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Short Story: While I Waited For Nothing



New member
Mar 5, 2019
I was recently reading Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker, and it resulted in some breakthroughs with realizing things about myself. I find the best way to communicate my emotions is through writing, so I wrote a short story that hopefully will help someone else in feeling not so alone.

When I was roughly 7 years of age I experienced the first instance that I can recall of fearing abandonment and having an emotional response to it. My mother was ill-prepared for the responsibilities of having two children by the age of twenty-three, and given the tumultuous relationship with my older brother, we were by no means easy to digest. For as long as I can remember, it was explained to me that my father abandoned our family as a result of not wanting another child when my mom became pregnant with me. As I am the youngest of two boys, this explanation also led my older brother to assume it as such. It was explained to me that my brother’s rage towards me, that oftentimes was excessively physical, was just his misplaced anger as a result of me symbolizing our family not being whole. I came along and dad left; it’s simple to work out that perception to a young child, but there were years and years of it being explained to both of us that put the symbology in concrete.

In all actuality, my biological father had become addicted to drugs, and he left our family because he had found another woman, one that supported his drug habit. This was explained simultaneously once I was old enough to know what drug addiction was, but it didn’t resonate quite as deeply as being able to blame myself like I had been learning for years, so my childhood brain worked out the equation that I was the root cause, and a supplemental fact was that my father had an issue with drugs; it was not the other way around.

Going back to the dynamic with my brother, I can explain the conflict better with an anecdote: We’re 7 and 10 years old, and a small argument over what to watch after school escalated to my brother hitting me in the head with the handle of a rake by hurling it at me as I ran across the street with the TV remote in my hand. The blow to my head knocked me down, he ran over, grabbed the remote that had fallen out of my hand, and then went back inside. I got up after a few minutes and walked to the playground across the street to swing, but the motion of the swing made me dizzy, so I just sat in the mulch until I saw my mom’s car pull into the driveway a few hours later. I don’t recall ever telling anyone about this, but there is a cathartic feeling to write it down. I have a small scar on the back of my head as a result. Coincidentally enough, I have a scar above my right eyebrow that is from another altercation with my brother in my youth, but perhaps another time.

I only explain the relationship with my brother as a means of hopefully painting a picture as to what a single mother of two had to deal with on top of the rest of life’s stressors. I find myself contemplating this a lot. At my age, my mother had an 11 year old and an 8 year old that were complete hellraisers in her eyes, an unfulfilling job, and a ton of resentment towards her first husband. It goes without saying that she must have been stressed, and as she never sought guidance or help, it was a fairly toxic environment all around at most points.

One day during the summer, and I don’t remember what triggered my mother to do this; I imagine that me and my brother must have had another fight, but my mother calmly set on the front porch, completely silent, and then got up, started gathering her belongings from her room, and then told me that she couldn’t do any of it anymore, so she packed up car with her clothes and essential items she needed daily, and then left. My brother gravitated towards his room at the back of the house a lot, and I don’t recall him being present when my mother was leaving. All I can remember feeling is that the air was taken away from me, and that I needed to figure out a way to get by without the only parent I had. I stood there for a while, watching the door and crying, silently panicking that I didn’t have the skills needed to survive yet, and then worrying about my mother not having me because I felt that she needed me, and I felt that without me to take care of her, she wouldn’t be strong enough on her own. I know I had a tendency to embarrass her, and that me and my brother stressed her out, but I could fix all of that if she would just come back.

While I waited for nothing to happen, I replayed instances in my mind about what I did to stress my mom to the point that she felt the only thing to do was leave. I recalled one time, a few months before she left for the first time, Pizza Hut had just come out with Stuffed Crust Pizza, and we were visiting her friends at a local clothing store that had ordered one. I got extremely excited because the commercials made it look delicious. They offered me a piece of pizza because I had told them how excited I was to try it one day, and I took it. It was awesome, and everything I hoped it would be. I thought of my brother back at home and asked if I could take a piece to him, for him to see how cheesy it was. They cut me a small piece to take home, and I remember being very thankful that they were so kind! I told them I would let them know how my brother responded to the cheesiness. We left shortly afterwards, and I was filled with excitement to share this with my brother. When we got in the car, my mom grabbed the back of my hair and started jerking me back and forth, slamming my head into the dashboard and screaming at me for embarrassing her. She felt that me asking for another slice of pizza made it look like she wasn’t feeding us at home. Once she let go of me, I just remember putting my face against passenger window, and not wanting to let her see me cry. I had dropped the slice of pizza for my brother in the floorboard, and I remember being disappointed that I wouldn’t get to share it with him, and then I felt sorry for him. We had an upcoming trip planned to SeaWorld through my aunt’s work, and my mom started yelling as she drove us both home that she wouldn’t be taking us on it. I turned around and started crying, thinking that if my brother found out why we weren’t going on the trip, that he would take it out on me.

I know that is probably hard to read; it was hard to write, and I cried while doing so. I am not simply trying to gain sympathy from people, but I hope that by sharing my experience, that maybe someone else will not feel the need to keep themselves shut off from personal connections like I have.

While I waited for nothing to happen, I remember being seven years old and creating the emotional response and safeguards that I still use today at thirty-one. Slowly, as I replayed instances where I was a disappointment and burden to others, I started to paint a picture that I still struggle with: That people are better off without me, and that my presence is more of a nuisance than it is welcomed.

Home videos from this time frame are uncomfortable because I have the sense now to understand what I was trying to do. In one video, I am 6 years old and sitting at the end of our street under a stop sign. I had packed a sandwich to take with me, and my mother was recording me on her camera from our porch. The hours ticked by, and my mother is swinging back and forth, recording me sitting there under the sign. She’s pointing out that it’s been so long, and I’m just playing in the dirt instead of running away like I intended to. Eventually I make my way back to the porch, and my mother sarcastically asks, “Why didn’t you run away? That’s what you were trying to do, wasn’t it?” My response made her laugh because I said, “Well I’m not allowed to cross the street.”

While I waited for nothing, I completely tore myself down and laid the groundwork for a life consisting of poor personal connections, and to grasp at overworking myself to feel like I have an impact on something positive. It’s human nature to gravitate towards where we are most successful, and I have never been successful with maintaining close relationships, so I gravitate towards work.

Eventually, after a few hours of being away, my mother returned. She had gone to the grocery store at some point during her outing, that she was supposedly not returning from, as she had her favorite snack foods like Swiss Cake Rolls, Oatmeal Pies, and Cheese Curls. I remember being excited that she was back, not relieved. She walked up on the porch and I hugged her, and then I thanked her for coming back.
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Well-known member
Jun 11, 2017
Somewhere out there
I'm sorry I didn't read or respond to this sooner.That's a very sad story you have told.I have read that book you mentioned and found it very helpful.

have you been diagnosed with PTSD or CPTSD?Are you seeing anyone for all that you went through?


New member
Jan 16, 2019
It is indeed a very sad story. Unfortunately your mother did not do a very good job of parenting, notwithstanding the hardships she was facing. It is imperative that we don't mistreat our kids.