Saturday, January 10, 2009


Like a roughly hacked together montage of images, memories fly through my head in spurts and streaks. They are flashes of my worst moments. Some are seen as I saw them; however, some are seen with the uncanny view that comes only in retrospect: as if you could watch yourself.
The first flash is a fourteen year old me desperately trying to type a school essay as my father and mother rush franticly in and out of the house. The door slam, the sigh, the words: “Alanna must have kicked the bag out of the car.” A rush of fear, of guilt, of anger, of confusion. Knowing it wasn’t my fault but believing it anyway. Then a sudden tightness.
Me, placing the cold phone receiver back on its rest. Crying on Courtney’s shoulder in the guidance office. Watching tears come to Aunt Beth’s eyes. Realizing life will never be the same: my Daddy is an addict. A cloud of darkness slowly covering my world; and then a tightness in my chest that will never release.
My hands running over the rough texture of the bricks on the fireplace. A pan of the nervous room: an intervention on Thanksgiving. The view from above, my voice squeaking out a sentence followed by my father’s huff and angry march out of the room. A tightening of my body that will never release.
Forward flash to the blood streaked floor and shattered glass of the back door. Staring out the front window waiting for the police to come. Shaking my head, “no” when asked if I want my name included in the restraining order. Cleaning the floor. Crying because it was my Daddy’s blood. Trudging up the stairs. Making myself bleed to try and free the tightness that just won’t release.
Just audio now. Hours of undeserved lecture in harsh, raised tones. Screaming fights between my parents when my father took me home. (What are they yelling about? When will it stop?) Trapped in my father’s car, being reprimanded for calling my mom from the restaurant bathroom. A flash of a slice of cheesecake I will never eat. Was I too busy crying? Or had I stopped eating to restrict what fueled that tightness that never would released.
For a few moments the flashes fall out of order, but what does order matter: it is all the past. His deep voice echoing through the phone, “Do you want me to drop off the planet? To just die?” The voice ringing in my ears saying it was all my fault. The “talk” he took me out of art class for. In reality it was a resounding, angry public lecture on how I fail at most things in life. Sobbing on the floor of the school bathroom. Making myself throw up: I had to get ride of the pressure that just would not release.
Then suddenly, the lighting of the internal video changes. I am in the back of a car, bleary eyed and holding my boyfriend’s hand. I run into the house, swooping in to baby-sit. Hours of waiting. Then a shattered voice echoing though the phone line… “Jimmy is dead.”.” Then, “Becky is dying…” …..Becky is dying?
Walking in to an intensive care unit. My broken, big sister, chest heaving artificially, lying before me. My baby nephew asleep and so fragile. A plea to God to trade me: I wanted to die. Jimmy is dead. The room is cold. Sudden beeping. CODE BLUE. Death. Becky dying. It is over. No tightness now, just numbness. A numbness worse than any pain.
The yelling in the hall. I don’t understand what they are arguing about. Dad yelling. Brent’s fist smacking into the window sill. I run because I can’t stay. The dark corner of the bereavement room. Counting the seconds: it is all I can do. Walking purposefully into the bathroom. Running cold, cold water. Submerging my face in the shallow sink. Thinking about drowning, then not thinking at all. Brushing my hair. Still numb, so very numb.
The casket. Wood. My sister looking nothing like who she was. Hands closing the lid, opening the doors to visitors; and then, my family standing beside the casket: my Dad on one end, the rest of us on the other.(Why couldn’t he stand with us? For Becky at least.) A voice: “I’d like to look at her one last time.” A inaudible scream “NO! That was just for us”. A broken me running out of the room and collapsing in tears on the pavement of the parking lot. The tightness returns; but now, it is all I can feel.
A family dressed in black walking into to the church I grew up in. Me in the front pew. All day people tell a brown-haired girl how much she looks like her sister.. She swallows screams. She drinks her own tears. She is numb and bound up tightly: will it ever release?
Standing alone in a house that used to be full of life, sixteen year old me crying after her big brother moves. The view flashes to the upstairs bathroom. The girl (is that me?) wrapping masking tape around her stomach so tight she can barely breathe. She has to keep it: the pain the tightness it has to get smaller.
Flash to bloody, vomit covered hands in the school bathroom. Zoom in on the girl asleep in front of the stereo in her room: she was just trying to feel something, just trying to release the tightness.
The movie could go on. It could expand. More events could be added. Times with aggressive and overly physical boys and times of loneliness. Time of abandonment. Flashes of fights. Flashes of loss. But really, it is all the same.

Make it stop. Make it stop haunting me.
Help me believe:

“I have a new life now.