i scare myself alot when i remember too hard or too much. i would prefer that i see tapes of waltons mountain or disney movies played across the insides of my eyelids but instead i see roaches crawling out my skin or shadows of a fiendish demon child. this particular one drowns kittens. so removed from her beautiful gentle soul, she finds a litter of kittens recently swept away from their mother by a powerful rain storm and attempts to hold them under the water until their eyes pop out and they stop struggling.
i watch myself as i fade back and forth from me to the one watching me. the ground is soggy and full as i walk across the yard, puddles everywhere, my shoes are already full and the water up to my mid calf. i hear the kittens before i see them and make gestures toward saving them, plodding toward them, hearing their tiny mewing, no mother in sight. i’m suddenly impacted with what they feel; lost, too small to make it on their own, disoriented from recent events. i gather them up in my dress holding them close and think about starting back toward the farmhouse.
i stop and look back over my shoulder for several reasons.
i couldn’t be more than 4 and yet i’m out here far from the house and no one notices. for a brief moment i’m wondering if i am in trouble for being gone too long or too far. yet i remind myself again that i am invisible. its not a new feeling; one that will continue through adulthood; i will always remain invisible to my family. for one to be noticed, one would have to see or have vision, and neither of those characteristics my family possesses. to put it another way, more accurately, children are simply livestock; at least in my world they were.
stripped of any unique characteristics of our personhood ,we got fed and clothed. then the adults waited for us to grow up to become worthwhile in terms of our service to them. time couldn’t be wasted on companionship, reading, learning, talking; our worth was determined by the chores we do, meals we prepare, amount of vegetables picked from the garden, or for our bodies given to the men for their lowly and despicable gratification. for generations, this family has failed to make any movement from even the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; its been this way always.
the shadow clouds my memory here, the heaviness spreading across my eyes leaving me with the quick, kick in the gut feeling of a memory so painful that my conscious just erases it. selectively my brain intuits the bad information and the door slams shut. i suspect the little girl feels the kittens have no future without their mother and death seems the humane option. the child’s reasoning is black and white only; no mother for love and protection equals pain. death is preferred over that fate. as an adult, it is so difficult to hold and speak for this tortured child whose brain has been forced to cope more in the dark side than the light and cannot see options other than provided by the ignorant. her act of drowning the animals was a merciful one meant to relieve the inevitable suffering. and even though her sweet gentle soul has already been splintered into a million tiny shards, she is unyielding. she won’t stop sending messages through the mundane or the divine to get the help she needs to achieve grace for her broken soul; this lifetime or the next twenty, it doesn’t matter. and that’s what i’m here for; to put us back together and stop this insane cycle.
i snap back and i’m holding a kitten under the water in the deep puddle. it struggles with all its might, scratching my small hands and writhing for air. i watch myself bear down on it harder and push down further, seeing small red lines appear on the backs of my hands, listening to the other kittens mewing hysterically. i feel nothing. absolutely nothing. i should but i don’t. i want to vomit while i write this because it isn’t me, not really me but yet it is and this is my attempt to let her tell her most awful secrets. now she gets to say that things happened to her that made her do awful things that she so desperately wants forgiveness for, to be entirely heard and understood. i will let her tell her story to me and i’ll repeat it for you. i was and still am her host. she lives within me. her hands are my hands and we did this together, we tried to drown kittens. she must say it over and over because to know what it would take for a little girl to be so spiritually devoid of feeling, because the men continue to leave her in such intense pain that her brain splits only to return to take the tiny innocent creature to its death, making it part of the cycle of pain and relief. i’m gone again.
my sister slaps me across the face and grabs the kitten from my hands. i’m glad. i look up at her with my face burning but am still glad, the hot pain of the slap is so insignificant. the kitten is saved and for this one moment there is a presence out there who is monitoring us. my sister in on guard and taking action. not sure how she got there, but feel that i can rely on her for the moment to carry us through this. she is so angry and annoyed with me but i don’t care, it doesn’t matter what she feels toward me as long as she continues stay present as i attempt to make sense out of me coming and going in the hellish existence of my brain. i realize that my clothes are soaked and i’m shivering from the cold but still no one notices. my small shaking body are of no consequence but i do have the presence of mind to consider that i might be yelled at for adding to the laundry pile should i decide to change from my wet clothes.
my sister has the kittens wrapped in a blanket and is attempting to feed them some milk. she will do this for weeks until they grow strong and able to make it on their own. i join her in warming them and feel a strange spark of compassion that keeps me present while i nurture the feeling of wanting them to live. i’m shaken to the core at the gigantic swing of my emotions; from dead and unfeeling to sobbing for them to live. my actions are coming back to me, washing over me in hot waves and i begin the familiar routine of hating myself. the heaviness is here, the type that comes from emotion so exhaustingly polar that i feel the sudden need for sleep.