Divine intervention pulled me out of the black hole that is my father’s deep narcissism. I remain forever grateful for the people that helped me get out of it and being offered a midway point to help me transition to a safe place that was not the gutter among all this COVID19 homeless.
Yet, in order to leave the bottomless hell that was my father’s home, I had to have help with leaving. As a strong, almost fiercely independent individual, I entered my father’s home under the impression that I could tolerate co-habitating in his space for a few weeks until I had the money in place to return to the country of my choice. But as the shutdown was established and my stay in his home expanded from a two-week stay into a distant unknown paired with rising job loss countering my abilities to identify financially feasible opportunities within the dwindling office forces, my high functioning anxiety coping skills began to erode against the mental drain of being treated to an uncomfortable silence to interpret instead some semblance of conversation, evading thinly veiled accusations without being allowed to query about the root, I began to lose.
It started with my space to vent my spleen being swiftly cut off since I could not enter this space without a need to express a rage that was brewing. I could not enjoy my favorite pastimes for the pleasure of creating but as a place of escape that I have not needed since my teens. I was forced to revisit a space I had not been in since my pre-teens: the silent treatment from a individual that had power over my daily living. I would almost walk on eggshells, curating my speech in efforts to gauge what was needed to move within this place I hoped would be offered with the pleasure of being able to support a family member in need if not the opportunity to save a daughter from the unknown world during a pandemic. I had some hopes that the experience may bring me closer to my father in some aspect. But as our conversations were circled around food consumption and selling his glut of unneeded items, my brief respites from his domain began to be met with lockouts and cold stares.
I have read some books detailing the weight of living with an an abusive partner but Inever knew this is what people went through.
I squeaked. I told my aunt about how oppressive he is and she applauded my bravery to stay with him and gave me a place to breathe for a few hours every other day. My consistent cries scraped at her quiet lies that this struggle was more a put your foot down and he will scamper like a roach. There is an unspoken power when the individual conducting the oppression has the financial power. Money is half the reason individuals in dire situations hesitated to act. Me, with maxed-out credit cards and negative balances in my bank accounts, I was hard-pressed to even ask anyone knowing that my collective community could not handle housing me after I had been chased by COVID19 throughout my travels in Europe.
To clarify, I had passed the incubation state for the disease at all points; but, with it being an unknown virus and my recent travels riding high in my rearview, I was highly reluctant to go to any home that had children. Could I have been allotted the opportunity to recall a more rational state of mind- I was reeling from a personal shock coupled with the inability to provide for myself for the first time in a decade- I stayed in my father’s home where family and some friends’ statements suggested I should be safe and grateful to stay in my father’s place during this pandemic. When my plan was to stay for two weeks, residing with him made sense. He was free housing when my accounts were empty. He is family. Since I reached maturity, his touch has never been in anger. Yet, as I made plans to stay in his home months before, I told tsunami that I was scared to commit to this stay. I went into his home while my inner instinct was humming the need to flee.
Making these plans, my mother was called to plead that my stay not encourage me to extend a longer commitment to his “home”. I found this irregular request troubling. Why would my mother worry that my stay with my father encourages me to alter my opinion of my mother? Part of me thinks that my staying with my father would want him to return to her and take her in his arms once more and that the family of my pre-teens would become whole. For years, a return to this fabled dream has been her hope despite everyone else moving on from the need for such structure. In spite of wanting this, she admitted that she regrets bringing her children to term in order to keep her husband. She gave up her personal destiny to keep him and that limited thinking act blew up in her face.
Returning to my father’s place meant he had a woman in his space again. It did not matter that the woman was his daughter, he never spent time with me as a child so adult me should not be any different than how he treated his sisters? At least I think that was his idea. It quickly felt like he was putting me in the place of his wife and mother- letting me plan the meals and sort through his unpaid bills. I was the one that ensured he ate most days and would take the respite of cooking that he awarded me as a rare pleasure. It is not as if I did not enjoy cooking for someone other than myself but to be greeted by this assumption on a daily basis, to be regulated to the same words,” Whatchu cooking?” as the open sally followed by his brooding silence while he played mobile games with the cooking channel playing in the background, I wanted to scream outside.
So one day, with the assistance of my love on my mind, I packed my bags, used the last of my cash, and took a one-way flight to LAX. I hoped to never look back.
Well. I never went back to his place so it was a start.