I Don’t Have A Choice

It’s time to come home. It’s time to do what these hands were made to do. It’s time to make choices. It’s time to face all the fear. I’ve ran enough, as far as these legs are willing to take me. Turn and face the monsters, the facts, and the truth. It’s time to come home, the one buried deep inside my psyche. The only place I’ve called home is here. 

“Did I marry a monster?”

When you’re raised by a monster, it’s hard to spot the boogeymen out in the world. Our marriage therapist man asks, “Did you feel loved as a child?” I tell him in a stern voice, “No.” I felt loved by my sissy. We spent a lot time together, my sister and I. All those summers I dreaded, she made them better.

I’ve spent almost twenty years in psychotherapy because of men. Because of abuse. My husband will tell you how I am crazy, no good. I’ve listened to his growling threats of never being loved for almost two decades now. I can tell you how men have driven me to cliffs and they’ve dared me to jump. I flung my heart and body off those gigantic canyons. I have no fear. Not anymore. I’ve faced demons my entire life. I know how to hide away in books, and closets, and under beds. I know what’s it like to be hated by the man who helped make me.

The hard truth: Daddy, I didn’t know what you had done. 

Now you see my parents got divorced several years back. That’s their story to tell, not mine. I will write the part I’m supposed to tell. The part I haven’t yet written. Oh, I’ve skirted around it. Now I’m being forced to face the demon again. And again. And again. When your partner betrays you several times over, it can drive a woman plain mad. I’m no different. Flesh and bone, blood and guts; I am human. My husband’s last betrayal broke my spirit. I will show you a picture of a happy family on Facebook, but I will not lie. We are not happy.

At this point, you don’t care about my sad demeanor. Marriages end all the time. My own parents ended after three and a half decades. With their end came the truth. A handwritten fucking confession. My daddy called friends and confessed what he had done.

Ask me about justice and I’ll tell you I’ve never seen an ounce of it.

Seventeen years my father walked around with a secret. He thought I knew. I didn’t know. He had been given a choice, and in this choice a higher power granted him with a golden second chance at being a daddy. He spat on that chance.

He treated all of us like prized cattle. We were a great family to take to the show, prance around and look at him being a nice family man. Afterwards he’d throw us in the barn and look for new heifers.

“You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner of later, God’ll cut you down”

Johnny Cash- “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”

Daddy ran on for a long time. On a hot summer day, God and I caught up with him. He just didn’t know it. A thirteen year-old girl wanted some privacy. Wanted to change clothes. Wanted to put pants on. I had woken up in a nightgown, a long shirt. I tried shutting the door. Daddy kept opening it. Wouldn’t allow me a moment to myself. I started yelling. He swung and knocked me against the bed. Picked me up and threw me onto the bed. Slapped one cheek with the palm of his hand, came right back with his knuckles. Grabbed me up by the shirt again and threw me into my dresser. Called me a “whore” and unbuttoned his pants.

I’ve taken beatings with belts. I’ve taken beatings with oak paddles. I’ve taken beatings with weather stripping meant for a house. I’ve taken a lot of beatings. None like this one. He climbs on top of me and spits on my face. He just kept spitting on my face.

I cannot tell you what happens from here, as I don’t know. I go black. Pitch dark black. I wake up alone to sunlight streaming through the two windows of my bedroom. Body is sore. I crawled under the bed and I hid. Safe places in dark tight spaces. Seventeen years my Daddy walked around knowing he’d sexually assaulted me. Seventeen years he thought I knew. In rage perhaps it went unnoticed I had lost consciousness. I’ve read during severe trauma, a mind will block out. It’s a protection method. It’s the only protection I’ve really known in life. The one day where I can’t remember what happened to me.

“Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light”

Now when Mama asked for a divorce, Daddy went on telling his story. He wrote a handwritten confession, with parts saying what he’d done. Other parts blaming me. Mama called me crying, four months before my own wedding, asking why I hadn’t told her. I cried. I kept saying, “I didn’t know.” I’ve kept journals for most of my life. I went upstairs to my attic and opened the blue footlocker. I dug for the journal. I found the entry from that day. It talked about him hitting me and throwing me. But nothing written besides him sitting and spitting on me.

The therapists ask questions about what happened. I’ve recounted this story more times in the last month than I have in twenty years. I didn’t have a choice about what happened on that particular day. I didn’t have the choice to tell what I didn’t know. I live every day of my life not knowing what happened to me.

When the man I trusted, the man I married betrays me, not once but three times in fifteen years, it has left me utterly broken. I can’t even read books. My one safe place is gone today. I came home, but I don’t know this place anymore. I can’t hide in stories by Hemingway or Fannie Flagg or John Steinbeck. I can’t fucking read. The words jumble, my mind won’t let me focus. The stories won’t let me hide anymore. I cry. I sob for my books. I stare at my bookshelf to the right-hand side of my bed and I long to pickup just one book, and make it through all the chapters. It’s the time of year where I always read East of Eden. This year, I can’t. I don’t have a choice. My new choice is therapy. Constant talking. Constant reliving trauma, constant facing truths I sooner wish I could bury.

Choices. What fucking choices?

I’ve chosen to come back to my other home, The Misfits of a Mountain Mama is my home.

If I had a choice to live out the rest of my days, I would choose a house near the ocean. I wouldn’t mind if I had to drive an hour to see the sea. One hour is closer than nine. I’d choose to be loved. Real love, one where I’m not constantly questioning who is he talking to? I’d choose some sort of peace for myself and my child. I’d choose to never tell this story again.


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7 Comments on "I Don’t Have A Choice"

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Caroline Bowman
You do have a choice; be free. Leave this ridiculous excuse for a husband. Model to your children that vows mean something, that there are deal-breakers and self-respect is paramount. Clearly your dad is… well. I actually can’t politely say what I think, there are no excuses and no apologies worthy of even the slightest interest on your part. BUT you are somehow still here, still a brilliant writer and you have it within you to gradually stumble into the light. Suggest going over to http://www.chumplady.com for some very wise, very funny advice and a community of others who truly… Read more »

Keep talking. Keep writing.
Don’t fear, the books will come back, as pleasure, not defense or escapism. That much I do know.

Lisa @ The Meaning of Me
Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

I can’t even imagine what you’re working through. But I know you are beautiful and brave. We love you. Just keep on talking and writing…

Samara Rose

This story shattered me.

Kristi Campbell

I’m so so sorry and know what it must have taken to write this. Keep on… and thank you.

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