There are some things you tell no one, secrets contained in rusty peeled tins and gathered away in the far reaches of your mind that would never see the dark of night in a drunken Truth or Dare game – admissions of mouth herpes, for example, a night spent in jail for drunk driving, or a hit and run. None of which are secrets of mine by the way. Evidence of these irreversible facts, like confessions in a journal, we keep under cover in the fireproof safe-deposit box hidden in the closet, under a Christmas-tree stand, a stash of nicotine patches and neatly folded clothing you no longer fit but can’t bear to part with.
I’m not a glutton for exhibitionism, but I’d like to come clean – with myself. I need to write it down, not just to be stashed away in the far corners of my mind or in dark closets of my life. I need it to be concrete, to be known so that it no longer remains a secret to haunt. And so it begins that, to no surprise, that I didn’t have a pretty childhood. The dynamics of my family is not uncommon but it is unique in its own right. This resulted in many escapades. I started running away from home when I was about 6 years of age and it continued till I was 9 when, one night in an abandon playground a block away from where I should have been taking refuge, changed the course of my life.
Now I look back and wonder what if Mummy didn’t leave, if perhaps Dad stayed at home more often and ‘Mum’ didn’t take out her frustrations on me. When my father, once again faced with the eminent end of yet another marriage, my ‘Mum’ decided to come clean with me. I was 18 then. “It was difficult for me you know. I was young and had no idea how to take care of a child. I married a man and it came with more responsibilities than I was able to handle at that time….. maybe that’s why you are the way you are. I’m so sorry…. It’s all my fault.” she sobbed to me one night.
I was flabbergasted. What had she meant by that? Maybe that’s why I am the way I am? Clearly there’s some miscommunication. Would you like to rephrase that sentence?, I felt like prodding. It took me a while to realize what she was referring to. That night at the playground. It never quite occurred to me, at that young age, that it could have played a part in who I am today. I went home that night and began trying to recall the incident. Dissecting it – tracing my year long steps back trying to figure out what went wrong. So much so, I started to use it as a catalyst for pain and self-destruction.
It was painful, to say the least. I guess I buried it so deep at the back of my mind that even when I managed to put myself back in that space and place of time, the facts were blurred and it was almost like seeing it happen through another person’s eyes. Did it really happen? What happened? How did it happen? Why didn’t I tell someone? The more I dug at it, the clearer it became. I started to blame myself, blame my father, blame my mother, my teacher. Everyone. It planted a seed of distrust, hatred and resentment. Why didn’t Dad do more to protect me from ‘Mum’? Perhaps then, I would never had to face that form of abuse and run away from home and end up in that playground that night. I quietly felt unwanted, unworthy, undesired, unprotected….. I couldn’t stop reliving those moments. My ‘Mum’s’ confession started to eat up at me for years to come.
I dreamt of it again the other night and I’ve decided, things happen and you just have to deal with it. Its how you deal with the hand that you’ve been dealt with, that determines how your life will pan out. Who’s to say that things would have been any better if I didn’t run away that night? I have to stop trying to relive the past, thinking it would help me make sense of the present.
This is just one of the memories that come back from time to time. A reminder. A momentary regression. And of all that I have learned from my past, I can sum up in 3 words….Life goes on.