I can tell you about my father.
No, seriously, my cranberry vodkas are in 21oz glasses, and I put about 5-6 shots in each one. I’m on my second. This is needed. Because this is so fucked up and I can’t even begin to process my feelings on it because I lived my whole life with one perception and it got crushed, man.
So my father. Is paranoid schizophrenic. All my life, my mother called him an asshole, and I was like…is mental illness so bad? I didn’t understand, then. She said his illness made him into the psychopath I now know he is. And yeah, schizophrenia is technically psychopathy, I know that. But I didn’t think it made him a bad person? He was weird, and unsettling, but harmless, right?
WRONG. First, when I was about…oh, six, seven? I was sick. And I was there for his weekend custody, he lived with my grandparents, had his own wing of the MANSION they lived in (seriously, it’s famous locally, it’s still named after my family even though we moved out in early 2000’s). But anyway, I was there, but I was sick. And I wanted to go home–I wanted my mommy. So I climbed up on the radiator between the kitchen and the dining room, because that’s where the phone was, and I started to call my mom. She picked up–but my father hung up the phone. He didn’t want me to go. So I picked the phone up again. And he threw me–lifted me up, and threw me against the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, in the open doorway.
My hip split open, and I started bleeding. I ran to the bedroom where my grandma and grandpa were taking a nap–I needed a bandaid, clearly, that’s what my young mind focused on. So I ran through the house and woke them up from their nap, and I don’t remember anything after that. I think my mom came and got me and my sister, or was it just me that time? I don’t remember, like I said. I don’t remember my sister being there, but usually we were there together, so IDK. But I know after that my mom called child protective services, and then my grandfather, who was a locally famous lawyer (for being so good, and for taking so many pro bono cases), lied and said that he had been in the kitchen at the time and saw me, and I fell, I wasn’t thrown. I fell a whole three feet into the wall opposite the radiator instead of down like physics intended? Yeah. But such was my grandfather’s reputation that he was infallible in the eyes of the local judges. He did anything to protect his son, including abandoning me.
But custody got overturned. Me and my sister did not want to see my dad anymore, my sister more clearly because she’d had previous issues with him (yes, he abused her too, though differently, as I’ll explain). So we stopped going. I only reconnected with him and my grandma when I was about 11 years old, because I wanted to see my family again and I was old enough to make that decision and take care of myself.
But that’s not all. I just found out something that I was scared of, that I didn’t remember on my own. See, I have this memory, very clear, of being in my dad’s bedroom, looking up at the ceiling as I’m lying back across the bed, and seeing my dad’s shadow above me. According to my sister, who only just talked to me about this this year, he used to take me into his room and lock the door, presumably so we could have “father-daughter time.” I’ve had dreams but not clear memories of what happened next, but I’ve pieced it together. He was probably molesting me.
Now, I’ve always done my best to forgive my father. I know his mental illness doesn’t make his life easy, and he acts based on his hallucinations and delusions, and he’s never been able to be on medication steadily because it makes him “feel funny.” And he did horrible things to my mom, and horrible (though not sexual) things to my sister, and then…me. His favorite child. But at what cost? I used to come home from weekend custody at his house and wet the bed, and one time I got an “infection” and couldn’t sit down because I was so cut up down there. But it wasn’t an infection, was it? That’s what my mom told me it was. But it wasn’t.
And I’ve spent my whole life just trying to excuse him. Trying to come to terms with the fact that he’s not a father, that he’s a sperm donor who doesn’t live in reality. But he’s the connection to that side of the family, aside from my grandmother, who loves me very much and would defend me to the death–unless it’s against her son, whom she has always stood up for (not knowing, never listening, because her husband told her differently and his word was law). I don’t want to lose that side of the family, so I keep quiet, but I know when my grandmother–who is 93, turning 94 soon–passes, I will not keep quiet anymore. She’s the one I’m sparing. If I speak up, I know some will not listen. Some will condemn me as a liar and attention-seeker (namely, my uncle, who defends my father as my grandfather did). Some of my cousins might take issue. Some might question. But honestly, I’m ready to be done with those who won’t believe me. I have lived my entire fucking life trying to keep quiet about shit because I didn’t want to lose what I had left. Because that’s how women live in this world, right? We’re just liars and attention-seekers and hysterical? Even though my dad has a history of severe violence, but because my grandpa said it wasn’t true, no one believed me. I was just a kid. Why would a respected gentleman such as my grandfather lie?
But really. My father only just got treated within the past year because my sister took action against him multiple times and talked to a doctor and got them to see reason. My uncle fought against her, trying to convince the doctors that he was harmless. Yeah, fucking right. Within the past couple years someone has been going door to door at night yelling about criminals and terrorists and wielding a gun and a mask, and you know what? It’s in my dad’s neighborhood. I bet it’s him. He had tons of guns, but thankfully the local police took them away when he got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia officially, not off the record like he was before. We finally got my family to admit there’s something wrong with him. But still, they won’t see. What he truly is.
And I still have to put up a good front, for my grandmother’s sake. I’d never break her heart by cutting off my father, I’d never argue with her. I love her too much, she’s too old and too fragile and I don’t want to lose what little time I have left with her. But once she’s gone…it’s out there. I won’t care. I won’t have anything to lose–those I really love will stand by me, and understand, and as much as I look up to the rest of my cousins and aunts and such, I’ll know they don’t really care based on what I say and how they react.
So there it is. My father. The molester, the schizophrenic, the abuser, the creep (he used to come watch me sleep, but I wasn’t sleeping, I knew he was there, and I never knew why). The psychopath who hurt me and never thought there was something wrong with it. Who denies it, and lies, and won’t get the fuck out of my life.
He’s still there. But not forever. I just have to wait.