Sarah Garey

I remember being about 5 and my mom taking me halfway up the stairs to the landing because I was throwing a sobbing fit and she was trying to keep me away from him because she knew it pissed him off. I remember him grabbing a stick of firewood and coming after us. He grabbed me and spanked me with it so hard it left a black and blue. I watched him chase my big brother out of the house with a stick raised in his hand, and my heart was in my throat because I was afraid he would seriously hurt him.I remember him threatening my cat and then laughing about it. I remember once when he found baby squirrels in the attic, he threw them one by one from the window, while I hid in my room and cried because I was sure they were at least being injured if not killed, since they were still babies. I remember despising Mondays, because that was his day off and I had to spend it with him doing yard and outside work. To this day, the act of moving and stacking wood is enough to put me in a depression for the entire day. I hated everything about it – the dirt, the splinters, and most of all him, constantly berating me because I wasn’t doing it well enough.

I remember when he would get mad at me, he would push me along in front of him to force me to go where he wanted me to. I remember a couple times when he pushed me towards the extremely steep stairs in my house, and I was terrified that I was going to fall because I wouldn’t be able to grab the railing. I remember reoccurring nightmares about him chasing me, and trying to run and not being able to get away, but waking up just as he reached for me.

When I was 19, I got a job working at the same store he has worked at for years. I loved my job, my boss liked me, and I got along well with the majority of my coworkers. But since we drove together, we had the same shift, and we were there for several hours by ourselves before the next person came in. He was constantly telling me what I should be doing, criticizing my work, and threatening to tell my boss that I was slacking off on the job.

The next summer, my grampy died, and mom lived with grammy for a year while my dad built a room onto the house for her to move into. Without mom in the house, his attitude got worse and worse. He talked about her behind her back, and ordered me around as to how I was to keep the house, because apparently she wasn’t doing it right. I became angrier and angrier. One day he chased me with the broom, and tried to hit me with it, but fortunately the soft end was what caught my shoulder. When he realized he’d actually hit me, he stopped and put the broom away.

The day that changed everything, he had told me that when he came home from work that evening, my room had better be picked up and neat. I hate being told what to do. I hate having a timeline. I lay around all day and did absolutely nothing at all. Finally, about half an hour before he was supposed to arrive, I went up and was half-heartedly going through the junk on my floor, sorting what could be thrown away from important stuff. When he got home, he came up and knocked on my door and told me he wanted to see my room. I had wrapped a sash around a nail in the door frame and then around the door knob for a lock, because heaven forbid I have a real one. I told him that I was still cleaning and that I would let him know when I was done so he could inspect. He got angry and told me he wanted to see it right now. I continued to argue with him and tell him that I wasn’t done and he could look when I was. Finally he yanked the door open, tearing the sash in two and stormed in. He took one look around and said “Get downstairs right now.” I said “No, I’m going to stay and finish my room and then I’ll come downstairs.” We went back and forth like this for a minute, and I stood up so I wouldn’t be kneeling as we argued. Suddenly he had me in a headlock and was dragging me toward the door. As we got past the door frame, I was fighting his grasp, and I knocked over a cat bowl that was on top of a desk. It shattered, and he let me go. “Clean it up!” I grabbed the small broom and dustpan by the bathroom and did as he asked. When it was picked it, he lunged for me and I was back in the headlock being dragged toward the stairs. I fought with all my strength, refusing to walk, terrified of getting too close to the stairway. We ended up across the hall and in his room, with me on the floor and him kneeling over me. I had his shirt at the neck in one hand, and the other was pulling his arm down away from my neck as hard as I could. “LET GO!” he hissed, and I said nothing, but did not relinquish my grasp at all. Finally, after what seemed like forever, my sister came out of her room, and went into the bathroom. He immediately let me go and said “Come downstairs when you’re ready,” and stormed off.

My sister made some phone calls, and my dad was forced to see a “therapist” while we stayed with some friends from church. That was until everyone (the therapist included) discovered I am gay, and immediately decided that the best place for me would be right back at home with my dad all by myself, as my sister stayed behind. I started self-injuring during this time because I felt trapped and invalidated as a person. See I’m real, I’m alive, I bleed, just like you…

It’s taken years for me to get to the point where I feel mostly ok with my life. I still jump every time my significant other unexpectedly touches my neck. I still struggle with feeling worthless, not good enough, and invalidated. I get triggered. But I am a survivor. I’ve always been a survivor. I’ve learned that hope is the most important thing. And maybe someday I’ll be whole.

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