"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish."~John Jakes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monster No More

I don't remember exactly when it happened anymore. Memories of my childhood come in spurts and pieces, little instances of time here and there that have no meaning alone, yet all the meaning in the world at the same time. I do remember the scene itself, and I remember how I felt when it ended. It began with an apology absent of remorse.

I hadn't wanted to step foot in that house ever again. The call to visit was too great though, as I still needed the validation that I never received. It was my parent's home, and had been mine until I left in the quiet of the moonlight a few weeks after I turned 18. The things that happened in that home were largely left unspoken; CPS and the judge being the only ones outside the family who knew the darkness that lurked there.

How did I ever muster up the strength to approach him? He controlled so much of my life. He still has too much control over me.

"I'm sorry. Just wanted to tell you that." There's no emotion crossing his face. Just the words hanging in the empty space, waiting for me to accept them. I remained silent for a few moments, letting the words marinate in my mind.

He is afraid. Afraid of a small ten year old only seeking to receive love from her uncles. Afraid of her warm embrace. Afraid of her willingly given heart. Afraid of himself, perhaps?

"Why did you do it? Why did you think it was okay? I am your daughter. Why?" My voice calm as I questioned, the lump in my throat forming in the uncertainty that I wanted an answer. I needed an answer more than I wanted one, but I knew in the deepness of my core that it would not be an answer I wanted to hear.

Our battle of wills is going to cost us both my mother. She was mine first. I will not be pushed out of her life. He tries, regularly, but I am learning to let it go. Learning that he can only control me if I let him. 

"You are not my flesh and blood." The answer was so very simple, yet so very wrong. "Not my flesh and blood". No, this is not good enough. Unacceptable.  The words echoed throughout my being, chilling me, breaking me, terrifying me.

Whoever said that words can't hurt you was wrong. Sometimes words can slice so thickly through you they leave you cut in half, moldering and festering in the gaping wounds. These words were like that. The wound is still festering, but it is finally healing. I don't look back with the same pain I used to. 

Sorry wasn't good enough. "I will never forgive you," I told him that day, watching his eyes closely for any sign of emotion that it mattered to him. There was no flicker of regret in his eyes, not even a tiny glimmer that it hurt him at all. I was not validated.

When I visit now, the man I see is not a monster anymore. I see a man so desperately out of control of himself that his need to control someone is amplified. I see a man without strength. I see a man incapable of emotion. I limit our time around him now to hugs and kisses, unless my husband is with us, so he can have no more control over me.

Despite my resolve to never forgive him, I have peace. Somehow, as I grew up, the forgiveness came.

This week's prompt was forgiveness. Concrit is welcome. I tried something new, switching back and forth between past and present, and I would love to know if it worked, or didn't, and why. How's my tense? Could I have used more imagery? Feel free to tell me what your thoughts are.

--Stephanie, AKA The Drama Mama


  1. Stephanie,
    It all worked for me. I didn't "feel" any tense problems when I read it, so when I saw your question I read it through again. It flowed nicely for me. I think the switching between past and present gave a real life to these intense memories. It is as though simply thinking about them now draws you, and us, right back to when it actually happened. It was quite powerful, and moving.
    ~Nicole :)

  2. I think it worked beautifully.
    I felt the anger as he had no emotion, and the senes of peace in your heart as forgiveness came.

  3. I didn't have any problem with the tense either. I liked the switching - the dichotomy between then and now. I don't have much in the way of concrit.

    Bits of this hit close to home for me. It's very powerful, and I can feel your invalidation at his lack of response. It makes me seethe.

    So true about words being able to slice through you. I think your imagery is there. You described the scene well enough that I don't really need to know the setting.

    Beautiful work!


  4. It was very powerful. I was captivated by it.

  5. "Sometimes words can slice so thickly through you they leave you cut in half, moldering and festering in the gaping wounds." that line was utterly lovely. so accurate. I know that feeling well.

    I also really identified with this. you were vague about the details, but were you abused and adopted? or a stepchild? I was adopted and an abused child. so I felt totally sucked in. I kept nodding yes, yes. some acts don't deserve forgiveness.

    I did like the tense changes. I think it worked quite well actually. I wasn't confused at all. well done!

  6. This post is so strong, powerful, heart wrenching. I hung onto every word. Rooting for her (you!) and crossing my fingers that she's okay.

    My favorite lines were: Whoever said that words can't hurt you was wrong. Sometimes words can slice so thickly through you they leave you cut in half, moldering and festering in the gaping wounds. So very true, so very beautifully worded.

    I'm happy that there's peace at the end. You did a great job of coming full circle- in real life and in writing this piece! i think that both can be hard.

  7. "I needed answers more than I wanted them..."

    That's a great line and I would suggest moving it to the very top of the piece. It sets the scene of apprehension and also provides a layer of characterization both for your protagonist and your plot.

    Thanks for stopping by my place today. Don't be a stranger.

  8. This was extremely powerful and emotional to read. I almost feel like I shouldn't comment--like it's too personal, but you asked for us to do so, so I know it's o.k. First, I think shifting tenses is o.k. b/c the font changes let us know you're doing that. One thing I wonder, though. Have you forgiven him or just accepted that things are as they are? Obviously, only you know that. It seems to me, though, that there is some peace that comes from accepting some bad people and situations just are as they are, warts and all. Just a thought...This is an amazingly powerful piece of writing that is very well done.

  9. I think you did a great job with the prompt & writing about forgiveness. I will agree with the part AndyGirl quoted - that part was so well written. I think you did well going back and forth, yet not being confusing. I'm glad that as you've grown up, you've found peace.

  10. Emotional and powerful. Amazing words.

    I will admit that I didn't see the switching as tense changes, but more as a way to be in your head when you were there, revisiting an awful place and a person who hurt and controlled you. I see it all as one scene, one instance, and you recovering quickly from the slicing pain of the words, as you are strong. I am sure it covers so much more time than that, but I think it is so well worded that whatever timeframe you are referring to is felt. At least, I felt it.

    I believe that there is so much missing from this story that I think we do just fine without, honestly, and my heart still aches, so if you were worried about that you are fine, totally fine.

  11. I think this was very well done. I didn't even notice the tense changes, so I think it worked very well. Just seemed to belong. I identify with this one very much as well. Which makes it a little painful to read...but beautifully done, nonetheless.

    ~visiting from TRDC

  12. I agree with all the others, the tense changes are not noticeable.. you switched seamlessly between past and present. It was emotional and very personal - beautifully written.

  13. Great post, you demonstrated the pain and frustration well.

    I think if you had made the quotes individual lines they would have been more powerful. Let us feel the sting rather than telling us they stung.

  14. I have a Porta Potty reserved for him. Let's take it down the highway at 70mph.

    OK...so the concrit. I have next to nothing. This was an extremely powerful piece, yet the emotions you revealed were kept firmly in check. This is a talent, especially when dealing with a sensitive nature that would make you want to spew emotions all over the page. Over all...well done. I like the transitions in tense and it felt natural.

  15. This is very intense and I like how you ended with your own forgiveness. He is a person now vs. being the monster he once was. That's beauty in itself.

    Our first prompt is published over at the Bloggy Moms Writer's Workshop. I hope you can participate!

  16. I thought the tense change worked well. Going back and forth from the girl who need answers to the woman who didn't.

    I actually liked the fact that you kept the actual circumstances so vague. We knew it was horrible. We knew it was painful. But we also knew that you'd moved forward.

    Great post!

  17. The tense changes just seemed to work for the piece, and did not take away from the flow.

    Very powerful. Even though I wasn't sure what had happened, your emotions were very clear.

  18. thank you for writing this, and for doing it so evocatively. I understand the ending too, have a former father in law like that.

  19. I like that you switched between past and present, it makes for a richer story.

    I do think you can start this with your strongest paragraph, "I hadn't wanted to step foot in that house ever again."

    I felt pretty repulsed at the "not flesh and blood" dialogue, which read like the climax of this section to me. This was well placed.

    Your writing is always growing! Stopping by from the red dress club.

  20. The contrast between how you saw him as a child, and how you see him now as an adult is very powerful.

    Having the courage to confront an abuser is huge! His answer, and his actions during your childhood were unacceptable. I'm so sorry that you had to live through that.

    Thank you for sharing your story with the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.

  21. I am angry for you. His reaction, or lack thereof, was heartless. He didn't mean his words, "I'm sorry." Thanks for introducing me to your blog through Blog Carnival Against Children. I hope you will submit more for future Carnivals.


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