Warning: This will be my most honest and revealing post I have written.
We all have defense mechanisms. When we feel hurt or pain, we naturally find ways to escape the harm that is being done to us. Today’s writing challenge asks us to reveal our “Oasis”, our place we run to when we need to get away or regain our sanity. But, in order to do that, I will have to reveal some intimate details about myself and what I have personally been through. So, I apologize beforehand.
A child should have no worries. There are no bills to pay. No worry about keeping or maintaining a job. A child’s “job” is to grow up. To learn and experience the world and adapt to it. The day should be spent playing with new friends and learning about his/her place in this big world. But, peace and fun were the last things on this 9 year old’s mind. He lived a solitary life stuck in his room…waiting for the yelling to stop. He hid under the covers with the pillow over his head trying to shield his ears with the constant cussing and banging he heard from various rooms within his house. But he wasn’t alone, his sister was next door down the hall…experiencing the same fear he had. He looked up as his digital clock that layed on his desk a few feet away….7:45. He could just go to sleep and disappear to a different world. A dream world where there was no fear. A place where he could walk freely and not be confined to his small room littered with posters of cartoon characters. He wanted to reach out to his sister down the hall but his fear was that the yelling would stop and turn towards his direction. Unfortunately, he would be the focus of this anger. An anger that left him crying with bruises from various forms of attack. One day it was a shoe, another day just plain punches to his stomach. He felt sorry for himself. He was too young to understand what was going on. He had no one to turn to. He decided to try to sleep. But, this caused a different fear and pain, a different worry. The next morning, he was to be dropped off at a babysitter. He hated going to this babysitter. He would sit there and watch television. But, what scared him most was going to the bathroom. Because, the babysitter refused to let him go to the bathroom alone. She would follow him and lock the door. He blocked out what happened to him behind that closed door. So, he decided he would never use the bathroom at that house. When he arrived back home, he would rush to the bathroom. His mother would ask, “Every day, you run to the bathroom right when we get home? Why don’t you just use the bathroom at the babysitter’s home?”
He couldn’t tell her. He was afraid to. And he didn’t want to put another problem onto the pile of problems his mother was dealing with. She had her own fear, and she dealt with it every day. She did not have the solitary room to hide in. She had to experience the verbal and physical abuse on her own. She would never believe him.
One day, the man who caused this pain to his family brought him to a store. And bought him a video game console. This was the man’s way of apologizing….with material gifts. The boy took the console and smiled a fake smile.
He rushed home to play it. And his world changed. He found his escape. He drowned out the yelling and cursing with sounds of Mario and Luigi throwing fireballs at hapless Koopa Troopas. He had no “scary bathrooms” in this world. His sister would escape her room and sit with him to watch him play. It was peace. 16-Bit Peace. That world followed this young boy all through his life. It was there for him in junior high. If his father was not satisfied with his performance during his basketball games, the boy would return to his room after a couple new bruises to escape into his video game filled world. In high school, the bruises were less because the boy had grown to a young man who was willing to fight back…and not afraid to call the police to try and stop the man who was hurting his family. And he understood why he would have random panic attacks in bathrooms. He now had the courage to tell his mother.
And even into his thirties, this virtual world remained constant in his life. If he had a rough day at work, it all disappeared with a press of a button. His wife understood why he played video games so much. She knew his past….and what he had gone through. And she accepted him.
That young boy was me, of course. That is my “oasis.” Video games. It helped me escape the troubles I was going through. And it continues to stay with me today. I apologize if any of this was disturbing. But, in order to understand me as a writer, I had to explain it. If you have read this, thank you.