PREFACE AND CONTENT WARNING: Hey guys, so uh… well, I started writing this three hours ago and I planned on just writing a few paragraphs about how I was relatively productive today and then go to bed, but I accidentally delved into like… a LOT of trauma and abuse and suicidal ideation. I am okay, you don’t need to worry for my safety, but I wrote three sections of this post, the third of which is about 8,000 words long and is a really exhaustive history of my relationship and/or lack thereof with my father, my grandmother’s death, and my issues with self loathing and perpetuating cycles of abuse. In the first two sections I talk very frankly about some of my experiences with suicidal ideation, self-loathing and the trauma associated with it. I’ll leave another content warning later on in the post, but feel free to just skip this one entirely if you’d rather not put yourself in a position that might be upsetting or triggering for you as a reader.
Okay okay, so I slacked off again on writing today. BUT, I didn’t slack off entirely today. I did a lot of good physical activity. I had a walk this morning for about fifteen minutes, and I never got back to jogging but that does count as my walk for today, and more importantly I poured out about fifteen bags of mulch all around our house and yard, which was pretty sweaty and labor intensive.
I had therapy this afternoon which was alright, mostly I was relaying good news about hopefully getting money soon and the idea of looking for a new job where I feel more comfortable than my previous jobs in retail. I also put in some job applications yesterday and I honestly finally reached my limit with TRYING so hard on job applications. At this point, I simply do not care what they think about me, and I’ve stopped giving those “personality quizzes” any effort. For two good reasons.
Firstly, those personality quizzes are heavily biased against any neurodivergent person. They’re supposed to ideally be a gauge on whether or not you’ll be a productive employee, but how fucking dehumanizing is that? They don’t want to know about you as a human being, they want you to be a faceless cog in a corporate hierarchy, except they also want you to smile while you do it. I’m so fucking sick of this atmosphere in capitalist society where workers have to pretend to be happy to do menial, unfulfilling jobs for other people who probably go to work doing the same shit.
The second reason I hate and have started refusing to participate in those quizzes is that they ask incredibly invasive and inappropriate personal questions. They ask you to agree or disagree with statements like “I feel sad sometimes,” “You can’t trust other people,” “It’s better just to be on my own,” “I feel that at heart people are good,” “I don’t see any need to rely on others.” Like, really deep existential shit that is NONE of a corporations business. Every time I see those kind of questions is just triggers my depression. And even worse is that if I WANT to fill out the application well, I have to give the answers I WANT to give. “Why yes, I DO think people are trustworthy, why yes I DO keep a level head in tense situations, why yes I DO enjoy being screamed at by strangers.” Like fuck off, you don’t know what kind of trauma a person has been through, NOR is it your business, a person might have very good reason for not trusting other people.
I’m just starting to realize as I grow older that the whole world around me is a lie. People have been raised within an unjust system where they think this is the only way to live. But we could be doing LITERALLY anything right now. We could have a utopia on Earth if we pooled our resources, cared for our planet, and just ALLOWED people the freedom to live and pursue their interests and passions. We don’t need currency, or we could just give currency to everyone. There doesn’t NEED to be a class system. How fucking hypocritical is it to have a country where our supposed founding principles are that all people deserve equality (a statement made by people who owned other humans as property) and yet people are not given equal opportunity to succeed in life? And what IS success? Making money? Owning property? Contributing to the economy? The economy should exist to serve humanity, humanity should not be a slave to an economy.
Sorry, I’ve uh… I’ve gotten a bit off track here. I guess I was a lot more outraged than I thought.
What I was going to mention about therapy is that I had kind of a realization. It’s not something I’m ready to talk about in detail here, at least not yet, but I realized that I actually hold a lot of resentment toward a person in my past, someone who I’ve honestly always thought very fondly of. And this person, they’re a good person, they were kind and compassionate and loving toward me, and made me feel happy and safe. But they also made me feel like I was a bad person. Not on purpose, they didn’t say “Jesse, you’re a monster, you’re a bad person,” but I could see it in their eyes when I started to tell them about the really fucked up parts of my life, the things that have been done to me and the choices I’ve made, the mistakes and regrets of my life. We all have those. We’ve all been cruel or callous toward someone, we’ve all made someone suffer in some way. And the only thing we can hope for is compassion, understanding, an acknowledgement that nobody is perfect, that everybody is a work in progress, that the work will never be over in striving to be better.
But this person… They looked at me with veiled shock and disgust, they saw me as someone different than who they’d seen me before. And though they really tried to roll with the punches, to be kind to me despite how obvious it was that their opinion of me had changed when I really opened up and showed them the ugly parts of myself, it was then, when I saw how horrified they were of me, that I began to hate myself. Up until then I had been compassionate toward myself, but now that I’d seen myself through someone else’s eyes, seen how shocked and appalled and terrified someone was of me, I saw myself as a monster, as irredeemable, as having crossed a bridge that can’t be un-crossed. I began to hate myself, from then on.
And I’ve spent years hating myself. And it’s funny because that’s a new concept for me. I’ve always been very kind to myself. I’ve always felt like the hero of my story. But that was when things changed. And I don’t know how to get back to who I really am, and how to love and forgive and accept myself again. It’s… it’s been a difficult, difficult path. I’ve been close to wanting to die many times. I’ve dealt with suicidal ideation and thoughts many times, but rarely ever felt so close that the urge really materialized, though there have been some close calls.
Back in 2011, when I was living in Georgia, in a camper in my family’s back yard, with no job, no car, no license, and absolutely no prospects for the future, I realized that I knew where my stepdad had a gun. It was in his car, in his glove compartment, and though I didn’t really know for SURE how to use it, I could, conceivably, go outside and get that gun, and I could kill myself. And for a moment, I really, really thought about it. I sat inside my camper, with the lights out in the late hours of a grey afternoon, and wondered if I should die.
But the thing is, I didn’t really WANT to die. I just wanted things to be different. I’ve never REALLY wanted to die, I’ve just wanted my life to have turned out different than it has. Right now, today, I think I feel close to content. Not really, truly, content, but okay enough to keep moving. When I moved backed from Delaware I had to face my worst fear of living with my family and my mother again, and I had to accept that it had happened, that I was no longer living in a house with friends and a support system and real, honest, open love. I was back in a world of manipulation and unpredictability and volatility and abusiveness. And I had to adjust to living in that world again.
After my mom moved out and I’ve had a lot more time here in the house to myself, when she isn’t visiting for weeks at a time (it is still her house after all), I’ve had time to relax and to feel comfortable, although never really safe. Mostly I feel lonely. And on nights where it rains, I feel a little comforted, because I love rain, and because rain is one of those things that makes me feel like I can heal. I don’t like dry places, deserts, I’ve never been to one but I know I’d hate it. I like wet places, wet grass, puddles, mud, pond water, frogs, rain dripping from leaves and onto gravel or pavement. I like cool wind when it rains.
Every year I wait for summer to end. I wait for the oppressive heat and humidity to fade, to feel fresh air, actually FRESH air, when autumn comes. It’s my favorite season. Spring and Winter are both good too. But I generally hate summer. It’s exciting for a bit at the beginning when I remember summer as a kid, when I listen to Third Eye Blind and Florence and the Machine, but then it’s hot, and it’s endless, and I keep the air condition on. When autumn comes I open my window at night and put my box fan in the window and let the cool air rush in. I used to want to go outside and lay on the trampoline (back when we HAD a trampoline) and sleep out there in the autumn night, covered in blankets. I never did.
So many things I never did. Why does it always feel like I never did anything, like I’m looking back on things I never did?
I heard this song on Spotify a month or so ago, Twenty Five by Rett Madison, and it had lyrics that described exactly how I feel. “Why did I romanticize who I’d be when I was twenty five? And I know that I’m still young, but how come I’ve run out of time?” I placed my hand over my mouth and tears started to burst out of me and blur my vision, I found a neighborhood to park in and sat there and cried for a while.
I’m tired of trying, I’m tired of fighting. The anxiety is just a beast that I don’t have the energy to fight anymore. You can’t make people understand that getting up and going to work does more than make your body and your feet sore: it saps away your life, the anxiety turned my hair grey when I was seventeen and it’s been getting greyer ever since. That’s why I dyed my hair blue, I was tired of seeing the grey. It used to be cute because I was twenty-something, but now that I’m thirty the grey just reminds me of how much time has passed, and now that I think about it, how much hurt I’ve carried. How much hurt I’ve caused. How I’ve contributed to the pain of others as I’ve been abused myself. How violence and hatred runs in cycles.
CONTENT WARNING: This is a very detailed, very intimate and very frank discussion of sexual, physical, emotional and mental abuse suffered by myself and by family members over the course of my life, and some really raw, really difficult and somewhat disturbing thoughts regarding my relationship to my father and my family. This is a deeply personal and difficult subject, and I really don’t advise reading this unless you’re a friend who knows me. Content warnings for abuse of young children sexually, physically, and emotionally, as well as spousal and domestic abuse, gaslighting, and a whole host of other really difficult topics. I can’t stress enough that if you’re a casual reader of my blog you may want to skip this one because it’s very heavy, very difficult, and very lengthy.
When I was a baby, my dad looked down at me in my crib, and he turned to my mother’s mother who stood next to him, and he said to her, quite openly, and I assume emotionally, “When I look down and see him so fragile and vulnerable, I just… want to hurt him, the way my dad hurt me.” When my dad was a child, his father held him over a charcoal grill and burned his little feet on the hot coals. I don’t know any more details, really. But my dad grew up to become an abuser. He beat my mom, he tormented her psychologically and emotionally and mentally, he gaslit her.
On one occasion he brought home a toy for me, a little black baby doll. My mom was confused and laughed and said “Why did you get him a black doll?” And he said to her “Every little kid should have their own n****r to own.” Later on, they got into an argument as my dad was driving, and my dad reached over my mother and opened the door as they drove down the road, and he KICKED her out, onto the road, into a ditch.
When I was very young my family moved into a new house, and my dad took the precaution of warning the neighbors when my mother wasn’t around that “she has a mental condition and she gets very paranoid if she doesn’t take her medication,” which was of course a lie. Later on, when he tried to hurt her, maybe even to kill her, I don’t know, she ran crying to the neighbors house and banged on their door, but nobody was home. Their door was unlocked though, and she went inside and locked the front door behind her, and then she went into their bathroom and hid herself inside the bathtub, curled up and weeping, as my dad tapped on the window outside, and in a ghostly whisper he crooned “It’s me… it’s me… Its –” and the name he said was not my father’s name, it was HIS father’s name. He was pretending to be the man who abused him while he tormented his terrified wife.
Something happened between my father and I, and to be honest I can’t tell you what it was, because I don’t know. I don’t really have memories of it. I remember what our living room looked like, I remember the sound of our kitchen floor as I rolled over it on Fisher Price skates, I remember the dim light of the lamp by the recliner where my dad would sit. My dad claimed that I wandered over to him one day when I was three or four and put my face in his lap in a very suggestive way, trying to lift his legs, and when he asked me what in the world I was doing I told him this was something my grandmother made me do. And then he supposedly asked me questions and I revealed to him what sounded very much like a molestation.
My mom was shocked and confused but she called the police and I was taken to speak with a child psychologist, who as far as she could tell could not find that anything inappropriate had happened with me, the only incident I could recall when talking to her was seeing my cousins naked in the bathtub when we all bathed together. My father though, he wasn’t satisfied with this, and he began to INSIST that I had been molested by my grandmother. Then he began to insist our neighbor who babysat me was a child molester. Then he began to insist my aunt’s roommate was a child molester. There is a video tape, and I’ve seen it, of me when I was a kid casually smiling and dropping in the middle of a conversation “…and then he made us take all our clothes off.” Not in a traumatized way, just the rambling incoherent talk of a four year old child, with a smile on my face. My father told me that was definitive proof of what happened.
Of course, this all sounds like classic projection to me. It all came to a head when my mom told my father that it was time to move on, that NOTHING had happened to me as far as anyone could tell, and that he was obsessed with trying to find some way to drive my mother and my grandmother apart. One day while no one else was home, he took a book of colored construction paper that I used for drawing, and with crayons and markers he wrote phrases on those pieces of construction paper and he taped them up onto every wall in the house. On the living room and on the counter in the kitchen and on the refrigerator and on the couch, these pieces of paper were everywhere.
They said really heinous things like “Daddy, it smells like raisins down there” and “I just want to help you” and “Why won’t you hear the truth” and little pictures he’d drawn of my grandmother molesting me. When my mom saw it she fled immediately and called the police, and I honestly don’t know what happened next. I know at some point my father abducted me, that is to say he took me on a ride with him in his truck without telling my mom, in an attempt to drive me several hours away to live with him and his family. My mom found a police officer at a gas station and my father drove right past them, and she pointed at the truck and said “That’s him!” and the cop caught my dad and delivered me back to my mom.
You might think, by the way, that this is an obviously biased story told me to from only one perspective, by a woman I’ve already said has a tendency to manipulate and gaslight. And you’d be right, except that I asked my father about these events myself when I was fifteen, and he showed me it was all so much worse than I thought. He wasn’t just as insane as my mom had told me, he was WORSE, he was twisted, he had so much anger and pain inside of him. Not only did he WRITE those things on the construction paper, he had SAVED as many of them as he could, and his wife who was a school administrator and who believed every word of his story and was just as twisted and terrifying as he was, went to a filing cabinet and pulled out a file of about four or five of those pieces of construction paper and laid them on the living room floor for me to see.
And my father said to me, “Don’t you see? I did all of this for you. I love you, I always have, and I only wanted to try and save you, but no one would listen to me.” And the worst thing is that he didn’t just gaslight me, I think first he convinced HIMSELF of these lies. And I finally asked him to explain something to me. The one memory I couldn’t make any sense of in his story.
I’ve remembered it since I was a kid. I know it isn’t an invented memory because I told therapists about it at the time, I told my mom about it, and I’ve repeated it over the years all my life. Now it’s a memory of a memory of a memory, but at the time it was new. I know that he and I were alone together in a white room, I remember the walls being bare white, and the bed covers being white, and I remember we were both nearly naked in white underwear.
In my memory, I am molesting HIM. I am deviously suggesting what we should do next, I am the one manipulating him by saying “my grandma touched me here, she did it like this, and she put her hand here, like this.” I’ve heard this is common in cases of abuse, that you remember the event flipped, where you are the one doing the manipulating. Of course at the time, I was a small child and he was a grown man. I think I must have known what I was doing was wrong, and I felt guilty, and maybe that was how I rationalized it to myself: I must be the one convincing him to do something wrong.
I don’t have a specific memory of being molested. I remember there being movement on the bed, like jumping up and down. My memory has always been of him jumping up and down on my lap but that doesn’t make sense, does it? Maybe I did that and not him. I don’t know. I remember that my mom came home later and when she did I mischeviously ran into the living room and shouted “Mommy, daddy make us take all our clothes off!” and they had a discussion behind the closed bedroom door that I wasn’t privy to. My mom doesn’t really remember this event.
When I was fifteen, hundreds of miles from my mother and in my father’s living room floor in the apartment above a garage owned by his wife’s parents, where he was raising a new child whose existence I did not know of until a few weeks before, who was not far away in age from the age I’d been when he likely molested me, I asked him about this incident. And he got quiet and he sighed and said “Jesse… I did a lot of things then people might have thought were crazy, but it was only because I was trying to help you, I wanted to save you, I wanted people to listen to me, to understand you were being hurt and nobody was standing up for you except for me.”
My father bought a six pack of beer at a gas station, during the week I stayed with him when I was fifteen, and after he tried to teach me how to check out and cat call women, I told him in the car that I didn’t have much interest in girls, and that the girls I’d interacted with at school had been mean to me. He drank while he drove and got more and more drunk, and all throughout the rest of my stay there he kept scoffing, repeating back to me, “The girls are MEAN to me,” making fun of how unmasculine a thing it was for me to say, how wimpy it was. I implied to him that I think I might be gay and kept saying the same phrase to me: “Son, you don’t know you don’t like cherry pie until you’ve tasted it.” He said that phrase over and over again. He psychoanalyzed everything about me, he told me that he could see how broken I was by the way I looked down and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. His creepy wife told me I had a pretty back, that she liked men with sexy backs. My dad had a drum set and he taught me some basic drumming patterns, and kept complimenting me for being naturally talented, like him. He would alternate between insulting me and complimenting me, manipulating me and keeping me constantly seeking his validation. I became a four year old little boy in his presence, believing everything he said and doing whatever he asked, the scent and presence of this unfamiliar apartment new and strange and alien to me. I met my little sister who I didn’t even know existed until a week or two ago, and she looked so much like me because I look so much like my dad, and she was so excited to see her brother, who she’d been told about. One of my school photos I’d sent him was hanging on his refrigerator, along with another older photo of me.
He psychoanalyzed my mother to me, told me all the conditions he believed she had, told me that he’d talked to a psychologist himself and when he talked all about the events of his marriage with her, the psychologist had assured him of her various mental illnesses and conditions. He told me all sorts of things he shouldn’t have told me, that he and my mother did not have sex on their wedding night because “she didn’t want to,” although she later told me that actually, he hadn’t shown interest in her and had instead jerked off onto a Playboy centerfold and made her watch, leaving her feeling humiliated and confused.
As he sat at the counter and drank, he told me his version of events, and he somehow, over the course of three days, CONVINCED me that my mother and my grandmother and everyone in the world except for him had been involved in a conspiracy to keep me away from my father, the only man who TRULY cared about me and wanted me to be safe. He sat to the side and coached me as I yelled at my mom on his cell phone for hours and hours, repeating the talking points he’d fed me, the lies he’d convinced me to believe, and insisted that I live with him. I was so nervous that I kept farting constantly, I know that sounds silly and gross but that was how my body was responding, and that night on his couch I asked if he would hug me, and I remember calling him “dad” when he held me in his arms, and asked him if this fear and confusion would go away. He made me watch Slingblade because it was his favorite movie, and he drunkenly began crying in the middle of the movie. I had told him that I’d secluded myself between the ages of twelve and fifteen and spent most of those years alone playing video games and not socializing because I didn’t have any friends. He told me that I was just like the character in Slingblade, being left alone in a shed with no parents to love them. He told me that his heart was breaking for me because of how I’d isolated myself. He told me so many stories about his version of events, how he at one point had taken a huge kitchen knife and started driving to my grandmother’s house with the intent to probably kill her for what he believed she’d done to me. I wonder now if he really believed it or if he just said he believed it, or if he convinced himself of the lie that he believed it. I think that story ended with a cop pulling him over and arresting him for having that knife, or something.
My other memory of my father is that he left when I was four years old and did not pay child support to my mom, so she had to work two or three jobs at a time to raise me herself. I have anger and resentment and even some hatred toward my mother for the way she’s treated me over the years but I understand how much she sacrificed and how hard she worked for me to have a home and to have the things I did have. My father, though, he was gone. He claims he was forced to leave, that my mom made him leave, and he got tired of fighting a losing battle. I remember him sending me a box in the mail, I hoped it would have presents in it for my birthday but it just had some clothes, I remember a couple pairs of boxers because they were silky and blue and had airplanes on them. He never sent money, or when he did it was scarce. And I would sometimes talk to him on a payphone, and when I would say “goodbye” to him he would tell me “No, don’t say goodbye. Goodbye sounds too final, it makes it sound like we’ll never talk again. Say ‘see you later’ instead.” And because he put that in my head, I’ve always been afraid to say goodbye to people.
He came back for a brief period when I was seven, after I had been molested again by my mother’s father, this time I was five years old and had vivid memories of what happened, memories I still have. When I was in therapy a couple years later my therapist suggested it would be healthy for me to have both parents involved in my therapy, so my dad moved back in with us, “temporarily,” to be involved in my therapy. And of course, he laid around and did nothing while my mom went to work, he refused to find a job, and every day while she was gone he engaged in this creepy ritual with me where he’d have me sit on his back and rub lotion all over his back and then trace letters in the lotion that he would guess. When I told my mom about this she was upset and insisted that he stop, although I think he continued doing it. If he touched me inappropriately at that time apart from giving and receiving massages (which I now realize was, of course, wildly inappropriate) then I don’t remember it.
It all came to a head when one day I was taking a nap on the couch and I was awakened by a loud crash. My father had thrown my mother onto the kitchen floor after they’d gotten into a screaming match and she had pulled the phone off the hook on the wall to dial 911. He yanked the phone from her hand and threw her onto the kitchen floor. The 911 operator had enough time to send police to our location, I’m not sure how they got the address in those days in the mid-90’s without GPS, but we wouldn’t see any cops for what felt like an hour or two later.
My father grabbed my mothers hair and he dragged her. He dragged her through the kitchen and into the living room. And my mom held tight to my father’s hands that were twisted into her hair, and she gasped and panted and screamed, “Jesse! Jesse! Run! Run to the neighbors! Call the police! Run, Jesse, run!” And I watched as he dragged her by the hair, kicking and screaming, across the carpet of the living room floor and down the hallway to the bedroom at the end of the hall, and slammed the door behind him.
And I sat on the couch, crying, and afraid, shocked, unsure of what to do. I could hear the screaming coming from the end of the hallway, from my mother’s room. I don’t remember walking up the door but I remember standing in the open doorway, and I remember watching my father push my mother’s head in between the mattress and the headboard, where he seemed to be trying to suffocate her. She gasped for air and screamed, and told me again to run. I shouted at my father, terrified, “What’s happening? What are you doing?” And my father shouted back at me “Your mother is being a BITCH, that’s what happening!”
As my father pushed my mother’s face into the space between the mattress and the headboard, her earring caught on her neck, and cut into her throat, and blood started to pour down her ear. That was what snapped him out of it, made him stop.
I know it was quiet for a long time. I know we waited for the police to arrive. I know we all sat on the front porch, where my father was quiet and seemed to be accepting of what had happened. My mom sat in stunned silence. I now realize looking back on it how unspeakably horrifying what happened to her was. I have compassion for her that I didn’t think to have before. I want to say if I’d have been her I’d have killed him to defend myself, but how can I know what anyone would have done? I had memories later of thinking that I should have picked up the phone sitting on the table by their bed and hit him with it to save my mother. I should have run to the neighbors and called the police. It all happened so suddenly.
When the police arrived, they saw the blood on my mother’s neck and that was it. My father was quiet and obedient as they walked him over to the cop car, probably so he would be out of sight of his small child, and cuffed him. I ran over and asked them if they were taking my daddy away, and they said they were, and they were sorry but nothing could be done about it. I asked if I could say goodbye to him and the cops let me walk up to my dad and give him a hug and a kiss in the back of the squad car before they drove him away.
He left my life then. I didn’t see him again until now, when I was fifteen, when he told me his twisted version of events, when he gaslit me and convinced me to believe in the reality he seemed to inhabit. In the world where he was innocent and everyone else was guilty.
In the world where he wasn’t a psychopath, a manipulator, an abuser, and very likely a molester of his own son.
And finally, when I realized that I needed to get out of this, that I needed to go home, he did not drive me home the way he’d picked me up and driven me here. He bought me a train ticket and seemed quiet, like he’d been defeated, like he’d lost a game he had been playing where he could get revenge on my mother by taking me back. On the train ride back, I asked the guy sitting in the seat next to me if I could use his cell phone to call my mom and let her know I was okay. My best friend’s dad picked me up from the train station and drove me home. My mom had been terrified by everything.
I didn’t talk to my father for a long time. When I was eighteen, maybe nineteen by that point, I found out his mother was dying of cancer, and she wanted to see me again. She had always been a good grandmother to me and it wasn’t her fault that I hadn’t been part of her life. So my boyfriend at the time, his dad agreed to drive me up to see her because he believed strongly that it was important for me to see this woman if she may be dying, and he drove me all the way up to where she lived, and I spent a couple of hours with my father’s family again. My grandmother was elated to see me. She was the kind of southern woman I’ve rarely ever seen, the kind that people make fun of, the kind of woman people do a bad impression of when they talk about the south, she spoke with a Scarlet O’Hara accent and began every sentence with “sweetie” and “darlin’” and “sugah,” and she made me biscuits and gravy from scratch because that had been my favorite meal for her to make me as a child. I saw my sister again, who didn’t say much, she was very sporty and was playing ball in the back yard. My dad was probably living out raising the son he always wanted with her (he’d tried tossing a ball with me as a kid but I was terrible at it and found the whole thing really boring).
I gave my father a hug during that trip and was trying my best to tell him I loved him and to be close with him, and he snidely remarked to his wife “This kid, he’s so touchy feely.” So dismissive of me, so callous and cold and cruel. We talked on the phone for a while after that. He tried to tell me not to be gay, tried to tell me he understood the “confusion” I felt because he had “thought” he was gay too, until he went to suck a dick and realized “THIS IS WRONG.” He told me if I would just get on my knees and pray to god, he would fill me with a love that was, I quote, “Sweeter than honey.” He told me about how he believed federal money was a conspiracy. For some reason I had been under the impression that Abraham Lincoln had been black or at least partially black because I remembered seeing him with dark skin in photos, and my dad was APALLED at this, and when I asked him why he was so upset, he shouted at me “Because no one’s ever told you that we’ve never had a n****r president!”
Finally, one night, on the phone with him, all this resentment and rage that had been building up came bursting out. I said to him “You’re nothing but a conservative gun-toting republican asshole,” and he quipped back at me, “Well, I am a conversative, I am a republican, I am a gun lover, and I am an asshole.” That’s clever. It’s the kind of clever shit he would say all the time. My father was deviously intelligent, kind of an evil genius, and it terrifies me to know that I inherited his intelligence.
When I got back from that trip when I was fifteen, I spent months and months trying to get his version of events out of my head, and there was a time when I very genuinely believed my grandmother had molested me. My grandmother of all people, who had raised countless kids and taken in others, who had taken care of her grandchildren when their parents wouldn’t step up. My grandmother who heard my father turn to her and say out loud that he wanted to hurt me the way his father had hut him. My grandmother who was a devout Christian and who refused to participate in the Lord’s supper for years at her church because it was said that you should not partake of this meal if you hold hatred in your heart for any fellow human, and despite trying and trying my grandmother had not been able, for many years, to forgive my father for the lies he told. A lie that caused both my grandmother and HER mother, my great grandmother, to be investigated by the police who came through and turned their house upside down looking for any evidence they had molested me, who interrogated them both about any incident with me that might have been deemed inappropriate.
My grandmother died when I was eighteen. I had not always been a good grandson to her, but she had done her best to be a good grandmother to me. Unlike my mom, unlike my aunt, unlike my brother or my cousins or anyone else in my family, my grandmother never let me leave her house angry. She never let me leave without telling me she loved me, and hugging me and kissing me, even when we had argued and I had caused her pain or been trouble for her. Even when I made her so upset and I got in her face at twelve years old and shouted through gritted teeth she was a terrible grandmother, causing her to begin having chest pains and the signs of a heart attack, and an ambulance coming out to check on her. Even then, she never let me leave without reminding me she loved me.
My grandmother’s death was a process that lasted a few months. My mom went to check on her one day and found her laying on her couch, where she’d been for maybe a day or two without moving. She couldn’t get up, couldn’t feed herself, couldn’t shower or go to the bathroom. My mom moved her into our house and took care of her in her final months, bathed her, and fed her. I was afraid, really afraid, because I didn’t want to be near death. I was afraid touching her would get death on me, infect me. I felt bad but I didn’t know what to do. One day, though she could barely speak, and when she did speak it was in mumbled barely understandable words, she asked for me specifically.
I went into my mom’s bedroom where my grandma’s hospital bed had been set up. She wanted me to help her take her medicine. She wanted me specifically. I put the pills in her mouth. She smiled at me and thanked me. She loved me so much. I was scared then, and young, and stupid. I was afraid to be near her. I think she knew that and she wasn’t upset. She loved me anyway. She was a good person, the last person in the world who deserved the things my dad said and did to her.
My mom kept telling me “Tell her you’re sorry for being difficult when you were a teenager, tell her you love her, and you hope she forgives you.” I didn’t want to. Hospice had come by that point. She didn’t speak anymore or open her eyes. She sometimes would squeeze someone’s hand. My whole family and everyone who knew my grandmother was in and out, our house was bustling and there was a strange kind of feverish excitement and solidarity in a house where a person was dying and people were coming to pay respects and see them on their death bed.
My best friend’s dad told me and my brother to come into the bedroom. My grandmother was about to die. My mom and my sister had just left the house for a while to go get some ice cream, my sister was seven and my mom wanted to help her get away from the gloom of our house and her grandmother’s death. I don’t remember if I did this then or if it happened days earlier, but I leaned in to my grandmother’s ear, knowing this might be my last chance, and I said to her “I’m sorry that I was so mean to you as a teenager, I’m sorry and I love you, I hope you can forgive me.”
My grandmother stopped breathing. My aunt sighed defeatedly and began crying. It was done. She wasn’t breathing anymore. My cousin dramatically started to cry and shouted “Wake up! Wake up!” which I guess I can’t blame her for but seemed such a ridiculous thing to do. But people can’t control how they respond to death and to grief. Everyone was crying, even my brother who never showed emotion. My mom walked in the door with my little sister at her side, and was shocked and heartbroken that she hadn’t been there at the moment my grandmother died.
My dad, he… he did so many awful things to my mother and to me and to my family. But my grandmother, she didn’t deserve that. None of us deserved those things but my grandmother was a good person. She treated me with the kind of love people expect from a parent, the kind of unconditional love I hadn’t gotten from my mom who was too damaged to really raise a kid, to really be a good and supportive and loving mother.
That phone conversation, when I told my dad I didn’t like who he was or the kind of person he was, that I was angry at him, I finally said it. “You molested me when I was a kid, didn’t you? I want the truth.” He became instantly furious. I told him he was a lousy father, a lousy excuse for a man, that he molested his own son and tried to pin it on that boy’s grandmother. I told him to admit it. He shouted at me. I don’t remember any of the things he said. I remember before the shouting began, he said with venom in his voice, “You gotta lot of balls talking to me like that over the phone, boy.” And as he shouted and shouted, I walked into my mom’s room and held the phone out on speaker and woke her up listening to it. And my father, he shouted at me, “I’m gonna find you. I’m gonna drive down there, I’m gonna find, and I’m gonna fuck you up.”
I hung up the phone and started to cry. And cry. And cry. The phone rang. It was his wife. I answered the phone crying, terrified, and told her “Please tell him not to hurt me.”
And that woman, that awful, disgusting harpy of a woman, she scoffed at me and said “Why should I do that? You’re the one who’s got such big phone balls that you can talk to him like that. Maybe you need to have your ass whooped.” And I cried and said “Please tell him not to hurt me, I’m sorry and I’ll never bother you again.” And I hung up. And then I had a nervous breakdown, whatever that is, I don’t know. But I gasped for air and my mom didn’t help things because she stood at my locked bedroom door and banged on it, screaming for me to open it, and I told her I needed her to leave me alone so I could call my friends and have them help me through this, but she kept screaming and making it worse.
He threatened to kill me.
He didn’t say “kill you,” he said “fuck you up,” but it was the same thing. It was the same threat. And from a person like him, who’s capable of any evil someone can imagine, I’m sure it was genuine.
The last time I ever spoke to him was months later, on Christmas. I was at home alone and he called the house phone. I picked it up and cautiously said “Hello?”
Cheerfully, he said “Hey there son. Just wanted to call you and tell you merry Christmas and that I love you.”
I don’t remember exactly what I said. I hope I didn’t say I loved him back. I don’t think I would have. I remember that year that I had gotten a cold and the fireplace in the living room was always running and I could smell and breathe the flakes of dust coming out of the fireplace where the cinders burned on the remains of the logs. I told him that my mom was calling on the other line, even though she wasn’t, and I had to go. I don’t know if I said goodbye. I probably said merry Christmas.
I hung up the phone.
I have never spoken to my father again.
That was ten years ago.
I… I didn’t expect to talk about any of this tonight. I started writing at 3:00AM and it’s about to be 6:00AM now. I was going to write a quick post about how I should have set aside time to write today, and then… all of this spilled out.
That’s okay, I guess it was needed.
I… when it comes to my dad…
I don’t know why I’m saying all this publicly. My father could read this if he found it. Part of me hopes he does.
I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to tell him what I think of him. I don’t think I’ll ever get to tell him the things that I carry inside my heart.
They say that hate only eats away at you, only hurts the one doing the hating. They’re probably right.
I don’t care.
I hate my father. I hate him more than I can ever possibly express. I find him so evil, so disgusting, so unspeakable, he’s like every bad villain cliché come to life. I sometimes fantasize about being a famous and successful writer and musician, and my father will come to a book signing or a meet and greet, and I’ll punch him right in his face and knock him flat on his ass on the ground right there in front of everyone, and have him taken away. I fantasize about him coming to one of my shows so I can sing the Jewel song daddy and look him dead in the eye and tell him how much I hate him.
I imagine someone calling me, having tracked down my number somehow, and telling me “Your father has died. His funeral is tomorrow.” And then maybe I could tell them the truth about how I feel.
I wish that god existed, so that there was a hell for him to go to. I wish that he could burn there forever, and I wish that he could know, as he laid on his deathbed thinking about me and wondering if somewhere deep down in my heart I loved him and forgave him, that I hate him with such ferocity that my hate will linger with his soul wherever it goes and torment him into eternity, that I will hate him until the day I die and I’m released from my hate, that I hope he spends eternity suffering for the harm he’s caused me, that I hope he knows the truth underneath the lies that he’d told himself that he is just as evil as everyone else knows, that his version of events is a lie, that his life and who he is is a lie.
And worst of all, that he poisoned me. He poisoned me with his hate and his abuse, that the cycle his dad perpetuated onto him, he perpetuated onto me. That as he looked down on me in my crib and said he wanted to hurt me, that I could one day stand over his grave and look down on it and wish that I could plunge my hands into the dirt and pull that wooden box out of the ground and beat his dead corpse until his heart and soul know that I hate him, that I hate him, that I hate him, that I hope he understands that all the evil that lives inside his heart is the same evil he passed onto me, and he can have it back. He can have it back with every punch and every kick and every curse and every fleck of spit, and he can know that I hate him the way a father who lost a child hates their murderer, that I hate him the way a victim hates their rapist, that I hate him the way a warlord hates his enemy, that I hate him the way Satan hated God for casting him out of heaven and abandoning him, that I hate him and I hate him and I hate him. That this curse, this poison, this trauma, this abuse, this cycle that he passed down to me is living and breathing and sprouting vines inside my heart, and thorns are growing all around my body as they always have been, that the pain he inflicted in me drives me to want to destroy everything around me.
But I am better than he is. I am a better person than he is. I am a better man than he is and I don’t even like calling myself a man because he has poisoned that word for me and anything it might represent to me.
I am brave enough to face my darkness. I am not a coward, I do not tell myself convenient fucking lies and make myself the hero of my story. I face my fears, I face my regrets, I accept my mistakes, I acknowledge the pain I’ve caused, I am not a coward like him. I am not a feeble, fat, balding old man who drinks himself to sleep and who cries as he plays the drums and sings Fuel songs but changes the lyrics to “Guess I’ll let him go.” You never got the chance to let me go because I was never your son, you abandoned me years ago when you chose to do whatever the hell it was you did to me.
And this is the darkness in my heart. This is the pain I carry with me. This is the anger that is a part of me. I hope that one day, when he’s dead and gone, I won’t HAVE to hate him anymore, because there will be nothing left to hate. Only a memory that’s faded and gone.
My resentment toward my mother is different. It’s not blind rage like with my father. A part of me will feel safe when she’s gone too, but I also can’t completely blame my mother for being a bad mom, because what else could she be with all she’s suffered. Good parents try to do the best they can with the situation they’re given.
My father doesn’t understand love because he wasn’t given love. His version of love is abuse, his version of love is hate, his version of love is inflicting pain because pain was inflicted on him. He is a coward who would stand over a baby’s crib and realize “I want to hurt him,” but not have the guts to say, “But I won’t. I cannot let him suffer like I suffered.”
I hate him. And I hope somewhere, in the world, if there is any spiritual connection left between us, he feels it pulsing down through veins that connect us, the utter loathing and shame and hatred I feel toward him. I hope he never knows a moment’s peace when he thinks of me. I hope he knows that every father’s day I think about how much I hate him. That every birthday I wonder if he remembers today is my birthday.
And that’s just… life, I guess.
You suffer, you carry the burden around with you.
And you try to be kind to yourself.
Maybe someone will be kind to him, it certainly won’t be me. But I can’t focus on this every day because it will just eat me alive. I’ll be happier, I’ll be at peace, when I know he’s no longer in the world. When I know there’s no chance he could ever hurt me or anyone again. When I know I don’t HAVE to fantasize or worry about a confrontation with him. When I don’t have to think about it anymore.
This was… a lot. And I’m sorry for that. I may make this post private. I didn’t intend to write all this, but there it is. Sometimes it all just spills out. This all started because I realized at the end of my therapy session that I was angry at my ex-boyfriend, that I began to hate myself because of the way he was disgusted by me.
But I also have to remember I am a good person. I have been shaped by trauma and abuse and I still choose to show compassion to people. I have hurt people in my life, I have betrayed people, I have made people feel unsafe. I’ve found myself perpetuating the cycle of abuse with boyfriends. I’ve found myself manipulating and gaslighting. But I recognize it and I CHOOSE to end the cycle. I choose not to continue my father’s line. I choose not to have a child biologically. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind, but I don’t want to subject another child to the inherited trauma that I received from my father and he from his father, though I don’t know his father started the cycle or just perpetuated it.
I… I can’t think of how to end this. So I’ll just say that if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone I know and trust and it probably took you a long time to get here, so thanks for caring and for reading. I’m sorry if this was traumatizing or triggering to anyone.
And now I guess I’m going to either have some coffee or go to sleep. Not sure yet which one.