He was not the person he wanted people to believe he was. He fought demons inside his own head and his own heart, and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the demons won. They destroyed him. They allowed him to destroy many others.
Victims frequently become abusers. But he grew up in a time before there was common knowledge about the psychological impact of childhood trauma. So he did not go through therapy. He went through codeine syrup. It numbed away the pain left by the demon who first destroyed him. And then it numbed away the pain he knew he inflicted on others.
I have no idea what it takes to transform a human into a monster, but I know he knew– firsthand.
He knew he had become a monster.
On the day he died, he kept repeating the name of one of my siblings. It was a cryptic message from a the mouth of a brain disintegrating from multiple organ failure, I want to believe it was a confession.
I will never know.
My hands lay upon his chest as he inhale exhale inhale exhale inhale exhaled one last time. The pulse of his rotten heart stopped beating as I exhaled the final relief of knowing my own children would be safe from at least one of the world’s monsters.
Someone asked me today if I had been close with my father.
It’s a moment for deep reflection.
I am truly thankful that he stopped drinking when I was too little to know him drunk. I am truly thankful that he finished earning a college degree when I was just old enough to understand that the good things in my life were thanks to the value of higher education. I am truly thankful that I know it is necessary to actively protect my babies from the monsters of this world.
He often treated me like a princess. He liked to keep secrets. He wanted me to feel special, as if I were the only one who understood him, the only one he could trust. He stopped molesting me when he realized I was old enough to tell the truth. Because he stopped, I thought he had actually stopped. Then he tolerated me until I left home as a young adult. And what I now realize is that he lived out the rest of his life believing that I would eventually tell someone what he had done to me.
So, when someone asked me today if I had been close with my father . . .
It was such a moment for deep reflection.
No, I wasn’t. There were times when I was proud of him. Afterall, he was a really great drug and alcohol addictions counselor, as far as I knew. He wasn’t my friend. I was often afraid of him. He broke promises, and he broke so many parts of me when I was too little to know better.
I still believe that even people who live as monsters in this world are within reach of the hands of God. I know that Dad told him in his final year that he finally understood true salvation in Jesus. But he used the same mouth to utter those words that he used to lie about everything else right up until the end.
It was in a moment of mercy that I gave him the final dose of haloperidol prescribed by the hospice workers to help him peacefully transition out of this world and into wherever he went . . . I was there to witness the time of death. I was there to witness the terrified look on his face as he left this world and faced his Maker.
It wouldn’t be until 5 years later when I would write on this topic again.
This will be the last entry. The chapter closes here. We enter crying. We leave dying.
No, I wasn’t ever actually close with my dad.
But I was at great peace with him the moment he died.
I will not fool myself into thinking you were a good man. That’s a lie.
I will not fool myself into thinking what you wanted me to believe that you were the only trustworthy man. That’s a lie.
Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior– He restored my belief that there are actually GOOD MEN in this world.
I will not fool myself into thinking that you stopped abusing little children when you stopped abusing me. That’s a lie.
Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior– He protected me even before I knew Him; HE will bring justice beyond the grave.
I will not fool myself into thinking that everyone must have loved you since no one spoke badly of you. That’s a lie.
They were scared.
They were abused.
They were victims.
They were fooled.
They were blinded.
Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior– He is the light outshining this darkness.
One final lesson learned from my dying dad– processed over 5 years of grief–
I am not who I am BECAUSE of you.
I am who I am IN SPITE of you.