August 27, 2013
It is day two in California. As I close the bathroom door behind me, I can still hear my mom talking to auntie in the dining room. I roll my eyes and pull my shirt over my head. She can never be quiet, I silently fume.
Hot water streams down my back. I lean my forehead against the cool shower walls. I’m not really sure why I’m against the wall. I press my whole face into the wall. Tears stream down my face.
It hits me. I feel the fatigue deep in my body. My heart hurts because I will not see my husband for over a month. I’m here instead of home with him on his one week off a month. More tears. Stomach quivers.
Underneath the sadness, I’m angry. The rational adult part of my brain realizes that mom will not walk into the bathroom, invade my space, harm, touch my body because I’m no longer a child or a teenager. I’m thirty-four. Snot drips from my nose onto my contorted lips. Hot water runs from my heavy long brown hair into my face.
As I bend over and cry, I feel the old fear of not taking a shower fast enough. I cover my mouth in fear that I will be heard. A deep panic fills my chest. I can’t breathe. I have to sleep with her in that bed again. Nine more days. Only nine days, I silently reassure myself. The bathroom is filled with thick steam as if I were in a sauna. Mind is disconnected from body as I put my clothes on.
It is quiet on the other side of the door. I step out into the breezy hallway, reposition my face back to the pleasing one I’ve been trained to give, and join auntie and mom at the dinner table.
A Small City in Indiana
Mom stands next to the sink, one hand white-knuckles the edge of the sink, the other rests on her hip. I have one foot in the dining room and the other foot in the kitchen. She is in a tirade about having to take me to cross-country practice tomorrow at six in the morning. “No. I’m not taking you. Ridiculous. You’re NOT going. Shut UP!”
I “smarted back.” “Fine. I’ll ride my bike then.” The hot anger already flowing through her body grew. It was as if she were a volcano, on the verge of spewing hot molten lava. Her face turns bright red, despite already having a reddish tone from hours laying in the sun over summer break.
I stomp upstairs, fueled by anger from mom trying to stop me from participating in a sport I love. I feel her control tighten around me like a snake wrapping around my body and squeezing, trying to kill me. She hears me as I open my drawers and begin taking out my pajamas.
“What are you doing?” She demands, standing at the bottom of the steps outside my bedroom. “Showering,” I respond through gritted teeth. I feel my teeth grind against one another. Tension causes my shoulders to rise to my ears.
My entire backside feels as if it were in one giant knot, as I swing open the flimsy wooden door and stomp down the steps, pushing past her as she attempts to block the space between the banister and the wall with her muscular five-foot six body. As I squeeze my body between her and the banister, she pushes her shoulders into my side to stop me from getting past her. I shove her and continue slamming my feet against the wooden floor, rattling her china cabinet.
She spins around and yells at me to stop. I keep going. I feel her walking close behind as I pass through her bedroom and into the master bathroom to shower. She opens the bathroom door and walks in without asking. All I want is to be left alone and shower.
“Don’t take forever,” She says. “Or I’m comin in there and gettin you out.” Finally she walks into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
My entire body is tight with tension as I step out of my socks and feel the cool, perfectly clean laminate flooring against my feet. Through the slits in the wooden bathroom door, I hear mom yanking open dresser drawers, methodically laying her perfectly folded clothes inside and then roughly slamming the drawers shut. The copper handles on the dresser clank against the smooth, freshly waxed wood. In a fraction of a second, I hear her roughly pull open the next drawer, fill it, and slam it. I wash my thick hair as quickly as I can.
As I lather my hair with shampoo she yells, “Hurry UP. The hot waters runnin out.” Tears flow down my face. My fists shake in anger.
I turn off the shower to put soap on. I try to slip open the flimsy plastic curtain so she cannot hear me.
I put one leg up on the shower seat and turn to examine my stomach fat, my chicken legs through the foggy mirror. Hatred wells up inside me as I look at the evidence of my ugliness. I don’t want to see my body in the mirror, but I cannot help but check it every time I shower. If only I ran harder. If I ate less. If I could sneak away and vomit. I think. I feel close to hyperventilating as I slid the curtain shut and step under the hot water.
“I’m coming in there. Five minutes! I’m comin in.” She shouts through the door.
“DON’T. Leave me alone.” I shout. A whine creeps into my voice as I say “Mom. Please. I have to wash the soap…”
The bathroom door opens and she stomps in, demanding that I get out. Shampoo lather is still in my hair when she yanks open the plastic curtain. I’m sixteen. I don’t want my mother to see my naked body. A body that I’m not comfortable in. I start crying as I hear her step out and grab my father’s belt. She slashes my wet body. I lay on the floor. I cry like a baby.