We all have them.
Memories that we wish we could forget…things that we wish we could banish from our minds.
Imagine that writing down your worst memory will free you of it.
What is it?
Why does it haunt you?
What could you have done differently?
Write it down and let it go.
We pulled into the parking lot of the 8 story office building. My father and I were in the front seat of his Explorer, my 7 year old brother in the back, Nike hat pulled down dangerously low. I didn't need to see those eyes to know what he was thinking. We had both seen her car in the parking lot.
We walked in, so close that our arms were lightly grazing one another, yet not talking, not touching, no eye contact. Stepping off the elevator, our father took the lead, walking down the long hallway with purpose. I went next, reaching out behind me with my hand, searching for his. He grumbled, touching my fingers with his.
The waiting area was empty; she was already in the office.
This was the first family session.
We walked into the room in the same single-file line, except he dropped his hands to his sides when he saw her.
I don't remember the words, just the emotions, like sparks passing between each one of us. Dark eyes, full of rage. Anger. Betrayal. Hurt. Shame. Resignation. Myself, the people pleaser. My brother, full of rage. My father, the antagonist. My mother? Well, I still don't know what verbs or adjectives to use there.
At some point, my brother and I were asked to go out into the waiting area while the therapist spoke with our parents.
I had to drag him out. Screaming, crying, cursing, kicking, smacking, punching, scratching.
In the waiting area, I had to wrestle him into my lap, in this pseudo leg lock move, with half his body being squeezed by my thighs. I fought his hands, swift and forceful. He pulled my hair, scratched at my face, punched me over and over and over and over.
I will never forget the sound of his cry, full of pain and rage and denial and lost dreams.
It broke my heart. I talked through our tears, purring comfort...to no avail. I realized I wasn't going to win this fight, so I stopped protecting myself from the blows. I let him beat on me until he was worn out, exhausting us both. And then: heaving and shaking, there was a quiet moan deep in his throat. He stared at my knee.
On the drive home, I sat in the backseat with him, his head in my lap, both of us crying quietly. My father kept trying to talk to him, to me, but I asked him to JUST STOP. My brother looked up at me, communication between us loud and clear. I ran my fingers through his hair, wiped his tears, rocked him to the rhythm of his moaning.
This memory haunts me still, 17 years later. It swirls within me, makes me ache, reminds me how much I despise divorce and broken dreams and shattered hopes. If I could have taken all of his hurt, his rage, I would have. If I could have replaced all of it with wonder and hope, I would have. If I could have healed, helped.
I walk on eggshells, hoping my daughter doesn't have this experience, that she will never ache like my brother did, like I did, like I do.
I could do without this memory.