Heightened puberty mixed with cabin fever induced by the jaws of a frigid winter weekend was a lethal mix. We found ourselves way over our heads, drowning in a tidal wave of meltdowns day after day, often twice in one day. I don’t recall the exact triggers for the dozens of outbursts Nick had. What is etched in my mind is that we were not going to win this battle.
Nick became a one-man wrecking crew, grabbing anything in his path; everything from candle holders, remotes, figurines, dishes, and chairs were thrown hard in his rage. During one meltdown, he clawed and gouged my cheek, drawing blood and rendering bruises. And just when we felt safe in the eye of the storm, he would come back with more vengeance; the back side of the hurricane was a potent force.
By the end of one very long weekend, Al and I had taken several hits each, and Hank got caught in the shrapnel during the crossfire. Our bloodied, stinging hands had taken the brunt of the assault. Our hands looked as though someone had forced them through a paper shredder. It was as if something was crawling inside his skin that was beyond unsettling for him. It was the fullest expression of frustration and rage at once. In the aftermath, Nick would cry and be remorseful, unable to tell us why, or what he wanted or needed. We were desperate for answers. I was shaking with exhaustion, my nerves were shot, and the fear of another episode seemed imminent. Al poured a couple of glasses of wine, and Hank joined us with a Mountain Dew. We managed to find some humor as we licked our wounds.
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