The house that Rage built

Something has been weighing on my heart and mind since we moved into our house.  It's our neighbors, and how very sad their house is.  It's the sole detractor to my home, one that we got for a steal and have worked since to rehab and make our own.  Our home is big and open and filled with the stomping patter and ringing laughter of two insanely active boys and an aging but still sassy and bossy dog.  We get along very well with all our neighbors.  We wish there were more kids matching in age to our own, but we make it work.  Except for that one house, and the darkness it holds.

I've always felt houses hold a personality of what they have witnessed.  When we were searching for our own home for our growing family I would get a real feel for a house that factored as much into our decision as the location and floor plan.  From the first days we moved into our house the neighbors house has felt "off" to me.  It's a vibe I've never shaken. The neighbors were polite and friendly, if not outgoing towards us.  The house was dated, but maintained.  As we began our lives in our own home, we realized that family is not as it should be.  Both parents are so combative with each other.  The kids never seem happy.  They yell.  A lot.  The first sign of spring is when we open our windows to let in the fresh air and whisk out the stale winter air and we hear them yelling and screaming at each other.  It's so rare that they talk in normal tones.  The kids are quite a bit older than mine.  Their oldest daughter is quiet and reserved, sad.  She looks lost to me.  The youngest emulates her parents in the worst possible ways.  She yells and screams constantly, she's not particuarly nice to her peers.  They are always a little uncared for.  Their clothes dingy, their hair unwashed or combed.

The cops have been called, by multiple other neighbors I know.  I know at some point the wife pressed charges on the husband, as I heard him verbally abusing her about it in the most horrible possible ways, with the kids in the house.  I've heard her verbally abuse him.  I've heard them cuss each other out and scream painfully ugly insults at each other in their daughters' faces.  I've heard them scream insults at their girls.  Children services has been called and have investigated them.  It never yields a change.  They are always back where they started, nothing improved, nothing done.  Those kids are still there.  My heart literally aches for that family.  For that house.

The father is unstable at best, and truly someone who should not live with other people.  I just don't think he can handle it.  The mother is not much better, though I wonder who would be in those circumstances day after dark day, year after endless year.  I worry one will snap and the worst will happen one day.  Between fights all is quiet.  They mostly avoid each other so only one is home at a time more hours of the day than not.  The girls seem left to grow up on autopilot, their parents in and out with little thought of them. 

It's so routine we've developed ways to shield our kids without even realizing we do it anymore.  We don't want to tell our young sons they can't play with the girls.  We know they don't stand a chance with parents like that.  But they are not the nicest girls, and use terrible language, so we have to really limit it and watch it.  They know they are NEVER to enter that house.  But when all the neighborhood kids are in our yard playing I cannot, and will not, tell a young child they are not wanted.  Especially one my heart aches for.  Trouble is they're older than my kids, and already so like their parents.  I'm torn between pity for them, and protectivness for my own children.  If we're out front and they start, we move the boys to the backyard where it's muted.  At night if we're putting the kids to bed and they start we read extra books, keeping the house more noisy to drown it out until they are done.  So far my kids don't seem to pay much attention, but for how long?  It's not every day.  Most days we don't hear it, or it's a brief outburst and done.  We get absorbed with our own hectic schedule and the chaos of our family.  Our house is a happy one, and that is our focus.  But when they blow up, they blow up in a big way.

Every day I look over at that poor house.  I wonder what sadness it holds that we don't witness.  We only hear the worst of it, the loudest.  I have no illusions that's all of it.  I've never witnessed physical abuse, though I would not be surprised.  But emotional and verbal abuse is just as damaging, just as evil.  I have never witnessed a single act of affection between any of the family members.  What kind of life is that?  What kind of childhood?  I do not understand what keeps them together.  The parents clearly have nothing but contempt for one another, and make it clear all the time.  Who chooses to stay in that situation?  I cannot comprehend.  I would not stay, I don't care how financially difficult it may be.  It's not good for the kids.  It's not good for the adults.  But day after day that sad house stands there, holding the rage within its walls as best it can, trying to keep it from spilling out.  I feel like it's given up hope.  Given up trying to get attention and help.  Help has been called, but always failed.  The cops do not act.  Children Services does not act.  Most neighbors are fearful of calling either again as they don't want them to know who called, in fear of retaliation.  No one wants to invite that rage, that evil, into their home and threaten their family.  And I think they figure, "What's the point?"  The authorities have been alerted but did nothing.  The couple will not part ways.  It's never ending.

My family is not perfect.  My marriage has had rocky times, especially the first couple years after adding another little one that never slept.  We have fought.  We have yelled, though always regretted it later in calmer moments.  But at the core we love fiercely.  My husband and I make every effort to get out alone, to reboot our marriage and remember, away from the day to day stresses of life, that we really do like each other at heart.  Our kids are our world.  My kids challenge one moment, then shower us with love and kisses the next.  It's life.  It's family.  It's not always pretty, but it's strong.  The tough days are so few, the happy days so abundant.  My wish is that every family had that.  That every child was tucked into a clean, soft bed knowing they are safe, protected, and above all, loved.  They should all feel the loving touch of a parent that would die for them willingly.  They should dream in that free, carefree way only an innocent child yet unaware of the dangers of the world can do.

And every home should be a haven.  A place of protection.  A place of peace.  Passers by should look on it and smile.  Sadly, that house will never be that for them.  I know it would want to, that it could be if given the chance.  A life without hope is just the saddest existence.  I hope those girls find their way.  I hope someone can save them.  I hope they find a true home of their own wherever it may be.  Every child deserves it.  Ever. Child. Deserves. It.

For now I pray, and I hope.

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