One Little Piece of Living

“Forgive her,” the man says.

A mask hides his face and a grey cloak covers his body. He holds a sleek whip, its length running along his arm. I cannot move, trapped by invisible bonds that tie me to the floor. His fingers caress the whip and I shake my head.

His arm – including the whip – alights in flame, and he walks closer. I try to look away but a force keeps my head in place. As sweat starts to pool on my forehead he brings the weapon down on me, each lash like a secret memory seared into my skin, and I scream, and I scream, and I scream.

I wake up with a jolt and a gasp, my fingers gripping the sheets. My roommate rolls over on his bed, still in deep sleep, a signal to take this trauma elsewhere. I fumble out of our room and into the hall bathroom, where I secure a stall and proceed to breathe, in and out, my head in my arms, the sun just starting to rise in the distance.

What I've been doing instead of blogging: memorizing metamorphic rocks.

What I’ve been doing instead of blogging: memorizing metamorphic rocks.

I’ve prospered in college for about eight weeks now. With each day, the distance from home makes the memory of my mother a little less painful. I no longer have to fear a thrashing when I spill water or read late into the night, I no longer have to ask for permission to walk to the library, and I no longer have to monitor who knows about my sexuality and who does not.

The nightmare happened about a week and a half ago, and other small things still get to me. Sometimes when people raise their hands for high fives I cringe, and I make up some story about a friend who always slapped a little too hard. When people complain about their parents not sending them money or laud their parents for all the care packages they receive, I smile and nod like I get it, like my parents are just that ordinary as well. Whenever I feel a vibration in my pocket, that inkling of fear tinges my perspective, and doubt settles in, even if only for a second.

I went home for the first time since college started last weekend. One conversation stood out to me, a talk I had with a friend who gave me shelter when I ran away from home. She told me that one day, all the trauma I survived would catch up to me, and it would stun me. It amazed me because it felt like she knew exactly what I was thinking – that all of these little pieces of life were swimming around me, surrounding me, blending together the past and the present and the future.

I should make the best of it. While I will avoid advertising my struggles, I know, deep down, that I should thank my mom – and more importantly, all of my friends and family who helped me get through her abuse – for giving me an iron resolve to make a difference. Either through teaching or counseling, I possess purpose: to make the world a more beautiful place.

Forgiveness may come, or it may not. Forgiveness does not mean letting her back into my life; forgiveness does not guarantee any form of redemption at all. Maybe this will change with time as I grow older, as we grow further and further apart, but it is my choice as a victim, as a survivor. It is a piece of me, taking shape, a part I will develop in the recesses of my heart.

With fire in my eyes I will walk forward, arms open to embrace it all: the past that propels me forward, the people that push me further, and every little piece of living I have left to experience.

My current to-read for fun shelf! Effervescent excitement abounds.

My current to-read for fun shelf! Effervescent excitement abounds.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar after going through dark times? If you want to talk about it and it’s personal you can always message me. Meanwhile, I will share what I love about college: there’s always something to do. Tests to study for, clubs to attend, books to read – it’s a fabulous life. If anyone can identify any of those rocks I will be amazed, and if anyone has read any of the books in the picture above, please let me know what you thought of it. I hope to hear from you all soon!

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “One Little Piece of Living

  1. I’m always intrigued by your thoughts and the way you handle life Thomas. It IS a fabulous life. I look forward to what you do with yours.

  2. It’s great that you can really be yourself now. I think you’re really going to flourish at college. In the way you deserve to.

  3. Thomas, I won’t even pretend to know what you’re going through. But I do respect your will to move on. It is a gift when you recognize that the traumatic things in your life are building blocks for the person you are. I wish you the best with college.

  4. Peter

    Beautifully said. As klyse3 says you have turned misfortune into a force for good. You are a better person and a stronger one for what you have been through. If your mother hadn’t been so rotten, you would just be yet another clever clogs at college, and not the wise, reflective person who writes this blog. And once you can forgive – although, as you say, this may take years and there will be times when you think it will never happen – a whole new journey will begin..

    • I also hope that my experiences have provided me with deeper perspective and a fresh drive to instigate positive change. Your promise of a journey excites me – thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. Hi Thomas, you write with such truth, courage and beauty that I didn’t want to let it go unrecognised by remaining silent. Thanks for sharing this aspect of your unfolding story. I too am working with the past a lot, while waking and dreaming. Writing each day seems to help by bringing me back to the present and giving me an opportunity to make sense of things in my heart. Take care, Nic (PS: I love The Elegance of the Hedgehog!)

    • I’m glad that we’re working through the difficult times in our lives. Writing has a cathartic effect and it helps sort out issues in the mind and the heart. I’m looking forward to reading the Elegance of the Hedgehog even more now and thank you for reading and commenting!

  6. Hey there, Thomas. I, too, laud the way you’ve handled yourself during these troubling years of yours, I mean I many not know exactly how but from what I’ve read you have good friends and you’re an intelligent, and clear thinking guy. I’ve not an inkling of what you go through nor have I personally witnessed anything similar but I’m inclined to agree, it will catch up to you sooner or later and I believe you can deal with it, with supporting and understanding friends like the ones I think you already have. Deep breaths. Constructive venting; I guess yours is reading? Something you can always turn to whenever you begin to feel cornered. You don’t have to take my word for it, I say what I think I know which is not very much.

    The human body is capable of wonders, healing from some of the most physical and mental traumatic injuries. I’m willing to bet mindset has to do a lot with it. The will, remember? By simply believing, things can get better. Your past is your past, don’t look back to often, try not to worry about the future overmuch but invest in your present, in the moment. Your mom is one hell of a wild card, certainly, and you’re now a great distance from her (am I right about that?) but do you feel even a bit free from her? I don’t know what else to say now, other than I feel that you’re a strong and resilient individual capable of so many incredible things. You have to try somehow to not give power to what has happened, to not let it snatch the reins of your life away from you.

    I wish you all the best with collage, oh how exciting it must be! Good luck with everything. Keep on rockin’, Thomas, you awesome man.

    • Devina, I hope you know that a lot of the time when I feel down I reread my old blog posts/comments – yours always fill me with strength. Your continued support and your wisdom throughout all of these years makes me feel so, so lucky to have someone I don’t know in real life to give me advice. You hit the nail on the head that while I can keep the past and the future in perspective I should focus my power on the present to succeed.

      As an English major I’m reading quite a bit but I will create more time to read for fun. With distance my mom’s influence over me is definitely lessening, which makes me happy – growing completely comfortable apart is a process I am working on. Overall, I’m super happy, and a large part of that is due to you and my other readers.

      Thank you again for reading and commenting as always Devina!

      • I’m just … happy to know that I’ve made it easier in any way. I don’t mean to be laying it thick or anything but it’s a brave thing you’ve been doing; opening up like this and even it being on the internet (where people you know can find you). I can’t bring myself to do that even before I blew my anonymity.

        I’m glad to hear you’re getting on well! No, probs, you can bet on that pair of black pants I’ll be around for a good while yet ;)

  7. I did take geology in college thinking it would be easy as I loved rocks (it was not, but I got through it). I wasn’t quite sure what you were talking about in regards to your family, so I had to go back through your posts to find out. All I can say is that are an incredible strong person and though you may never forgive her, you have come a long way. Take full advantage of the college experience to learn and grow, in as many ways as possible. I love this line from above: “With fire in my eyes I will walk forward, arms open to embrace it all: the past that propels me forward, the people that push me further, and every little piece of living I have left to experience.”
    Reading your posts about your mom makes me think about my son. He’s not quite old enough to differentiate between “girly” or boy stuff yet (only 2). I think it’s precious when he tries to imitate mommy by attempting to pin up his hair in the morning or put lotion on his legs. I’ve seen him wear dresses at play time at daycare and I’ve heard how he likes to hug all the girls. He’s an affectionate child thankfully. None of that bothers me, as long as he’s happy.

    • Thank you for words of kindness and for taking the time to read through my past posts! I have so much respect for your attitude regarding your son – it appears that you love him unconditionally, which is what matters.

  8. Time

    I’m so sorry about the abuse you had as a child. Do you think it was enough to mentally scar you?
    You seem normal enough… ;)

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