Cutting My Father Off
Cutting my father off has been one of the most excruciating decisions I’ve had to make. I used to wait and wait for better nights when he’d come home with a smile on his face and sit us down and tell stories from his heart and embrace us and teach us things fathers teach their children.
But that night never came. There were glimpses of mirth and laughter; spans of serenity once in a while, but you just never knew when lightning would strike in our home. So we were always prepared. That meant constant anxiety and fear. Which had serious mental health implications on me.
On the days he came home flattened by his drunkenness, causing chaos, puking on the living room carpet and going to sleep, I tried to be respectful. The times he stomped my head with his feet like he was killing a snake, I tried to be respectful. The nights he pounced on mum’s face and back, pulling her hair to the brim of oozing blood from her hairline, I tried to be respectful. Even the day he said he regretted marrying my mother, all I could do was cry.
Everyone kept saying,
“Don’t tell, don’t tell.”
“He’s still your father.”
From grandmas to uncles, his older friends to aunties. Everybody wanted me to keep silent. My mother could have been killed. I was expected to stuff it all in. He could have broken my limbs. I was expected to bottle it up.
The day I took a pen to write my first poem, that was it. Everything came out, including the courage. He threatened me for talking. But I was not afraid anymore.
I could not afford to live in fear any longer. I had to start facing him, speaking up against his violence. A violent person thrives in the silence of their victims, and I was no longer willing to participate in victimhood.
On my path to liberation, I’ve had to take some hard stands. All of which start at speaking up when I’m in pain. I don’t keep things burning inside me anymore. I had processed trauma alone for so many years, and it didn’t help me to keep quiet. It only made me numb and anxious and lost.
I know now that I deserve the highest quality of love. An expressive love. An honorable love. Because I issue it too. Even with my imperfections. I no longer accept fragmented love. I no longer accept to be the bigger person when I don’t want to.