Survival

I want my husband to see a therapist so he can tell that person about his mom, a child abuse survivor, a spousal abuse survivor, a survivor of immigrating to a country that needs but doesn’t want you, and that hates you, maybe because it needs you. That’s at least three abusive relationships.

I tell myself that if my husband saw a therapist and talked about his mom, he’d get some insight into me. About why it is so hard for me to keep striving and doing and succeeding in that workaholic way he does. To keep successfully putting the past in the past and leaving it there. To keep being optimistic about the future without the mind wandering to burning, stinging hands and heart palpitations and passing out while mom screams at me; pretending I don’t notice dad looking when I don’t wear underwear and still not wearing underwear. 

My husband’s mother now lives almost entirely in the past. She is 95 and her memory is starting to go. The things she knows for sure happened 85 years ago, some of them. I forget people’s words almost immediately after they are spoken. But I know the shade of green (a churning mix of glittering emerald and early summer leaves) that clouds my vision when mom yells, the bit of yellow on the edges that creeps in just before I black out, as if the sun is shining for a moment somewhere beyond my field of vision.

I can say these things to my husband, but he is busy being resilient, having buried his hurts so deeply that he has little memory of his home life. He talks about his first job, at age 11, if you ask him about his childhood. 

These are some of the reasons we are married, I think. He looks like success and freedom to me, but I think also I look like his mom.

©2018 Julia Burns

Orchard, AL USA

Julia BurnsComment