The Purple Wall
written by: Destiny Eve Pifer
“I’m trying,” I whisper to myself as I cling to the bottle of Klonopin. Every day it’s the same pattern. I do what little cleaning I can before my back and my left foot begins to ache. Then once again I am left feeling helpless. I am forty-one going on forty-two and I can only work part-time. The only job I can hold down is one in which I am paid to care for my mother who has Parkinson’s disease. This isn’t exactly where I saw myself ending up. This wasn’t the plan I made after getting that college degree way back in 2002. Outside my bedroom door, my fifteen-year-old son is pounding his fist. “You’re not going to sleep, are you? You didn’t take that pill did you?” I look straight ahead at the purple wall in front of me and then slip one in my mouth. I don’t like to be like this. I don’t like to be depressed. I hate feeling anxious all the time. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a nightmare that haunts me like a ghost. My son is furious and feels like I am trying to escape being with him. If only he understood. Finally, he accepts that I will be laying down for a short nap and once I awake it will be homework time. I wish I could say that my life was a fairy tale growing up and that I became screwed up once I became an adult but that would be a lie. The truth is that I have suffered from mental health issues since I was five years old. It began when I was sexually assaulted by two neighborhood boys. Dragged into my own playhouse and raped. At that moment my innocence was lost and all I knew was fear. I knew I wasn’t like anyone else. I knew too much about sex and found myself experimenting with both boys and girls around my age. At the time I never thought much of it. Perhaps I was too young to understand or maybe I became good at blocking certain things out. Growing up I would become a master at locking those horrible memories behind closed doors. I had to avoid them in order to survive or at least that’s what I kept telling myself. It wasn’t until I was eleven years old and my mother caught me fooling around with another girl that I felt pure shame. I became a different person. No longer outgoing and interested in the future. Instead, I buried myself deep within a shell. During Junior High and High School, I watched as what little friends I had made growing up moved on to different cliques. I, however, was the outsider. The one the bullies targeted on a daily basis and the one who just couldn’t fit in. I came home to two parents who were always fighting. In my opinion, my parents should never have married each other, to begin with. I would retreat to the bar room in the basement and crank up the music as loud as I could. Music became my escape and it still is. With every horrible moment, I could feel my mind starting to break. At sixteen my parents finally divorced but my mother always searching for love found it in a messed-up alcoholic/drug addict who turned out to be a nightmare. Blinded by love my mother never saw the real him at least not at first. She didn’t hear the comments he made about wanting to take my virginity. She didn’t see him try to stick his hands down my pants. No, she was blinded by love. Even when he was beating her and cheating on her out in the open. She loved him and that obsessive kind of love would scar me for life. I spent my teenage years locked in my room with a chair wedged up against it because I was so terrified of being raped by my mother’s boyfriend. In a few years, I would eventually go down a dangerous path hoping for some sort of escape. After graduating high school I packed my bags and headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with no plan in my mind. Though I had signed up for the graphic design program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh I really didn’t know if I wanted to do that. All I knew was that I had to get as far away from home as possible.
When things in Pittsburgh didn’t work out I was right back in the prison I had escaped from. I took on two jobs and lived on very little sleep. Anything to keep from being home. Finally, I went to a local business school and graduated with a degree in business. After graduating from college my mother’s boyfriend who still made advances from time to time was arrested for trying to kill her. Watching him go off to prison was one happy day. However, my mother soon found herself battling breast cancer while also holding on to bitterness over losing her boyfriend. I found myself in over my head paying the rent, bills, and other expenses. So once again I found myself needing to escape. Whether it was jumping on a plane and heading to Las Vegas to meet up with a man I never met or allowing myself to be used by him. The pattern would continue with a few other men. I had fallen into this self-destructive pattern. My therapist suggested that I move out but it’s hard to move when you have no good-paying job and nowhere to go. Who would care for my brother? It wouldn’t be until years later after having my son that I finally moved out on my own. However, the scars from my relationship with his father would only make my past trauma worse. I’ll be honest when I say that I have told my son a little about his father and his abusive nature. However, there are secrets that I still have to hide. As I look at my purple wall with its tapestries and giant Tree of Life I am reminded of all that I have endured. But I am also reminded that the road ahead of me is a long one. I will never be able to erase the trauma of my past. Nor will I ever be able to make my anxiety and depression disappear. And though I may use that tiny blue pill at times to take a short nap in order to escape my reality I remain convinced that I have it under control. I wake up in the morning, fix my son’s breakfast, fight with him to take his ADHD meds, get him logged on to his cyber studies, and check every fifteen minutes to make sure he’s in class before I can finally get myself dressed, and medicated for the day. I do what I can whether it’s writing, art, a little bit of cleaning or just keeping my mind busy. Whatever the day brings I manage it. But then at the end of the day, there is always that purple wall. That reminder that I am fighting a battle with no end. But also a reminder that I am still fighting.
- The Purple Wall - March 25, 2023