"Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt." ~ James Arthur Baldwin
I did as my father asked and called Shannon. I left a message on his voice mail and he called me back a couple of days later.
Several months earlier, my father showed me a recent photograph of my half brother. He looked startlingly like my father. I wished that I had never seen the image. I wished that I could destroy the memory it created in my mind. When I heard Shannon's voice on my answering machine, I wished to obliterate the sound. Hearing it awakened all the old demons, the memories, the rage. The images unfurled themselves behind my open eyes. I hated him. I'd never met him, but I hated him.
Shannon's mother had taken my own mother's place in my house. She had attempted to make me treat her as my stepmother. Grace. Her name is Grace. Amazing how even typing the name is almost more than I can bear. If I hated him, I hate her a thousand times more.
I called him back and left another message. I told Shannon exactly how to get in touch with me. At that point, playing phone tag was a very expensive game for me. I needed to just get it done, get the contact over with so that I could get my father off my back. My illness left me with little energy to get through my day and the pressure was eating up all I had left. I was exhausted and enraged. I tumbled through flashback after flashback as I moved through my days.
Meanwhile, my father was still haranguing me about talking with Shannon. The only thing that would have made him happy was for me to get in my car and drive there, wait for him outside his house and have some big, fake happy family reunion with this person I'd never met. The more he goaded, the angrier I got.
I made myself clear. I called Shannon. I told him how to get in touch with me at work and at home. If he chose not to call, that made him a coward. You know, if you want to talk to me, then do it. Otherwise, leave me alone. This is what I told my father. I had done as he asked. I refused to pursue Shannon any further. The suggestion that I might made me want to set a building on fire and watch it burn.
My father dropped the issue for a while. Then he called me in the middle of a chaotic afternoon and demanded that I call again.
"No," I told him. "Not only will I not call him again, I don't want to hear from you, either. Ever."
My father was astounded. I'm certain he never expected to hear those words from me. I was prepared to enforce the separation. He continued to try to negotiate with me, but he'd finally gone too far. We ceased to have regular contact.