Everyone has a dark side. Of course, some are darker than others.
My dark side is pretty dark. Countless rapes and beatings can turn a heart cold. I have known about my anger for many years. I am comfortable with my anger. I know how to express it safely. Nobody gets hurt. I acknowledge the anger. And eventually, I am able to integrate those feelings. And I feel a little more whole.
My latest memories are dark. After six years of recovery work, these memories are exposing a level of rage that even surprises me. It is definitely not my standard anger. It is different. I don’t feel mad. I don’t feel anything at all. There is no empathy and compassion. There is no acknowledgment that others have feelings. This rage doesn’t care if others live or die.
It is scary. And it is probably what drives a person to murder.
And that is what these new memories are about. In my teenage years, as my hope for a better life turned to desperation, I looked for other ways to end my slavery. If nobody was willing to help me, I would help myself. The first memory of an attempt on my father’s life doesn’t really qualify as an attempt. I had just finished watching the movie “9 to 5”. I watched as Lily Tomlin fed rat poison to her boss and I thought that sounded like a good idea. So I looked all over the house for a box that resembled the one in the movie. I could not find a box anywhere with a skull and crossbones. If it hadn’t been such a desperate ploy for freedom, it might have been funny.
The second attempt was a little more involved and a lot more tragic. I actually attempted to hire some other teenagers to “take care of the problem.” They were amateurs and the plan didn’t get very far. The plot was foiled and the retaliation almost killed me. The unfortunate lesson I learned from this experience was that my father was unbeatable — invincible. I learned that fighting against oppression would only end up hurting me more. I learned that the power differential was not something I could overcome.
As I process these memories, I am experiencing a range of emotions. Of course, I am feeling the rage that fueled the plots against my father. I am feeling the desperation that led me to feel so trapped. I am feeling the shame of the failure. Although I am not a fan of vigilante justice, I also feel some pride that I would be willing to put up a fight when all seemed lost.
I also feel grateful that it didn’t work. I am glad I have not spent 20 years in jail, like so many who have killed their pimps, because the justice system doesn’t recognize the true victims of sexual violence.
So, I am working to acknowledge these feelings. I won’t acknowledge them through my actions. There is no need to call 911. However, I will acknowledge them as a part of me. I will not judge them. I will write about them in my journal. I will find a safe place and let the emotions run their course.
I will acknowledge these feelings because I know that eventually, they will dissipate. I will acknowledge these feelings because I know that otherwise, the rage will stay tucked away in the corners of my unconscious, continually affecting the direction of my life. I will acknowledge these feelings because I cannot move past my devastating childhood without this important step.
And my beliefs will change, too. They are already changing. The deep belief that I cannot fight back against my father is shifting. I am not going to run out and hire a hit man. I am not interested in that kind of fight. However, I have learned of another, much more powerful weapon in the fight against the oppressor — the truth. Nobody can stop me from speaking the truth — not even my father.