“the boy” called me today which he does periodically. The younger generation call it drunk dialing but I know this pattern from a historical perspective and know he just needs to make contact with a person from that time who understands him.
Certain phone calls I rarely answer but his I do every time. This was the first time that he was stumbling, almost incoherent drunk and to top it off, he was driving. After extracting the information that he was minutes from home, I kept the conversation light until he reassured me that was in his driveway, out of the car and inside his house.
“When are you coming home?”, he slurs into the phone.
His voice was an immediate shock of familiarity even though its been a year since I’ve heard from him. His pleading words took my breath away. I didn’t expect him to call let alone ask me this tough question. He misses me, he says. He doesn’t want anything, just to visit with me. Even now as a full grown man, his deepest wishes are to have companionship, connection, family. Our sober conversations where his feelings are sufficiently stuffed down, wouldn’t have revealed his pain. But today, his emotions unleashed and fueled by alcohol, they came tumbling out.
My heart is immediately beating with his. The rhythm synchronistic and strong. We are small children again marking time as the cycle of physical, emotional and sexual abuse alters us forever. It changes who we might have been and steals all opportunity for joy in our future. We are branded, he and I, with trauma. Deep, imprinting, searing scars.
I tell him that I’ve been taking care of myself and that I miss him too. I hear relief in his voice at my words that I’m doing good. He wants to know that I’m okay and that I can always call him for any #%&!ing thing I need. His voice is urgent as if he’d been thinking those thoughts all afternoon at the tavern and had to purge them quickly. His courage coming from cheap rum and cokes.
As children we were there for each other. We were handed a situation that no child should ever have to deal with. 5-yr olds should never have to know how to defend against raging, drunken, ignorant adults wielding their pathology on them, but this is, in fact, is what we had to do. We became expert ninja fighters at a very tender age. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fighting. The sensation of burning slaps, welts and impact upon our small bodies is a feeling that has always been present. Back to back, we would stand, flailing hopelessly against people 10 times our size. But we always, always tried. Defending each other was the only dignity we had in that cruel world we grew up in. An earlier post tells a more complete story. https://rescuinglittlel.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/boy-torture/
I tell him that soon, I promise, I will come visit him. I do not ever use the word home as it is not. My home is where my beautiful husband and daughter live with our dogs, our garden, our family here. But I know what he means, he’s asking me when am I coming back there to help him defend against the demons that are in his head. The ones that huge amounts of alcohol consumed in the middle of the day can’t even come close to drowning out. He wants to know if there is any peace beyond the crazy, futile gyrations that he takes himself on. He wants to know, what Van Gogh perhaps imagined when he created the series of paintings near the end of his life.
“I was trying to say this in this print — but I can’t say it as beautifully, as strikingly as reality, of which this is only a dim reflection seen in a dark mirror — that it seems to me that one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence of ‘something on high’ in which Millet believed, namely in the existence of a God and an eternity, is the unutterably moving quality that there can be in the expression of an old man like that, without his being aware of it perhaps, as he sits so quietly in the corner of his hearth. At the same time something precious, something noble, that can’t be meant for the worms. … This is far from all theology — simply the fact that the poorest woodcutter, heath farmer or miner can have moments of emotion and mood that give him a sense of an eternal home that he is close to.”
This is what “the boy” wants to know in his moments of emotion and mood. Where is his eternal home?
And reaches for the closest anchor he can think of. Me.