The smallest things will trigger a response from me. A loud male voice behind me at the grocery store, the smell of beer and leather, bright lights and loud music, aggressive men in general, and even the way my Dad calls my name sometimes startles me.
Deep in the back of my mind I think I still resent my Dad for the way he handled everything. For the way he shook his hand and thanked him for bringing me home. For the way he called me a “drunk and a liar” as I was on the floor covered in blood, in and out of consciousness.
It wasn’t the first time, it was just the worst time.
REMEMBERING THAT NIGHT
I don’t remember the day. I don’t remember the exact year. I remember the apartment because I was there everyday. I remember the person because we had been as close as two people can be for over 10 years. We were both alcoholics. The only difference was I did my drinking between 4pm and 3am. I never drank during the day and I never drank alone. He drank whenever, by himself or with other people.
Over the years I had seen him be cruel. He had been physical with me on a fee occasions but I wasn’t a small girl and always thought I could handle him. I thought I could handle all of them, that it was no big deal. I admit to drinking to the point of blacking out at times, having no memory of the previous night. I know during these times some things happened without my permission. I only know this by how I looked when I woke up and where I woke up.
I was undiagnosed Bipolar and doing anything I could to not feel emotions. My alcoholism eventually made this a million times worse. I also admit I wasn’t always nice while drinking. I could be obnoxious, jealous, and petty.
I would try to stop or slow down my drinking many times.
One night I took my cousin to the apartment with me, I wasn’t drinking. Someone thought it would be funny to put Rum in my soda. I took a big gulp and that was it. He was pissed and said “You better not get drunk because you’re not staying here tonight”. Of course this pissed me off and I thought “Who the hell is he to tell me how much to drink? He wouldn’t even have groceries or clean laundry if it wasn’t for me.” So I drank and drank.
At some point we started to argue. Over the years he always said to me “You always hurt the ones you love the most”. And he did.
I turned my back to walk away from him, he picked up a heavy oak chair with wheels and hit me over the back of my head.
I tried to fight back and it angered him more, he grabbed my hair and pulled me to the floor. He got on top of me with all his weight, pinning my arms down with his knees.
He started punching me in the face, he wore a skull ring. All these years later, if you look closely, you can see a scar on my chin and an indent on my nose. With each punch he said a word “YOU, STUPID, FUCKING, BITCH” I remember spit flying out of his mouth and my nose swelling shut.
The blood started to go down the back of my throat and I felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t get any air and I couldn’t move. For the first time ever I was terrified.
Eventually he pulled me up by my hair. I noticed one of the bedroom doors open and a girl I had known for years looked out at me and hurried to shut the door. I know I said “Help” but maybe I wasn’t loud enough. My cousin was asleep in a bedroom.
I had bleach blond hair at the time, it was soaked with blood. Everything was soaked with blood.
He dragged me to his apartment door which was always open and threw me down the stairs. I don’t know how long I stayed at the bottom of the stairs.
The next thing I remember is being in a moving car.
He had his friend drive me and my cousin to my parent’s home. He carried me to the door where he told them I fell. I kept trying to tell them it was him, I didn’t just fall.
It might have been the blow to the head because I wasn’t able to remain conscious. My Dad took this as a sign of being extremely drunk.
When I could speak and told my parents as much as I could my Dad said no one would believe me. I shouldn’t have been there and I was a drunk and a liar. They told me not to go to the Hospital and that I would be fine.
I wasn’t fine and wouldn’t be fine for the rest of my life.
The heavy chair hitting my head had actually caused permanent damage. I found this out 6 months ago.
PTSD is bad enough. When you have an underlying mental health issue like Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and Substance Abuse Disorders, it can turn into something much more complicated.
Dealing with Conversion Disorder has been as bad as coping with Bipolar. I never really know what is going to set it off. It’s embarrassing to start stuttering and have people stare at you. To start shaking and have your hands tremor so bad you can’t count change. To have no control over your body.
I knew eventually he would get drunk and say something in front of the wrong people.
He did. A month later he bragged about what he had done to me in a bar filled with people. The story got back to my older brother and he in turn told my parents. My Dad was furious but both my parents encouraged me to let it go.
Two years later he was arrested for Domestic Assault & Battery and was sent to counseling. He broke the woman’s jaw.
These are some of the reasons we stay silent. We’re talked out of it, told no one will believe us, think we deserve it or we see that nothing is ever done about it when we finally do get the courage to speak up.
Towards the end of my Dad’s life he apologized for not doing more at the time. He said he thought about it often, it was one of his biggest regrets.
I make no excuses, my decisions are my own. I only offer an insight into what life can be like for someone with severe mental illness who doesn’t receive treatment.