Nightmares

I was playing in a field with him. My friend.

I didn’t know his name, but I loved him. He had come to play with me in the field for as long as I could remember. Every night he would visit and we would play together in the same field. We had so much fun, just us without an adult in sight.

Then they would come.

The wolves.

Snarling, whining, biting, chasing.

Us.

We ran. As fast as our small legs could carry us, we would run to try and escape them. There was a door in the field, the one we had used to enter by. If we could just reach it in time we would be safe and the wolves would not get us. We just had to run.

We ran holding hands but he was faster than me. I couldn’t keep up. Soon our hands had let go and he was running ahead of me shouting at me to run faster. They were gaining on us. I tripped and fell. He didn’t notice, he kept running. I looked back and the wolves were closer. They were going to kill me.

He looked back and saw me kneeling on the floor. He called to me, told me to get up, I still had time. I told him it was too late, go on, save yourself. He said no. He started running towards me, he wanted to save me. The door was just ahead of him, I told him to keep going, just leave me. He ignored my pleas, he was coming to save me.

He got to me and pulled me up. He took me by the hand and he dragged me along behind him. The wolves were closer now, we could hear them panting for breath. He took me and threw me through the door. Safe on the other side I turned back and held out my hand. I told him to take it, quickly they were coming.

He looked up at me and smiled. He shook his head, no. It was too late. He wouldn’t get through in time. I screamed louder and louder to try, please try.

As I watched the wolves bearing down on him, excited now their prey wasn’t going to escape, the vision started to fade. NO! I was back in my bedroom and I was watching him through the cupboard door. As the seconds ticked by the field grew further and further away and carried him with it. The vision started to fade and he stood there waving goodbye to me.

The wolves were feet away from him… he was waving to me with a smile on his face. He had saved me. The vision faded and I screamed and cried as I sat on the other side of the door. He was gone.

This nightmare plagued me for many years of my young life, while I lived in the house where the fire had been. My first house. The only place I have ever called home. The only place I ever had that nightmare.

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Fire!

I woke to my mother shaking me and saying my name over and over.  I groggily opened my eyes to see my mother stood over me.

There is a fire, you have to get up.

I sat up rubbing my eyes. A fire?

Yes a fire. It’s in the kitchen, you need to get up quickly, we need to leave the house.

I burst into tears and let my mother get me out of bed. She put my dressing gown on me and took me by the hand. As we raced down the stairs I started to panic about my dad, sister and our pets. My mother quickly assured me everyone was outside and waiting. We were the last.

I stood in the back garden crying. My sister wrapped her arms around me as we watched the firemen doing their job. An ambulance arrived and we had to go to hospital to be checked for smoke inhalation. Everyone was talking in hushed voices and kept glancing in my direction. Why did they keep looking at me?

We got to the hospital and I was given an object that looked like it had an empty toilet roll tube attached to it. The doctor told me to put my mouth around the tube and blow as hard as I could for as long as I could. I barely managed to blow into the tube more than a couple of seconds. The doctor asked me to try again – I did, same result. As the doctor removed the tube from my mouth I noticed the colour of it. It was black.

Why is the tube black? I asked.

The black is from your mouth.

How did the black get in my mouth?

You breathed in a lot of smoke while you were sleeping.

As I sat breathing oxygen from a mask that was put on my face, I watched my family complete the same test. I noticed one thing; their tubes had a touch of black on them. Mine was covered.

We stayed with family for a couple of weeks while my father tried to sort out the house. Luckily, the fire had been contained in the kitchen and there was only cosmetic damage to other parts of the house. The cause of the fire was found. Our dishwasher had an electrical fault, when the water touched it the fire started. There had been a bad batch of machines but ours had been the worst outcome.

My father had set the dishwasher before going to bed. At some point in the early hours of the morning the fire had started. My sister got up early for school and had discovered the fire. She woke my parents and as my dad called emergency services, my sister got our pets out and my mother had come to get me. There was one problem. I couldn’t be woken.

My bedroom was directly above the kitchen. The airing cupboard was in my room which was fed by the heat from the boiler which was in the kitchen. The smoke had a direct route into my bedroom and as the fire grew below me, I had inhaled the smoke at an alarming rate. My mother had difficulty waking me because I was dying.

5 more minutes. The report came back. 5 more minutes and I would never have woken up that day. I had inhaled enough smoke to kill me, but somehow I had survived. It had taken my mother 10 minutes to wake me.

5 more minutes and I would have died.

I was 8 years old.


In the beginning

Dad's torch

Disclaimer: This is not my picture. I found it on google and it remains the property of the author.

I’m standing there holding my dad’s big work torch. I’m repeating to myself over and over “this torch will remind me of what she did, this torch will remind me of what she did”. The torch was the first thing I saw that I thought would work as a memory place holder. My dad had left it in my bedroom after trying to fix something under the floorboards.

I’m standing there grasping the torch in both hands. I have tears running down my face. I’m so angry. SHE did this to me. SHE hurt me. I will NEVER forget this day.

I will never forget the way she beat me. I will never forget the way she shook me. I will never forget the way she screamed in my face.

She always hit me when I was naughty. She liked to smack with every syllable. You (smack) will (smack) not (smack) do (smack) that (smack) a (smack) gain (smack). She drove every single syllable home with a smack. She hit me everywhere. Legs, arms, hands, head, face, back, backside. She hit me wherever she could reach. She liked to hit me when she had wet hands. It made it sting more on my bare skin. But today was worse. Far worse.

After she finished hitting me and shaking me and screaming in my face she left me there. I stood alone in my bedroom crying. I knew that she was wrong to smack me that way. I knew that I didn’t deserve it. I knew that no-one would listen if I told them. I hated her.  The torch would remind me of this day. I told myself in years to come I would see that torch and remember what she did to me. Little did I know that this was the beginning of the abuse that lasted over a decade.

I don’t remember much about that day. I don’t remember what I did wrong. I can only remember 3 things.

1. My dad’s torch.

2. How this was the worst my mother had ever beat me.

3. That I was 5 years old.


Opening Pandora’s box

I’m lying in the bath, tears streaming down my face from yet another disappointment. How did I get to this point?

I’m thinking about my life and everything that has happened. I decided to write so that I can get it all out. I don’t want to keep the feelings trapped inside me any more.

It has been 32 years and I have only just learnt to feel my emotions. I have only just learnt that auto-piloting your way through life means missing out on the world around you. I cry a lot more now. I never wanted to be one of those weepy women. They seemed so weak. Who cries that much anyway? I’m crying right now.

I’m battling myself and I don’t know how this is going to end.

I want to break the cycle.

Of abuse.

Of self-loathing.

Of auto-pilot.

Of struggles.

Of unhappiness.

Of everything I have ever known.

I want to break it all and rebuild from the ground up. In order to do this I have to start at the beginning and unpick every single part of me. I have to re-live every single soul destroying moment.

I used to think that women who cried a lot were weak. Now I know that I am the weak one. I am weak because I hide everything away and bury it deep inside to a place I never thought I would travel. It’s time to open Pandora’s box and see if I survive the ride.


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