My Dad. There are times that I don’t even know where to start with that guy. Actually, no, I never know where to begin my story with that guy. And so, I will begin where I always do, with memories that haunt me. Something was and is very wrong with him.
I survived yet another awkward day of celebrating. This past Sunday was Father’s Day. I remember celebrating Father’s Day when I was a child. Faking my way through the ‘Yay, I have the best dad!’ rhetoric.
I know that there are many people out in the world that have or had great days. I see it in the social media posts on and around Father’s Day. I also think, how nice for those people. And there is a part of me that means it, and a part of me that is so very bitter.
And I wonder I wonder what that would have been like. To have a Dad. A true Dad, not the one I ended up with, the abusive tormentor of my childhood. The stuff of true nightmares. That was my Dad. That is my Dad.
There is a lack of recollection, or maybe I just blocked it out the evening my Dad left. He was there one moment and gone the next. It was like he had died. Death may have been less traumatic for me. I don’t know. I am still waiting to find out how I feel when I find out he has finally died. Relieved, I imagine, but I don’t know.
Anyway, on that night, he went out to get something, and that was it. I don’t know how we found out or figured out that he was never coming back. It was quite chaotic, as you can imagine. Imagine that from the perspective of a child who does not understand what is happening.
I felt many things over the next several days. There was sadness, and there was also happiness. My Dad, the monster was gone. I thought now I would get some relief, and I would be able to sleep at night. But there was so much tension, so much unknown, in the world around me that I couldn’t breathe. All of that turmoil swirled around me constantly. It is no wonder that I withdrew within myself.
There were few times that my mother actually hit me. She didn’t believe in corporal punishment as my Dad did. That guy. Yeah, his favorite thing was one of us to commit some infraction, real or perceived; it did not matter. It was spanking time. Except it was not spanking, and it was not with an open hand.
Oh, it started with an open hand, but that started to hurt his hand. So then he moved to use the belt. And it was usually the belt that he was wearing. So the initial fear that was evident in my eyes as I would watch him remove his belt, oh he enjoyed that. I could tell. I could see it in his eyes. And in his pants.
Eventually, the belt wasn’t quite as satisfying. I was numb to that buildup, and I could anticipate what would happen. I stood there, eyes unfocused, looking at everything and nothing. That was not as exciting for him, not as interesting. It was then I graduated to the switch.
Picking My Switch
For those that don’t know, a switch can be anything. Usually found in nature, but not necessarily. We lived surrounded by nature, so I would be outside looking for a good switch. You see, finding the switch that my father would then use to punish me was part of the buildup—the psychological buildup of what was coming.
There was no way to provide my father the satisfaction of me coming back with a switch that wasn’t good. He would send you back out. And he enjoyed that too much. I was not going to give that to him. Not a chance. Once I figured out what his game was, I was not going to play.
The switch had to be supple. Some bend so that when the arm pulls back, you can see the end of the switch extend further back than that arm. It was that bend in the switch that made it so that you got hit twice. Once with the initial hit, the second time as the end of the switch hits you with that nice THWAP sound.
Show No Pain
I swear to god, that switch moved in slow motion. One hit, two hits, three hits, and on and on until I would stop counting. Then, it only ended when I would break. Except there came a time that I did not, would not break.
I couldn’t sit down for days after that one. I would stand at the table instead of trying to sit. Finally, my mother told me to quit standing. I needed to sit at the table like everyone else. What, did I think I was special? My Dad thought I was.