[Content Warning: descriptions of physical abuse.]
It’s been 7 years since I excised my father from my life and the lives of my children.
Lately, as I’ve been re-purposing some of my terrible memories of him, I have discovered that my body still physically reacts to even memories.
Even now, as I am typing in public with my father thousands of miles away in a different life, a different state, perhaps a different country, my body is trying not to panic.
My chest feels tight. My heart races. My fingers shake.
I can’t breathe.
I am on the verge of ugly sobbing.
I tell myself I am safe.
My body does not believe me.
I break out into a cold sweat.
I have to take frequent breaks and discuss skinny jeans and think about hot Korean pop stars.
And abs. I have to think about abs.
The strange thing to me is, what I’m reacting to isn’t even his actual abuse. I am thinking of the times I begged my mother to leave him. To set herself free from this monster of a man. I fantasize about having been able to provide for her financially as a young adult so that perhaps, on the off-chance it was about money and him robbing her of what she made and saved for her children (because it’s always about money), she would have been brave enough to leave him.
It is only now, seven years out, that I realize I lived in constant fear.
The fear that every time she called, it would be because of my father hurting her again – whether physically or emotionally.
He ruined her body and ravaged her youth.
Every time he came home for his brief visits from China or Taiwan, I was afraid. When she traveled with him internationally, I was afraid. When they were going through divorce proceedings, I was afraid.
Would this be the time he finally snapped? Would this be the time he would not lift the pillow over her face? Would this be the time where she would not come back?
This is why I cannot even hear 45’s voice. Why I cannot bear to mention him by title or name. Everything about that evil man makes me think of all the worst things my father has done to me, my mother, and my brother.
This is why I am so angry. Why I am so furious at the cowards in Congress and the Senate and the Supreme Court. Why I have trust issues with Christians. Why I side-eye a lot of Chinese/Taiwanese cultural norms.
You can #notallmen and #notallChinese and #notallChristians until you’re blue in the face (or I punch it).
It won’t make a difference.
What does it say about our society that when 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually assaulted and yet STILL, this fuckery is justified and VOTED IN?!?
TELL ME WHY MY FATHER WAS A MONSTER AND NO ONE HELPED US?
Tell me why our church enabled him? Tell me why my mother felt as if she had to stay and was trapped by our culture and religion?
Tell me why a grown 6 foot, 200 pound man thought it was socially acceptable to physically hurt my 5’2″, 100 pound mother in front of his two small children?
This is why I refuse to allow my father around my children. Why I have cut him from our lives. Why I have to explain to my children why I get so angry when they disobey me and how sometimes I have to physically restrain myself from the instinct to physically beat them into submission. Why I am so baffled that my children are still alive to talk to me the way they do because if I had spoken this way to my father, they would not exist because he would have murdered me.
This is why I’m shaking even though I am safe.
The ridiculous thing is that I had it relatively okay compared to some. (And no, I don’t particularly feel inclined to play the Suffering Olympics right now, thanks.)
I can only imagine how awful it is for the people who have been sexually assaulted and abused in even more severe ways.
This is America.
I weep for my country; I love my country.
And yes, I know it has ever been so.
That for now, instead of hiding, the ugly and evil of our country feels safe and unafraid in broad daylight.
I want them to feel fear. I want them to be afraid. I want them to feel the very real terror the rest of us feel.
I want to be a monster to end all other monsters.
I want to be better than that. But not today.