Facing dragons or fleeing from them....
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Life, for me, at some point became a series of rebellious acts. I was fed up with all the rules, restrictions, control, and expectations for me to conform. I created a little world of my own. Not my wisest choice for sure, but it kept my spirit from being drowned in the world I was living in and the way my life was.
If there was a building for me to break into, I did. Honestly, not for any reason other than that I could. I explored restricted territory because I was able to get in. I never destroyed anything or did anything bad once inside. It was just the thrill of being somewhere and doing something I was not supposed to do.
This was all exciting for me until one day I got caught and the police brought me home. Thankfully my mom was the only one home that day and my father never found out about what I had done. As far as punishment, the officer was very kind and had a nice chat with me, as did my mom, and the desire to break into buildings subsided. I did break into the the administration offices one more time, however, for more report cards. I had to keep up with falsifying the report cards. I had to keep that up for a few years.
Things at home were also getting harder for me to handle. I requested help with the local police department several times. All I got for a response was that they would not interfere in family matters. At times I felt like such a coward. I ran and tried to get help. At other times I would stand up to my father, knowing it would get me nowhere, but I had to try.
At times I felt so fearful. Even now the memories of those moments start to flood over me and I can feel my body tremble. I remember hiding in the crawl space of our building. I could hear everything so clearly and it seems so real, even now. There were the screams, the hitting, the enraged father who was taking turns beating my mom and my sister. I didn’t want to go in, I didn’t want to be next.
I would wait. The yelling and screams would fade as I escaped to the make believe world filled with nothing but love. I escaped to an altered reality. That worked for me to shut out the screaming. I felt so helpless, so lost, so alone.
The flooring of the crawl space was cold, damp, and smelled. I was getting cold. I wasn’t sure if the chill I felt was due to the environment of the crawl space or what I knew was going on the apartment we lived in. That chill brought me back to reality. There was silence now. I felt like a coward in some ways for not going inside, but I knew that if did, I would be next for the beatings.
As time went on and silence engulfed me and lasted, I went upstairs. I crawled in though the balcony. My sister was sitting on the couch and my mom was in the kitchen. Where was my father, I asked ? He had left to play cards. How can somebody do that? How can anyone be such a monster?
We never spoke after those beatings; nobody did. We sat in silence, enduring the physical and psychological pain. My mom tried consoling us but she too was in such pain and fear. She endured so many beatings for us by trying to step in to protect us.
I became so hyper-vigilant, I started watching for my father’s return. Soon it was just my sister and I alone because my mom had gone to work. We never knew what would trigger my father. What we did know was that it could happen at any time and without warning.
That one day that I remember, he was walking up towards the building. He was wearing a hunter green paisley shirt. No! Not that shirt! In my little mind I created this story that the shirt, that green shirt, is what made him a monster. I wanted to burn that shirt and then I felt my father would never be angry again. Not knowing what to expect as he walked through the door I greeted him as I always do, with a smile and a hug. Often that helped, but who knew? My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating.
In my mind I was helping and trying to protect my family but what can a child really do? Anytime I asked for help I was told these are family matters and no one can interfere. Nobody dared to stand up to my dad. He was very feared in our neighborhood. So you do what you have to do to live another day and maybe, just maybe, life would somehow turn around.