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Why I Feel Lucky

by Aazari Cantharess

4/23/99

     I come from a family with a history of abuse and alcoholism. My father was
quite abusive when he would drink. His family was full of alcoholics who
saw women as toys and property. My mother had a father who was just like
her husband...abusive and a drunkard. The difference? She defeated her
father's abuse by running him out of her home as soon as she was old enough
to defend herself, her mother and her sisters. Why she ended up with
someone just like him is beyond me. It must have been that messed up
psychology people have in trying to marry people just like their parents,
even when their parents were horribly abusive. At any rate, they ended up
together and had three kids, myself and two older brothers.

     When I was younger, I never could figure out why so much of my childhood
seemed blank and unmemorable. It wasn't until after my father died that my
psyche felt safe to let me see all that had been hidden. I had just turned
twelve and some scent drifting on the summer breeze triggered a reaction,
opening up the floodgates and sending a wave of terror crashing over me
with such force that I crumbled to my knees in shock and just sat there
murmuring "What the F*CK?!". Here's just a little bit of what came back to
me....

     When I was four, my father stood both of my brothers facing a wall and was
beating them with this big brass buckle he had on his belt. I had been in
the living room watching t.v. when I heard them screaming. I ran into the
hall and looked into the room where they were and saw huge bleeding welts
forming on their backs with each swing of the belt. I had no idea what they
had done to make him angry. I only knew that my father had been drinking
all day. Seeing the crimson seeping into the waistbands of their pants made
some sort of feral rage surge up in my little body. I stood in mute horror
for a moment and then ran into the living room to grab the loose arm off of
an old chair. I wrenched it free and charged into the room, wielding it
like a billy club. I started hitting my father about his knees and shins
with all the force my tiny arms could muster. I screamed furiously at him,
"Leave my brothers alone! I hate you! I'll kill you!". When he realized
what was happening, he just stopped and looked down at me with a look of
utter shock. He started backing away. My brothers took the opportunity to
run and I just kept advancing on my father, swinging the chair's arm. He
retreated into his bedroom and I spent the rest of the night sitting at the
door with my club across my legs, waiting for him to come out and give me
an excuse to hit him again. There were several occasions where he got drunk
and rampaged through the house. My mother, when she wasn't working nights
to support us, would haul me out of bed in the middle of the night. We'd
end up sleeping in the car on the beach to get away from him. I think the
fact that he was scared of me and my mother was the only thing that kept
him from ever actually hitting me.

     On a few occasions, my father attempted to sexually abuse me. However, he
found me far from defenseless. My mother had always told me how to handle
people who touched me in ways I did't like. So, when he tried to molest me,
he got a swift pair of hard-soled patent leathers in his crotch. After the
third time, he quit trying that. But his abuse didn't stop. He merely found
other ways to hurt me.

     I've always had a high I.Q. and been very creative. I knew no greater joys
than reading, painting and writing. I dreamed of some day being an artist,
a writer, a veterinarian, a marine biologist and a number of other things.
My mother always encouraged me, buying books and art supplies and taking me
to the zoo or museums. She realized early on how smart I was and taught me
to read long before I ever made it to school. But for all of her
encouragement, my father tore me down at every opportunity. He told me I
was stupid. He told me I was an ugly, fat little bitch. He told me nobody
loved me. He told me that I would never be anything worthwhile. He would
destroy my paintings and poetry. He'd tell me my dreams were pointless and
that I'd better marry the first man who asked because it would probably be
the only chance I'd get. He would destroy anything I seemed to love
(including my pets), so I started becoming emotionless. He wasn't stupid
about it. He'd wait until he was there alone with me. My mother would be at
work and my brothers would be off running around somewhere, leaving me to
his "tender mercies". I slowly grew to hate him so much that I constantly
wished that he would die and leave our family alone. I knew my mother would
probably kill him if I told her all that he'd done, but I couldn't stand
the thought of losing the only supportive person I had in my life, so I
never mentioned any of it to her.

     What really made me hate him was the fact that he was constantly trying to
buy my love. He feared me because I read books about the occult from about
age five on. He feared my independent nature and intelligence. He feared me
because he knew I wanted him to die. But he still had that sick need for me
to fawn over him, so he would give me whatever I wanted, yet one look
(teeth bared, eyes narrowed, accompanied by a low growl) would send him
scurrying from the room. I got to the point that I would take what he would
give me in the way of money and give it to my mother to help her with bills.

     One day, (I think I was about ten years old at the time) we were having a
bit of heavy weather...lots of thunnder and lightening and pounding rain. I
was heading out the door to go feed my dog. The poor pup had gotten so
terrified of all the loud thunder and flashing skies, that he'd broken his
chain and was running toward the door to get inside and be with me. He
barrelled past me and into the den. About that time, my father was leaving
the kitchen (where he always sat drinking) to go to the bathroom. My dog
skidded to a halt in front of him, cowering in terror as I approached to
round him up and take him back outside. My father gave me a vile grin and
kicked the dog so hard that he skidded across the twelve feet of den,
crashing open the storm door and landing about six feet out in the mud
beyond. He lay there motionless. My rage flared and, quicker than my father
could react, I leaped up onto the chair beside him, turned him toward me
and grabbed him by the throat. Squeezing, I told him that if he ever
touched me or anything I loved ever again, I would kill him. My mother had
been sitting on the couch all this time and just sat there staring, not
knowing what to say as I shoved him back. I jumped off the chair, went
outside, picked up the dog and spent the rest of the day and a good part of
the night nursing and comforting him in his doghouse.

     Not too long after that, my father died. He just passed away in his sleep
one night while my mother was at work. I'd been on the couch in the den
watching movies all night. I'd fallen asleep there and heard my mother on
the phone in the kitchen as she called the police to tell them he was dead.
As I'd come out of sleep, I'd been dreaming about going up to wake up my
father and finding a log in the bed, shaking it and saying "Dad, wake up
you asshole!". I heard my mother telling the cops "My husband died during
the night". I remembered thinking, "He's dead? Is he really DEAD?". In the
days that followed, Mom and I watched his friends and my brothers mourn him
as if he'd been a saint and talk about what a great guy he'd been. But I
could feel that we both had that sense of stunned relief. The relief that
we'd never have to spend the night on the beach again. The relief of not
having to deal with him his two weeks a month home from the rig where he
worked. The relief of not having him destroy our house in his drunken
rages. She put on the show expected for her at the death of her husband,
but I made it clear to my siblings that I was GLAD he'd died. And they have
ridiculed me for that ever since.

     There was another experience when I was very young, perhaps five years old
or so, that stood out when that wave came crasing down. A friend of my
brothers forced me to perform oral sex on him while my brothers and a room
full of their friends laughed and cat-called. I don't blame my brothers for
it. They were scared of the boy who did it and they had only my father as a
rolemodel. I know that that alone was enough to give them really screwy
ideas on what was appropriate. But I did feel let down. They were supposed
to protect their little sister and they failed to do so. For his trouble,
the abuser ended up with me vomiting all over his lap when he orgasmed.
After that humiliation, he was quickly added to my list of people I would
gladly see die in the most horrible ways.

     Now, you might ask, why would I feel lucky after all that I've been
through? Why do I feel lucky despite the fact that my brothers deny
everything that happened and think I'm psychotic because I insist it's all
true? Why do I feel lucky even though I was a pre-teen alcoholic/addict and
tried to kill myself when I was thirteen because of all of the abuse at the
hands of my father and my peers? Why do I feel lucky even though my
experiences made me hate myself and the world as a whole for such a long
time? I feel lucky because my father never managed to molest me. I feel
lucky because my mother believed in my dreams and supported me no matter
how unusual they were. I feel lucky because my father never actually hit me
for fear of what I'd do to him. I feel lucky because I know that, while my
childhood wasn't fabulous, it's not the worst I could have gone through. I
know that my story and experiences can help others. I know that I can be
there for a child or adult who's going through similar or worse things. I
know I can help them to find the strength to be like me: a survivor and not
a victim.