Nothing makes me retract into my shell faster than a raised voice riddled with profanity and criticism. By withdrawing i protect myself from further onslaught by hoping tempers will burn out on their own. The times when I dare to ask for calm are met with further brute. My intentions are to mitigate the situation by asking for deep breaths and attempts to problem solve. But such intentions are seen as condescending, and largely unwelcome. High intensity situations like these are compounded when met with the threat of public exposure. The most humiliating memories in my life were when those I loved acted out in fits of rage at restaurants, stores, parking lots, or worse, in front of my home. The “white trash” label hangs in the air above me in those moments. There’s no way I’m engaging. No matter how belittling the situation; instead of sticking up for myself I find myself walking away, head down, averting eye contact. A friend sees me, asks innocently, if I’m okay, I shrug. If only I could shrug off the shame. Why don’t i fight back? Raise my own voice in opposition. The battering ram isn’t always intended for me. But the force of it is hard to miss. I’ll watch you get in my face, feel the spit of your words, here the slamming of doors, the turn of the engine. My heart wrings wretchedly in pain as I rush out to watch anger drive you away. My fear of your tirade overshadowed now by the scariest scenarios of what might happen when you loose control of yourself in a 1000 lb vehicle. The stillness of the house engulfs me. I know not what to do with myself. Wait by the door? Carry on with my chores? Bury my head in a book escaping the harsh reality of my life. It will pass. The storm never stays long. The damage repaired over time…
“Look at her”.
Less emotion. I got this.
“Look at her”.
I can see it. The cloud moves in, dimming the sparkle in your eyes. You can feel it.
“Give me something tangible”, the Voice begged. “A token of your affection, a symbol of your love.”
The stroke of midnight came and went uneventfully last night. The magic of ringing in the new year, tainted by the bitter sweet nostalgia that would forever be 2015. Sadness lingered in the back of my mind as everyone scurried to synchronize watches, account for loved ones, and secure a flute of bubbly. Dazed by the prospect of saying goodbye, I stood still, taking in the people around me that had helped shaped the memories of a truly wonderful year. To see the faces of those who weren’t with me physically, I looked to the stars to better feel their presence. I felt my self inhale deeply as the ball began to drop. 10-9-8-7-6…a flood of smiles, laughs, and triumphs caught hold of my heart and squeezed it tightly. 5-4-3-2….exhale…1…Happy New Year! An explosion of well wishes and hugs distracted me from the melancholy of the inevitable passing of time.