Victory in balance: A mothers Wisdom part 2
I looked at my mother in disbelief. How could she have created these rooms in my mind?
“You are both strong and playful, but you never let others see the real you. That is why they exist,” she said, looking over at the copies of me. “Every misdeed or line crossed, you retreat here. They escort you back once you have dealt with or locked away the dark side. As long as those things that frighten you about yourself remain hidden, you can be the good, selfless servant you think you must be. Keeping this locked away behind the big Red doors is the only way. Do you understand?”
Styx lifted my chin, forcing me to look at her. Anger brewed behind my tear-filled eyes. “How? How could you do this to me? They think I’m damaged. They think I’m a joke. They laugh at me and make fun of me!” I shouted, pushing her away from me. “You made me a freak. I’m fractured. They don’t think I’m useful…they say so many cruel things. They…”
“Nike, sweetheart, I never meant for any of this to hurt you. I did this to protect you.”
“But I’m not my true self. My anger is tempered all because of my blind rage to see victory’s won? Is that what I am? Now, I see why they think I’m just a personification, a representation, of victory.”
“No, Nike, you are at your core the heart of—” she said, stepping toward me again.
“No! You can’t… don’t touch me.” I moved further away from her.
“Nike, I’m still your mother.”
“No, you left me. You gave me away. You gave me away. They all just wanted a piece of me. You and Father always said that. They wanted a piece of me to better them.” My anxiety was rising as I paced in front of the wall.
Styx approached me again. “You are not a freak or fractured. We all wanted you to be the best that you could be.”
I turned on her with flames dancing in my eyes. “You did this. They hate me.” My chest began to tighten as I panted out my rage. “You lied to me. You said I would be alright. You promised! Do you know what I did? Do you know how bad it was? I killed them!” I screamed as a tear that burned like lava ran down my face. “Not just one, not just thirty, I killed them all. I remembered how I’d wiped out an entire village because he’d ordered me to. Warrior and Mini stood up and joined Styx.
“Nike, this is a bad memory,” Mother said with a puzzled look.
“No kidding. I know what this is,” I said angrily.
“Mother, why isn’t that memory locked in the room with the others?” Mini asked.
“I don’t know,” Mother said, watching me intently. “Nike, dearest, why won’t you let go of this?”
“Because I took something I should have never taken.” I pulled a small bead from a pouch on my belt. “This is why.” I held the bead out to them. “This was in the little girl’s hand. She was the last I killed to bring victory to Zeus. She was only a child,” I murmured. I crumpled to the ground, dropping the bead as tears fell from my eyes. “Mother, help me, please. I can’t hold this any longer.” Styx ran to me and wrapped her arms around me. “All I ever wanted was to be a good goddess, to be seen as helpful and benevolent,” I sobbed, “but I’m not. I followed his orders, just like you and father Pallas taught me. I’m sorry I’m so weak. I have tried to—”
“Oh, my sweet child. You’ve carried this for far too long.”
“I have to. I can’t forget. I don’t deserve anything. I only want them to see the good and that some of us are doing right by the mortals. No games, no tricks.” I buried my face against her chest as I continued to sob.
“No, Nike, it’s time you were rid of these false walls.” She kissed the top of my head. “I taught you to hide all of this. Hide anything that frightened you and caused you to feel out of control. Those red doors helped you keep control. You put anything that made you uncomfortable or reminded you of something painful behind these doors. But 17,000 years is far too long to carry this guilt, my empathic little victory.”
“Yes, my sweet, that is what connects you to each victory you give to someone.
You have kept so much bottled up behind these doors. Fear of being out of control has kept you from living.
I didn’t want to believe the truth of what my mother was speaking. “I can’t. You and Father said they would take advantage of me and use me for their personal gain.” My brow began to sweat, and my heart raced.
“Nike,” Styx cupped my face in her hands, “from the time you were brought forth in this world, you have not made many choices for yourself. Everyone, including Pallas, tried to shape you into what we wanted. Every time you tried to deviate from the path set before you, something traumatic happened, and we told you that you must never lose control. Stay the course.”
I nodded and tried to catch my breath.
“You were so afraid of tarnishing your wings, of going dark.” She stroked my wings. “You have seen too many of the deities fall from grace, failing time and time again. They pit themselves against each other, feuding and divided. You lived in constant fear of being tossed from the mountain, and so you did everything to be the perfect daughter and example of what a goddess should be.”
As I sat there listening to her, I began to sob again. “But that’s what made me a freak.”
“We aren’t a freak!” Mini shouted. I looked at her as she knelt next to me. “We care about them. We know that they struggle to find a victory every day. You feel it deep in here.” She held my hand to her heart. “You look past the mask they wear and see the desired victory. In this, we are like the mortals. We make mistakes, and we atone for them.”
I pushed away from them, trying to make sense of what they were telling me.
“Nike, all of the gods have dark sides. You’ve seen it. Some live their truths while others play at trial and error. You are no different than they are,” Styx said.
“But I’m supposed to be,” I said as I brought my hands up to push my hair back.
“That is a standard set by who knows who, and it is not one that can be lived up to,” Styx counseled, brushing my hair back with a gentle hand.
“You seek approval when you need none. We are strong,” Warrior said, putting her hand on my shoulder.
“We are playful, too, childlike, but we understand how the world works. We don’t like some things because of our past traumas,” Mini said.
“And when you have too much stress, you come here, and we try to help you work it out. Why do you think you came here this time?” Warrior asked.
“I came here because of the little girl.
“Are you sure?” Mini asked.
I tipped my head, thinking about it. “No? It was Jacob that caused me to doubt, to worry that my darkness would come back.”
“Yes. The little girl was part of it as you weren’t being honest with yourself. But Jacob was the real reason you came here tonight.”
“That’s it, the glass room. I feel guilty that in that place, I couldn’t save Jacob. It was my fault he was killed by his brothers.” New tears ran down my face.
Styx stood up and offered me her hand. “You can not hide the darkness within you. You will need to use it someday. All of these memories are fragments you wanted to forget, but as a goddess, you can never really forget. Every day you keep these doors locked and do not deal with them is another day someone can use them against you. You are my eldest child, and I—”
“Wait, what? I’m not the eldest.” Styx inhaled deeply and scrunched up her face. “Mother, what are you saying?”
“Nike, you are my eldest. My firstborn.”.
I gasped and asked, “But how ? Kratos is eldest.”
“No, my sweet, you are. When it was apparent that you and the others would be called on to aid Zeus in his quest to defeat his father, I decided that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. It was to protect you, my blessed child.”
“What are you saying? My whole life, I thought—”
“Have you ever wondered why they call us little one?” Warrior asked.
“I thought it was because I was the youngest,” I said.
“No, silly, it’s because we are the shortest.” Mini giggled.
“What?” I was puzzled.
“Yes, Nike, I’m afraid it’s true,” Styx said as she pulled me to my feet.
I was stunned and just stood there looking at them. “All this time?”
“They often follow your lead when it comes to a fight. Haven’t you noticed?”
“I just thought it was because I knew how to win.”
Warrior shook her head and smiled at me.
“When Ares found out about your rages, he called them your blackouts. Your eyes go black when you lose control,” Styx explained.
“Wait, Ares knows?” I asked.
Styx nodded and clasped my hands. “He learned of it during the great war. The explosions sent you into blind fever rages unlike any he had seen before. He developed a keyword to help you and has used it often over the years.”
“Home. He shouts it at me, and I know I need to leave. But how?”
Styx shrugged. “I am not sure how, but it keeps you safe, so I am forever in his debt. Fear is your weakness, as is Victory’s Fury.”
“That is why they call me Daughter of Ares,” I whispered.
“Yes,” Styx said, her gaze holding mine.
“But, how is it that I don’t remember any of this when I wake up?”
“You repress the stressful or painful memories like Jacob’s death and finding out that other life was nothing but a dream.
“It was the most realistic dream I’ve ever had.”
“We kept the worst memories locked away behind the big red doors for safekeeping.”
“The never-ever-open doors,” Mini said, doing air quotations.
“When something traumatic or upsetting happens, you don’t know how to process. So, you retreat here where you have help.”
“You’ll see when you wake up soon.”
“This is a lot to process.”
“Yes, my sweet, it is, and you will want someone to talk to.”
Mother stepped closer, holding out her arms, and the three of us came in for an embrace.
“You are such a blessing to me, Nike,” she whispered in my ear. “I never intended for you to feel like a freak, as you put it. I wanted you to be safe and unaffected by the things that could hurt you. You are far too trusting. Your kindness and support of others are genuine. I hope this time we helped you to understand yourself better.”
“I know, Mother. I understand more, I think.”
“You will. I promise.”
I hugged her tighter.
“It’s time you went back now, my sweet,” Styx said.
“Must I? I miss you so much.”
Styx pulled away from our embrace. “When you need me, stand in flowing water, and I will come. Gather your siblings and place your rings in the water, and I will be there. And, Nike, leave things as they are with your siblings. Nothing needs to change except you now know the truth,” she said as she led us to the other door. Mini and warrior approached me.
“Bye, Nike. I hope we don’t see you for a long time.” Warrior punched me gently on the shoulder before pulling me into an embrace. “We’re gonna be okay,” she said as she let me go.
“Yeah, I’ll miss our talks,” Mini said, wrapping her arms around my waist.” I love you so much. You’re my favorite.” She winked up at me.
“I heard that,” Warrior said.
We all giggled together.
“Nike, it’s time,” Mother said, extending her hand for me to go.
“But, I need more time. I have so many questions.”
“Nike, wake up,” I heard a voice calling me.
“Bye, big one. Take care. We are with you always.” Mini waved.
“See you in the mirror, Nike,” Warrior said as she took Mini by the hand, and they became one and faded.
“Wait, don’t go.”
“Nike? Nike, it’s time you woke up.” I heard my sister’s voice in my head.
“Huh?” I tossed around a bit.
“Wake up, sleepyhead. You plan to sleep all day?” Bia encouraged.
I stirred, my eyes opening to a midday sky and my sister sitting on the end of my bed. I looked around, noticing I was back in my room. “What the?”
“You’re alright now, Nike. You were dreaming.”
“I was…” I mumbled, “Mother was there and two different versions of me and—”
“Mom! You’re awake.” The door to my room burst open. Teddy ran in and jumped on the bed.
“Slow down there, kiddo!” Zelus shouted as he came in after him, followed by Kratos.
“Welcome back among the living, little one,” Kratos said.
I scrunched up my face when he said that. I rubbed my eyes to push the sleep from them.
“What is it, Ni?” Zelus asked.
“I just had the oddest dream.”
“Glad to see you are awake now, Nike,” Bia said.
“How long have I been asleep?”
“What? It felt a lot longer than that,” I said groggily.
“We knew you needed to rest, so we gave you some of the Aunts’ tea.
I remembered something. “Help,” I murmured.
“What’s that, sweetheart?”
“Nothing, just something I heard in my dream.”
“Mom?” Teddy crawled up closer to me. “Are you alright now?”
“I think so. I feel relieved.”
“That’s good cause I need to tell you something,”
“What’s that, sweets?”
He reached over me and took a note from my nightstand. “She left this for you.”
“Mother, Nike,” Kratos Answered
“Lady Hera,” Kratos said.
“Wait.” I rushed to open the note.
Nike, when you wake up, I expect you in my office. We need to talk. Mom
“What’s it say, Ni?” Zelus asked
“She wants me in her office when I wake up. What happened while I was asleep?”
“You were tossing and turning. That’s why I was here with you. I kept trying to wake you, but I couldn’t reach you,” Bia explained.
“Yeah, Ni, you called out for Apollo then Athena. You even said Mother’s name,” Zelus said.
“You haven’t called out Styx’s name since you were much younger. We were concerned for you,” Kratos added.
“Why was Mom here?”
“She had heard that some of the deities that attended the party were having a hard time adjusting. And knowing you as she does, she knew to come and check on you.”
I glanced at Teddy, then back at Kratos. “Does she know about…”
“She does now. I kinda met her in the elevator,” Teddy said quietly.
My eyes widened. “Tell me what happened.”