[an excerpt from my memoir in progress…]
I’m not concerned about going to Hell. I’ve already been there. When I was held captive within its gates, it was an empty, desolate, desperate state of being. It was the dark side of life; hidden in the shadows, completely unexposed to light. To live it, one wishes death.
Within its depths some smother, some flee, some fight. I fought. I do not know the source of the deep internal strength that pulled me through, but somehow I found it. If there truly are Higher Powers as some will claim, I think they have a debt to pay to me. Just an answer would suffice…Why was I left kneeling cold and scared, an innocent child, to face the monster of the night? Why were the pleas from the bottom of my soul for rescue from this horror, left unanswered? The silence that followed my pleas only served to reinforce the message that I deserved to experience such atrocity. A loving God would not abandon an innocent child in the hands of evil, would he?
I survived Hell and now have made for myself a safe place upon this earth. But complete freedom is impossible. I will always look over my shoulder when I feel the shadows passing. The chains are broken, but the scars are thick from years of bondage. Every time I look into the mirror I catch a faint glimpse of the Devil himself, my own father. His eyes stare back at me; hazel, with craters of brown, much like a cat’s. I will never be completely pure inside as his blood runs thick within my veins; an unavoidable genetic pollutant. It was not my choice to be brought into this world by his loins. He was blessed with a child; it was his free will to wound and destroy.
My Hell was not fire and brimstone; it was 24 hours a day of looming terror. Surprise was his weapon. I lived inside an edge of your seat horror film and never knew when the next demon would jump out of the shadows to inflict more pain.
That pain; it was beyond words. It started at the top of my head then made its way through every nerve and muscle in my body. Adrenaline…my heart felt close to collapse from its accelerated pace. My head filled with a relentless pressure; on the verge of bursting. Veins protruded from both temples and pulsed with every breath; my mouth frozen wide in a stifled scream. Parched throat and burning eyes from continuous tears; until the tears became no more. I would hold myself, wrapped tightly beneath blanket and pillow, but felt no relief. I pressed trembling hands against my ears in order to drown out the sound; a sickening, dirty, frenzied sound. My body shook uncontrollably with the fear, while my stomach twisted into a thousand knots. I would plead with that absent Higher Power to take away the monster who lurked outside my bedroom door, terrified he would come after me again. I felt no immediate rush of warmth or light, but would be left kneeling cold and scared; empty and alone, forced to face the ugliness by myself once more.
Fear was what kept me captive. Silence was his strongest ally; his inimitable power. He inflicted silence through cunning genius. He knew how to place fear into the mind and heart of a child through well-disguised acts which served to desecrate my very soul.
I had no doubt within my mind that he could take a life and end it without a single bit of remorse. I had seen him do it on numerous occasions. He took the furry calico-colored kittens and placed them roughly inside a dark burlap bag. They screeched and clawed and tried to find their way out. Void of expression, with the exception of a slight grin at the edge of his lips, he pushed the kittens back in and tied the top into a knot. He placed them into the back of his truck and drove us down to the river. With a thoughtless toss, the bag rolled down the steep embankment and hit the water with a heavy splash. I watched through tears as the bag rolled over and began to sink. I felt so helpless and sad. I was terrified that someday that too might be my own fate.
He knew all of my fears. I was terrified of water but he made me swim. I begged for him to help me out of the pool; he smiled, reached out his hand, pulled me half way out then pushed me back in again. I could hear his laughter even in the pools depths. I gasped for air at the surface and begged for him to stop. He smiled and pushed my head back under. He held me there until most air escaped my lungs, as if waiting for the last bubble to reach the surface, then strategically pulled me to the top long enough for me to expel the water and replace it with one more breath. I knew I couldn’t fight him. He would always win.
There were times when his sickness was rampant. The horrendous former Green Beret nightmares, when he would rise from his bed, grab a shotgun, and stalk up and down the hall while shouting at the enemy that didn’t exist. He would wake up the next morning void of all memory regarding his maniacal tirade and the rest of us would pretend it never happened. Our silence served to strengthen his power once again.
It wasn’t his collection of guns I feared. I already knew what his bare hands were capable of doing. The guns actually provided me with a glimpse of freedom. Someday, when I gathered the courage, those guns would serve to annihilate the demon, or they would take his victim home to a better place.
He truly was a demon who walked upon this earth and he served to create my Hell. A certifiable Sociopath who robbed me of my innocence before I had the opportunity to make my own choice. I was never a child; his fault. He forced me to face ugliness when I should have experienced beauty. My wounds were inflicted with depth by his hands, his words, his sickness. Even in my little piece of present heaven, the scars still hemorrhage on occasion. There’s not a surgeon in this world that can heal the damage he caused. Irreversible, the memories will forever remain. It is what I choose to do with those memories that makes all the difference in my life.
Though not by choice, my father remains an integral part of my existence to this day. He finally met his inevitable fate but took the one thing I wanted from him to his grave. An answer. It was his last act of pure selfish, evil, non-remorse. And I will forever be obsessed with the question “why?”