Hiding


When I was in school I hid my father's anger, I masked that part of my
life. The other side of me was optimistic and energetic while inside I was
fearful and exhausted. I didn't tell anyone of my father's constant, bitter
outbursts, how he shredded our home with his anger. I was so concerned
with privacy, with keeping my father's devils closeted; I never exposed,
never divulged. Shame interfered with confession. All I knew was that
disclosure was dishonest, disloyal. I held it together, I acted well. Under
the dynamic cover I projected to everyone, I was pre-occupied and
nervous. My father spent most of his time with memories and
accusations. I had a gnawing need to talk about it, but we had an
unspoken pact at home we didn't talk.

I feared the next bout, when his resentments would turn the corner, burst
through again, stay for a week, then wind down with a hurricane of
demands and denial. I was most afraid I was taking that pattern with me,
horrified that I was my father, that his anger was mine, that it would
eventually roll from me, plunder anyone in my vicinity.

What he did to our home during those times when he was 'sick' was as
various as the crack of a bulldozer's shovel or the split of a drill. Not
limited to mere disruptions, my father's howling ranged from night to
day, then night to day again and again, startling us with warped memories
of times that had been and projections of what would surely be. I couldn't
penetrate his struggle, although I tried to funnel his mood shifts, collect
the scattered parts, reconnect the pieces. Those times were visible, yet I
was aware of an invisible pulse that fumed and stoked below even when
the 'sick' days calmed down. Relief stayed awhile but his desperation
always returned.

Now with two granddaughters, I finally feel as though I have survived
that past. I can stop inquiring into the explosions, push aside the scenes
of him losing weight, his hair lifting wildly, his face turning gray as he
began the descent again. I am trying to grind down that time, level
the past. I try to strip those memories of context, to stop examining the
mysterious source that powered my father's suffering. Yet with all I
know of my father's dark life, I feel I know nothing. I ask myself if it
was really as bad as I think it was.
--Rochelle Mass (Israel)



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