Taking Back My Childhood

Finally being out on my own with no partner and getting my own house at the age of 45 was certainly overwhelming. When I moved into my house over two years ago I immediately decided I was not going to paint over the clouds in what had obviously been the kids room. I said I wanted to "take back my childhood" there. I didn't really know what that would entail at the time. I'm realizing now there have been a lot of things that I've done in that room that may have been spurred by my subconscious, and definitely have to do with nesting and nurturing myself.

I moved a single bed into that room and proclaimed No Boys Allowed. I was tired of trying to navigate my life in relationship to another person. I needed to be able to live on my own and not be attached to anyone else or deal with the emotional strain of delegating the importance of everyone's needs. What is obvious to me now is that there was hardly a time in my life when I ever said no to men, especially my step dad who had molested me.

Something else that was interesting to tune into recently was the memory of my grandmother brushing my hair because my mom was always too aggressive with it and would hurt me so much I would cry until I was breathless.

I went to an outdoor play with a friend a few weeks ago and there was a little girl there about 5 years old who's hair had many dreads and was pulled back in a band. I instantly became envious that had not been an option for me when I was her age. It made me think of my childhood when my mother was constantly talking about my Rat's Nest of hair and how trashy it was. She would yell at me in her scary voice, "you better get your ass over here right now and let me comb out that Rat's Nest before I chop it all off."

One night my grandmother came home in the middle of my mom ripping my hair out while combing it after a shower. The look on her face was of sheer horror. She marched over and immediately pulled the comb out of my mother's hand and called me into her lap so that she could comb out my tangles in her careful, gentle way. My grandmother and Mom had a few words in the kitchen before bed time. The next time my grandmother went shopping she bought a detangling, leave in conditioner for my hair. She combed my knots out again that night. This went on for several weeks and lead to my grandmother teaching me how to comb my own hair using the detangling spray. Eventually the spray ran out and my mother did not buy more. As I was struggling one night to get the tangles out of my hair my mom looked over at me with a strange look in her eye and in her sultry sweet voice I had only ever heard her use before with men, she said "Would you like me to help you with that?" Suddenly I understood what the look of horror on my grandmother's face had been when she walked in on us that night. I realized my mother had been patiently waiting for that detangler to run out so that she could get her hands in my hair again.
She had been hurting me on purpose.

Angry, I responded with "No! You're not allowed to comb my hair anymore. Only grandma can do it." "Fine then." she stabbed back and pretended not to care. Over the next three days my hair became the predicted Rat's Nest again. I think my grandmother was out of town for work. When I saw her again I remember being very happy asking if she would comb my hair again. She said "Oh my. All this in 3 days? Go get the detangler and I'll help you." I looked sheepishly at the floor and told her that we had run out. Everything went quiet. I looked up at her face. She was looking right at my mom with an angry but pained expression on her face. She knelt down and put her soft cheek next to mine. How about if we run into town and get you a haircut instead? A nice short one that'll be easy to take care of." Her eyes implored me and I understood. "Okay" I said, "I'll go get my coat."

With this 40 year old childhood memory unearthed, it took me 5 days to realize my reaction to this was to automatically stop combing my currently rainbow colored unicorn mane and let it turn it back into a Nest.

I wonder if this is what I meant when I said I would be taking back my childhood.

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