He said if I didn’t behave he would send me to the children’s home; I tried really hard to always be good and behave.
She taught me about God and took me to church; he said I didn’t need to go to church and refused to take me when we moved into the country.
He said I was stupid and would never amount to anything; I spent my life trying to prove he was wrong.
He said if I told anyone what he did, nobody would believe me and they would send me away; I kept quiet.
He told me to watch my siblings in their absence, but I wasn’t allowed to spank them; if I spanked them, he spanked me, with whatever was handy. In fury and frustration, I sometimes banged their heads into a door or wall. My anger scared me.
He made me burn my Writer’s Digest magazines and anything else related to writing as a punishment and hid my mail to keep me from entering writing contests; I still dreamed of becoming a writer.
He forced me to service him on the way home from the prom; I lost the best memories of an important part of my youth.
He said I was fat (I wasn’t yet) and forced me to run a mile every day; I learned to hate exercise.
He so totally controlled my life, that I did the one thing he couldn’t control — I stuffed my feelings down with food.
He made sure I wouldn’t be able to realize my dream of college; I quit dreaming of being a journalist and writer.
My graduation gift was a month in California with relatives. I felt safe and finally told what he did when I got worried I was pregnant. They promised it wouldn’t be repeated; they lied. When it got back to her, I laid in my bed listening to the fight, fearing I would be yanked out of bed any moment and told to leave.
He promised her twice he would never touch me again; he lied twice.
He twisted that emotional knife every chance he got, even when I was no longer living at home.
He made my life a living hell in so many ways for so many years.
And then he died; I lost any chance I had of getting the courage to face him.
After the funeral, I asked if she blamed me for what happened; she said she didn’t, then betrayed herself by saying “I just didn’t see how either of you could do that to me.” Those words hurt more than she ever knew.
Thirty-two years later, I still carry the emotional and physical scars; they will go to the grave with me. Yet I felt guilty for admitting during a spiritual retreat that I hoped he burned in hell.
* ~ * ~ * ~
She remarried to a man who treated her the way she deserved, with love and respect.
She was widowed a second time; we became close in the following years.
Today was her birthday; she died four years ago this coming April. I miss her every day.