As I said in the previous post, one of the central ironies of abuse is that the people who give us life are those who may give us death.
My father, as I described in the earlier post, was not a forgiving man. I describe the moments after my father came home, and my mother told him of my arrest for a juvenile misdemeanor.
Down the Deadly Stair
I sat in my bedroom, in a state of what I know now was dissociation , and prayed to die.
My father’s voice, a booming baritone, summoned me by first, middle, and last name, followed by “Get your ass down here!”
There were thirteen steps. I remember that distinctly. Not twelve. Not fourteen. Thirteen. As if all old superstitions about the number had become, suddenly, validated.
On the eleventh step down, my father took me by one upper arm and my throat and pivoted. As if I weighed nothing, which, by the way, was not true. While tall, I still weighed over 130 pounds (58 kg). One-handed, my father held me off the floor, against the wall, with his palm at the base of my throat and his hand spanning my neck. The pressure of his hand, and the hand squeezing my right bicep, negated the pain of the wall light switch digging into my back.
I could not cry or scream, because I could not breathe. My toes kept trying to find the ground, and my father slammed me off and on the wall, for (he bellowed) trying to kick him. I went limp. My eyes poured tears, and my ears rang. He was screaming questions at me, but I couldn’t answer. He wouldn’t let me breathe.
I Deserve Death for His Dishonor
Over his shoulder, I saw my mother and sister sitting about ten feet away. Statue-still, they watched and listened, without moving a hair. My mother was glassy-eyed, possibly in shock. My late sister, however, was smiling.
My father dropped me at last. I collapsed sobbing, which enraged him even more. He yanked me up by the neck, and threw me into the coffee table and told me to sit down. I sat down on the coffee table, sobbing and crying, shaking, and wishing I could die before he killed me.
For hours, and to this day I can’t be certain even with my mother’s input, if it was two or three, my father informed me of what I was.
I was worthless. Pathetic. Sick. Disgusting. Criminal. I should be glad he didn’t kill me (I wasn’t). He would call and tell everyone I’d been arrested and make sure nobody ever talked to me again. He would call all the colleges and universities, to have them rescind my acceptance. He’d call the scholarship people and make sure I lost my scholarships (academic-based). He would throw my things out of the house in trash bags, and me with them, like the trash I was.
I deserved it because no one dishonored his name. I’d shamed him. I’d brought shame on the family. His honor demanded my extermination.
When he paused, presumably to breathe, my mother convinced my father that they should go out for pizza and beer. My parents and sister left.
I stayed where I fell. I am not sure to this day how I fell to the floor.
My father had a few last words for me.
“Don’t move,” he told me, “and never tell anyone. This never happened.”
I did not move until they returned from supper some four hours later. I moved when I was told I could.
I never told.
I never told because that was how it worked. Telling was bad. Telling meant more trouble. If I told the truth about my sister’s abuse of me, I was punished. The idea of telling on my father was beyond comprehension before that day. After, that blanket command This never happened sealed the vault of memory. Every bad thing, every moment of fear or pain or abuse, went into the vault and remained there. I had a pretty normal and okay childhood, really, no big deal. Everyone had a few bad times. That was the narrative.
That was my father’s authority over us. He could do anything, and so we were nothing.
Yet… Here I am. Telling.
I was busted for a petty, juvenile misdemeanor. My father nearly killed me in a fit of rage. I fled as soon as the option was open to me. I graduated with high honors and a four-year degree. I married a good man. I survived. And, after time and therapy and love from friends and other family, I’ve begun at last to thrive.
To learn more about filicide (the murder of children), read this overview.