Spoiler Alert: You Don’t Have To.
I’ve spent my entire life being told I should forgive and forget that I was so severely injured as a child that I’m still experiencing pain today. That my injuries weren’t properly treated when they happened for fear of a (deserved) arrest or worse puts it over the top.
I am a child of abuse. I am a victim of abuse. I am a survivor of abuse. I did nothing wrong; I am not ashamed of having been abused. I was a child. I couldn’t fight back. Even if I tried, I’d be hurt more. Basic survival instinct no two year old should ever have to know, right?
I’ve heard excuse after excuse from various people “justifying” his actions–he was in a bad place. His job was too stressful. He came from abuse himself.
I was conditioned to believe that until I had my own children. If a person can look at a tiny baby and think that it’s okay to beat her so severely she can’t walk properly for the rest of her life, then that person shouldn’t be legally around kids. I don’t care what kind of stress you’re under. NOTHING justifies that.
So, when my hips–the ones previously dislocated so harshly that I not only have problems with one leg being longer than the other, I also developed scoliosis–starting acting up yesterday at the fair and I had to leave early because walking was getting tough, all the feelings came back up.
This isn’t the first time those old injuries have come back to haunt me. I had to leave my career in professional sports because the pain after a long day would be so great I couldn’t even get out of my car when I got home.
Why should I forgive that? He hasn’t stepped up to pay for my medical costs. He did everything to prevent me getting treatment. Meanwhile, he’s living with his 4th wife, who’s loaded, and spending his days sitting around on his ass criticizing my every life choice like he somehow has the moral high ground.
So, guess what? After 30 years I’m done. I’m not going to listen to every well-meaning person who comes along and tries to tell me it’s better to forgive and forget. I’m not going to take the advice of someone who has never been through what I’ve been through. I’m not going to forgive. I’m not allowed to forget thanks to my injuries. Why should I be forced to forgive?
And why in the hell are people telling me I shouldn’t cut him off? I get to decide what’s best for ME. I know what he’s done to me. My kids aren’t going to be any worse not knowing him. He is a miserable old man who only cares about himself and his problems. Even a birthday text from him is overshadowed by his complaints about his health and his mother and whatever else sucks in his life right now. Why should I have that negativity in my life and in my children’s lives?
My husband doesn’t understand. He can’t understand, I think. He tries, but he had a great dad. If he did something wrong, like refuse to eat his dinner, he probably got a stern talking-to or something take away. If I refused, I was forced to sit at the table until it was all gone, sometimes for hours. At 4. Then if it got too late, I got the belt.
Usually worse. Mostly worse. I remember passing out once when a friend lightly touched me on the back one day in school. I was bruised, flayed, and bloody in some places.
Also, thanks, Polk County School System, for doing your job and calling DCF and helping me get out of a bad situation. Oh, wait. You didn’t. Fuck you.
So, dad, if you’re reading this, I’m done with you. Don’t call me. Don’t text me. Don’t email me. Don’t try to talk to my kids. You yelled at my son once, and that’s the one chance you got. I don’t care that you’re pissed off at my life choices. You don’t have a damn bit of say in what I do. I am an adult and you are not going to ruin this part of my life like you did my childhood. I don’t forgive you. I won’t forgive you. I don’t have to forgive you. I can’t forget what you did because I live with it every day. I hope you’re happy that you physically broke a person for her whole life. You’ve left your mark in this world. This is your legacy. Not having a child or making a difference in the world. Breaking me is your legacy. I hope you enjoy it.
I may be in pain. I may be a horrible person. But I’m going to be happy.
By the way, see this book down here? You’re the bad guy. You. Congratulations. There’s another legacy for you. You’re a bona fide villain in a published book.
Piper Doone is the author of the highly rated gay erotic romance, Playing Hard To Forget, available from Amazon and Dreamspinner Press and your favorite ebook retailer in paperback and ebook, and the upcoming Something To Die For, releasing March 2015.