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March 16, 2006


I sat at the table in the kitchen; the end nearest the larder. We ate lasagna. My mum sat nearest the stove; my step-dad sat nearest the window, near the sink. My little brother was on the old church pew, along the wall, under the blue-and-white crockery. I was eight years old. No one was saying anything. We ate lasagna.

Then he started shouting. My step-dad was shouting, "If you're going to eat like an animal, then I'll treat you like one!" I looked up from my food and he was up from his chair and looking at me. I always seemed to be the one at fault and I don't remember ever doing anything wrong. This time I suppose that I was chewing incorrectly, though I have no idea.

He grabbed my T-Shirt and pulled me out of my chair. I saved up for those T-Shirts, those Ocean Pacific T-Shirts. And then I would be so angry at him when I looked in the mirror and the neck would reach below my nipples. I would look at the lacerations on my neck and accept those, because I knew that my body would heal; but the T-Shirt wouldn't heal.

He grabbed my lasagna and dragged me across the room. On the wooden floor in front of the stove was an inset tile region; that's where the dog ate, and the cats. That's where their bowls were. He scraped my plate onto the floor next to the animal's bowls. His voice was vicious, "You fucker, I'm going to treat you like an animal!" When I hear anyone say the word fuck, or any derivation of it, I hear his voice. "Eat it!" he shouted.

I felt so frightened. There was a part of me that was saying no: I would never do that. He was telling me to eat my dinner off the floor. He was telling me that I was worth less than the cat and the dog. They got bowls to eat from; I got the floor. I was shaking and tears were in my eyes. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to go wild and kill him but I was so frightened. There was nowhere to go.

My mum was lost in her own pain. She wanted to help me but she was frightened and confused. The others were stunned. I just trembled. He was crushing me. He was destroying me. I thought he would kill me if I didn't do it. So I killed myself in order to live. I felt the moment where I killed myself; there was a pause and then it was done. And then I got down on my hands and knees and I ate the food off the floor. I put my face into it and I ate it.

I talked with someone recently who told me that if we didn't have our step-dad, we'd be unprepared for the world. Well I'm not aware of the last time, as an adult, that I had destroy my self-esteem in order to stay physically alive. However, that's how I went about living my life: I put my needs last because I was scared that if I didn't I would die.

I spent twenty-two years thinking that I was worthless; thinking that I was worth less than a dog or a cat. That's the kind of character forming that I got from his wise fathering. I could write books about what I have forfeited in my life because of the idea that I am worthless: my very happiness, my freedom, sweet love, peace, enough sleep, and the list goes on.

Good parenting is about teaching the truth; bad parenting is about teaching lies. I am not worthless; that is a lie. My life has been a lie. I do not deal in lies. I want my freedom.

"Very sad, but is it those experiences which have resulted you in becoming this unique, complex and philosophical person that you are? That's a good thing." — Basi


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