Mum and Dad came to drop me off at SFO. Twenty-five years ago I came to Cali, not being fully aware at that time that I had come to forgive. To lay to rest the ghosts and repair the damage that had been done by my father's abuse, and that my hatred for him and what he had done was creeping into the pores of my skin everyday and not allowing me to feel.
There were still nightmares. There was still pain. Mahatma Gandhi said "Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong...the weak can never forgive". I had decided to try forgiveness. It wasn't easy. I hadn't had any guidance. Hurt and pain is what shaped me into a young woman. I just got through those times as best as I could. I slept with a lot of boys. And then men. I slept with them and they had no faces and I felt nothing most of the time. I don't know if it was a misguided attempt at feeling loved.
Perhaps it was, looking back now.
My father, telling me from an early age, that I had to learn how to keep a man happy in bed, otherwise I would always be alone and nobody would love me. My first boyfriend was the one that eventually took me to the authorities so that the abuse could stop. I was in love with this kid. We were barely sixteen. After I had sex with him for the first time, pretending I was a virgin, I could no longer bear the thought of my father touching me anymore. It was abhorrent before. But now it was worse.
I found a way to escape though, while it was happening. When he crept into my bedroom at night, my body would tense up and I would make my soul; my spirit, leave, and suspend itself high up above, against the ceiling, watching below. It was how I coped. I haven't been in touch with this for all these years, but I know that I still do it. He wasn't, then, violating me, my mind, my spirit, or my soul. Only my shell. My vessel. Like it was something separate. It was somehow easier to deal with that way.
Like when my parents bought that deli. My father used to make me go with him to the Makro cash and carry for the shopping to stock the shop. Upstairs there was an apartment. We would drop off the supplies and he would make me go upstairs and sometimes he would make me lie right there in the cold hallway covered with flat cardboard boxes, on the landing and pull my bottoms off and use his spit to lubricate me and force himself into me. Now it was just a way of life and I felt like I couldn't escape. It was like living in a perpetual nightmare.
Everyday, I would try to avoid being alone with him. But my mother always made sure that I was sent with him. Do I think she knew what was going on? Yes probably. She has never admitted it. But I think so. Perhaps she didn't want to fuck him herself so maybe she just figured if he was doing it to me it didn't matter. At least it wasn't a whore or someone else, outside? I don't want to believe it sometimes. She should have been aware enough to protect me. But it is the only explanation in my mind as to why she would book long trips away and take my brother along with her, and as I begged her not to leave me with my father, she would say that someone had to stay behind to "take care of him".
When I eventually told the authorities what was happening, the day the house of lies came crashing down; she slapped me across the face and said that she knew he had a mistress, she didn't know it was her own daughter, in her own house, as if I were at fault.
I have been so disconnected all my life. I know that now. Even when I thought that I was connected, in a relationship, sometimes the intimacy would overwhelm me and it was easier to disconnect, be separate. Sometimes I didn't feel anything. no connection...not deep inside where it really mattered. I still do it I think. I disconnect, mostly with those I love so much.
Other times I really felt something. Like when I got divorced from my second husband, my ten year relationship that unraveled...there was a moment when I had just finished clearing out the house we had lived in. I was turning to leave. There it was. Empty. Clean. A couple of black garbage bags in the middle of the living room. The first house I had purchased for my family. All the work my husband and I had done. The remodeling, the painting with our own hands, the beautiful floors in the kitchen and furniture and art. I thought of the lemon tree in the backyard that we planted. I thought of the Thanksgivings, the birthday parties, the Christmases, the love, the laughter, the fights, the firsts, the lasts, our two boys. Everything at that moment flashed before me. My hope at happiness, at a "normal" life. Broken. All the millions of little pieces of memories floated around me like shards of glass in a vacuum. My legs gave way underneath me and I fell to the ground and let out a scream, and sobbed like a child, the shards of glass memories falling around me like raindrops as the tears fell incessantly, leaving me with nothing but the empty room; the garbage bags, the silence, and my sobbing.
There are times like that when I really remember feeling something. Not just during sad times, but also during intense moments of joy, like seeing Marcho Cochrane's Bliss Dance sculpture at Burning Man for the first time and falling to my knees with tears of joy and all my breath disappearing from inside my lungs. Sometimes I think that I spent so much of my life in rebuild mode that I wonder if that is all my life is...short attempts at happiness followed by rebuilding.
At age sixteen everything came crashing down - I suppose it was crashing down for many many years before that...but at least the abuse stopped and he wasn't violating my body anymore. After that there were children's homes, and foster homes. Trying to fit in. Feeling abandoned constantly. Suicide attempts, trying to find love in the wrong places and craving love and affection and letting myself be mistreated - I guess it was all self hatred in the end. There were many years of loneliness, and rebuilding after letting things fall apart over and over again.
I moved to Cali with two suitcases and a backpack. I was going to Portugal with three suitcases and a backpack.
Here I was. At SFO. Hugging my parents goodbye. After all the abuse and abandonment, I had gone to repair something that I hadn't broken. I let my light back into my parent's lives, if only for a while. Perhaps this is closure, I thought. Somehow.