So I hide. I start sleeping odd hours and staying locked up in my room trying to avoid my childhood monster. Monsters are real, you know this. They don’t look like giant men wearing masks and wielding chainsaws, Hollywood is wrong about that. Real monsters are short and skinny, they frown a lot and love to talk about other people. They’re those fat people who smile and laugh at inappropriate times and have dead eyes that twinkle when they think of death and murder.
Real monsters are people you know. They hide in plain sight and rarely get a second glance until you see them doing something strange but they always have some justification for what they do right on the tips of their tongues. On the other hand; the victims of bullying and abuse act strange as well. Victims are usually nervous, avoid social situations and end up alone in crowded places. Victims sometimes become monsters themselves.
Of course hiding doesn’t work. Whatever need my mother has to bully me builds up in her like steam in tea kettle until she’s pounding on my door or shouting to wake me from the sleep I start needing just as an escape. Recently she cranked up the volume on the television set so I couldn’t avoid her. She doesn’t know how to use the only television she owns so I had to go out to fix it for her.
This might not seem so bad to you, she just wants a little attention, to know that I’m all right and not a moldering corpse. Noise is one of the triggers of my condition. When people talk over other people talking the world starts turning to static for me. I can hold on for a little while, keep my memories active and working but I start shaking and then I’ll wake up somewhere else with no idea how I got there.
This might sound terrifying to you. Let me assure you, it is. It happens a lot. When I was first regaining my memories I used to seek out this exact situation. I knew I’d have to get used to it and I wanted to “train” myself not to be freaked out, to stop being terrified of the world in general and to try to gain a measure of control over this condition before it drove me crazy.
So I’d go to dance clubs on busy nights when I could. I’ve been told by people I trust that I just become a little disoriented but I’m still me, still jovial and pleasant but I’ll forget things easily and be scattered. I’ve been told by people I don’t trust that I’m a real blast.
From my perspective this is what happens: I’ll walk up to the door of the club, usually there’s some music playing that leaks outside. There are usually people talking outside the door or just inside of it and that’s when the world starts fuzzing out. I’ll regain my senses somewhere inside, usually on the dance floor where the music is loud enough to drown out everything else. Then I’ll fuzz out again until I’m on the street walking away, hopefully alone.
This is the primary reason I became a writer. I can keep the room I’m in nice and quiet and darkly lit. In this situation I can think just fine, the pain is the least I can manage without actually being asleep. Of course I had to relearn how to write, how to tell a story that might compel a reader to keep reading and that took years of practice and feedback in a highly competitive field that rarely makes anyone any money at all.
I’m living the dream. You know I used to be an engineer? Then I was a massage therapist. Now I’m a writer.
Where was I? Oh yes, my mother was playing a television loudly outside the walls of my self-imposed prison and talking over it. I managed to fix her television so something was playing and then I left all without saying a word because my jaw was clenched tightly enough to crack teeth.
I came back from the store and she’s still there watching something loud that she didn’t care about so I stayed outside in the bright sunlight trying to read a book. Eventually I try to go back to my room and she says; “why do you hate me?”. The next thing I remember is walking outside again with her following screaming at me.
In case you’re wondering my mother knows about this condition. I tell her about it almost constantly because she chooses not to remember it. She won’t talk in the car unless the radio is on. She’ll interrupt every single thing I say. Even before the brain damage she was a real treat to be around but once I got this it became painful.
And she just loves playing the victim. It’ll do a number on your head when you’re being bullied and abused and blamed for this by the person abusing you. Passive aggressive doesn’t even begin to cover it. Aggressively passive aggressive? Just plain aggressive?
People in public used to see her denigrating me and give me sympathetic looks. There’s nothing quite like being insulted snidely in front of someone else to make you learn to hate sympathy. Now they just look frightened, probably because they know that this is how serial killers are born and I am a tall, muscly man who wears sunglasses a lot. I can’t walk through a hardware store without getting strange looks and I’m not even fondling the chainsaws.