by maria rumasuglia

My therapist told me I have post traumatic stress disorder

My uncle had that

He fought in the war

I guess I fought in my own kind

Not between countries

Between children and father 

Between husband and wife

Between addiction and sobriety

When my father got really mad and would fight with my mom

My sisters and I would all get together in one room

Huddle together like we were keeping each other warm in a snowstorm

Looking at one another

We didn't have to say anything

We were afraid saying it made it more real

Or maybe it just hurt too much to hear out loud

So we'd just hug each other and cry

We didn't really know what was happening

We just listened for the sounds to tell us

Like bombs going off in the distance we could hear the sounds of the war between my mother and my father

We didn't know what was hitting what

Fists hitting walls

Bodies hitting floors

We just kept hearing the bang

And then screaming

But we almost couldn't tell whose voice was who's

Just cries and screeches

Mostly it was all muffled together like it was coming out of one person

But it wasn't

It was dad hitting mom

It was mom crying

It was dad punching the bathroom door 

It was mom screaming

It was dad throwing chairs and plates and lamps

I'd hear this one big, loud thump and picture her being thrown against a wall or picked up and thrown on the floor like a rag doll

Was she hurt

Was she bleeding

Was she afraid too

Who was hugging her

She didn't have anyone to hug her

We'd wait for a sign that it was over

When suddenly silence fell above us

Or the front door slammed

When we knew it was safe to come out

When the enemy had left

We'd walk around the house

Looking for the aftermath

Like a tornado had just come through and we had to search the wreckage for dolls and pictures that might be salvageable

What had he broken

Check the doors for holes from his fists

The floor for broken glass

Can we talk about it

Or are we supposed to pretend we didn't hear it