Dear Mr. Riak,
Iíve thought often of writing about the things that happened to me on the off chance that my story may somehow help others. I have always been afraid that some may think Iím lying or that Iíve only done this for attention. I didnít, and donít, want sympathy and hopefully by the end of this letter, youíll understand why. Also, Iím not an eloquent wordsmith so my experiences of being raised in an abusive family may be of little use to you and your readers. I will try to keep this simple and to the point but please forgive me if I stray.
My dad was an alcoholic who could wake at 4:00 a.m. and start drinking whiskey, wine or whatever he could get a hold of. He could stay drunk for several days at a time and while drinking caused him to be abusive to the point of being borderline sadistic, he was just as bad on the 1 or 2 days a week he was sober. In other words, with or without alcohol, he was a mean, hateful person.
My mother was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade my dad decided he should be paid to stay at home and ďcareĒ for his kids and his mentally disturbed wife. He managed to convince social services that my mother could be a danger to her children and he became a paid abuser.
He ďcaredĒ for his wife by punching, hitting, kicking, yanking fistfuls of her hair out and he even tried to drown herÖin the toilet. These things happened day in and day out. The neighbors turned away when they saw the things that happened to us and the police actually quit responding to calls for help. They even warned my dad to keep his family under control. I was a full fledged functioning alcoholic at the age of 13 and dabbling in drugs to boot. I went to school most days drunk. I was a very hateful, angry person and I trusted no one. I fully believed that if someone was nice to me then they wanted something from me and whatever it was it would NOT be anything good. I pretty much kept to myself and had only 1 or 2 friends who I trusted but not enough to tell them what was going on.
I have two sisters and a brother. All have been tormented and abused by belts, fists, feet, baseball bats and with words. The blood is eventually cleaned up and the scars have mostly faded and the bones have healed and the hair has grown back but for me, the things that were said were much more hurtful than anything I could have been hit with.
It made me feel so worthless knowing that I wasnít good enough to talk to. I was so bad that my dad hated me. That my dad would pitch a ball back and forth a couple of times with a neighborhood kid who happened to wander by and stop to talk but would backhand me if I tossed the ball to him. My dad liked to spank and hit me but he never thought of me as a person. That still makes me cry. I cry when I close my eyes and see the terrified little girl who wasnít allowed to be a little girl at all. I cry because I know how that little girl felt knowing what her dad thought of her. I canít help myself and I simply feel sorry for that little girl.
Everyone speaks of forgiveness. You must forgive to move on with your life. I disagree.
My dad is getting very old (69 and a heavy smoker with emphysema ) and he knows he has little time left. He has been trying to be my friend or make amends. Itís really strange to see the desperation in his eyes. I wonder if my eyes looked like that. Regardless, I am not his friend nor will I help him clear his conscience. I do not forgive him and I have made amends with myself. My spirit was not broken by him and I am living my life. Iíve been blessed beyond the imagination with my husband and daughter. And now, as a woman, I still cry. I cry tears of joy knowing that my daughter will never, ever feel like that other lost little girl who seemed to almost not exist at all.
After reading my story over and over again I realize that this was a kind of therapy for me. Thank you for giving me a chance to share a tiny piece of my life with you.
Kami Payne, 04/17/06