One Night

Something bad was in the air. Dad was on the phone with someone. He was angry. I overheard him saying “I will kill her tonight”. What followed was the worst night of my life and it ended with the police taking dad away.

Mom was sitting on a sofa. She looked so small and unapproachable. The silence was heavy. I was confused. 

After some time dad came to pick up his stuff. He was wearing a jeans shirt. That’s how I remember him. He tried to reach out to me, but I was too afraid. 

He left, but the terror stayed trapped in my body. I felt a little bit safer when we got a second door. It was made of steel and had a lock that was difficult to break. Every night before going to bed I checked if the door was closed. I then started to worry about the balcony. I once saw my dad climbing up the house and opening the balcony with one push. I didn’t know how to protect grandma and mom and kept a little deodorant next to my bed…

I was relieved that he was gone. I was proud of my mom for breaking the cycle. I knew it was right. But I missed dad too and I couldn’t share that with anyone. I felt that I am betraying my mom and grandma who fought so strongly to keep the monster away. 

Dad called me once and wanted to take me to an amusement park. My heart lighted up and was quickly crushed by mom’s rage when she heard that I answered the phone. She was afraid that he will kidnap me to get money. 

So from one day to the other there was no more dad, no more grandparents, no aunt, no cousin. No birthday cards. Nothing.

I was lucky to have many kids to play with. Good kids, friends till today. I loved school and was doing well. I bonded with nature and had two dogs I could talk to. The only thing that didn’t work was my health. It was the only way to have grandma care for me with love. I got sick a lot.

That one night haunts me. I know it changed me. It crushed my innocence. It crushed a feeling of safety in the world. It wired my nervous system to work in arousal most of the time. 

The trauma of the night is one thing, but I see that my brain is doing something else too: It’s holding on. There is so little I remember about dad. That night is burned into my brain. I am afraid that I will have nothing more left of him, if I let go of that memory. 

I was relieved that dad was gone. I am grateful to my mom for protecting me. 

Everything I have become is because of his absence and not his presence.