Threats of imaginary monsters??

I was never safe. Matt was autistic/schizophrenic. He was the most dangerous when he was hearing voices. You could almost always tell when he was hearing voices because he would mutter back to them. Sometimes he would laugh in a way described as purely evil like a villain in a superhero movie except without the superhero. He was in his own psychotic world he couldn’t easily be pulled out of. He would become incredibly agitated in this state. His ears would turn red and his eyes constrict as if possessed. He was small but had superhuman strength in those moments. It was a matter of time before he hurt someone. Those were the days when we couldn’t leave the house with him. It was too dangerous.

Matt was also violent when the voices were silent especially when he had to do something he didn’t want to do. The most common thing he would do was pull someone’s hair, mainly mine. When I say he pulled my hair, it was more than a little tug. He would latch onto a fistful of hair and yank while his victim screamed trying to get away. I would’ve thought I would’ve lost more hair than I actually did. Typically it would take at the optimal two people to restrain him and try to peel his hands off of their head. I’ve done it many times. I’ve also been the victim of his attacks countless times because I was the only one in our house that was little and had long hair.

There were also times Matt would attack for no apparent reason. Here are some of the things I’ve seen him do as a child to myself and others, some strangers. He gave black eyes, bloody lips and noses, head butts, scratched up arms, pulled hair, kicked, poked eyes, slugged just to name a few. I was often seen sporting bruises and clawed up arms. He threatened me with a knife. He tortured my pets. He was so violent that he was not allowed in school for several years, the school sent a teacher out to our house. Hence the home school years. The police were called when he went back to school. He was arrested. Somewhere there is a mug shot of him.

Matt being violent was a common (at times multiple daily) occurrence throughout my childhood. He ran around like a wild child. We were not safe day or night. My mom took him to every doctor she could find in desperation but it wasn’t until he was in his 30’s that an anti-psychotic medicine removed his violent tendencies and rendered him docile.

Being autistic, Matt was extremely hypersensitive. He could not tolerate his teeth being brushed. This was very problematic because his teeth were rotting. My parents tried the best they could but he usually screamed every night when it was teeth brushing time. Sometimes my mom couldn’t do it and asked my dad for help. My dad would get angry, manhandle Matt and forcibly brush his teeth. This made Matt incredibly agitated. He didn’t dare attack my dad because my dad would give it back. A lot of times Matt would harm himself mainly by beating his head over and over with his fist.

There were journal accounts written by my mother of Matt attacking our sleeping youngest brother Luke. Imagine a little child awoken from sleep by being hit with a fist. Sometimes Matt would come into my room at night when I was trying to sleep with his fist raised at me.

But here is where I was lucky. Matt and my two other brothers had to share a room. I had my own room. But being a child, I was too frightened to sleep with my door closed and locked. There were demons and monsters hiding under my bed and in the closet. There were murderous dolls in my room just waiting for me to close my eyes. There were kidnappers outside the window. There were things that could get me if I slept with my door closed. As a child I was so afraid of the imaginary things that I was unable to protect myself from the real threats.

Now I am an adult and have long outgrown the threats of imaginary monsters. When I am up north with my extended family I am usually the last one to go to bed and the first to arise. Unconsciously I must feel safer that way. To this day I am a light sleeper and awake to every noise hyper-vigilant of every possible threat. I wish I could say that I outgrew the need to protect myself like I outgrew the threats of imaginary monsters. My body never overcame the fear that I was not safe.

But I am safe now.

Just a mirage..

There was a time when I was really thirsty…I allowed a mirage to deceive me into thinking my thirst would be satiated.

The blind date didn’t start well. Mac came to my house to pick me up with another couple. Once we got on the road, I noticed that they were drinking. They were nervous when a cop passed by and stopped at the nearest gas station long enough to drop off their empties.

It was the early 1990’s…I couldn’t call for a ride home..we were planning on going to a bowling alley, but it was closed. We drove around aimlessly until the driver was almost out of gas. When he went in to pay for gas, his girlfriend went through his wallet. She found the number of another girl and freaked out. She got behind the wheel and pulled recklessly out into traffic. She pulled over on a side road and tried to smash the windows with her purse. Then she ran off into the night. We spent the rest of the night trying to find her…It was awful and I told Mac that I didn’t think there would be a second date.

But Mac pursued me relentlessly. He was charming and it was flattering at first. He made me feel like I couldn’t live without him. He was going to rescue me from my troubled home. It wasn’t long before we moved in together. I knew that my family wouldn’t approve.

Things went well at first, although Mac was into gambling. There were nights we went out that he just had to stop at the casino. He said he would be a few minutes as he left me in the car taking the keys with him. It was cold sitting there what seemed like forever in the winter. Security came to the car a few times asking if I was okay..Really, it will be just a few more minutes..

One night Mac went to the casino most of the night, but had to be to work by 7:30 AM. I left early that morning for school, then I went to work. When I got back home it was 7:30 PM. Mac was still sleeping. He thought it was morning, but he missed a whole day of work. Apparently, it was my fault.

It started slowly at first…a shove, a push..Then he started to say mean things…words that even my daddy didn’t say to me. I threatened to call the police. He told me that he would tell them that I stole money from him. He gave me his work checks to cash. I didn’t place the call. It wasn’t that bad anyway…just a little bruise.

He was threatened that I was going to college. He thought that I would leave him so he tried to sabotage me in any way he could. He told me that my papers were stupid. He cut down my ideas. He even deleted a paper that I wrote right before I had to turn it in to class. Thankfully, I always wrote out a rough draft on paper first.

Things got really bad. Mac grabbed me by the neck and threw me against the wall. I spent a lot of time hiding in the closet crying. It reminded me of growing up. There were times that I was kicked, punched, scratched, bit, or hurt by my brother Matt every day for a long period of time. I started having what seemed like flashbacks. I sat in the closet with my arms around my legs terrified.

I wasn’t allowed to feel angry about what happened to me growing up. Matt couldn’t help it. I was lucky because I was normal. I couldn’t retaliate. This is how I became numb to all feelings. This is when it began.

I told myself with every punch and bruise that it was making me stronger, like I was lifting weights. That’s how I convinced myself as a child that it was good for me. It was my mantra that helped me survive.

I didn’t want violence in my life anymore. This was no oasis in the desert. I had to leave Mac.

Mac read my journals. He tore out pages from them and threatened to send them to my family if I left him. Most of my relatives were very traditional minded, all law and no love. Anything less than perfection was not tolerated. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be disowned by my family. I had already lied to them about ‘shacking up’ with Mac. I was screwed.

He also used my journals to blackmail me in other ways. I bought new tires for his car after he wasted his paycheck at the casino. I had to leave.

One winter day while Mac was at work, I packed my things and left. But Mac didn’t leave me. I would wake up in the morning to flowers left under the windshield wiper of my car with notes begging to take him back. He would come to my house while I slept.

A few months later, I moved in with a friend a block away from Mac. He started hanging out with my roommate. She fell for his charm. He got back into my life again and we became friends. One night he invited me to a party with our old neighbors. I remembered the fun times we had.

When Mac walked away for a few minutes, an old neighbor came up to me and said…I know what he did to you…Leave and don’t come back..

I left.

Several months later, I received a package in the mail. Mac returned all of my scandalous journal pages.

It was finally over.