Nightmares of an old life


There are days when the flashbacks still haunt me. My adrenaline kicks and my hair stand on end. I started this post thinking that I would share the things that haunt me. I started typing about how I got the scar on my ankle, or how my vest got that hole in it’s side.

Or the four shots, the screams and breaking glass. That time that I had to draw my knife fully intending to end the attacker’s life. Funny how I never dream of these things. I’m not even bothered by the scar the machete left on my middle finger any more.

I started this post thinking that the times that I fought were the ones that scarred my heart and mind.

It might be the times that least bothers me. I just realized that the times that hurt me most are the times that I could not tell anyone in a way that they would understand. The things that hurt me most seem to be the ordinary things. How can one tell someone else about the time father got angry? They would probably say “but that happens to everyone”. “Why is that so bad?”

Most would never understand.

How could they? First time I remembered my father getting angry, I was one year old. He hit my mother while she held me in her arms. (For those who know me personally, maybe now you’ll understand why I am so aggressively protective when I’m with a loved one). So every time my father gets angry, deep down I’m winding up to hit back hard.

Or my mother, who so desperately clings to control that she ended up controlling me like a puppet, her strings cutting into my emotional limbs. I know she doesn’t mean to. I know she loves me dearly. I can’t deny the damage it does though.

M, maybe now you’ll understand why I wore my gun to church. You were the most important person in my world, and I would die before the dark road home could hurt you.

Some may understand the scars when that same person told me that “my trou maatjie” [loosely translated to English, “my marriage partner”] was somewhere out there, and that she’s sure I’ll find her. Eight years I loved her, even when they moved to another country with no hope of her return. She did return, only then told me that.

Scars of my past. Recently I finally found my way.

I read so many books warning me to only rely on myself to heal. They were all right, we can only reverse our personal baggage by ourselves. The thing is, after I did, I still had so much pain. I still live in that house, enduring barrages of extremes, still enduring the odd skirmish which ends up with me in the street wearing only sandals, armor and a boxer, trying to explain to a policeman what happened. I still don’t sleep well there. (Is it any wonder?)

“What changed?” You might ask.

My Nightingale… A Million feelings, a thousand thoughts, a hundred memories, all for one person. In September last year I finally found a place to feel at home. I helped her move, and at three in the morning we finished unpacking and went to bed.

I haven’t slept that well in years.

The next morning, waking up to her brown eyes looking at me. We all need rest from time to time. Finally I found a place where I can be at home. I never expected her to fix me, yet her love made all the difference. With her I feel safe. She even understands why I carry my weapons. Its made all the difference, because now I feel that I can face everything. The melancholy that I used to know only a memory now.

The moral of the story? I’m not entirely sure. You see, sometimes things make all the difference with no reason why. Sometimes I had to invent metaphors to help people understand the things I’ve been through. Maybe the moral is that if something affects you, it cannot be considered as “small” or insignificant.

Maybe it is about God who has a plan for us all.

I hope that you, dear reader, finds your own meaning to the story of my life. How even the terrible can end up being funny, how the small can hurt and how distance could not change a dream. How one choice affected four lives, and how God used love to fix it all.

Yours sincerely


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