In front of others, he’d let the kids do whatever they wanted. They could climb the walls, and he would just sit there with a smile on his face. Once we were alone, he’d rage at them, screaming about how they embarrassed him and made threats to thwart future bad behavior. Some people were wise enough to sense something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t know how terrible it actually was when we were alone. I once thought he was unable to control himself, but this behavior made it clear. He knew what he was doing all along. He controlled it when it suited him and hid it to preserve his public image which was always more important than his children. Even now, he presents himself as “an excellent father” of three, but we know it’s only for show.
I remember struggling to think of something I enjoyed doing or even something I’d like to do. I didn’t do anything for fun, and I felt embarrassed. So much of my life was filled with the task of making others happy that I lost myself. Fun is still something a bit foreign to me, but I’m learning to enjoy parts of my life again. I’ll get back there, in time…
I honestly believed there was something wrong with me for a very long time. In truth, I was hurting in silence and just needed an opportunity to heal. Instead, I beat myself up and let others abuse and take advantage of me until I was almost destroyed. A good friend finally told me I was not broken and I should never let anybody make me believe otherwise. Of course, I thought this was just lip service, but there was much truth in that statement. Once I came to an understanding of my pain and its origin I could start healing instead of trying to fix a part of me that was never broken in the first place. It is an entirely different concept.
For years now I’ve feared anyone asking me what I do for a living. Losing my job was embarrassing and hurtful. I would have been angry, but I was in too much pain. My past damaged and broke me and I may very well have trust issues to some extent for the rest of my life. I have picked myself up off the floor, and I am healing and learning about myself. I am starting over and the future looks brighter than it ever has before.
I’m finally ready to be friends with my body. We don’t always see eye to eye, but without each other, we aren’t going to get very far. I have abused my body and refused to listen to its calls for help, but it is still willing to be my friend. My body, when cherished and nurtured is my best friend, and I look forward to watching this friendship grow.
Of all the things I’ve written, the best lines are the ones that hurt the most. The pain flows from my heart through my fingertips and onto the page. During the journey, the experiences come back, and I feel them all over again. A funny thing happens when the pain transfers to the page. I am validated, heard, and the pain is muted after being processed into words. Ernie was on to something more than just great literature.
As I look back now, there is some sense to what happened. I was naive and weak. While I am still working on gaining strength, I am no longer naive. The lessons were brutal but well learned, burned into my memory. I can’t help but think I will be challenged in the future and these experiences will help me prevail. Then when I look back, it may all make sense.