I know this piece is long, but please take your time to read at least part of it, writing this changed my perspective on life, I can only hope reading this will do the same for you.
Strangers are supposed to be the bad guys, and in all honesty, up until two years ago he was a stranger. I never knew the true him, he was just a man hiding behind the title of “father.” At that time however, I thought I knew him. I thought I could trust him. I had shut my memories out, of the abuse, of the anger, of his tantrums, of the holes in the wall. I don’t really understand how memories that strong can be locked away until you’re ready to accept them, but i suppose it happens. I was young, around 11, but I knew not to talk to strangers and especially not to take things from strangers, but he was my father, why should he ever classify as a stranger? I trusted him. I wanted to trust him, to believe he could never err, to believe he would never hurt me.
With that mindset i went on trusting. Most children know taking alcohol is bad, but what if your parent gives it to you? They love you, why would they give you something that would hurt you, why would they hurt you? Even today I cannot answer this, I will never understand why my father would want to hurt me. When he went to the store and bought me two bottles of wine, two big bottles of wine, as an 11-year-old I thought he was being a cool parent. As he gave me a few shots of peppermint schnapps I thought I was so lucky. When I drank both bottles— although I don’t remember most of this— I couldn’t tell you who he was. I broke my brand new watch that night, trying to walk. He sat there and played Monopoly, I went around the house in a drunken stupor not even remembering my own name. My sister took me to bed and gave me a bowl to throw up in. My sister lifted my head over the bowl when I was affixiating on my vomit and then later lifted my face out of the bowl of vomit I was trapped in. It was my sister who brought me ginger ale, not my father, not the man I had trusted. I lost a piece of me that night. I lost my 65 pound, eleven year old, innocence under the weight of his heavy hand.
I remember now, all the abuse, mental and physical. Once, he forgot me at a birthday party, I walked home. Once, he convinced me that my mother didn’t love me, that the divorce was her fault, that she was trying to hurt him. Once, he had me testify against my mother, she didn’t retaliate. He has told me, and had me believe so many lies. I will never forgive him.
It’s been years since I’ve talked to him. We were going to my grandmother’s funeral and he was supposed to pick my brother and I up. My sister called me and told me he wasn’t coming and asked her to (although she had finals the next day). I told her no. He later told me it was my mother’s fault he didn’t come, that she told my sister she was not allowed to. This led to the biggest fight of my life, an 11-year-old against a grown man and his new wife, poignant words thrown against one another with the intention to hurt them, to break them.
Even now, even though he’s been out of my life for nearly three years, he hurts me. He messes things up. When I began to recall the abuse, when I remembered the lies I felt the effect. Two years ago A friend of mine and my best friend since third grade were with me at a lake house. The best friend lived with an abusive father, oh how I could relate. My primary focus was getting her out of that house, getting her safe. The friend and I were talking about it and she told me there really wasn’t anything I could do. That statement, those words hurt me so much. That was something I expected to hear from the sperm donor, from the abuser. I was powerless to the heavy hands upon She and I hated hearing there was nothing I can do. My friend would never understand that. She had a close to perfect life and had never felt the hurt inflicted by someone who “loved” you. I couldn’t look at her without feeling that pain, that infuriating statement. I stopped talking to her and for two years she thought it was because I was mad at her for looking through my phone— although that is a pet peeve of mine. I lost a friend because of his heavy hand still upon me.
I don’t like people touching me, even now. For people I care about, a boyfriend for example, a grit my teeth and smile. Sometimes it isn’t so bad, but sometimes, I want to scream. In school one day he reached out for my hand and I jumped back. I had recently had my father mentioned and he was on my mind. Every time my boyfriend, a guy I’d known since third grade, a guy I know would NEVER hurt me, came toward me I jumped backwards. I could see the hurt in his eyes, the sadness, I wanted to reach out to him, but I couldn’t. I hated seeing the pain he felt when he realized I was afraid of him in that moment, that I didn’t want him anywhere near me. I hate my father (or as I prefer to call him “The Sperm Donor”) for that. I can deal with every one else being upset that I don’t want to be near them, but not this person that means everything to me, not him. I lost hours spent crying and the will too believe “love conquers all” because of his heavy hand still upon me.
I wake up frequently in tears, fidgeting under the covers or sitting upright curled against the wall with my hands over me. I feel afraid and I can’t remember why. I remember his face, occasionally a piece of the dream, but never the dream itself. I feel the fear, the pain, the tears, and mostly the helplessness. I feel vulnerable. The feeling remains throughout the day, the fearful anticipation of the dream coming back, of the dream being reality. I lay awake sometimes, afraid to fall asleep, afraid of my own subconscious. I lost sleep and security because of his heavy hand upon me.
I told my old friend the real reason yesterday. I apologized to her for taking so long. I don’t know if she and I will ever be friends again, but I feel as if the hand lifted a little. I spent the day with my boyfriend yesterday. We went to a kids movie, and I held his hand the entire time. I feel as if the hand isn’t so heavy anymore. This morning, I lay in bed until noon and dared the dream to challenge me. I feel as if I’ve knocked his hand aside. The hand, the heavy hand upon me, I know it will always be there, lurking, waiting to push me down, to throw me down against his weight, but I found myself. I made that scared little girl who couldn’t fight back, fight. I made that broken picture a new frame. I made my broken faith and hope a crutch, and I will never give that up.