You could see her pain as she sat there. As each memory seeps forth into consciousness she squeezes her eyes shut to try and block it away. Each time her eyes open you can see the tears pushing forth. She looks down to protect her dignity and to hide the shame of her tears. Her skin, though honey colored, is pale and her lips quiver trying to hold back sobs.
"Do you need a break?" I asked not wanting to push her to far over the edge.
"No, I'm fine," she replied through her scratchy, pained throat, "What was the question again?"
"Tell me about the first memory you can think of from your father."
She had stopped the tears from falling and sat up straight, looked me square in the eye as she began her memory.
"I came home from work, I think I was about sixteen at the time. Everything seemed normal and a few hours after I arrived my mother called me for dinner. All three of us sat at the dinner table, but something felt wrong, I felt nervous. My parents kept looking at each other at that moment I knew I was in trouble and I was desperately trying to figure out what I had done. I could not think of anything at all. 'What did you forget to do today' my father asked me. I thought my heart would beat out of my chest I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. The cloak of fear completely enveloped me, I couldn't think at all. I think he asked another time and I just stared at my dinner plate scared half to death. Then it came, he hit me so hard my head cracked back and I flew back and out of my chair and onto the floor. I was crying hysterically on the floor," she said and paused squeezing her eyes shut with her fingers, while panting as if she was experiencing the pain right at that moment.
"You are in a safe place now, you can continue when you are ready," several moments went by before she could compose herself to continue on with the story.
"As I laid on the floor my father got up out of his chair and started hitting me, he was pulling my hair, I just had my hands up trying to protect myself. I was scared to death and started screaming and crying. I couldn't believe it was happening. I remember having to go to the bathroom, wanting to jump up and run to the bathroom but I was to scared to move. He kicked me in my stomach and I started to gag in between the desperate and hysterical sobs and I peed on myself, right there on the dining room floor. I was so embarrassed and afraid that he would see and get angrier at me. After a few more moments of him pulling my hair and hitting me my mother finally said 'That's enough', and the nightmare ended; well that nightmare ended. He walked away and went downstairs and started drinking and watching tv, what he usually did every night. I finally got up and happened to look at the wall behind me where I put my hand trying to steady myself I remember the wall was splattered with blood, my blood, probably from my nose or my mouth I can't remember which it was. After I saw it I started sobbing and went to my room and went to bed."
"Did your mother come and try to comfort you?"
"No I figured whatever it was that I did wrong or whatever it was that I forgot to do I deserved the punishment, I'm sure that's the way she felt."
"Have you ever told anyone of the this episode?"
"No, I asked my mother if she remembered when that happened and she said no."
She was looking at me now, I could see in her eyes that she either wanted my to justify what had happened to her or to make it disappear from her memory. I actually felt guilty for knowing that I could do neither, all I could do is try to help her live with these memories and get over them one week at a time. This was neither the first nor the last, I could see that there is much more behind those eyes and I will get to everything in the coming weeks.
"Thank you Doctor, I feel a little better getting that out."
"There is no need to thank me, that is what I am here for, same time next week?"
"Yes, same time next week."
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