What if I told you?

What if I told you?

What if you knew?

Would it change anything?

Does it make me the sick one for defending him?

What if I told you he was severely abused beginning at the age of four? That his father was a brilliant engineer. A sadistic prick. A tortured, evil man that took his vile confusion out on his son?

What if you knew?

What if I told you that he ran away when he was eight to escape the abuse? That he made it four hours into his imagined new life. Hitchhiked all of the way to Boston. Alone and frightened in a strange city, but feeling somewhat safer? Trying to start over at eight years old. When he was found and returned home he was beaten so severely  he stuttered telling me the story. Remembrance of a nightmare rarely revisited.

What if I told you that he is a war Veteran? Vietnam at age 18. Horrific images of murder and patriotism entangled in his already confused, leaking mind? Knowing he had to take lives a prerequisite for the job.

Did he care?

What if you knew he killed an innocent man while there? Stomped him to death with his combat boots and was dishonorably discharged.

Leavenworth.

What if I told you that when he shared the story with me he showed no remorse? Asked me who anyone was to try to define innocent? Asked me if all the lives lost in that war were not innocent? And that made sense to me somehow. It did. Manipulation or clarity?

Legacy.

Lies.

Would it matter?

Does me making excuses for him make me as sick as him? Or does it mean I’m better for being able to see the gray? Is it justification or is it conditioning? Is it empathy or is it fear? Is he a sociopath or is he broken?

What if I told you he called my high school one day and had me dismissed early and unexpectedly from class? Told the principal there was a family emergency and he had to pick me up.

What if  you knew it was so that he could surprise me by taking me on an unexpected road trip to see Pink Floyd? Just a dad and his daughter, catching the division Bell tour. Nothing less and nothing more.

Wish you were here.

Know you shouldn’t be. Don’t want you to be. You make me sick. I see too much of you in me.

That makes you proud.

When will I ever know if I was born to be victimized and trained to make excuses for the man who gave me life or if I am a decent person, seeking out the patterns that can never  justify or explain the pain?

10 thoughts on “What if I told you?

  1. It makes you wise to recognize the cycle, through a lens of compassion you see the soul – the child victim and not just the perpetrator, the human being as well as the monster. There are evil people, but I think most people who do awful things want to be good and try to be good but are overtaken by cycles of ancestry, culture and circumstance. Very few people are ALL bad, although I think some do exist. It’s okay to love and honor those parts of him that were kind while still holding accountable the depraved parts. I had a hard time recognizing how anything good ever came from my father. He raped my sister, molested me as an infant and beat every woman he ever “loved”. But my half brother (not his son) absolutely adored him and received a love and acceptance from my father that my mother never gave him. So, I realized there must be some goodness and kindness in him. He wanted to be a good person, he was just too damaged to do so.

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  2. I gotta say this is triggering me in profound ways. Not in the body memory anxiety I once wrestled through, but it made me think about how I’ve shut down my own voice. I shut it down so wholly and completely that I also developed a mild stutter. Around that time I also stopped singing. I stopped acting. I stopped everything really. Everything halted and I froze. Now that I’m somewhat pieced back together with threads of courage inspired by women like you, I have got to find a way to find that voice again.

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    1. I think you are one of the bravest women I have ever met. I’m so grateful you are my friend and continue to support me. I’m sorry this was triggering but I do know you have one of the boldest and most beautiful voices I have ever heard. I’m glad we can take this on together!

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  3. Triggers are a reminder that I still have work to do. No apologies necessary. 😉 and thank you for the kind words. We need community like this.

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  4. As a child I feared ” him”. With every thought I cursed him. At six I decided to kill him. Yes when the kids in my neighborhood were learning to ride a bike as their dads held on to keep their child safe, I was earning with the desire to end ” his” life, my fathers life. To rid him from our lives . Never to be afraid, hurt and humiliated again.
    Self preservation , I learned it was ” kill or be killed”!
    He didn’t die, not even close. Not for lack of trying on my part.
    I took my younger brothers hand as we climbed the stairs with matches and newspapers already crumpled, so as not to wake the sleeping giant . Under the bed I crawled . My brother then four whispering , ” sissy” what are you doing”?
    I put my finger to my lip and smiled. Lit the papers as I held back the tears. Oh not for ” him” no, for my burned fingers.
    Now out on the porch my brother on his hobby horse and me sitting on the top step . Sitting and waiting for our fears, pain and hell to burn away .
    At six I had not realized fire comes out open windows.
    As I heard “him” scream , I knew it was not over and we would never be safe.
    The sound of the trucks and the bright lights have way for another type of scream . My brother’s shriek of excitement that day gave way of a future For my brother the piromanic .
    Guilt would haunt me for years to come .

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  5. I have read this a coupe of times and it strikes a major chord. I remember trying to protect my siblings. Guilt. Always. and shame that isn’t ours. I want to burn it away. I just want it all to go away.

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