Writing, for me, can often take the form of therapy. It is a bottling up of my heaviest and darkest feelings and a casting of them into the ocean. They bob on the waves of the internet and I can let them go. Recently, I received this story from an long-time friend of mine and she asked me to bottle it up and throw it out on the waves for her. Reading it broke my heart for my friend. It reminded me that everyone has a story, and everyone carries scars. You cannot know a person’s whole past, and sometimes that person doesn’t even know it themselves. We all walk a journey fraught with trouble, and life is full of opportunities to be kind and to wrap others up in love.
July 19, 2016
I had a dream last night.
It featured my biological father.
Most of it was convoluted and fictitious, as most dreams are.
The mannerisms were accurate, like the way he would eat meat like a carnivorous animal.
But, this is not about my dream. It is about the memory that resurfaced when I awoke in the middle of the night. The dream was only my brain’s mechanism for bringing a memory back to the forefront.
Lying in bed, suddenly realizing that the fuzzy images I have had floating around in my head for as long as I can remember, must have been a true memory. Nearly 25 years later, and I finally know it was real. It happened. It took a fictitious dream as a back drop to bring the memory into focus. The memories’ feelings resurfaced. I felt anxious. I remember the feeling of fear. I was scared.
What sickened me the most were the instinctive thoughts and questions that flooded my mind as I relived a traumatic experience involving my biological father.
What did I do to make him so angry?
I was a bratty child at times, so I probably deserved it. Yes, that’s it. I probably needed punishing. Many people got annoyed with my three or four year old self.
It must have been my fault.
It was probably not as big as a deal as I am remembering.
But, why would I convince myself all of these years that those images were probably a dream?
The questions that shake me next are these.
Was he drunk?
Is this why the smell of strong beer on someone’s breath causes my stomach to churn involuntarily in anxious swirls?
In theory, I don’t care if people drink.
It is the involuntary anxiety, the hot flashes of panic that gets to me when beer is the choice of drink.
But, it is not the choice. It is the smell on the breath.
Beer was his drink of choice.
I remember him forcing me to fetch him beer after beer from the refrigerator when I was as young as three and four years old!
He was an alcoholic.
He was an angry alcoholic. I know this from what my mom has told me.
But, I probably deserved it, right?
No, I know those thoughts are wrong. I have read it in numerous articles.
The way abusers make you believe it is the victim’s fault.
I know my thinking is wrong, but it still comes so naturally.
The Spirit reminds me in bed at three in the morning that NO ONE DESERVES to be treated that way by another human being.
A child should never be held up by her wrist and hit with a giant of a hand repeatedly in anger.
And he was angry. Livid.
I don’t know why.
But, no one created in the image of God should be treated that way.
The question remains.
Was he drunk?
My gut says yes.
My instinct says, this is why I chose not to drink at seven years old!
This is why the smell of beer causes me to feel panic.
Now that I know why I feel this way, I can move forward.
Perhaps knowing why the smell of beer on the breath triggers hot flashes of anxiety will help me eventually—not have panic.
It is difficult to imagine something so involuntary being controllable, but knowledge is power and God brought this knowledge (or rather memory) back to the surface at this time for a reason.
Was this the only time something like this happened?
Maybe. Maybe not.
I can’t remember.
But, I am grateful that he was only a short blurb in my childhood.
The dad that raised me is self-controlled and kind.
Not everyone is so blessed.