Family secrets boxed securely….
The good times came flooding back to me. Mum, Dad and I, even Ella and Bree. Mum used to hold my hand all the time. It made me feel safe and special, the most important person in her life.
When I was scared mum would hold my hands lightly to warn the bad thoughts to leave. When I was happy, Mum would rock my hands back and forth as if dancing in the wind. When I was sad, Mum would gently cradle my little hands in hers, creating a protective force around me. When I was worried, Mum would caress each finger tenderly, removing the bad, angry, anxious feelings building in my mind.
At this moment it isn’t Mum holding my hand it is my friend, Roxie. Not just any old friend but my best friend. Roxie is there for me, always there for me. I shouldn’t be scared of keeping secrets from her. She will understand. Roxie always understands me, she is my best friend.
Best friends don’t always understand. When I told her about Ella and Bree, she didn’t understand. She always picks their side, not mine. She has a wonderful and gorgeous brother, not two annoying sisters, how could she understand?
My two annoying sisters are always ganging up on me and out to break my spirit. There is two of them. If Ella is in the mood to be a pain, Bree will usually follow suit. Then when Bree wants to annoy me, Ella copies.
I wake up and it all begins. At breakfast they argue over who is first to pick the cereal. It’s like they believe they must have exactly the same in everything they do. There is no choice in what each other may want.
“It’s my turn this morning Bree,” shouts Ella as she races to the pantry grabbing a box of corn flakes, knocking over the rice bubbles spilling its contents.
“No you picked yesterday,” replies Ella reaching for the fallen rice bubble box but never considering cleaning up the spillage.
“It is not you turn,” shouts Ella for the second time.
“Mum,” screams Ella down the hall, “It’s my turn this morning but Bree won’t let me pick.”
“You’re such a baby,” responds Bree folding her arms pulling letting the rice bubbles fall to the ground once again.
“I am not a baby,” said Ella.
“STOP, ” I shout with my hands over my ears hating my day already.
Every morning they do the same thing, say the same thing and fight over the same thing. It is like being in a bad movie and pushing rewind again and again and again.
When I tell Roxie about it as we walk to school, she nods her head but never understands. I know she thinks I am being a sook but she doesn’t live with them. It never stops. Between the twins and Mum and Dad arguing, it never stops in my house. I HATE IT.
Normally Mum drives the twins to school, my school. She says they’re too young to walk and also too slow. We will never get to school on time. Every now and then, when Mum has an appointment or something, they have to come with me. It is hell.
“Please girls,” said Mum in her most calm, controlling voice. “You need to listen to your sister this morning and follow her every instruction.”
“I can’t believe I have to take them to school,” I whinge dreading the walk to school.
“Oh Alexx, they are only little. Stop complaining. You know I have to be at the dentist early today.”
Focusing her attention once again on the twins, Mum kneels down in front of them, straightening their school uniforms. She always babies them and gives in to their annoying tantrums.
Mum never did this with me. I know she loves me but she loves the twins more. She needs me to help her all the time, do stuff and I always do it. Usually I don’t mind helping out but it feels like I am always helping and they never are.
“Listen girls, your sister is being kind enough to walk you two to school. I can’t have you misbehaving with her,” she says ignoring my complaints as usual.
“I will behave,” said Bree innocently smiling at Mum.
Bree always agrees with everything Mum says while Mum is there. As soon as she leaves the room, Bree turns from a beautiful angel to a horrible devil.
“So will I Mummy,” chimes in Ella, not wanting to be out done by her twin.
“Thank you my darlings. I knew I could rely on you two.”
“But Mum…” I begin until she raises her hand telling me in her own special way the discussion is over.
Annoyed and agitated, I leave the house, twins closely behind and wait for Roxie out the front. Even the waiting is infuriating. The twins constant bickering, play fighting, noises, they never stop. I am going insane and the day had only begun.
The twins hold hands with Roxie the entire way to school, listening to her every word and treating her like a Queen. Not once did they misbehave or need to be told off. They are being manipulative and it is grating on my nerves. Constantly looking back at me, as I am a pace behind the three of them, all the while giving me the look. The look that says ‘we have your friend and she is our friend now, hahaha.’
Roxie never sees any of it so when I complain to her she thinks I am crazy. She never agrees with me and never understands how devious the twins are. This disappoints me and affects our friendship.
If Roxie can’t understand just how painful it is to live with the twins, how is she ever going to understand my heart is breaking over Mum and Dad? Her parents are perfect, never fight, never argue. They are supportive with everything Roxie choses to do, never question her decisions.
Roxie is given the option to make her own decisions about her life. To show that she is grown up and can decide which direction her life heads. Mum doesn’t give me the same freedom but wants me to be grown up enough to baby-sit the twins. Life just isn’t fair sometimes.
“Alexx, Alexx,” says Roxie interrupting my thoughts. ‘Are you OK?”
Standing there in Roxie’s room, I feel exposed. I have no protection from the world, from my life. My life that is horrible and no one around me will ever understand or be able to fix it, including Roxie. I would be crazy to share my secret, to let Roxie in on my horrible little secret. As I glance around her room, I realise she won’t understand what I am going through, she can’t understand.
“I’m okay, I just..”
“What’s happened? You look awful, I mean really awful,” she said her concern is touching but now unnecessary.
“Oh thanks Roxie. That makes me feel even better,” I snap angrily.
“I didn’t mean to…”
“I know, I know you didn’t but you did and it doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“Well if you just tell me what’s wrong. Maybe I can help,” she says patiently.
“You wouldn’t understand,” I reply, trying to stall for time to come up with a better excuse.
I look around Roxie’s room all covered in pictures of football players and I know it is a big mistake to think Roxie will understand. Her life is so different to mine, how can she understand. She likes everything I don’t. Even the way she chose to decorate her room is complete opposite to mine.
She is a football fanatic and I hate the sport. Even her doona cover is football, with her team’s colours and logo. Yuk! There is nothing pink at all in this room, including in her closet. Roxie and I can never swap clothes because she often likes to dress in boy like stuff.
This never bothered me until now, right now when I am deciding to share my secret. Looking around I realise this is the wrong person to share my secret with, even if she is my best friend.
“I can’t try to understand if you don’t tell me what’s wrong,” says Roxie. “Did you fight with the twins again?”
“Umm, yes, that’s it,” I quickly reply. I knew then I couldn’t share my secret.
“What did they do now?” Roxie responds mockingly.
“Just the usual but I didn’t sleep very well last night so I am tired and grumpy and, well you know,” I say to cover myself with any viable excuse.
“I’ve told you, you need to learn to ignore them.”
Realising I have made a big mistake coming here to confide in Roxie, I tune out on everything she says. I could see her lips moving and know there are words coming out but I don’t hear anything. I don’t want to hear anything.
As Roxie talks, the pains in my stomach slowly developed from a dull ache to unbearable. My stomach is twisting and turning, pulling every part in opposite directions. The intensity of the pain makes me perspire everywhere, drops rolling down my forehead. Clutching my stomach, I scream with the intensity until I can’t take the pain anymore.
Nothing. Silence. Blackness. In Roxie’s room I have fainted.
The comfort of my own bed, my own bedroom, my possessions. My head is sore, intensely throbbing. Barely able to open my eyes, a soft delicate shadow is towering over me, protecting me. A cool face washer on my head, Mum’s comforting voice whispering in my ear. Unable to move, I lay in bed confused with everything around me still hazy.
“Hi darling, you’re back with us.”
Struggling to keep my eyes open, I can barely make out Mum’s silhouette but the voice is undeniably hers. It is like lying on a bed of clouds with the beautiful angels flying around whispering words of comfort and guidance. Dream like atmosphere, very gentle as I drift back off to sleep.
Hours later I wake again but this time not as heavenly. Voices surrounding me, all talking, screeching, pounding into my head. The throbbing inside hasn’t eased, only intensified. A light penetrating my eyes causes me to squint as I try rolling over to my stomach to get away from the light.
“Alexx, its Mum. Wake up darling.”
“Alexx, its Dr Haine. I need you to try to open your eyes for me.”
Both are rolling me over to be on my back. Confused at the invasion of my sleep, I fight to stay on my stomach, facing the pillow, stopping any invasion.
“Leave me alone. Go away,” I scream angrily.
“Alexx, the doctor is here because he needs to check you are alright. You fainted at Roxie’s house.”
Still struggling between where I want to be and where they need me to be until the words actually sank into my head – I had fainted at Roxie’s house. Taking my mind back, all I could recall was the immense pain I had felt. The stabbing pain in my stomach felt like I was being carved into little pieces.
Fainting isn’t too uncommon for me. I have low blood pressure and this can make my body simply shut down when it needs to protect itself. The worse part about fainting isn’t actually my mind blacking out, I never remember that part. It is the fall. That is when I have really hurt myself and suffer for days.
It began not long after the twins were born, so I must have been around five years old when Mum went out the backyard and found me lying there on the grass. I had been playing around the babies, trying to make them laugh at me, trying to gain some attention. When BANG… I recall Mum screaming at me with such fiery anger shocking back to life.
All of a sudden I had all the attention I wanted. Doctors came and went, desperately trying to diagnose my condition. Specialists were seen, some I can’t even pronounce what their jobs were. Mum was by my side constantly and Dad pampering his little, now girl.
This began the period when I fainted often and for no real reason. I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t unhealthy but I fainted. Finally doctors told my parents I had low blood pressure but they also believed I was able to faint whenever it suited me. The specialists informed them that I did this for attention and recommended I see another specialist.
I remember loving the attention I got when I fainted. I was willing to put up with the pain in order to be the centre of everyone’s world, even for moment. The worse part was hitting my head when I fell. The extreme pain lasted for days like your head is being squashed by a vice and about to explode.
Allowing Mum to lead me, I move to where I can be checked for injuries. Reaching up to protect my head from the intense noise, I scream at the pain. The pain is not only in my head, it had travelled to my stomach, ripping me in two.
My fainting had happened from the pain, the agony Mum and Dad’s fighting was causing. There is no one around to protect me from the hurt, I am drowning in it. No one can understand it intensity and no one ever will. This secret is deep inside and that is where it will remain locked away.
“Is she alright doctor?” Mum enquires with trepidation as it had been awhile since I had placed her in this situation.
“Let me check her over properly before I comment but she appears to be fine,” replies Dr Haine.
“I’m here baby,” whispers Mum, leaning down as close to me as the doctor will allow.
When the personal invasion past and the doctor finally gave the all clear that I will be fine, silence falls upon my world. The penetrating lights are removed, the voices cease and calmness falls again. Only external calmness as internally my world is distressed. Nothing is as it should be and no one can get me back to where I want to be. Free of all the anger, all the hate, all the anxiety.
In and out of sleep, confusion of whether it is day or night as everything around is darkened. Each time the sleep leaves, the tension arrives to attack my head, and my body drifts back to sleep where the tension no longer finds me.
I wake to a tender touch, lovingly caressing my head. The touch eases the pounding somewhat allowing me to open my eyes. Mum is sitting by me, always sitting by me, confused at my appearance.
“Hi Alexx, how are you feeling?”
“My head still really hurts and my stomach,” I murmur in a weak voice.
“Here have some water and I will get you something small to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
That is the last thing I feel like doing, is putting food into the centre of the stabbing pains. It would be like mixing sweets with vegetables, they simply are not meant to play together.
“I know but the doctor said you will need lots of water when you wake and something little in your tummy.”
I groan, trying to fight her request but knowing she will follow the instructions left by the doctor.
Surprisingly, after eating a little toast with jam, the pain eases a little. My head is worse and every time I try to lift it off the soft pillow, I feel dizzy and frightened I will fall again, causing more damage.
“Do you remember what happened?”
“I was at Roxie’s.”
“Yes you were at Roxie’s and she said you are upset from something but didn’t tell her. The next thing she knew you had fainted and hit your head hard on the side of her bed.”
“Well I don’t remember that bit.”
“Of course you don’t darling but why are you upset. What has happened?”
“I can’t remember.”
Mum’s eyes search mine for the truth. She always knows when we weren’t telling the truth. It is a mother thing. I had been hiding the truth for so long now, keeping secrets from her she will never see through the lie.
“Hopefully in the morning, after you have had lots of rest, you will remember what had upset you so much.”
“Maybe. Did I say anything to Roxie?” I ask hoping I haven’t shared my secret with her and forgotten.
Roxie will never understand and neither will Mum. She will see through it all and think that maybe it is partly my fault they fight all the time. I know it is because of me that Mum and Dad hate each other. I can’t have that responsibility on my shoulders.
“No, Roxie is so upset that she let you fall. She blames herself for you hurting your head. Call her tomorrow and let her know you are going to be fine.”
“Sleep tight. If you need anything just call.”
I nod again.
“I am here for you Alexx. If you need to talk about anything, anything. I love you.”
“I love you too Mum,” I respond automatically as I roll away from her so she can’t see the tears beginning to well up in my eyes.
I know Mum loves me but I can’t risk the love by telling her about how I feel. Roxie is to blame for my situation. If she was the friend I need, the friend I want to trust, then this would never have happened. Resenting Roxie for not understanding, I drift back into sleep determined to keep my secret.