In reply to the WordPress Daily Prompt for Jan.5, 2015
Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?
I remember the day when I realized what I had to do. The day I knew I had to reveal my life’s biggest secret. The secret that had daily turned my stomach into knots upon knots of tied-up tension and worry. The secret that had nightly made my heart beat so loud from the memories, I could hear it pounding like haunting music in my ears. The secret that had delivered its daily dose of stress and anxiety, to the point where I honestly cannot remember a single day of my youth when I did not feel fear. I was terrified that the one other person who knew my secret would reveal who I really was.
One day, as I looked around at all of my family and friends in the crowd, I realized that all of these people would eventually find out this sin that I was hiding. I looked around, my heart pounding out of my chest, realizing that he was right – I was going to die for what I did. I envisioned the day of my execution. Right before God himself put me to death for my sins, he would reveal my secret for the world to know. I would finally be uncovered as the monster I had been hiding all this time. All of these people swirling around me would know I deserved this punishment. After this particular episode of panic, my mother had to take me to the chiropractor. I could no longer move my neck. It had been frozen with guilt.
Several years later came the day when I realized what I had to do. The one secret I daily worried would be revealed by somebody else – I was going to be revealing myself. I was 16 years old, standing in the shower – tears mixing with the water running down my face – praying to my God that somehow, in some way, he had to help me make the words come out. I knew I had to do it. I knew he would want me to do it. There were people I had to protect – one person in particular. The stress was indescribable, and I felt mute in the face of my fears. I remember processing my thoughts while staring out of my parent’s bedroom window. I would often stare out of windows – looking outside until my eyes lost focus, and I was no longer there.
It took me almost a full week to finally sit down with my parents and reveal the truth I had been hiding for so many years. It was while I was staring out of their bedroom window that my dad came up to me and told me not to be afraid – that I could talk to them about anything. My dad has this wonderful softness to his personality. He has an almost superhuman ability to read people – especially when they’re in pain. For several days, he knew that something was wrong, and that I was hurting. He knew there was something I needed to say, but just couldn’t – and he finally convinced me to feel safe enough to do what I was so petrified of doing. He was the answer to my prayer. If he would have just turned his head and ignored what he knew was wrong, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to do it. But he opened the way. And as I went to sit on my parent’s bed, safety pillow in my lap, I knew this was the point of no return.
I remember my voice reverting back to that of a little girl, speaking in childlike sentences. I remember I couldn’t believe the words were coming out of my mouth. I felt like I wasn’t even speaking – like I was off in the distance. I remember my parents asking me when it happened. For how long? And then came the question that was the hardest to answer – who was it? I couldn’t bring myself to say the name, so they tried to lighten my burden by saying it for me. But it was so much worse than their innocent guesses, and I finally had to tell them the name that I knew would crush my dad. It was his father. I remember my dad’s reaction – almost as if he collapsed under the weight of the reality that would forever haunt, not only me, but now him. He immediately drove to his parent’s house in order to confront his father. He wanted to hear his father admit it. My dad stuck up for me. He was fighting for me. He was my hero.
Ever since I was little, I could see the seething jealousy that my grandfather had of my father, as he tried so hard to cover it with his venom – quietly spewing underneath an already monstrous personality. Maybe it was because my dad was his polar opposite, and he wished so badly that he could be the person who everybody loved. Whatever lack of humanity my grandfather possessed, my dad was bestowed with an overdose. He is the most human human of anyone I know. He feels things more than others. My grandfather preyed on that vulnerable and precious quality that can only flourish under delicate care. When my dad was a little boy, his father would make him cry every night at the dinner table – just because he could. He hurt my dad for the sport of it – trying to kill off the sensitive and loving nature that my father inherited from his mother – doing so because he secretly wished he could be so good.
You will notice that I often write about my father on this blog. Nobody will ever be able to understand the bond that we have, or the struggles that we both share that originated from the same enemy. I adore my father with every ounce of my being, and I understand him better than anyone else on this earth. I have one memory of my dad, sobbing and heartbroken, telling me “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” – with an almost quiet plea for forgiveness – as he held me tightly like a frightened little child that I tried my best to comfort. But it wasn’t his fault. It was never his fault. And the lack of approval that his father kept him captive by never had to be earned, as he was duped into believing, since he actually already owned it. My grandfather’s psychopathic eyes revealed his overwhelming approval of my father – in his own sick nod of secretly wishing he could be just like him.
My dad would literally not hurt a fly. I have seen him rescue a spider inside our house – luring it onto a piece of paper, and gently setting it back outside on the ground. The one time my dad went hunting and shot a deer, he cried, and he could never do it again. The beast-like qualities inside my grandfather couldn’t stand the fact that he would never measure up to his own son. My dad was well-loved by everybody. He built a successful business out of nothing. He owned a large beautiful house, and had five beautiful children. Consumed with jealousy over what could never be his, my grandfather went after the one thing he knew would hurt my dad the most. Years before, he had already stolen my father’s most precious possessions right in front of him. And his secret theft lived on for 16 years because he threatened that favorite person of mine. He told me he would kill my father.
But now, here was my dad standing in front of him – exposing the monster for all that he was – and my father wasn’t the one being killed. The barrel was now at my grandfather’s temple. Safety off. Finger on the trigger. Of course, he vehemently denied it at first. But my father would not leave until he confessed, because he knew I was telling the truth. And eventually he did confess. He admitted it. He did it. The nightmare that I feared every night of my youth was now his, and it had only just begun.
My grandfather told me we were both going to die for what we were doing. He told me we were both bad. He was the biggest threat that I knew, and he petrified me every day of my young life – even when he wasn’t around. Little did I know that his power that was so convincingly real was only a projection of the power he wished he owned. In the end, I was the one with the power. I was the one who pulled the trigger on his life’s biggest secret. After I revealed him for what he was, he turned into a pathetic, mute hermit. He wouldn’t talk. He wouldn’t leave his house. He just sat in his chair, next to his window, and stared outside. From then on, it was a slow descent to death for him. I don’t even remember how he died. But he died alone and without sympathy for the life that he lost but never deserved.
Aside from brief moments of empowerment, the sad fact is that no matter how much work I put into healing, it just never quite does. The triggers that my grandfather had set at such an early age continue to go off at random, and for no apparent reason. Even though I know I did the right thing – and I would do it all over again – the truth brought with it it’s own set of consequences. My parents took on the guilt that never belonged to them, and my family fell apart – along with my father’s business. We eventually had to move out of our large beautiful house into an investment-property-gone-wrong that my father had purchased – coincidentally sitting right across the street from my grandparent’s house. I could see that window every single day, as I looked out of mine – haunting me with the memories of what went on behind that thin pane of glass.
There is one victory in all of this: I saved my little brother from my grandfather’s predatory grasp. My brother was everything to me, and I felt a motherly instinct to protect him. My mom once told me that I pretty much took over as soon as she came home from the hospital with him. I was 14 when he was born, and I was completely in love with that boy. I still am. He was only 2 when I revealed my secret, and to this day I’m not sure he even realizes what I did for him. He was the biggest reason I told my scariest secret, because I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I stood back and allowed the monster to get to him. I rescued him. I fought for him. And I pulled the trigger.