Thursday, March 7, 2013
Just before dawn Ben creeps downstairs,not daring to awaken anyone. The pads on the bottom of his Dr Dentons grip the polished hardwood floors as he rounds the corner into the kitchen. Flipping on the light, he is temporarily blinded. The kitchen, like the rest of the house, is large and formal. The counter-tops and the imported Italian marble floors reflect the recessed ceiling lights.
The rumbles of Ben's stomach have driven him out of his warm bed. Knowing it is too wake anyone, Bend decides to make his first-ever breakfast for himself. Scooting the heavy wooden chair across the floor, Ben is careful not to make a sound. This is the arduous task because the chair weighs half as much as he does. But the pride Ben is feeling at his independence foretells any shortcomings.
Placing the chair under the cabinet, Ben carefully climbs up. He reaches for the familiar red-and-white box and his ceramic blue bowl. Gingerly he set them down on the counter as he lowers himself to the floor.
Pulling on the refrigerator door, he retrieves the milk and sets it on the counter next to the bowl. Ben climbs back up on the chair as he begins to tilt the cereal box ever so slightly. He then shakes the contents into the bowl. But, as he shakes a little harder, the contents gain momentum and spill out over the sides of the bowl, rolling over the counter and onto the floor. Deciding he can lean it up later, Ben reaches for the mil. The weight and cumbersome shape of the gallon container make it impossible for Ben to maneuver. It slips of of his hands, bounces off the counter, makes a loud thud, splits open, and gushes all over the floor. Just as Ben is climbing down to attend to the mess, his mother rounds the corner.
"What are you doing?" she screeches. "Look at the mess you are making! It's five o'clock in the morning, and I'll never get back to sleep. All you can do is think of yourself?"
Ben's big blue eyes are fixed on his mother, who grabs the broom and begins hitting and shooing Ben out of the kitchen.
For Ben, an only child, his mother's reactions to his immature and youthful imperfection remain constant over the years... until he stops trying to please her.
It is an awful irony that the trauma we receive from being abused becomes from the dysfunctional guarantee that, for the rest of our lives, we will be emotionally unable to leave the family that has abused us. Trauma, in the form of post-traumatic stress syndrome, guarantees that we will always have our place at the psychic table where we were poisoned. Memories of the abusive family will shame us, and anger will be our defensive reaction.