We are probably living in the house in Altadena. My sister, Cindy was a little under 2 and I was just under4. I remember the living room of the house we lived in, where the kitchen was, where the hallway was, and where the bathroom was half way down the hallway on the left coming from the living room.
My mother always kept an immaculate house, probably cleaner than any you can even imagine. Everything sparkled all of the time, including the bathroom, including the toilet bowl. One day I went in there to use it, but when I opened the lid I saw something in the bowl I had never seen before. I didn’t know what it was, I just knew it was beautiful. I just stood there looking in awe, and then I ran off to find my little sister so I could share with her the beauty that I had found.
There we were on hour knees looking inside the toilet. I will tell you what was there, even though at the time I did not understand what it was. There was a ball of hair taken from a hairbrush and dropped into the toilet that had not been flushed. I had never seen anything like it. The sun was streaming into the room from a window above the toilet and the sink at exactly the right angle so that the light passed through the wad of hair and made the most amazingly beautiful reflection on the porcelain on the sides and bottom of the bowl. [I have only seen this same pattern emerge under the same kind of conditions one time in my adult life.]
I cold see a mass of lines, some darker than others, but hooked to them somehow were tiny,moving, shimmering, glistening round bubbles of light. I didn’t understand reflections of course, but there had never been anything this beautiful before my eyes in my life. What a surprise! I found that if I blew gently on the hair mass the whole pattern shifted and glided around, and that made the vision even more magical.
There I was showing my little sister what I had discovered when my mother passed by the open bathroom door with a load of folded laundry in her arms. Mother shrieked like a wild woman and threw the laundry up in the air and as it hit the floor she was already in the bathroom grabbing Cindy by the arm. She yanked her away from me and shoved her out the door into the hallway as she grabbed me by the hair and began slamming my head and my face into the toilet bowl. She was screaming, “How could you! How could you try to kill your own sister! You murderer! You horrible child!”
Water filled my eyes and my nose. I gulped water and swallowed it as I tried to breath in a panic, and as my skull crashed into the porcelain bowl. I was terrified. I still remember this clearly. One of those flashbulb memories. I didn’t know what was happening or why. My mother was the most out of control that I had ever seen her.
After she tired of shoving my head in the toilet she continued to slap, hit and punch me anywhere on my body she could reach. She screamed and howled as she beat me. Finally, exhausted, she ended with “Don’t you ever go near your sister again! If I ever catch you so much as talking to her……I don’t know what I’ll do to you, but you’ll be sorry” as she threw me with all her strength against the wall and the edge of the bathtub. She kicked me before she stormed out of the bathroom and slammed the door.
At that instant, crumpled into a heap on the floor, I looked up at the brilliant blue sky I could see up out the bathroom window, and I felt still, calm. I felt quiet inside even though I was sobbing. I also felt very far away and distant at the same time I felt every hurt and throb in my body.
Cindy and I had a conversation about 15 years ago about our memories of this incident. She had carried into adulthood a terrible fear of and phobia about seeing hair balls floating in a toilet. Even as an adult if she had to go to the bathroom and happened to lift a toilet lid that exposed such a ball, she would instantly shut the lid and leave the room. Never, until we talked about this memory did she understand where this fear originated. As soon as I told her my memory, she remembered her own — and she was less than 2 when this happened.
What I know now as I go back to this memory is that who was waiting there for me after this beating was finished was not my guardian angel in any detached sort of way. It was me, myself, my own soul, my own guardian-angel-named-Linda that I joined with, and that joined with me. At that instant there was nothing else possible to do.
I also know that this soul is the one that was supposed to be growing with me, growing into my body as my body grew into the world. Growing into life with Linda, into my relationships, into my experiences, infusing itself into my own experience of ‘feeling felt‘ in my own body, in my own life. But that was not, in my case, ever allowed to safely happen.
I believe that some children start this process and only make it so far into their childhoods “growing down” into their body and into the world and into their lives before they suffer some terrible betrayal, become “tricked” as one borderline woman put it to me not long ago. I believe that my mother was one of these betrayed children and it broke her. They reach a point where something snaps and they lose touch with everything – most importantly with the part of themselves that knew their WHOLE angel. Once that connection is severed, the evil can come through.
And I don’t mean evil as “presented by the devil.” I mean evil as in when the goodness is gone because the wholeness is broken, and nothing is left to show in the world but all of the pain and all the confusion. The partially formed connection to self, formed in the brain through mostly-safe world interactions, goes far far off track and is not likely – as in my mother’s case – to ever return.
My betrayal, on the other hand, happened at the moment I was born. I was not tricked. I knew I was not welcome, wanted or safe from the very start of my life in this world. I never developed a connection between my self and my soul that was forged under mostly-safe conditions. I could not, therefore, break in the same way as did my mother. And I didn’t.