Date: early 2000s
A spiky lump closed off her throat. Hidden fingers clawed her insides. Noise reverberated mercilessly in her aching head.
Her fists clenched. Jaw tightened. Not again!
She rubbed her sore temples. Scrubbed her hands across her face.
What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she handle simple things, like her kids having loud fun? Or her husband organising, in his messy way, a bbq for their friends?
He often reminded her she only worked part-time, only had a small household to manage, and that each of their female friends had a much bigger workload than her and always hosted parties and social activities without a hassle.
So, why was it an issue for her? Why did she always feel so stressed so easily? Why did she crave time on her own? Especially when she never got any.
The sigh escaped her before she even knew it was building.
The kids heard her. Two little heads turned to her, both with identical expressions of concern.
“Mum, you okay?” Katy asked.
Mark reached for the box of tissues, in his just-in-case way.
Guilt caught her breath. “Yeah, beautifuls. I just need a break.”
They looked at each other—Heallen couldn’t decipher their expressions—and turned back to their noisy game.
She studied the too-small kitchen. Everything for the bbq she was responsible for looked ready. The kids were occupied. He was outside.
Maybe . . .
She untied her apron. “I’m going for a lie down for a few minutes,” she announced to no one in particular, and hurried to the hall.
In seconds, she was inside their bedroom, skirting His clutter on the floor as she walked to the far end of the room to her side of the bed. She sank onto the mattress. A coil pinched her butt. She shifted, slipped off her shoes, and pivoted onto the bed.
The noises of her family continued; the thin walls were no barrier to sound.
As her eyes closed and her breathing slowed, and merciful relief beckoned, the bedroom door opened.
“What are you doing? Are you sick?” It was Him. How she would love to hear concern in His voice, just once.
“No.” The word whispered out of her. “I’m not sick. I just need a few minutes to myself.”
“We do have a party starting soon.”
She hated His subtle version of sneering. “I’ve done everything I can for now.” She hated her default defensiveness even more.
“Great. Then you can go and get some more wine. We don’t have enough.”
Katy and Mark edged into the room. “Hey, Mum. Mind if we join you?” Her innocent tone fired up Heallen’s toxic guilt.
The spiky lump in her throat tightened more. The hidden fingers restarted their clawing. Her head ached in weighty thumping.
The Why-can’t-you-all-LEAVE-ME-ALONE! scream, conceived years ago but never birthed, built inside her chest. Again.
To boiling point.
From the darkness of her mind, she heard the voice of her Perfect-wife-and-mother conditioning bully her inner scream: How selfish are you to put yourself first when your husband and children need you!?
Automatic shame fuelled her toxic guilt.
Heallen ruthlessly crushed the scream.
Alone time would have to wait.
Read the next blog post to discover Heallen’s solution