Thunder is rumbling and lighting flashing outside. As a little girl, I was afraid of storms. My father came into my room one night and sat me on his lap as the winds howled and the sky flashed it’s smile of wrath. We looked out the window together as he told me an elaborate story about God and the angels bowling in the sky. As the story unfolded and the storm raged he began to rub my back to try to console my fear. His hand moved down and over onto my legs. As my heart began to pound and a lump formed in my throat, it moved back up my back and landed, cradled, around the base of my neck…the touch that I know means business…no more sound or movement.
He placed my small body back onto my bed. He kissed my forehead and moved his hand up under my nightgown. My eyes drifted up and I stared up at the corner where the pink checked wallpaper met the ceiling…I drifted away to a world of darkness where I no longer see or feel when the pain settles into my body. It’s my escape, my secret hiding place, where I become nothing.
I’ve been returning to that dark hiding place in my head often lately. My husband turns over and touches me in the middle of the night, pursuing his own release…I shut down and hide in my darkness until he’s done. Nightmares harass me and I see the horror of my life in flashes. I curl up and cover my head and think about that corner I would hide in, the safe dark place that became my refuge. I re-enter it’s familiar walls. As I remember…I sat in the chair, wrists bound, needles and wires piercing and prodding my body, I would look up to the long windows near the ceiling and drift away into the dark world of my mind. When he hits me and pins me down and threatens me for daring to try to speak up against his cruelty, the pain in my face and the warmth of the blood dripping from my nose lures me back to the dark and numb, just like the little girl in the past, who stared into the corner of the ceiling to enter the darkness and hide.
I look into the mirror and I see a stranger. It can’t be me. Who is she? She looks strange. Empty. It must be the woman who lives in the darkness of my mind…she’s been in there a long time. Hiding. Silenced. Hurting. Afraid of the storms all around her in her darkness. Nowhere is safe anymore. The storms rage everywhere. There is no escape. She shatters the mirror in shame and fear. She shuts down and slips back into the darkness of her mind, her secret hiding place, hoping the storms blow over so she can remain hidden, isolated, and silent…unbothered and free of pain…the only safety she knows.