Trigger warning: My child within is screaming at me. DO IT! My adult self has furrowed brows.
I got a call today – blasted unknown numbers – they never portend anything good. This one left me a message and asked me to call back. Some calls should not be answered. Or should they?
The police wanted me to call them. I did what any self respecting Google fan would do and I searched their location first. I found them located in an area I haven’t lived in or near since I was young. An area I’d sooner forget exists. I returned the phone call – my stomach churning with dread, a dread that only a call from police can elicit. I found myself nearly whispering into the phone as if not giving voice to it would make it gone – like a child stepping up to an adult in fear – knowing they are in trouble, but waiting to hear what for.
The officer was gentle with me, thanked me for calling and told me that they were clearing up old files and they’ve come across one from me as the complainant. I laughed nervously while my mind quickly sorted through years of life and people – unable to grasp onto anything that could possibly be a reason for this call. She said it was *from about 1980 – and it involved*, she hesitated *your step father*? I stopped breathing. She asked me to wait while she collected her files. *No, no… your father, Peter.* My lungs let go. I couldn’t see the forest for all the trees. This was the last thing I’d have expected – the biggest thing of all. How did they find me? My phone isn’t even under my name.
31 years it took them to call. 31 years of me feeling no one cared, and that it all didn’t matter. When I tried 20 years ago to restart this, no paperwork could be found on it. I even quoted an officer who had once come to our home. Officer Lamb… I think. My mother had strangled me one day, leaving finger marks around my neck – and my dad called the police and told them I was dead. The officer told my dad he would *dance on his eyebrows* if he ever made a call like that again. Still, they found nothing. I felt like I was crazy like it never happened. Today I’m told she has information – right on her desk.
I told my dad that I would hunt him down if I ever found out that he hurt his next three children. I called his new wife and told her… all she could say was don’t take it to court and I’ll make sure it never happens. I called the kid’s school and asked them to keep an eye on the kids. Then I put it behind me, or tried. I haven’t done a very good job of it. I’m actually quite a mess and I like to think I hide it.
My earliest memory is from when I was about 7. The rest is gone from my mind – probably best. Night after night of *count to ten and come to my room*. Second after second of trying to squeeze my whole being shut. Of watching the glowing red numbers on a clock and making everything else vanish. Days of incessant counting so I wouldn’t think or feel, hiding, wishing I was invisible. Dreading that knock on the door when I was in the bathroom. Hearing the vicious fights and knowing they were about me again. Nights where terror wore his face, days where it wore hers. The beatings because I was a *slut* at 12, the blood, the fear. I didn’t even know what a slut was. The *you are special, my number one, and this is our secret*, and *if you tell they will take me away* kind of sick love/control, and the lies and pain and horror and secrets. And the deep, deep shame – shame that I was to hold onto for many years to come. Shame I would later learn stemmed from my body reacting exactly how it should… shame that belonged to him for abusing my trust.
All the craziness. Cars being driven up walls, comforters cut in two, walls ripped down, knives carving furniture, climbing off roofs to get the police, screaming, homeless, caught in a car in a *compromising position* craziness. Being fed booze and when I was sick – cough syrup and 222’s… to knock me out for convenience. Living in family shelters, being made a ward of the court and put in a group home for pregnant teenage girls to keep me away from my parents. Seeing my friend being raped by him. My brothers and sister hating me for being crazy – and eventually disowning me. Being raped and then beaten until I miscarried. Going to court – getting no closure. Years of repeating this cycle in one way or another. All relationships have been just that – one type of abuse or another, cycles and cycles of them as if I’m more comfortable with crazy, as that’s what I knew.
And standing up again, wiping the shit off my knees and my soul. Getting help, finding dignity, learning to love again – myself and others. Years of trying to stop hating myself, and of trying to undo 16 years of old tapes they put there… tapes that played in my head and told me I was no good. And it must be true, look what happened! It took 16 years for that to be embedded / imprinted on my soul and it has taken much longer to undo. I’m still trying, and I’m moving forward and trying to be a good person. I try to do what’s right. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be – I’m doing my best with the tools I have. I’m right where I should be given the circumstances.
Then today happened. That damn unknown caller just couldn’t butt out. I asked for time to think about what I will do. I have until next Thursday.
I know that it’s right to go ahead – morally. I know that there were others that were hurt and that could be hurt in the future. I know that there is no help for the sickness that has taken his soul, and that he had no right to do any of the things he did. I know that if someone else told me they were going through this I would tell them – do it!
Now I’m 45 – no longer 16. He has three more grown children. Children that could possibly know nothing about this. Am I responsible for ruining their lives if they haven’t been exposed to this yet? I know it’s still him ruining their lives if this goes forward – it was his actions – but I do have a choice now as to whether I let it go or pursue it and to pursue it could make it my fault they are hurt now. Will I get closure from doing this? Is it closure enough that they finally called? Acknowledgment? Validation? Does it matter what I need? What if I do nothing and his kids have kids… and so on and so on.
What if what if what if. Would it be vindictive to go forward with this at this late of a date? Self pity? Or is it the right thing to do, the perfectly right course of action given the pain and horror I’ve been living. Is my closure worth destroying more lives? In his first marriage there were five of us that were ruined. If I go on with this, another four people will be hurt. Is this my concern? I know he is responsible for it, but it’s in my court, as they say. How do I know they aren’t already hurt? What if they hide it like I do, and did? What if me coming forward gives them the strength to come forward? Or they are horrified.
What will this do to me? Will it set me back, or give me a sense of justice. If I decide to go on… do I forewarn the kids? How will I feel if he goes to jail – he’s 65 and it was over 30 years ago? But it was 16 years of my life. I trusted him. When I tried to take him to court last time the judge asked me what I wanted to see happen. I said not jail, but I don’t want him to be able to hurt anyone else, ever again. It’s been so long.
I was asked today if I had it all behind me, and I said no, no I don’t. *Then there is your answer*… is it all that simple?
So many questions. So much to consider. So heavy on my heart. Today I found myself standing by a pond, wind blowing – feeling how I used to feel – and thinking of the song Magic Power by Triumph. I found myself not wanting to talk to anyone. Not wanting to reach out to those that care. I found myself wanting to hide again. I keep going to sleep. My head hurts, my heart hurts.
The moral of the story? Unknown callers are evil.
Update: I intend to go ahead with this. I cannot turn from it. After seeking advice from all who love me and from my inner self – it would be very wrong to not go ahead with this. The choice to not do it would be much harder. I’ve lived with it this long – I can certainly put up the fight needed to fix it.
Special thanks to my son. Your letter was phenomenal. My daughter… thank you for offering to come with me. You both mean the world to me. My guy? Steady as a rock you are. My friends? There are no words… thank you all so much for all your support, your wisdom, your hugs – and your ass kickings. lol xoxoxox
Another thought that just came to me. Why don’t I want him to go to jail? When I hear on the news that someone has hurt a child this way… and they only get five years, I’m thoroughly disgusted. He’s no different.
Update: Oct 7, 2018
It’s taken me this long, two years, to make this a public post and update it.
I did go to court. I did – sort of – have my say. Lawyers are experts at stopping you from talking. They tripped me up on addresses and locations. Given that it was 30 years ago and I was a child… that’s a pretty horrible, cowardly thing to do. The judge said that he knew “something” had happened but because of my mother not backing me.. and my memory not being cement, he couldn’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt. At least I tried. After that, my father turned and laughed at me, mocked me. I’ll never get that out of my mind. Did I get closure? Nope. I now don’t believe there is such a thing. There is, however, being a better parent to yourself than they were. They were pretty piss poor parents.