Secrets Under the Table

By , South Whitley, IN
There are some things your parents can’t protect you from. Some things they can’t prepare you for. Things that are unexpected; things that come out of nowhere. Sometimes, no matter how hard they try, your parents can’t guard you from everything. Your parents can’t guard you from themselves.
It happened a little while after my father got back from rehab. He had gone to Boston but decided to move back to Decatur, Indiana to be close to my sister and I. He would eventually go on to rehab in Decatur and then move back to Boston for good. But it was 2004 when he was able to live in Indiana for a while again. It was 2004 when I realized I had to grow up.
I was 10 years old, happy to be in the spectacular age of two-digit numbers. A carefree 4th grader, I was completely unprepared for what would happen that night. My dad is an alcoholic, so he had been in rehab in Boston for a while to cure him and prevent the seizures he had been having. The doctors apparently thought he was well enough to leave, but they didn’t know him like my mom does. One night in 2004 would forever change a simple 10-year-old’s entire life.
The doorbell rang. It was nighttime, but not so late that I had to go to bed. Confused as to who would show up so late, my mom went to answer the door. He was crying when she opened it. She instantly told my sister, who was 14 at the time and already had daddy issues, and I to leave the room. Being perceptive and experiencing similar situations already, my sister knew what was happening. As a smart girl who had lived through my father’s faults, she knew him well enough to figure out that people who are divorced generally don’t do something like that in their right mind. But he wasn’t in his right mind. He was drunk.
My sister immediately ran into our bedroom, but I didn’t know what was happening. I was only 10 years old, how was I supposed to know he had been drinking? So I snuck into the kitchen and hid under the table in the dark and listened. I didn’t know what to expect; why was he crying? But I didn’t have to wait long. He sobbed to my mom, begging her to take him back, alcohol staining his breath as he cried. She didn’t know what to do. She was furious that he would show up late and drunk in front of his young children, but the way he was crying was absolutely pitiful. She told him to leave and that she would not talk to him while he was like that. He continued to sob about how he lost the best thing in his life and how regrets missing half or my sister’s and most of my childhood and life in general. It took her a long time to get him to finally leave, but everything ends and after a while and she was able to get him out of the house. I’m not sure how long it was because I didn’t have a clock to watch. All I had were ears to listen. She had stayed strong while he was at the house and it was then that I realized she is a really strong woman. She looked out the door and watched him pull away and drive out of sight, probably still crying with drunken tears.
As soon he was gone, she broke into tears. What else could she do? Nothing. But I could. I became an adult at the age of ten. I crawled out from under the table and upon seeing me and the understanding look on my face, she cried harder. I knew she didn’t want me to hear all of that, but it wasn’t about me anymore. It was about her. So I went to go give her a hug. She apologized even though it wasn’t her fault. She had a bad habit of doing that. We sat there for a while. She was trying to comfort me, unaware at the time that I was the one comforting her. I didn’t quite know what had happened until later in my life, but I was smart enough to realize that she needed me.
As she got a hold of herself, we both realized something important that we had momentarily overlooked: my sister. My mom went in first to find her hiding alone in the closet, her usual hiding place when she was upset. I’m not quite sure what happened next, but I remember my mom was crying again when she left my bedroom. I tried next. I knew my sister needed someone but my mom could barely handle herself. It was up to me, so I crept into my room and into the closet. I can’t remember if that was one of the few times she actually accepted my company or pushed me away, but it was probably the latter. She pushed people away more than accepted their help. I went back out to my mom after realizing that my sister wanted to be alone and would most likely stay that way for a while.
My mom appreciated my comfort and I stayed up with her for a little while longer until she told me she was okay. I knew she wasn’t, but it was late and we both needed sleep. My mom was able to finally get my sister out of the closet and after a few minutes of them talking and my sister crying, my mom came into the living room and told me I needed to get to sleep. The light was off in my room when I got there and my sister was already pretending to be sleeping. So, my mom and I said goodnight after she tucked me in and I was alone with my thoughts. I didn’t cry. I had to be strong. So I made myself fall asleep, even though it took a while.
That night changed my life. Whether I knew it or not, my entire brain had flipped. I became strong, but weak on the inside. Smarter, but confused. I became an adult at the age of ten. But I also lost a part of myself. I lost a part of me that I still cannot find, and everyday I lose it a little more.





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