowing that my mother and my dad were the ones that held the guns and we never knew when the barrel would face us.

Being able to maintain a clean home, a cooked meal, laundry that was folded and an ear for them to listen to became my goal. By the age of 10 I knew how to keep a clean home, cook, keep up with my studies and try to function the best that I possibly could.  I learned how to live life without feeling. I learned that as long as I could make everyone around me happy, I would have peace, and that was a terribly disoriented survival method that I learned when I was a child. If I could just please my mom, maybe she would not hold the dinner away from my brothers and I that I made. If I could just make my dad happy, maybe he would not stay out at the bar and he would come home and be with us so maybe mom would be happier.

My brothers and I never spoke about the abuse in our family to each other.

I knew the way that she was treating us was not right, and at the same time, I knew that she had to be ill in her mind to do what it is that she was doing to us and so I decided to protect her, instead of turning her in – and in protecting her over time, I was able to get my brothers away from my mother.

This is the first time ink has touched paper about this time in my life.

Writing this has been difficult because I have never confronted this time in my life as I have in this blog. I never come back to this place, but when God knocks on your door and He tells you that it’s time and you still wait years, I had to ask myself why. I want to be obedient to God, He is so good to me, why was I struggling so much for? In prayer, I met my mother, not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way, she told me that it was okay to share what happened and to walk in Faith as I have my entire life, even as a child. And I wanted her blessing to move forward – to speak about my childhood.

I feel that I need to end this blog by asking you to please not hate my mother. Because I love her. Living with an alcoholic for a father and a mother who had severe posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression has made me a very empathetic person towards people. Because I know that God never planned His child’s life to go the way that my mothers life went. And I know that God never wanted me to almost meet my death several times by the woman He chose to be my mother. And so behind every person that is angry, behind every person that struggles in life, I see God in them even more and I want to be closer for them to see the beauty that God sees in them when they cannot see it in themselves.

My blog is named Reality Meets Faith because when your reality meets Faith, there is nothing that cannot be done. There is nothing that cannot be turned around. I am a living witness that you can go through hell and back several times and still come out standing by God’s side, knowing that He was there with you all along.

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