01 June 2005

My Dad's Favorite Phrases

"You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all, just as an intelligence without the possibility of expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing." ~ Luis Bunuel

"I'll cut your throat." It was one of my father's fave threats, along with "I'll stomp you...." He never finished that sentence. I guess he felt it held more power that way. You could sit around and wonder about where exactly he would start stomping. The end of the cutting and stomping, of course, was dying. I knew that once he got started, he'd never stop until there was some huge bloody mess that someone else would have to clean up because he'd be too busy crying to be of any assistance. He would not be crying for the person lying lifeless on the floor; it would be for good old Ed. Good old Ed never meant to hurt anybody, you know, and now the police would be coming to arrest him.

Of course, no one's throat was ever cut, nor was anyone stomped.... (The ellipsis is in honor of you, Dad, wherever you are.) I always think of it as just dumb luck that it didn't. People were made bloody at my house, have no doubt about that. Knives were brandished (always a favorite), there was always at least one firearm in the house (including a high powered rifle) and there were certainly a fair amount of matches around in case he wished to revisit that method. There was at least one occasion when he thought that he had killed my mother by forcing her to drink massive amounts of alcohol. When he was unable to revive her, he flipped out and started crying and saying he was sorry. I was around ten at the time and he turned to me for help. Good memories.

I was just sitting around my living room last night, waiting for the Heat vs. the Pistons, and suddently the throat cutting statement cropped up. I never think of that without thinking of the stomping threat. It always surprises me how my father's poisonous words have taken root in my brain. When I'm unhappy with myself for one reason or another, they suddenly surface and take my breath away.

In fact, the past is constantly with me. I wish it weren't so. I've tried hard to make it not be so, but my efforts have been in vain. It's always so unpredictable that I don't have any time to psychologically brace myself against the onslaught. Just a word, not even an obvious word like "stomp" or "cut," can fling me backwards in time to events that make my blood run cold.

As if that weren't enough, memories of sexual abuse by my uncle vie for my attention. They're mostly confined to times when I'm making love with my husband or, when I was younger, a boyfriend. Once those memories accost me, it's almost a guarantee that the effort to push them back down will make it impossible for me to have a good time.

There was a time, when I was much younger, when I thought I could just walk away and leave all of these things in the past. I knew the memories would still be there, but I never knew they would take on a life of their own, leaving me with virtually no control over when they might decide to take me by the throat, in a manner of speaking. It helps if I can always manage to have my attention focused on something. Doesn't much matter what, just anything. But even in those moments, something stark and menacing may awaken itself in the depths of my consciousness, shake itself off and come on out into the light. Having arrived, they can be hard to dispel. Often, if I can get one memory to go away, another rushes in through the open door of my consciousness.

At this point, I'm almost certain it will never end. I've heard that people regress into the past when they get very close to death. I've heard that people who've had near death experiences report having a life review as they leave their earthly bodies. My greatest fear of dying is having to relive the horrors of my life one more time. I guess that, for some of us, that's just how it goes. Oh, and by the way, the Pistons won.

America held hostage day 1336
Bushism of the day:
"Some communities, you say, "Hey, American dream," and they go, "What does that mean?"
Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates in Manchester, New Hampshire Welcome," Oct. 5, 2002

Website of the day; Michi Online