Opening up the kitchen cupboard and smelling salt and pepper. Being four years old and excited for macaroni and cheese with hot dogs in it. Sunny afternoons and a pleasant breeze. Home on the weekends. I remember it feeling safe. Climbing around between the table legs. Mom would have Mozart, or the Nutcracker, or Peter and the Wolf playing softly in the background, and outside there would just be this sort of quiet peace. I loved to lay down in the grass on those days. It was only just then that I had begun to experience the fear and self-loathing that came with being told I was a monster, but at home I still felt safe. I feel unspeakably blessed to have been able to have the home that I did. My parents didn’t always get along, and things weren’t always perfect…but it felt safe. I always felt safe. I think that being in constant danger is something that messes people up more than almost anything else. Especially once they’ve gotten to the point where their brain has adapted to it, and it’s just “the way things are.”
I am currently experiencing the slow and painful death of my lifelong dream of having my own safe home, and my own stable family. It’s dying because I got used to the idea that danger was normal, and because I became a dangerous person. I became an abuser. I became someone who makes other people into victims.
I did that. That was me. Except it wasn’t really, in a sense. For all intents and purposes, though, as far as my wife and children are concerned, it was.
I am doing my best to move forward and to accept that this is the case, but it’s hard, to be completely honest, and that’s just where things are at right now. They’re hard. I have a really good community of nurturing, supportive people around me, and that does help a ton, but at the end of the day, when I go home and lay down in bed and close my eyes, the reality of what has happened is still horrifying.
It’s strangely comforting, though, to open up the kitchen cupboard at my work and have that same familiar salt-and-pepper aroma from all those years ago come wafting out. I guess that’s just one of the fringe benefits of industrial processing standards; the kitchen cupboard at my work smells exactly the same as the kitchen cupboard at my folks’ house in 1984. So, there’s that.