I can hear them in the next room. Dad yanks at his arm, yelling at him and threatening to spank him if he doesn’t do… something? I’m not even sure what he’s in trouble for this time. I cower in the next room, wanting to do something, wanting to save him. I hear the slaps, he starts to cry, Dad shoves him away. Holding my breath, hoping and praying for it to end, maybe if I squeeze myself small enough into this dark corner behind the bookcase… I could just disappear.
I stuff more dirty clothes into the wash machine, refusing to look out the window at the dreary sunless day. My sister comes in, long hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a long tan skirt and her favourite blue collared polo shirt. She looks tired. “We need to get to that family room before Dad gets home” she says. I nod, turning the knobs on the washer. “I have to start dinner, do you think you can get a sister to help you?” She shrugs, “I think so, she’s been super emotional today, but I’ll try.” Part of me wishes Mom was up to handle this, but she’s been in bed for days now.
“Get over here, you have to be spanked for talking to me like that.” My stomach tightens. I can’t do it, not again. I run into the bathroom and lock the door. I look at the bathroom sink and remember how many times I’ve leaned over that sink, skirts lifted, thighs clenched, waiting for my mom to land the blows on my leg, willing myself not to make a sound.
I hate this room.
“If you don’t come out of there it’s just going to be worse for you later” her voice comes through the door. There is a roaring in my ears. I fight the urge to yell that I’m sorry, and undo the lock and just get it over with. It doesn’t matter how many times I submit, how hard I try, this is only going to continue, day in-day out. How can I live like this?
This needs to end. I have to get out of here. This time, I’m not going to roll over and play dead. This time, I’m going to do something about this. This time, I’m going to tell someone.
I head to the window, I know how to remove the screen, maybe I can get to a neighbours and use their phone… To call someone. Call who? I don’t know… the police? My grandparents? I move to the window and fumble with the latch, I can hardly believe I’m doing this.
And then I woke up, drenched in sweat, heart beating wildly. It took my several minutes longer to realize that my lover is sleeping peacefully on one side of the bed, my youngest baby on the other,
and I’m in the middle, safe.
I haven’t lived with my parents for years. But since I moved away, I’ve lived some of those old memories in dreams again and again. Sometimes I am a young child in my dream, sometimes a teen. Sometimes I am an adult somehow transported back in time and living in my parents home as the child I no longer am.
The one common factor in all of these dreams, is that I never stand up. I let them hurt me, I watch them hurt my siblings, or (in the worst of my dreams) I watch them spank or belittle my own children,
and I never do anything.
Inside, I am always screaming, shrieking, raging, but on the outside I am calm, and submissive. I always feel completely helpless in these nightmares. As if I can do nothing to stop whatever is happening. Despite confronting my parents as an adult in real life, and beginning to experience some healing,
I am always powerless in my dreams.
I had this dream early last December, but it took me a few weeks to realize what was different about it.
This marks the first time a dream involving my parents included anything but my complete obedience to them. I didn’t quite stand up to them in my dream, but I was leaving the situation with plans to make it change.
I know it’s just a dream, but it feels like a huge step for me.