I sat in her office playing with the tiny doll figures.
She asked me who was who. Was that the daddy? Yes, that’s the daddy. Is this one the mother? Yes, that’s the mother.
She wanted to know what I was doing. What were they doing? Was I there.
I was there. I was watching the mommy and daddy fighting.
Saying bad words.
I made the daddy hit the mommy.
Mommy started crying. I didn’t know why. Daddy left the house and mommy was laying on the bed crying.
Mommy doll told the “me doll” that everything was fine. She said to go play with my Barbies and close the door.
The mommy doll cried hard.
The therapist, that’s what she was but I didn’t know at the time because I was only six, looked concerned. Her brow furrowed as she watched me play. Something was wrong, but I didn’t know why she was acting that way. I was just telling her about my house and how my parents acted. My mom brought me to her office after the police came. My dad was taken away in handcuffs. I didn’t know what was happening. I would never see him again. I think he’s dead, actually, but I don’t know. My uncle told me something like that once.
The therapist told me that it wasn’t my fault and that sometimes adults say things because they are angry. She said I didn’t do anything wrong and it’s okay if I didn’t understand. I remember ignoring her. I just wanted to play with the dollhouse.
It would be years later before I’d hear the initials PTSD and understand that’s what I had. I’m still scared of doors slamming. I’m still frightened of beer bottles. What if someone throws one and I accidentally cut my foot. That happened one time when I was five. I’m still frightened of so many things and it takes me a while to realize why.
I’ll always remember that dollhouse. It was the first place that I felt safe and I didn’t even know why.