I remember when I was a boy, the sound of loud footsteps coming up the stairs. It terrified me. Usually, it meant my mother was coming, and it did not matter how clean I thought my room was, I was getting a beating. But it was not the physical pain that I feared the worst. It was the screaming, and the crying that often accompanied it. It was all our fault. Give up control, or suffer the consequences. Even now, the sound of her voice raised in the unholy shriek she is capable of producing sends a shiver of terror up my spine. Eventually, I learned to be discrete, ‘fly under the radar’, so to speak. I would hide for hours at a time if I were sought after for punishment, once, for days even. I would dream of running away, or dying, anything to just escape the madness and wild rage that constantly swirled around this house. I hid, and ran, and cried quietly to myself, that I would never be this way. This animal, lacking any emotional self-control, unwilling to consider how it will make others feel to unleash monstrous anger or violence, despite any sense of justification for doing so.

It stayed with me. That intense fear of retribution, of being cornered and made to face that terrible crying, screaming face, and those sharp stinging slaps, and occasionally, kicks and punches.

In the entirety of my adult life, I have never spoken, nor written about these things, or how they made me feel. Recently I have had cause to revisit these moments, and I can see pretty clearly why I am the way I am for the most past. Particularly in relationships. My mother said she loves me. She still does. But she hurt me terribly, and left wounds inside me that may never heal properly. I believe this is a big part of why I will act against type, and on occasion, horrifically inappropriately. It is defiance. It is that voice that always whispered, ‘that didn’t hurt’ when I fled under the old basement stairs and hid in a dark nook to cry alone and wish it didn’t happen.

I cannot shake that. It is too deep, and too painful. It may cost me in some ways, and I can say with absolutely certainty that it has already, but I cannot, and will not, shake that. Because I know now that a person with no sense of boundaries, and zero respect for me as a child and a human being is who shaped me, and I need to never forget that.

Never. I deserved better then, and now as well.