Some screams were buried inside my skin
My mother was a screamer.
I don’t know how to else to phrase it, she wasn’t a woman with a soft voice. She was always speaking as if everything was wrong. They say children feel soothed by the voices of their mothers but for some reason her voice only managed to get me anxious. I know she didn’t mean it and I have a good relationship with her now, but it’s not a relationship where I feel safe all the time. I have my boundaries and she has her fears to overcome.
Some days ago my godson was being impossible and by impossible I mean that I was struggling with his gigantic and magnificent personality because I was raised to be less and he isn’t interested in anything like that, so he is becoming more and more as time goes by. It’s beautiful and terrifying because it reminds me of my brother pulling my hair and breaking my dolls and it reminds me of boys screaming outside and the screaming reminds me of not being safe. He isn’t too much, I am just learning to open space for all this life and not fearing that it means I will have to be beaten down into a corner.
Children will pull the things inside of you that you have forgotten. They will touch the places that hurt and the places that fear.
So when he touched that place I snapped and screamed at him to go back to sleep. After he did and we hugged he was ok but I wasn’t. I felt the screaming touch every part of my body, itching underneath my skin. I remembered how I felt when I was screamed at, the resentment, the fear, the stress. I remembered how I shrank everyday with every loud noise. I remember how I slowly became aware of everything I was doing wrong with every accusation shouted loudly at my face.
I wanted to understand why I did that, when I know better. Why did I feel so defensive with his joking around hours after bedtime. And I remembered my fear of boys as a young girl. Noisy, dirty, brute, all over the place. They seemed so unafraid. I was so resentful of how unafraid they were, when all I felt was fear. All I had was a little corner to play and they had the whole world. I remembered them pushing me and touching me and not respecting my no. And I remembered how angry I felt and how I had no place for that anger.
I envied boys and their anger, their freedom. And the moment I screamed at my godson it was that anger that came out, because finally I could and now I have a voice, now I have power. The move of a coward, absolutely. What could he do? He’s only 3. He screamed back and then cried. And I comforted him in shame while I said I was sorry.
I’m telling you this because if you think anyone can overcome trauma without profound self examination you are deluded.
Everyday that I take care of this boy I look at my behaviour. I read books, I take time to be present. I am there with him. Everyday I learn something because of him. And I am so grateful for that. But it doesn’t mean I won’t make a mistake. It hurts me that I couldn’t avoid it. All I have now is the power to do better.
That night I learned that some screams were buried inside my skin and as always it’s only a matter of time until they are released. That night I also decided I must never scream again.
I hope he remembers me for my soft voice.