Two days ago in New Zealand there was a series of telephone conversations. My uncle rang my Dad. My Dad rang one of my sisters. My sister rang my husband. My husband came home and told me: The man who hurt me when I was a little girl had died. I tried to look normal.
I had long assumed this would be a non-event. Because, obviously, I hate him – without reservation.
I wasn’t aware that his long-overdue death would trigger an avalanche of feelings.
First up – rage. Seventeen years of counseling had failed to help me direct my rage at that bad man – my mother’s father. Then in one day – snap – out it all spewed, finally in the right direction. Fucking fucker, hurting little children – from his own generation, from my parent’s generation, from my generation. And, because much of his family chose to believe him innocent, possibly from his great-grandchildren’s generation too.
After anger, devastation swirled in – at the destruction he caused to the family I grew up in. The ongoing ripples that caused a family to blow apart, because the hurt was too great to deal with in time.
Rage that the ripples go further and my children have to grow up with their mother dealing with depression and PTSD.
How dare he steal our childhoods, our relationships, our right to safety?
How dare he die without admitting what he did?
Then another new feeling – clarity. Till two days ago he was a child’s understanding of evil. He was a murky, blurry, hazy monster. An undefinable force clouding the beginning of my life. (I can’t remember anything from before I got hurt). And as such he was uncontrollable and unaccountable – to anyone. But his death revealed that he was actually just a man.
Just a man. And men can be held to account. Which led to more anger: Why did I not go to the police? Persist and insist on justice? Too late, this new understanding. And then anger at the justice system which did not care for me, which made me too scared to ask for help. I knew I didn’t have the strength to get though a court case.
But today, today the earth is how it should be – how I needed it to be when I was little – because that specific section of evil has departed, dissolved, burned, whatever.
Yesterday a thought popped into my head and kept running over and over: I am real. My husband asked, hadn’t I felt real before? And I said, ‘I’m not sure; I don’t think I did.’
Today, another thought: I think I can live this life now. Because of the clarity, because of the anger going where it should, because of the lightening of the load.
The last two days I’ve been physically shaky and dizzy and exhausted. Shattered. I feel like a massive wave rushed in, swept me up, swirled, buffeted, then slumped me onto the beach. I’ve cried. I’ve howled, actually. The intensity and sheer surprise of the emotions and my change in perspective has been incredible. So, I also feel fucking amazing. This life might work out after all.
My sister rang so we could share how we were doing after hearing the news. Our conclusion after an hour or so? Bastards should die more often.