So, the day before yesterday a couple of friends of mine  (tweeps as well) were jokingly trying to outdo each other on reasons why they were apparently so “screwed up”.  They hashtagged it  #ReasonsForAShrink.  The usual “parents divorcing when I was very young” was mentioned.  

That made me think -again, of some of the thoughts that never or very rarely leave my mind and that only my shrink has ever heard.  Things I SO wish I could forget.  But alas! I cannot.  I’ve been haunted by those memories all my life.  I have terrible nightmares.  Very often I wake up in the middle of the night screaming and all covered in sweat.

It seems like I can’t keep them inside anymore.  I feel compelled to write them down.  Why now? why after so many years? I don’t know.  But write them I must, as it seems.

How about THESE #ReasonsForAShrink?

How about your father being murdered (shot in the head) when you were 25?

How about your mother being murdered (shot in the head) BY YOUR FATHER when you were 15?

How about being rudely awoken by screams and the sound of breaking things only to find out that your mother had to flee your home -leaving a blood trail behind, when you were 6?

How about seeing your mother in a hospital bed with a broken nose and multiple bruises, hardly recognizable, and knowing it was your father who did that? and not just once but several times?

How about growing up with an abusive father who was an alcoholic and a chronic gambler?

My mother had a funny scar in the chest.  I asked her once how she got it and she avoided the question.  After she was dead and I was living with my grandmother, I found a newspaper clipping about a domestic dispute where the wife got stabbed in the chest by the husband.  Guess who they were…. I was two at the time.  I have no recollection of this.

Why did my mother stay, was beyond me for many years.  I never understood.  In fact, I even thought of her as a weak individual.  Only many years after she was gone I understood that she stayed and suffered such abuse because she loved me and she knew that if she left she would never see me again.  She knew that if she left, she would probably have to leave the country and change her name cause otherwise my father would find her just like he eventually did.  And I can only imagine it got worse when my sister was born.  Now she had not only one but two girls to take care of.

A few months after I turned 15, my father went into another of his -very frequent, tantrums and started to hit my mother again.  For the first time ever, I ran to where they were and stood between him and my mother.  While trying to reach her, he hit me.  I think that that was what made him stop.  He never laid a hand on me or my sister.  All his rage was directed against my mother. He didn’t know what to do and he left. 

That day I said to my mother “that’s it, we’re leaving”.  I packed our things, grabbed my badly injured mother (another broken nose), my little sister and called a cab.  Took them to grandma’s and then we took mom to the hospital.  I said to my mother I would get a job and ask for a scholarship -at that point I was attending a very exclusive and very expensive private catholic school.  I was first in my class so I figured the nuns would help me out.  I told her she didn’t need to worry about anything

Of course my father tried to win her back as he always did.  He sent flowers, he serenaded her, he called on the phone.  I forbade my mother to talk to him.

One day -while I was at the library doing homework, my father forced his way into grandma’s house, and in front of my little sister, shot my mother several times and then ran away.  When I got home, my mother was in the hospital and all that was left was a big pool of blood my aunt in law was trying to wash away.

I didn’t even cry.  I couldn’t cry. I cried all my tears when I was 6 while looking at my mother’s blood on our hallway floor.  Haven’t been able to cry much ever since.  In my mind both my mother and father died that day.  My father – for obvious reasons, I couldn’t love anymore.  He wasn’t my father anymore.  He was dead to me.  And my mother, well, that’s harder to explain.  She was still a loving mother, and boy, did she ever love us.  She came back from the hospital and still cared for me and my sister and continued to endure her hard life with my father.  But I couldn’t afford to love her, I guess.  It was too painful.  My brain could deal better with a dead mother that one can miss and remember but not with a living mother who was constantly being used as a punch bag by a drunk, psychotic father.

Funny thing is that I couldn’t hate my father either.  I became sort of dead inside when it came to him.  Years later, in my Med school years I actually understood that he was mentally ill. And then I felt pity for him.  The good kind of pity. That kind of pity Gandalf refers to when he’s explaining to Frodo that is was pity what stopped Bilbo’s hand from killing Gollum.

You see, my father was a tortured man.  He had a daughter he adored but she could never love him back. He knew he had done wrong and he had to live with it.  Every time he looked at me and my sister, he knew we were motherless because of him.  How could I hate a poor soul like him? he wanted my love badly and I could never give it to him.  I was never able to tell him I forgave him.  I was on speaking terms with him – in case you were wondering, but I could never hug him or show him any kind of affection.

I didn’t cry when he died either.  I felt it was a good thing.  Not because I didn’t think he deserved to live.  Far from that.  It was because I thought that finally he could rest. That he had gone to a better place where he could make amends and be happy.

I also thought I was finally getting closure and that I could move on and be happy again, like I had been before that tragic night when I was 6.  That a dark chapter of my life was coming to an end and I would be free to live and love and even cry if I wanted to.  Not quite.  Some scars remain forever.

I can rationalize all I want.  I’m a master of rationalizing.  I can even sublimate. I’m also a master of sublimation (I’m talking about the defense mechanism here, not the phase transition)* but in the end, a big part of me is still that little girl, all scared and confused who was left an orphan one terrible night in a god-forsaken country.

And as I write all this, I still can’t cry.  I feel broken inside but no tears will come to my eyes.

*yeah, that was a bad attempt at making a geeky joke :P

4 thoughts on “#ReasonsForAShrink

  1. nachosatmidnight.com says:

    I don't really know what to say. Disturbing and upsetting… But I see how strong you have become. Still, it can't be easy to live with that.I'm proud of you for sharing. Your story will provide a sense of comfort for those who have gone through equally terrifying things in their lives and give them courage.

  2. Colleen says:

    I love you and I am so proud of you for being as brave as you are. You are an amazing person who has accomplished so many fantastic, positive things in your life and I am lucky to call you my friend. We have many great things to look forward to in both our lives and I am happy to share them with you.~Coll

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