My therapist told me I should be writing about my 'story.' The one he heard last week. About the sounds of domestic abuse that echo all around.
This has been a particularly difficult task. I feel I'm stuck in a loop, unable to escape the narrative of abuse. Telling the same old stories.
I'm desperate to move on though I struggle to do so. Perhaps because I've not yet fully accepted what happened. Or I'm not yet 'living' to my fullest potential.
That process cannot be forced. Acceptance requires the resolution of grief and shame to name but two components.
Without further ado I present these words for our consideration.
On this chill spring Thursday I'm asked how was I beaten? I am honour bound to recall and share. I'll begin.
I cannot recount which Queensbury rules were discarded or which were adhered to. Or the frequency with which the torment persisted. Not that it matters.
I do not recall the shape of hand, bound knuckled fist or flat and straight for a sliced connection. You see I only ever saw the beginning of any assault, the ones that were all my fault.
Once his arm had been wound back and his gaze settled upon a suitable spot I squinted. For all of this I wished for a place to run or a way to hide. Any hole to render my small frame invisible to all the strain.
I didn't want to know where or when it might happen. Despite not 'seeing' the sounds and feelings are stored within. The audible and sensory interruptions that occurred amongst the confusion, put downs, darkness and panic. All these aspects have shaped my absurd sense of what it is to 'be.'
His hand was the same size as the side of my skull. I still remember the force of the slap and the stumble to the side or back. Hanging on to balance by a thread, determined not to go down. Byron Road was the only venue for these bouts of insanity, the poetry of the place was lost on me.
The shrill of a tuning fork rang stabbed silence. I wished he'd punch me so hard I'd die. Perhaps then he'd be sorry, find some compassion for his disappointing but dead son.
My response to the first strike may surprise you but try to understand I wanted him, more than anything, to be proud of something I did. "It didn't hurt" I'd say. What could be better than a son that could take a beating without bleating like a little bitch? Maybe one that didn't exist?
The effect was undesired. An increased fire, stoked by the very defiance I thought might forge a father/son alliance. The ringing sound from the next impact was often a whole octave higher than the last.
That wasn't enough to stop my tongue. I said it again, perhaps this time he'd be more impressed. "it didn't hurt." He wasn't. The third and final blow would eclipse another tiny part of what was left of my soul.
When I cried he stopped and left my side temporarily to fetch something from the freezer. Though perhaps this was unnecessary he could have used his fucking heart. The coldest thing known to me.
Abated swelling would be accompanied with a timely lecture. One that absolved my father of any wrongdoing and left little me with all the associated responsibility. If only I hadn't have been such a useless bastard then he wouldn't have to shout, beat, bully or hate me, would he? Does that mean my mother was a useless bastard too?
As absurd as this might sound the physical scars heal without much trace. It's the complete absence of safety and underlying fear that decimate a child's sense of here. This has affected my ability to function in a healthy mental capacity, how wouldn't it?
Often I contemplate his perspective. I'm sure he thought nothing of this, to him it may have been a small clip around a sensitive child's ear. An everyday occurrence in a working class environment. The behavior that distinguishes a man from a queer.
For me it was everything. He showed and told me I was unworthy of dignity, respect and care. Forget the love it wasn't there.
Now here I am decades on still unraveling these baffling traumatic events. Digging in this rubble looking for my spirit. Still struggling to be the person that's in here somewhere.
I saw it briefly a few hours ago then he freaked out and scurried back into the shadows. All I can do is operate with empathy and wait until he feels safe enough to come out once more. When he does I try desperately to offer him the love, care, respect and dignity that was absent from childhood. There is no other way, for I am him and he is just as deserving of love as you are.