Here we go...another family holiday that, with all of its good intentions, manages by accident to rub my face in the fact that my family memories aren't all warm and fuzzy. They're flashbacks of terror instead.
My untreated and mentally illfather couldn't stop hurting me even when he meant to play catch. Throwing the football in the back yard with me, as a bipolar he would throw a manic bullet pass at my head that would drill me point blank in the face. To say hello in the morning at the breakfast table he would hide behind the refrigerator. Then when I walked by he would jump out at me to sock me a light buddy-to-buddy punch in the arm. The problem was, his manic delivery of that light buddy-to-buddy punch in the arm would turn into a heavyweight champion-level roundhouse stinger blow that would knock me off my feet and leave me with a purple bruise for days--all before breakfast.
And that was when he wasn't angry. When he got angry about once a week, he'd go into blackout rages, fists flying and not with punches to my arms. Then they were straight to the face. I'd retreat to my room, but I couldn't escape through its window because he put bars on it. I could only bolt the door and wait for the raging beast of a dad outside to wear itself out and go away. After the blackout rages passed, he never remembered them. He just went back to hitting me in the face with a football and knocking me off my feet at breakfast, all friendly again.
Locking myself in my bedroom to get to safety from him worked for a while until when I was in high school in one of his blackout rages he finally just went ahead and kicked it in. That time he had me trapped in a smaller room than usual, so now he could bounce me off of its walls with his fists. It left behind traces of blood spatter in arcs across its white walls that stayed there ever after as evidence even though later he never could remember how my blood got up there.
Instead, in a manic fit he bought me a shotgun to keep under my bed in there. His reckless lack of awareness of his safety issues toward me scared me so badly that I left home then at 17, just 4 months shy of my final high school exams. I didn't want to get trapped in my bedroom again with his fists flying and wind up having shot my dad in self defense with the shotgun he'd given me to keep there.
My TV just blared an ad at me about what I should buy my dad as a gift for Father's Day. Ruefully, I thought that in memory of our relationship when I was a kid I could him a football, or maybe a pair of boxing gloves. Instead, though, I realized that by leaving home at 17 I already gave him the greatest gift of all--his life. I didn't fulfill his deranged death wish with that shotgun he gave me.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.
Anybody else having PTSD reflections on Father's Day?
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