Sunday, January 23, 2011

Locked Away at Three Years Old-Still Caged at Seventeen

  The incessant rapping of tiny hands, pounding on the wooden door of that primitive shed, accompanied by the clanging rap of a padlock against the  metal bracket echo in a far distant corner of my memory.  Beyond the noise of that cadence comes the w ails of a three year old voice, in a song-song cry to be emancipated from the prison of solitary confinement.  Mixed with the wail of this ballad of fear is the taste of salty tears, rushing down a petite little face.  Ocean blue eyes peek through the cracks of the door, searching desperately for any sign of help.  All of this brings an unbridled anger from the pit of my stomach.
        It's an old recorded memory, eventually fading as the wails turn to whimpers and the drumming slows to a hush, leaving a pitiful sound of silent sobs.  What happened out there?  Why was she chosen for this game of captivity?  It was once her playhouse filled with dreams and fairy tales.  Now it was her prison.  The silence of being alone out there, knowing a house full of guests, including her parents, left her feeling isolated and alone. In this moment, she realized no one knew where she had been locked away.  She was so close to everyone yet so far away from safety.
       No one would have ever guessed the Alamo could have a different story.  No one would conceive the notion that maybe deep inside the corner of her mind, she hid the key that could unlock the door to the playhouse.  She had spent so much time and energy covering her first encounter, like a fresh grave needing to be filled with dirt.  Unless her memory unlocked the truth, she would never know why the need possessed her to be everybody's hero.
        Shards of memory, pieces of a lost childhood and a lot of ego create the nuance for manipulation.  Watching the scene unfold was escalating the drive of passion inside her.  It wasn't about the others.  No thoughts of their feelings during the struggle were mentioned.  It was about how she was perceived by others that mattered.  Impressing those she admired was her goal for putting her life on the line.  The evidence became valid when she didn't waste time trying to rescue everyone and couldn't, she would grow angry.  All arrows of guilt pointed to her for getting the terrorists rowled up so she could save the mentors she was trying to impress.
         It was the heroine who had been looking for a hero in the beginning.  When that failed, she managed to create a story she could live out, by becoming the heroine of those she admired the most.  The look of assurance from those eyes created euphoric feelings of justified satisfaction.  It was through telling her story, receiving validation and forgiveness which brought her renewed hope and the drive to get to the next day.
          At this point, she would become restless with what came next.  Realizing the beginning of a relationship was created through this bond of security, she wasn't sure how to continue.  Would there be a reason to get to the next experience?  Would there be a chance for that relationship to grow?  She wasn't sure, but she had to try.  This initial feeling measured like the first hit of cocaine.  Each hit after that was never quite the same with that person.
          Often she wondered why the need to tell her story to so many people kept her in this vicious cycle.  The cycle would start with quiet depression, followed by her need to find someone to listen.  The adrenaline would rise to a higher level with each conversation until the whole story was told.  Depending on how the listener reacted, she would either fall into depression or the release of emotion would become the venom releasing more poison into her soul.
        She was looking for a hero.  She was looking for someone to rescue her from the ruble of her life.  Each earthquake left her aching for the refuge of somewhere to hide.
      I stood on the sidelines watching it all from a distance.  Sure, I cheered her on.  I even offered advice.  But advice wasn't what she was looking for.  She was looking for something deep, something to fill the empty places, the cracks in the floor.  She was looking for a foundation.
       I didn't know how to give her that.  So, I kept my distance.  I stayed far enough away so that I didn't feel her pain, but close enough to watch her story unfold.  For years it was ugly; hopeless without a doubt.  She finally ran away hoping to avoid further calamity.  However, six hundred miles away, when she fell asleep at night, reality crashed through in disturbing dreams.  She would find herself back at the old home place with tornados spinning out of control, chasing her down.  In every storm she found herself protecting her family.  Pulling them to shelter, covering them with her own body, she would survive another twister.
      Aching for relief, looking for safety, longing for hope, praying for something to believe in, she would wake up to another sunrise.  Each time she would realize she was still there trying to fight her demons, slay her dragons and grow up.
        Occasionally she would catch sight of me watching.  Quickly I would turn my head or look down to avoid eye contact.  She tried to pull me in a couple times and I resisted.  Her pain was too intense.  I couldn't take the chance of seeing the whole truth.  I would have survived it.  Eventually, I offered to help her create a fairytale life.  She liked the idea of that escape.  So, I began the story.     Back and forth the short waves came.  It really was crazy trying to lasso thoughts.  She didn't know why she was always alone feeling isolated.  Her connection was frayed.  No one was hearing what she was trying to say.  She wanted to get on with life, purpose and fun.
                Tired of being up all night, every night, she hated going to sleep.  When she woke up it took too long to get back into a moment.  Once she accomplished that, the short waves of lassoing her thought started all over.
                Sitting in front of a rolling screen, she could hear bits and pieces of all these lives.  Was she really being true to herself or was she compromising her life by living through the stories of other people's lives?  The random thoughts kept twirling away until her body crashed across the bed in a comatose state of slumber.  She could hear the screaming child inside the playhouse would scream, "What the hell?  What the hell?"     It was like she had died or something.  Everyone kept moving forward.  She was trapped!  Trapped inside her own mind! 
        "This is not what I signed up for!  This is not what I said I wanted!  And who the hell is it that keeps my emotions switching from one feeling to another?  What kind of game is being played here?  What is the score?"  This was the voice she could hear coming from her own throat.
         "I've been keeping tabs on you.  All the things you have done: regrets, successes, joys, and mistakes.  I keep them all recorded."  It was her adult voice she heard saying this.  "And when you get too quiet, when there is no noise to drown me out, look at yourself!  What do you see?  Have you accomplished anything?"
         Screaming from a dark memory, a seventeen year-old voice was heard, "I survived!  I survived!  None of these voices were separate entities.  However, they each represented a time and space in her life where she was traumatized and how she came to cope.

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