For English class, I was asked to write a memoir. I chose a distinct time in my life.
Yesterday afternoon I found myself sitting in a courtroom while my father and a few other people awaited his punishment. As I sat there, in my mind I played back all the awful things he said or did to my mother and me that led up to this moment. We all have those memories that haunt us. I know I have a few.However, there is one night I remember pretty vividly sitting silently in my dark, cavelike bedroom I listened to the fighting, hanging on every last word spewed out of his mouth like bile. Thinking to myself, where did it go wrong tonight? It’s late at night Christmas Eve and all my ears can hear is the crashing, screaming, and the sobbing. I soon realize the sobbing is mine. My silent tears fell down my cheeks, now streaming, my nose running and small cries for freedom escape my mouth. I’m trying. I’m trying to muster the strength. I hear heavy footsteps marching down our narrow hallway with determination. Through the living room past the Christmas tree and into the kitchen, a cabinet door is whipped open and I know what comes next. Crash! Crash! Crash! You hear the soul crushing music at least 10 times. My mom is yelling at the top of her lungs “what the hell are you doing?!” Finally, my pounding pulse, racing mind, and broken heart can’t take it anymore I grip my pink and white polka dotted comforter with white knuckles and scream “Dad, stop! Why are you doing this?!” I boldly step out into the hallway not daring to step into the living room because I observe the chairs, drawers, and scattered about. “Get back in your room you worthless little brat.” My Dad growls at me with tensed arms that led down to clenched fists. I stand my ground keeping in mind every holiday he ruined. Refusing to sob now creates a lump in my throat and I swallow hard trying to soothe the unwelcome feeling I know all too well. Don’t cry. That’s what he wants. He wants to break you down. Don’t let him. All this runs through a 15-year-old’s mind. He starts to step towards me and internally I panic. He walks up to me like a predator about to close the deal on his inferior prey. Threats sliding out his trap left and right. Nothing I haven’t heard before. “You’re going to end up pregnant before you’re sixteen. You’re going to end up dead before you’re twenty-one. Your mother should have gotten an abortion. I’m going to send you to a Bootcamp. I should’ve killed you when I had the chance.” I pretend like they have no effect on me. I pretend like they don’t break my spirit or shatter my heart into a million pieces. He holds his hand up in a warning but I never was any good at backing down when it came to my father. I did it for so long and as I got older I realized I’d probably end up dead if I continued to cower in the corner like an abused dog with its tail between its legs. He leans in really close to me and says “Go to your room or else.” It comes out of his mouth so calmly that the words chill me to the core. I stand frozen not about to run and hide. My father starts drawing his hand back, I tense every muscle in my body and brace myself for the impact but instead, he spits in my face and tells me I’m not even worth his energy. Now that I think about this moment. I deeply regret my next actions. Even in that situation, they were wrong. I feel immense disrespect at that action and I draw back my tiny fist and hit him square in the jaw. His mouth bleeds. Mom yells at me. A strong, bony hand goes around my throat. All I remember next is my mom throwing my dad to the ground and after that, all I heard was yelling, hitting, and things getting knocked over. The sounds of a dysfunctional relationship. The sounds of a dysfunctional family. I cry myself to sleep and the next morning they remember nothing and I remember all.
I hear the judge’s deep voice fill the room and I am snapped back into the court. They never tell you what your first time in court will be like. They don’t tell you about the funny smell. They don’t tell you about the serious, uncomfortable feeling in the air. They don’t tell you about how clammy your palms with get or how your heart will beat so fast you are worried it might just burst right out of your chest. They don’t tell you that you’ll want to burst into tears but feel too numb to let it happen so your lip quivers slightly. The judge asks my father if he hit my mother and to my surprise he admits it. The judge asks him if he understands what he just admitted to doing. My dad replies that he understands. My Dad’s twin brother gets up extremely fast and marches out of the room madder than a bull getting slapped on the butt slamming the door behind him taking me back to another night I remember pretty vividly...
Mom, Dad, and I were all in the truck on our way home from a party at my Grandmother’s house. It was a blast!! We played euchre, my uncle played guitar and we sang along, and my grandma sang a song to us in Slovakian. Naturally, they had all been drinking and in the Podhorsky house that never ends without someone getting seriously hurt. My uncle and my Dad has gotten into a pretty heated argument over little, petty stuff that happened in the past like usual. Mom got my dad out, before something like last time happened, both of them ending up bloody with shards of glass poking out of their forearms and heads. Driving down the empty road my mom and dad start arguing and she he reaches over me to punch her. I duck thinking he was coming for me because I could hear the wind that came with the punch. Mom then reached across me to smack my dad. They continued to scream at each other and I felt alone. Now, how did I feel alone in a truck with 3 people in it? They argued right through me. They swung punches right through me, their alcohol soaked words stinging my very soul. I open the back window that led to the back of the truck hoping I could sneak out and just lie down in the back and drift off into my own world like I would tend to do when they forgot about me. My Dad hears the back window start to open and slams on the brakes as hard as his skinny, chicken leg will allow him. The back window is not to be opened by anyone but him. As a result of him breaking, I get slung backward into the dashboard, my head being whacked against the radio and my brain being shaken like a polaroid picture. He screams at me “You need to sit down in your seat and face the windshield. It reminds me of being on the school bus when the bus driver desperately tries to get the younger kids to sit down before they fall. The sudden moment of attention is so surprising that it takes a minute for what he said to me to register in my mind. I feel like a young child being scolded for taking one too many cookies than I was allotted. I sit there silently and that familiar feeling of the large lump in my throat surfaces again. This time I let a tear fall down my cool cheeks. My father can’t notice because it’s dark and his thoughts are preoccupied with the various way he could accidentally kill my mother in or with his 1992 Chevrolet S10. My mom’s voice hitches and it sends chills down my spine, she’s screaming sounds that belong in the very pit of hell. “I’d rather die than put up with you and this shit. You’re an asshole and I hope your daughter aspires to be absolutely nothing like you.” Mom opens the passenger door of the little truck I grew to love and I grip onto the back of her shirt knowing she is going to jump out. My trembling fingers ache and honestly, part of me wants to push her out. How could she think of only herself? If she dies then I have no one. No one to take care of me and most importantly I would have nobody to love me. She would leave me with him and in that moment I believed her to be selfish like Dad said. Maybe Dad was right. I am tossed back into reality. I am eight years old and clinging to my mother who is hanging halfway out of a moving vehicle, one going just over 90 miles per hour.
“God, I just hope she won’t grow up to be a worthless slut like her mother.” And with that he gives my mom “the extra boost she needed” and the feeling that comes next makes me want to throw up. You never forget the exact moment your father runs your mother over with a truck. Realizing, my mom was hit dad slows to a stop and slides the shifter to the R-lighting up. Reverse! He smiled a smile much like the Cheshire cat and it irked me. For once, I wasn’t scared by his devilish grin, no not at all. He just ran over my mom with a truck and was going to back right up over her which meant he’d drive over her again too. In the back of my mind, I am trying to rationalize what my father is doing. I’m Daddy’s little girl. I idolize him. But, why? He’s the very definition of heartless. I feel the vehicle lurch backward and I close my eyes. Bump. We just hit a bump. I’m in pure shock and panic even though I knew it was going to happen. My mom cries out a horrific yelp one like an abused puppy crying out its last plea of help before it slips into eternal sleep. My dad looks over at me and asks me if I am ready to go home not forgetting to add the “little bitch” at the end to know that I am in big trouble for trying to stop my mother from hurling herself out of a moving car. His stare is anything but friendly and I truly fear what awaits me at my prison, my so-called home. He shifts the truck in drive and as he does so I do what my mom did and I am lying on the gravel road laying next to my bleeding mother. She passed out on the side of the road from the amount of alcohol she consumed and the blow to her head but I thought that she was dead. I cried but I didn't dare touch her. I was angry and hurt. My dad came back and got us; he made me lay in the back of the truck. When we got home I couldn't believe my eyes. My mom was barely hurt. Tire tracks lined her pale skin and the redness of her, for a lack of a better word, scrape, reminded me of when I fall off my bike the first time I tried riding it. Her hip was dislocated but it definitely was not the worst dislocation in my house.
Leaving my black hole of thoughts I listen intently to what is said by the judge, prosecutor, and my father. My dad agrees to classes and probation and a no contact order with my mom. I have been hesitant to talk to my Dad. But, he's still just that. My dad. Will I ever trust him? Definitely not. Not in a million years.
I always thought the way I acted in these situations made me weak. That flipping out, calling shots even when they weren't the greatest made me inferior, childish even. I would talk about the night that actually put my Dad in jail but I didn't witness it. He waited until I left to hurt my mother because he knew she was helpless without me. I'm not being conceited but out of the two of us, I had the backbone. I have the backbone. I now know that what happened and what I was forced to do sometimes only made me stronger. It made me wiser and I feel like it gave me a deeper understanding of why people do what they do in certain situations. It's made me become the type of person that has to evaluate the entirety of what is going on and then force myself to see it from all perspectives. You'd think goin g through things like what I talked about and neglected to talk about would make me a victim in some people's eyes. But, I will never see myself like that. I think all children or people in abusive situations where they feel stuck are warriors. Nothing will ever change my mind on that. If you have ever had to go through a tough moment in life that you don't like to talk about, I truly believe you are a warrior. You.