TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post is part of a series of posts dealing with the emotional and physical abuse I suffered as a child. This post contains specific references to acts of violence and as such may be triggering to those who have suffered similar experiences. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with the subject matter.
I started having regular nightmares after The Trouble started. All sorts of strange images in vivid colours filled my head during the night. I started having this recurring dream that lots of old ladies in funny hats were climbing into the flat through our windows. I tried to tell them that they didn’t live here and that they had to go back to their homes but they didn’t listen and they kept coming in, more and more of them.
That might not seem very scary, but it was to me.
Meanwhile, my mother got more and more distant towards my father. She started to pick petty arguments with him for reasons that I couldn’t quite understand. I heard her talk to him about that “strange perfume smell”.
“Who’s been in the house?”, she asked him. My father found this to be a puzzling question too and told her that she was being silly.
Over time my mother’s hallucinations got worse. The loose fibres that she looked for on her clothes became mysterious female hair. “A blonde woman”, she said. “It must be a blonde woman.”
I would watch as she would empty her wardrobe in distress scattering the clothes everywhere. One by one she would sniff them and pick fibres off the items of clothing as if to gather “evidence”.
When she was done with the ritual, she would pray to her ancestral gods that the people responsible for this trespass would go to Hell.
One morning after having had the dream about the old ladies again and being in a distressed state, I made the terrible mistake of telling this to my mother.
She listened intently.
She asked me what the ladies looked like, what coloured hair they had, what they smelt like and whether they had any names.
“But they’re not real mummy, they’re just in my head”
“Why didn’t you tell me about this before” she demanded. “Why did you open the window to let them in you wicked, wicked child! It’s them isn’t it? They’ve been stealing all my clothes and wearing them and putting them back in the wardrobe to taunt me!”
“I didn’t mummy, I didn’t. Its not true”
That protest of mine led her to slamming her barefoot into my stomach. She kicked me again and again on the legs. Pinched my arms before unleashing another barrage of punches over my arms which I used to protect my head.
“Yes, mummy it is true. It’s all my fault. Please forgive me”.
I said it purely to stop the beatings, but sadly this started the compartment of guilt and lies in my head which haunts me to this day.