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Thoughts on Tea for Christopher

Strange Sisters - Young Children in the Sun Well, that was heavy. I felt relieved after writing that story. Reading over it I'm able to see how close I stuck to reality. I'll put this to bed after I process why I said there's a reflection of me in each character in the story Tea for Christopher.

Content: Physical abuse of a young child. Processing the previous entry. No sexual abuse mentioned or discussed.

Christopher
I'm primarily Christopher in the story who tries to manage the unmanageable. I had Christopher leave home just the way I did, an unplanned exit on a night of routine abuse. I couldn't do it another night, not another second. I left Feb 2, 1992 at 10:30 pm and I never went back home. I went to a hotel that evening then got up to go to work. I never went back home.
Just like with Christopher, I did watch my little brother beaten with a dowel rod. Just like in the story, he was held down with one hand by my mother and beaten with a dowel rod until he was no longer even screaming. I walked away and left him with that monster. A few days later he was removed from our home by Child Protective Services. I felt so broken by that loss.
It is safe to say, the story Tea for Christopher was triggered by what happened the other night outside my window.

Ruby, the mother
It's interesting that the mother wasn't given a name until about the middle of the story. I realized I kept calling her 'his mother'. I didn't think too hard about a name for her but I immediately rejected Diamond. Now, the name Ruby seems appropriate only because of the color.
Why am I the mother in the story? I see how much my life revolved around creating situations that would appease my abuser while ignoring myself and my needs. An abused child is always at the beck and call of the abuser, there is no time for anything else.
I never told her, but I apologized in my heart for being a bad daughter. Though my mother left us repeatedly (a few days tops) there was a constant threat of being sent to the orphanage where my grandfather grew up. She was neglectful in criminal ways. Abandonment issues are still a huge problem for me.

Marked - cropped - in progressThe three-year old brother
As I stated, that actually happened that my brother was beaten that way, but so was I and often. I didn't think I'd live through it. As a child I asked why we had to take our clothes off to be 'whipped'. She said, "So you can feel it better." As an adult no longer living in her home, I asked why she chose dowel rods. She said, "Because they hurt." It took me a little bit to understand that you should never ask a question if you can't live with the answer.

I'm the father in the entry in a limited way.
I know there have been times (many) where people walked on eggshells around me because of being emotionally explosive. I believe these times may be fewer than in the past. I can be intense. I hate that about me but I am who I am.
I've never been an abuser.

I'm the waitress because of how detached I feel at times. Sometime I feel like I'm just going through the motions. I often feel washed and hung out to dry.

The story ends with Christopher sitting in a Denny's style restaurant. It's an all night place where I've spent countless hours. My old partner and I would study at Denny's and stay in the same booth from lunch to dinner, all the way to the early hours of the morning. We paid for each meal and tipped the waitresses well. In later years I went to little coffee shops and cafes to read or write in my journals. The mom and pop shops are my favorite because they aren't crazy busy, but I never turned down an opportunity to hit a jazz cafe, busy or not.

I am a waitress, a woman-child, who knows how to get my needs met and assist others when I can. I am no longer a servant to my mother or her family. Despite having PTSD, I have not been bled dry of hope or my ability to see beauty and good. I am no longer a battered wife. I never have to see my ex-husband again. I believe it took about 5 yrs or so before I stopped looking over my shoulder fearing he'd found me. I have PTSD, but I am more free than I've ever been.

Faith
1:51 pm EST - June 15, 2017

1 thought on “Thoughts on Tea for Christopher

  1. mvitrano

    Very bravely written, even though much time has past fictionalizing true past events still must bring painful memories, but can also be cathartic I imagine. Again very well written and courageously done.

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