The Broken Chair — How Childhood Trauma Stays, Long After They’re Gone…

A Child Of Domestic Abuse Story

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

My boyfriend looked at me, clearly bewildered…

“You never argue, you agree with everything I say! It’s so frustrating! Sometimes you act dumb when you're clearly the most intelligent person I know, and that's what I love about you! I don’t understand why you do this?”

Tears weld up behind my eyes, but I didn't dare let them spill out. How do I even begin? How can anyone possibly understand? The wounds of childhood trauma are deep, not always visible, but ever so painful. The emotional deprivation, abandonment, mistrust — most days I feel like a chaotic cocktail of schemas and scars.

I was 6 years old, I dared to correct something my Father said. Nothing important, we had learnt about Australian settlement and he’d said the First Fleet arrived in 1756.

“No Daddy my teacher said it was 1788”

I was really proud I knew I was right. I love history.

But as the words came out of my mouth it felt like slow motion and I realised what I was doing and froze. It was too late. I momentarily imagined shovelling the words back into my mouth. My father turned slowly, his blue eyes turned to white ice when reached his hand out and pushed me against the wall by my throat.

“Nobody likes a smartarse… so here’s a life lesson for you little girl… no man is ever going to want a fucking smart little bitch like you, you better learn to keep that fucking mouth of yours shut or the best you can hope for is to die a lonely fucking whore, or worse… like your fucking mother.”

Mum grabbed his arm, telling him to stop knowing full well what it meant for her. I ran to my room, hid under my desk and covered my ears because I knew what came next.

That was the night he beat Mum with the kitchen chair for “encouraging me” and “raising a little bitch to think she’s smarter than everyone else”. She was punished for me showing intelligence. I was punished by having to hear what he did to her and believing it was my fault.

And now those skull fractures have turned to cancer and my Mum is dying, how should I feel about that?

Fucking 1788

He was a carpenter and could have easily fixed that broken chair. But instead, that became the only chair I was allowed to sit on at the table. When the back would fall off he’d yell and send me to my room for not being stupid and not careful. Other chairs eventually got replaced. My chair stayed until he left when I was 14 and I built the most satisfying bonfire of my life.

Mum let me have my first taste of alcohol that night… she shouldn't have, oh I wish she hadn't done that. As the burning, numbing, coldness of vodka ran down my throat, I had no idea that this was the beginning of a phase of my life I wish I could forget.

I look back at my kind, gentle, loving boyfriend and shrug. I just shake my head and keep my mouth shut. After all, I love him but as we know, no man is ever going to want a fucking smart little bitch like me, and I don’t want to die alone. Best I keep my thoughts to myself hey...

If you or someone you know needs help, contact your local community services such as Lifeline or 1800RESPECT



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