We were two or three roundabouts from home after school, driving through the fancier part of the neighbourhood where the backyards met an unimaginative man-made canal system. Where I imagined that this sort of combat wasn't an every day expectancy. She slapped my leg hard with her left hand, harder than usual. Even with the welting imprint burning up my thigh, I watched her. There were no secrets to discover from the way the muscles in her face sat to suggest that she wanted to communicate more than this fire. She had no intentions of watching me in return.
I have forgiven, over and over. I appreciate the grieving that I went through for a relationship that I didn't feel that I had. I'm realising now, at thirty four, that mothering has a mythology of it's own and just because our story deviated from this, it doesn't mean that we have failed to exist.
Every now and again I will accidentally excavate some experience that causes pain; the time Dad chased mum around the backyard with a rake and my friends and I watched, giggling from the back toy room because we didn't understand. Or my first period, which I kept to myself for months. I stole my first bra from an old stash of my sisters that I'd found in the spare room. I noticed one day from my reflection in motion, half way through a team dance rehearsal, that my breasts were budding. I mourned then. I knew that I didn't want to share whatever this was and it was in isolation that I both blossomed and withered.
I will share my joy with who I chose, and how. My door is open to love, but armoured by a lifetime of attack and defense.