The sound woke me up from a deep sleep, and I felt my lips start to tremble. I wanted to call out for my mommy, but something kept my mouth shut. Then, I heard the yelling.
Daddy was loud. I had never heard him sound like that before, and I wondered if it was really him, or if someone else was here. But, mommy called him by name, pleading with him to just calm down.
I didn’t even bother trying to stop the tears. I’m only nine years old, but I know something is terribly wrong. I know daddy is hurting mommy, and I need to help her. But, he’s scary. I hear mommy crying, I can hear the pain in her voice, and my little legs scurried to the door, flinging it open.
He had his hands around mommy’s neck, and I could tell she was having trouble breathing. She looked at me then, her eyes widening with shock. She tried to shake her head. She tried to speak, but couldn’t because of the hold daddy had on her. Daddy looked back at me, his face contorted with anger.
“Get back to your room! Now!”
“Daddy, you’re hurting mommy!” I ran to him and jumped on his arm, putting all of my weight on it. He didn’t budge his hand from mommy, but he used his free hand to push me away. When I tried pulling him away again, he finally released mommy. That was the last thing I remember before seeing his fist come flying to my face.
I’m back in Dr. Woodrow’s office, safe and sound. Momma is dead, but so is Tony. The latter was my doing, and I still feel no remorse. Should I?
“Are you okay, Eve?”
I nod, not trusting my voice.
“That was a pretty powerful memory. Is that the first time you recall knowing your father was abusive to your mother?”
“Yes,” I respond quietly.
“And, the first time he hit you?”
“That hard, yes.”
“He had hit you before that?”
“He’s always been abusive – in one way or another.” I know I’m being evasive, but I’m not ready for that conversation, yet. Dr. Woodrow just nods, and writes notes in her leather bound notebook.
“And, is that the last time you tried helping your mother?”
I couldn’t help the stab of guilt that shot through me. A lump formed in my throat, and I struggled to swallow it down.
“Eve, you were so young, and he hurt you so badly. It is only natural for you to have been afraid to stand up to him again.”
“I should have risked it for my mother.”
“Do you think she wanted that?”
I hesitate, hearing momma’s voice in my head. ‘Don’t ever do that again, baby girl. I can handle him. Please don’t make him hurt you like that again. Stay away from him as much as you can.’
“No. She didn’t want that.”
“Can you begin to tell yourself that you did what you had to do to keep from being hurt? Can you forgive yourself for doing what you know your mother wanted you to do?”
I take a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
“I can try.”