If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?”, what would it be?
This is a very tough question. Certainly there are many questions about my childhood for which I would like an answer. Like, why did my parents hurt my sister with wood burners, barb-wire and baseball bats? Why did my dad rape her? Why did they choose to isolate my siblings and I while withholding any semblance of an education? Why did I have to watch helplessly as my family disintegrated into nothingness? Why did everyone stand back and watch for twenty years, not lifting a finger or uttering a word in objection until it was suddenly popular to do so and much too late to make a difference? Why did so much bad happen within one childhood?
I’d like an answer to these questions, no doubt about it. But I know there is not an answer, and even if there were I highly doubt it would ever be good enough to justify such actions. The truth is, there isn’t an answer, only endless questions.
I think the question for which I would like an answer would be two-fold. One being, how do continue to move past all of this? And then, how do I help others who share similar experiences?
On a daily basis I put forth quite a bit of effort to undo what my parents began. Be it trying to ditch old thought patterns that creep into my mind. Or the amount of time that I spend during my lunch breaks and evenings trying to solve math problems that any fifth grader could ace in the hopes of one day going to college. I know that small steps will eventually add up to something much larger, but sometimes it feels like I am walking on a treadmill, and never actually moving forward.
I guess some part of me wants to know if I will ever actually break through to the other side of this. Will there ever be a day in which I am not academically behind my peers? Will there come a point in time in which hospitals won’t remind me of the time my sister attempted suicide? Will I ever be able to visit the courthouse without feeling judged or freaking out upon having to ride the elevator with a jury pool? Will there ever come a day when I can carry on normal conversation without wondering at which point I will have to creatively circumvent my entire childhood so I can continue to be viewed as “normal” and “well-adjusted”? All the while never really allowing myself to get too close to anyone on account of the distance I have to maintain.
I really didn’t want to write to this prompt because I knew that these were the questions that really burn within me; and sometimes (most of the time) I get so fed up with everything boiling down to actions my parents took when I was a child. I want my life to be about me. Not them. Whenever I write about my past and how it affects me today, I feel dirty and self-indulgent. It all feels like a never-ending cycle that I want out of. But when it’s all said and done, this is my reality. And regardless of whether or not I like it, it’s where I’m at right now.
Peter Combs is a 28 year old husband, writer and former foster child. He currently lives with his wife, Renee, in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter is the author of the blog Home.