I didn't give much thought to accepting the set of metal measuring cups Sissyface was getting rid of as she sorted through kitchen items, preparatory to moving.
Days later something nagged at me, and finally I texted her, "Are these the original measuring cups from Brightwood Street?"
"Yes!" she texted back, stirring within me a tornado of emotions.
When the stepfather napped, we were all to be quiet. Tip toeing around became second nature to me, and a bane to my existence.
The measuring cups were kept hanging from a metal rack inside a cabinet door. Whenever I opened that door to put things away after our evening meal, I had to be sure to open it slowly and cover the cups with one hand so they wouldn't bang against the wood and awaken the fury of my stepfather.
If he was away on a trucking trip and my mother was in the garage beating Doreen to near unconsciousness, I welcomed the noise of those measuring cups clanging against the cupboard door, and would sometimes open and shut the door harder than necessary in an attempt to drown out my step-sister's whimpering.
I'm not sure why I do this, why I accept things from my childhood which I know can only hurt me beyond words. I think this is a way to test myself. Can I see and touch these cups without flinching? What about the reels and reels of home movies I might also inherit? Can I see them in their metal canisters and not think of what they contain of my childhood? Will I be a stronger person for not wincing with shame and anger? Will I win this strange silent battle with my mother if none of this makes me cry? Oh! Am I so much like Doreen, then, with this not wanting my mother to succeed in reducing me to a weeping, blubbering mess?
I thought of how my mother's contempt for Doreen was so apparent, not only in the severity of the beatings but also in her general at-arm's-length attitude toward her. I thought, well I didn't fare so much better myself, but atleast my mother didn't show contempt for me. And then it hit me: what was her refusal to do anything about seeing her hubby molesting me if not absolute contempt for me and my welfare?
Yes, I have the measuring cups here within easy reach. It would be taking it too far to hang them inside a cupboard, so I won't be doing that. After all I'm not attempting to replicate my childhood, simply to understand it as best I can. What I want to do, what I hope to accomplish eventually is to take full measure of my character with as much honesty as I can muster.
Have I clung with tenacity to my childhood dreams which made it possible to survive the unthinkable?
Have I exceeded my mother's set of priorities, choosing a life focused on the heart of things rather than on outward appearances and financial security?
These are questions I love to mull over. They are much more answerable than the other kinds of questions I can't help but ask myself such as, Why doesn't my mother love me?
I will take stock of myself, and where I see that I fall short of measuring up to the person I choose to be I will make an effort to change. I will own those parts of me I'm not too fond of, and allow myself room to grow and experience and change.