My entire childhood is bound within six albums, they’re stacked full of certificates, letters I’ve written to the newspaper. They chronicle smiling photos of my late grandparents, they follow my life from birth to dance to the adventures my father and I used to take together on long trips. They document a loving relationship between a father and daughter.
My father told me if I don’t pick them up, he will throw them away. Suddenly, all those mementos, every memory of the life we had together is trash. The truth is the last few years have been a slow death of some part of me wanting the normal family everyone else has. I tried to change who I was, but the same results occurred each time. I thought it was me, after all, he repeatedly drilled into my head about how selfish I am.
If I stood sobbing wanting his attention, he simply walked away. If I tried to ask him why he did something, I was simply told that I picked the fights. Yet the fights were him deciding that he already knew how I was going to react without me saying a word and he walked away. I don’t know when he decided he knew better than me. I don’t know why he told me to be quiet in front of my best friend, that she wasn’t interested in anything I had to say.
But what I do know is I am not alone. The pandemic has seen an uptick in domestic violence deaths. it is a fraught time but it is hardly new.
The reality of accepting the death of a relationship is a bitter pill to swallow as I already have an absent mother. 248CAN has taught me leadership skills but has it prepared me for the ultimate test: Being able to walk away from people who no longer value me.
It became self-evident that it was me that he wasn’t willing to spend time on when he listed all the possible ways we could talk if I simply didn’t instigate fights. Yet what did we fight over?
I was told that I am going deaf in my left ear. I called my parents for support only to be accused of not trying hard enough. How can a hearing parent determine if their child is not listening hard enough?
During these uncertain times, more children are dying. Abuse is coming out as children are stuck in cramped corners with their family. One of the hardest things I have ever done is what I am facing now: saying goodbye to my father. It is finding my voice again. There is toxicity in the message people tell their kids that family is everything because when that family literally threatens to throw away every memory of you in the trash, that is not a sign of love. I’ve been told I didn’t try enough, as if I simply tried harder that somehow it’d magically fix something that isn’t my fault.
I am here to change the narrative and ask people to think about what they’re saying. If someone tells you that they’re being abused, listen to them, don’t invalidate them. It is a lonely road and one of the hardest decisions I have ever made is that I am going to move to New York and leave Minnesota behind. There is nothing left for me here anymore. One of the hardest lessons I have ever had to make was this year and that is saying goodbye.
But I hope by sharing this that people know they’re not alone. I hope people realize that you are worth something too and don’t ever let anyone make you feel any different.
Don’t accept abuse; let the toxic relationships go. I hope that my story helps someone else open up and know they aren’t the only one.