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  • Earle Levenstein

Knock, Knock. Who's There? Who Would You Like Me to Be?



My father was an emotional volcano and I was born with the blessing—or curse—of being able to read his mind.

I knew what he was going to do before he knew what he was going to do; sense his mood; see the sky darkening in the distance, flashes of lightning; hear the thunder rumbling; feel the wind picking up; see his heart pounding in his chest.

Then the shouting; threats; of the breaking of bones.

Never at me; only my brother; who stood his ground; defiant; never giving in; fists clenched; eyes overflowing with tears; hate; rage.

I could see it all coming; engine thundering down the track; looming over us; rocking from side to side; whistle shrieking; wheels showering sparks; smoke and I quickly move away; into survival mode; the calming voice of reason; my act; bobbing and weaving; doing my song and dance.

Never leaping in; objecting; shouting Stop! Stop! You're hurting my brother! I'm an impartial observer; a witness; just being whoever I needed to be; saying whatever I needed to say in order to survive.

Intervene? Me, intervene? Face my father? Call him a bully; a bad guy; a rat? Me? Never. I rationalized; that my brother shouldn't have behaved the way he did; that he provoked my father; wouldn't back down; apologize; just acknowledge that it was all his fault.

And so I survived.

Not a bruise; not a bump; not a mark anywhere.

My father never touched me. Ever.

Ahh! but as for my mind? What about my mind?

Pursued by demons. The hounds of hell.

Self-accusations galore; breast-beating; consumed by guilt. I could've; I should've; I might've. What if? If only I…

A lifetime of therapy; dealing with the eternal challenge of finding an acceptable balance; between the simple fact that I was a child living a nightmare and the forever guilt I experienced inherent in surviving.

So, where am I now?

Not beating my breast; howling to the winds.

Big on truth; of what was and what is; accepting who I am and who I was. Expectations; what I could and couldn't do.

Limitations. Reality.

Most importantly; always to be me; no performing. No bobbing and weaving. Just being.

Acceptance.

Always.

Well…mostly always.

Is what is, you know?


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