I saw him yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, of all places, the QT.
The last time I saw my father or heard his voice was Christmas Eve, two years ago. Shortly after, I left a note on his car telling him to never contact me or my children again, left the driveway sobbing as his black Lexus got smaller in the rear view mirror, the words “I love you, and I forgive you, and I will see you on the other side,” carved into my heart, its devastation etched in every crack of my soul, the ending.
In my innocence, that foolish brave young girl believed she had released the dark, a profound peace helping her find the courage to face her greatest fear. This is the moment of truth that has brought me great wisdom.
We can find refuge in our strength, allow love into our wounds, see the light of all our goodness, but we must never ever underestimate the dark.
I finally had the strength to leave him, but the reality that came like a force, the volcano that meets the tornado, came speeding through, at a rate I never imagined possible. That note was just the sound of wind stirring in a dark storm, and the reality of the words I thought had so much power and weight crashed against me, taking the breath out of my lungs.
I had not known the battle was not in leaving him.
The harsher reality became he was in no way going to let me.
I thought I had been freed, to find out my strength was just pirate bones, crashing down and dissolving like dust, a laughter loud and ugly, a force rising above me, fears taller than mighty giants standing in front of me, taunting, and I fell in the horror, my knees bloody, my body frozen.
The act of freedom, the cries I yelled for myself, was my moment of reckoning that this was just the beginning, that the end was nowhere in sight. When you pretend with the dark, you are covered by the dark, but to step into the light, to speak the truth, to shake your fist in its face, to hold your foot on a line you will no longer cross is the moment the days of being favored are over, the mask falls, and you are now the enemy.
In ending my relationship with my father, I had aligned with a force opposing him, a betrayal, a piercing bruise to the place he believed had the right to me, a rippling shock to my core that I had miscalculated this man as being unable to love, but in fact, it was greater than anything I was capable of imagining.
To my shock and horror, this was actually a man of the dark, who believed I was an object to be owned, abused, and preyed. When you are not with him, you are against him, no questions asked, and nothing would stop him until you returned back to him.
This was now an act of war.
In the beginning, he was far more powerful than I, my bravado and strength were putty in his hands, and I witnessed crimes too horrific to account here, his whole force placed in getting me back, with any means necessary, and whatever bled, died, cried, begged, or pleaded, was spit he flung at the ground, strengthening his resolve.
We moved like a team surrounding him, and each other, but his power was unreachable, and so began the endless stalking, his black car weaving through the night, leaving pages and pages of filth for us to unravel, a game that he played with little effort, the rest of us unable to move from the weight of his strength.
It was my first step into battle, and I had underestimated him, we all had, and the lengths of hate he went to spit at our feet was on most days, a binding weight of chains around my feet to just do the details of life, to take Kat to school, feed Lola breakfast. I no longer was living, now my life had become surviving.
My mother dropped in weight, shriveled and sick with grief, sobbing on me, her entire body an imprint of his power, and I became acutely aware she could die, that he might hurt her, and if he did, there was no way for me to stop it. We argued strategies, restraining orders, moving cars, and homes, placing people in posts to take care of her, but he always broke us, finding her at her work, calling us until we switched numbers, again, and again. The emails poured through, and despite the blocks we placed in order, he found us. He always found us.
Holidays were a time to watch one phone ring, followed by the ring of another one of us, and another, our phones ringing in turns, never ending, all of us on edge, watching, a bat subtly grabbed, a look through glass and a signal, his car moving by, one hand in front of my mother for shielding, the other in front of children we nervously watched.
Depression hit, and nausea, followed by hysterical laughter, all of us trying to work, while he would wait, like a black snake your feet are afraid to touch, running through the grass, desperate to find your way home. Noises and sounds echoed like loud clanging pans, all of us on constant edge, wondering, waiting. Silence was the beginning of the fear of not knowing what was next, one minute you are washing a dish and laughing, the next you drop to the ground, his car in front of the house, just the black tail of his car being seen through the kitchen window.
This is what not belonging to him cost.
He believed there was a debt to him, a betrayal, and someone had to pay. And we did.
We all played roles, searched, escaped, drowned, and some of us still are, but something happened in the madness, the battle I thought was worth this war, a dark madness I surrendered to, the finality of this thing I called my life.
I was never going to be free.
He was never going to stop, and nothing I had could stop him.
“You win!” I screamed in rage and hate into the black night, that black Lexus, the very symbol of the snake, my rage, terror, and pain rippling through the night, one in particular, divorcee and my car opened, both our GPS stolen. That had been a gift he bought me once, the only treasure I ever loved from him, nicknamed “Sam” for my recently dead dog, the love of my life.
My pain was now at the light, the very thing I believed brought freedom, and asked how I could not be freed, seeing no prayer, no angel, no God would stop him. “Where are you?” I screamed, watching my mom wither into nothing, shaking at the heavens with my pain, my faith long lost in the journey. The hopeless see in the moment, not for what may be, but what is.
He would always have me under his thumb, in the palm of his hand.
I decided to ask for guidance as how to live my life, date with this horrific shame in my home, aware no one had stepped into our house for years. I could no longer carry responsibility for the reality he could hurt me, or her.
If she died, nothing I did could stop it.
There is real courage in living, my girls the catalyst that life must go on, and so I did, for them, my only strength came that I would not be lost to them, the sacrifice of those precious souls I would fight for. I started to run, write, use my prayers to fill me, instead of to defeat him, my lessons coming in sharp and unexplainable ways, my faith began to return, my sleep unaltered. In letting him win, and choosing to live anyway, the monster in the dark became almost readable, and I found myself strangely grasping it, blocking it, feeling my core, aware I was evolving into a skin I had never felt, my life began to shed, a new one began to rise, the old skin dropping to my ankles.
And so, the book of the shadow came to me.
In discovering it, I wrote my first few blogs, leading to the dark horse, the “I Love the Way You Lie,” a monster in its searing truth, my shame for the world to see. What rippled back to me were parts of my soul returning, a building block of internal truths I let stack one on top of the other, the light of God within me showing me what was possible, my power available for me instead of against me, my new truth a love acting as shelter for my own heart.
It was the first time I could look in the mirror.
And so, yesterday, barely a week after my life altering blog written and published with agony, I turned into the QT, parked my car, Sage and I chatting on the phone, my door opened to get out, about to hang up until I casually tell her two black Lexus cars had pulled in together, a fact at one time, I said, would have been my greatest fear.
One turned into the pump beside me, the other directly in the space in front of me.
“Sage,” I said. “It’s Dad.”
She gasped, and I remember part of what she was saying, but not really. I began to pray, unaware of nothing but this magnetic force within me, a shield of something greater than I, a presence holding me, directing me, and I was its channel, nothing more, nothing less. It had been two years since I had last seen him, and I knew what to do, without question. “Sage, I am not going to move until he looks at me, looks into my eyes.”
This was my purpose, and I had not known I had been training, for this exact moment. I was ready.
It was finally time for the dark to meet the light. Absent of fear, I felt my power rising like a volcano ready to erupt, my eyes fixated on his every move, a still quiet knowing that I must, without any doubt, remain completely focused on him, his eyes must at all cost meet mine, my face should not make any expression, that nothing should register to him, but that I be known.
He looked back at me, confused, and back again, many times, my eyes piercing and fixed, locked and unmoving. “That’s right, Dad,” I said to him in my mind, “Look at me. Look into me.” He did, and what I saw was baffling, like in the movie Ghost, when all the dark smoke monsters scream and die, his motions signaled shock, his hands checking and rechecking his seat belt, his body twisting in contortions. He got up, his face questioning, and he looked back once more, my eyes locked, my face unreadable. He went into the store, and I watched as he circled the aisles, to the front, and back, as if I would leave, a thought that made me want to laugh, not out of anything other than amusement.
The light demands you face it or run, but he did not no where to go. He had no way of escape. I was waiting for him as he came out, glancing down and back, his face registering that I was in the same spot, my leg in same position, the car door opened, my eyes were the message, the weapon, and we both knew it. He looked like he might faint.
He got in his car, able to do one or two things, go right and out of my view, or go left, purposefully placing him behind six cars where he would inevitably cross me.
He chose poorly.
He turned left, and I remember Sage saying her heart was beating out of control, while my own heart beat in perfect harmony to that of a silent film, in slow motion. Time felt like it had frozen. He could finally see me without distance, with perfect vision, his arm could have reached me from his window, my body directed to him, our eyes locked. His window was up, mine was down, and I looked through the glass, into his eyes, and this is the moment spirit met spirit. He was white, shaken, his hand vibrating and as I stared, he began to lift his arm, in the old way, an attempt to wave, as if I was the little girl who always pretended. He was hesitant.
“Go ahead,” I believe I said aloud to Sage, “Go ahead and TRY to wave Mother Fucker,” my eyes felt as if they had not blinked in an hour, but they were anything but tired.
They were alive, awake, open, and ready.
I was surprised not that he didn’t wave, but that he couldn’t. It looked like strong invisible hands pushed him down while he resisted, leaving them wavering and trembling, just above the wheel, unable to move any further.
“I Dare You.” I said to him with my eyes, and through the window I saw his pain, for the first time in years, but it did not affect me, it was just that I was made aware of it. He appeared to register shock of who he was looking at and what he thought I don’t know, but he was grasping everything in his sight, the seat belt, the drink, the holder, the window lock, out of his mind that at every glance, I was there, my eyes locked, pupils black, pulsing with presence. Today I see it must have been freaky, this locked placement into his eyes, my face refusing to register who or what I was looking at. I see how I gave him nothing but everything, in a moment.
I saw him whip with the movement of the cars, out of my line of sight, and into the traffic, and just like it came, the moment left, and it was me again, on the phone, and I could actually hear Sage now, her voice speaking words of amazement, disbelief, shock, and so I got off the phone, became silent, for a very long time, I sat there, just silent.
I waited for the emotions, the grief, the pain, but it never came.
What I saw was just a man. I saw a man that raised me, loved me, hit tennis balls and took me to movies, laughed at the dinner table, ordered peach cobbler in hotel beds during vacation. I saw a man who once loved my mother, bringing her coffee in the morning, making her laugh at night.
I saw a man who was also dark, capable of all that is evil and wrong, but it was still, just a man.
I didn’t know this man anymore than a stranger holding a tea glass, driving a black car, an old acquaintance, one I vaguely remember. I felt moved to pray for him, aware that this shook him to his core, that it was for him, the opportunity to look at me and see me, my soul, not the object, but the Spirit of the mighty living God.
Did he see what he lost? Did he see the little girl he walked down the aisle? Did he see the child he cradled when scared or took to the playground for afternoon play? Did he witness the dark? Did he see his own acts of revenge and hate, experience with horror the imprint he made, the lies to himself, were they revealed?
I guess I will die not knowing, but I will hold in my mind, blast him with light, remember and thank him for everything he gave me, the truths of my soul remain.
This is what it must mean to have salvation.
The war of dark and light is never ending, and its last lesson remains.
It is said, “God does not give you victory in battle. He lifts you off the battlefield.”
I have transcended hate and pain and now I understand the war was inside of myself, is in each of us. The light is there to free us but no one is exempt from the dark, but to transcend war, I release this story. I don’t think I will write of him again, his name is now a shadow, no longer serves who I am today. His crimes against me are forgotten, the end of the story will remain unwritten, a blank epic a script I give to him, asking what he shall say for himself, knowing I can not speak for him. I now must go write my own script, leave him behind, because not only am I ready, but I must. If I could make this story different, I most certainly would. I would mold into the shape of air, flow into his heart, whispering to him that love never leaves, hurts, or vanishes. It remains. I would have shown him the little girl who loved him, what she became because of him, ask him to forgive her for all that she has done to wrong him or hurt him.
If only I were air.
I saw him yesterday, in the middle of the afternoon, of all places, the QT.