We are all in close proximity- we could eat off of the same plate if this was a normal affair. My therapist and I have discussed the importance of this set-up. I want them to be able to see my eyes and I want to see theirs. So far they have not been able to make eye contact at all as they endlessly shift and rearrange themselves and their belongings.
My therapist is also a Shaman. She has seen my soul in a dark empty place, shattered into thousands of ragged shards. She has been to this world before but describes my place here as if it is my own somber womb in the underworld. When I first came to her I was a carcass. I had endured several breakdowns, catered to suicidal ideations and ingested multitudes of drugs. She has worked many a session to pick up each severed piece of me and nurse it back to life and now I am a newborn- my thin skin so tender, my everything flailing in this new beginning, my eyes beginning to focus on life again.
I am aware that this could go terribly wrong. I have never seen my step father cornered. He could be a rabid dog or he could be a complacent pup. Either way I am prepared and we proceed with words from my therapist about what she does in her sessions with me and what she sees. My mother and step father toss out perfunctory questions, trying to fill in the lulls. I wait for an imminent silence. That is when it will be my turn.
I begin by telling them that I know they are here because they are afraid of what I will do if they aren't. They know I am old enough and have the support of my husband and a new family now. I am a mother of a four-year-old child and I have something to protect. Of course, my mother tells me there is no need to feel protective and so I triangulate my hands and place them under my chin and scrutinize her. The room is quiet as I hold back the torrent of crimson that is my rage.
I breath in deeply, as thought this one breath will bear everything that needs to be said. I tell them that they will sit and listen to my every memory of their cruelty- my suffering. They shift in their seats and look at each other as though I am over the top. My therapist touches my shoulder and like a crop to an unbroken horse, I let my memories rear up and gallop the great field of tortured recollections. At times one or the other tries to interject. I stomp my foot to demand silence and continue with barely a breath between each account.
And then I am done. I am purged of the filth that has so wrongfully been mine. I lay it at their feet. We all look at it for a moment and then he breaks the silence. He tells me I have made things up and that it wasn't that bad. My mother is crying. I have never seen her cry before. She knows that what he is saying is ridiculous. After a graceless moment, my step father mumbles an apology. At first I am not sure that I have heard him and then he too breaks down. He is a pitiful mess of lamenting and pained excuses.
Their display sickens me. I tell them to take this mess and leave with it. I no longer own these memories as things I must toil with anymore. I tell them never to belittle what I have said and never to forget. My misery deserves to be paid tribute, but I will no longer be at task. I tell my mother that she will not be able to see her granddaughter because she has not done any of the work that I have required of her in order to gain my trust. She begins to heave with anguish. She begs to differ and says she will do more. I tell her that the fact that she is still married to my step father negates her empty promises. Even after I state this, she asks me what more I want. It does not cease to amaze me how stupid she is. I tell my step father that I never want to see him again, never want to hear his voice and that I wish he was dead. I get up from my seat- a signal that this is over. My step father tells me he is not done speaking. I look down on him and tell him that actually, he very much is
For lack of a better statement, this was a pivotal moment in my life. I continued working with this incredible woman until I could smile again. I began to be able to get through my days without sleeping them away. I enjoyed love and loving. I engaged with my new family and most precious of all I played with my daughter.
After a while, my mother divorced my step father. She understood her selfish ridiculousness and couldn't stand to live with herself. Every day for and with her seemed like a rebirth and because of her willingness to finally go to this very raw place, she in turn earned a place in our lives- one that had not yet been carved out. In the days to come we whittled away at things and created a new place for our hearts to grow together as mother and daughter and as friends.
The two of them sold the house that knew my hauntings. My mother found a condominium not five minutes down the road from me and he found a place not far enough away for my liking.
Over the years I initiated correspondence only to ensure that he payed all bills having to do with my health. Once and again he wrote to me trying to explain himself. My heart had grown compassionate with time so I tried to make sense of his words, but they have never really spoken to my sensibilities.
He is dead now. He died of a massive heart attack. He did not suffer- not even a full minute. I still do not know what to make of that.