My Abuser’s Tombstone

I’ve longed for this day for many years. I’ve secretly prayed that it would come soon. I wished for it on my 13th birthday. All I could think of is the amount of relief I would gain from knowing the man who hurt me for years could never hurt me again. The pleasure I would have knowing that he was finally getting what he deserved. That God would take the revenge I so desperately wanted.

Today I found out my step dad (and uncle) passed away. I knew it was coming. I could tell while he was married to my mom that his health was failing. I knew that he wouldn’t last very much longer. I kept praying that God would take him while my mom was still with him so that he would no longer hurt me or my mom. The abuse became so severe that I attempted to end my life a few times, I began cutting to ease the pain, and I learned to starve myself to control something in my life. He would hit me, throw me down the stairs, tell me how fat, lazy, ugly, and stupid I was. He blamed everything everyone else did on me. If he ran away it was my fault. If the kitchen was dirty it was my fault. Ultimately he convincingly argued the divorce was my fault.

After the divorce I began to display signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) however no one knew exactly what PTSD was other than something that soldiers returning from war occasionally got. I was terrified of men, and would hide in the back room behind a desk whenever a male family member came over. I jumped at loud noises, when a teacher yelled in class, the hallway at school. And I had repeated nightmares. I would wake up petrified and still have to function in school. The nightmares lasted for years. I would duck every time I saw a truck with the same make and model that he drove. I had a panic attack every time I saw a truck or man with similar characteristics. I was so scared that he would find my family and kill us. It didn’t matter how many times we moved or how far away we lived, that fear still remained.

How are you suppose to react to the death of someone you’ve been wishing dead for half of your life?

My response confuses me. First off I’m in shock. I sent my mom a text asking if it was really true. I’m trying to explain the message from my step-sister (cousin) in any way that doesn’t end in his death. I honestly can’t believe that I have nothing to fear anymore when it comes to that time period in my life. He can’t hurt me anymore. He can’t kill me if he wanted to. Secondly, I am relieved. He can’t hurt me. That period of time in my life has entirely come to an end. No more questions from therapists wondering if he has access to other children that he can abuse. No more generations will be abused by him. The song that plays through my head is “Ding Dong the wicked witch (or in this case warlock) is dead!”. Thirdly, guilt is quick to rush in behind that relief. I feel guilty for how I talk about him. I still feel the need to protect him, especially now that he can no longer hurt me for the things I say. The worst part is the thoughts running through my head just this evening while I was with a friend. Thinking about all the things he stole from my childhood. How until this year I haven’t been able to be in the same room with a gun. How I can’t trust parents, especially fathers. How I immediately hate every step parent without getting to know them. I spent the evening hating him, and sharing that hatred with a friend. The guilt for wishing him dead and sharing his evil nature is overwhelming. I feel a large amount of guilt around the fact that my step-sister (cousin) was able to push the abuse out of her mind and still accept him as a dad and I am unable to let the events of my past go. I even suppose an irrational part of me things that it was my fault he died because I kept wishing he would just die. Finally, I am deeply saddened by this. Even though he caused so much pain in my life I loved him. He was my favorite uncle until he became my step dad. For me it’s true that you become somewhat attached to your abuser. Especially those who are also family.

Going through this brings me back to my current situation. Divorcing my abusive husband. I thought I was past the point of feeling guilty for the thoughts I have about escaping, finally being free of the constant abuse. I thought I knew for sure that I don’t want to go back to that situation. But with the passing of my step dad I’ve taken a step back and am feeling that familiar urge to reconcile things with my husband, go back and accept the abuse “I deserve” (or at least I think I do). Because I don’t want to find out that he killed himself over me as he has threatened before. I don’t want to find out years later he passed away without the ability to stand up to him and forgive him personally. I don’t want to feel this guilt, confusion, and conflict again. I know what I must do. I know that I can’t back down from this divorce. I have one last hearing before everything is official, I am legally free from him. However I know that I need to figure out how to break the silence and let him know my forgiveness before I am talking to another tombstone.

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