In the grief of monsters

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Memoirs of domestic abuse and grief


I walked in. A weight lifted. The kitchen was brightly lit. Al smiled and greeted me with a kiss. I'd done it. The hardest thing I had to do that whole day was done. Maybe, it would be the hardest thing I have to do for a while, and I felt relieved. 

And I rode that dopamine train until I picked up my phone. Picking it up, sure, I was prepared to reach out to my friends. I feel great. I found three missed calls from my estranged favourite cousin. And my gut knows my assumption for a lazy afternoon is about to shit the bed. 

" Hey, call me. "- messenger Kayla Powell. Also messenger. Oh okay, and missed texts from three of my aunts. Oh boy. 

I wasn't expecting that. I had reached out her but she had chose not to reach out to me. Its Definitely longer than 2 years, but I try not to count. Shame, my own shame preventing me from asking what I had done to make her ghost me. 

I knew it. In my gut, in that second. The topic of the call was going to be about the monster.

I was feeling raw. That thing I did? 
My first psychiatric session since January 2020. Asked about previous diagnosis, I try to lead with complex PTSD. 
I "met" with a remote doctor. I sat in a room, in front of the computer screen for an hour and attempted to explain my history of trauma, my visit to Peterborough psyche ward and my current grief situation as my father. The man, an abuser of mine, my monster was due to die. 

 Picking up my phone to my cousin's message was excitingly dreadful. I was happy to talk to her and planning on opening with news about my zoomed in psychiatric appointment. 

FaceTime… ringing. Connected. 

There she was. And in her eyes, pure pity. 

It only takes me a nano second to analyze a gaze. I've studied my monsters and everyone self I've ever met. There's only one way to spot a monster. You have to look in their eyes. Looking into the eyes of rage  generally means you are the target. But her eyes have nothing but love and sympathy. 

She's gorgeous, more beautiful than I remember, and her empathetic smile is steady. She's sending me so much love.


The Sonic boom of my realization sets the tone with a deafening ringing in my cells. The conversation that leads brings me to tears. It's over and he is finally dead. 

"Now you can write the book at least," she said with a smile. 

There's a sudden burst of energy my soul wants to hug her. She's got so much love for me. As the conversation winds down, we speak of our aunts and her mother. The exhaustion starts to set in.

Fuck me, 
Three of the four sisters currently stand in front of his house, with his body inside, and the cops. I'm his only child. I'm informed I am to be put in charge of the business of his death and I'm expectedto join them.

Waves of high energy come flooding into me and exhausted chaos and confidence. This would be the incoming vibe. It's the trauma. My ego says "we got this".  We know how to do this. My heart however, is not in it. 

The up: I've got the energy of a chihuahua. I know exactly where I'm going and what I want. I know how to be unseen. I know how to be adorable. I know how to be the Wallflower but handle other people's mess. Auto pilot; ego level 100  uploading now.

I hug my man again, Al's hugs are everything. He's my Solider, knight and first guard. Magical and powerful with honor and faith. I used to pretend he was a monster. That's also trauma . He has been a golden light, helping with that. 

My father wasn't the only monster, there were many. Sharie loved monsters. I used to love them too. She never got to met Alan, she would have loved him. She never got better though. My mother died alone like my father.  7 years before him, she took her own life.  She left behind a mess for me to clean up, that I would later realize was actually extremely articulately prepared. She had planned for me. That would take me this long to appreciate.

Fact: The internal struggle with the shame of cutting off toxic parents is hardest when they die. 

When she died I had hate for her in my heart, still warm from my childhood.  I was mad she "selfishly" kept us around those monsters. As a child, I hated the fact that she brought men into our lives at all. My father especially. 

When I was seven I didn't want to remember before. It didn't seem important and the only thing that seemed important was looking forward. I remember realizing I had forgotten being little and felt it was a compliment. 

By Sept 1992 is was 8, it was just her and I. My father had returned to prison. Mom said it was going to be a long time, this time. I learned jail time and prison time are different. Most importantly, she promised they wouldn't get back together. Just the girls she said. She wouldn't take him back.
We moved into what would be our longest rental home,  in August 1991. We would stay until August 1996. She was gonna change the locks this time she said.  She also said we wouldn't have to visit. No nasty bathrooms, no weird guards and no stupid glass booth telephones forced conversations. 

54 Sprout ave. 416 406 0789. It was a house converted into a triplex. We were on the upper level. I would have my own bedroom! It was 1991 in Leslieville Toronto. The community with 85% Asian, and the rent was affordable. The red brick was painted white and there was even a front and back yard, shared by all three tenant families. 

My school was literally across the street. Our balcony was as big as mom's master and there astro stuff on it. There's a attic! With a floor made of carpet sample, 1 foot squares. The memories of this place, I can feel it on a cellular level. And the feeling is panic.

Panic, from my bedroom, my forehead pressed against the cold painted wooden doorframe, I can see the horizontal hallway mirror reflecting. The wooden folding ladder are they are in the kitchen.  My hands cover my ears.  Her hair was in a messy bun, she had a night gown under her house coat. She normally sense my gaze. I'm watching, as she moves from the kitchen. Shes not looking at me on purpose. My bedroom is between spaces. I shares the wall of the kitchen and on the other side, her bedroom.  I pull back and shut the door just a sliver more. All the pictures already on the floor below. He slams the bathroom door from inside.  I can see the entire hall, and her crossing my bedroom door. She pleads with him to shut up:
 "Bries in bed, David for christ sake stop this"

He opens the door and she  chased by the monster. Clearly from the mirror,  I see what she's looking at. In his hand. This is way she hasn't come in here yet. This is why she didn't look at me. 

He's got a needle this time. It's a drug thing. He's yelling and crying, she's yelling and crying. She rushes up the attic, he follows. 

My memory stops there. I saw a lot through almost closed doors. That house had magical closest. Matching in each bedroom.  Huge mirrors for sliding doors. They were painted and  framed in a tackey,  tin looking gold trim, and metal there were long buildt in tracks on the floor. I ran all my toys on the floors in the closets. In moms, I'd play secretly in between all her heels. She  had dresses hanging above me, and  all the beautiful blouses. What felt like a million wire hangers.  It smelt like her perfume. Our closets were magic.

Those closets would keep me safe. Sometimes, it was an entire universe of my own. And most of the time I was in there when the monsters came out. 

Monsters all froth at the mouth. They talk through their teeth. They spew growling grunts and bark orders. They mock and they disrespect everyone. I can't really tell until Ive see there eyes. It's always the eyes for me. My father had black eyes. The colour between his brown iris and the black pupil in his eye was barely existent. They were tiny. And his brow was thick. 

The other monster, my stepfather, had blue eyes. But they could turn black. In a foot of rage.  The pupil would dilate massively when he was angry, excited, or and drunk and high. The Blackness taking over is creepy, and the skin around the eyes, weeps red. The capillaries pushed up to the surface of the face and neck. It's terrifying.  And in their hands, fists. The whiteness and their knuckles a yellow- nicotine stained flesh. And the smell, always cigarettes. 

"I love you, I want you to stay here, if you want to stay here. While you deal with the stuff with your dad.  talk to you soon, love you" - Kayla

After disconnecting I looked for Al,  he was on the couch resting, waiting.  He looked at me asI approached and smiled sweetly. He opened himself and I fell into his mighty arms and good graciousness, he held me for a good long bit. We hugged until I let go. 

"I'm going to have to go to the stupid City. " I started, and I quickly informed him about my aunt's situation. Like a beautiful brave soldier, he took all the information and prepared our mission for forward. We had been planning to go to Sudbury to visit my in-laws, I was also hoping to see my own children as it was a weekend. We were disappointed together. For me, the relief was stronger than the exhaustion. I really wanted to see my cousin.


Submitted: October 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Brie Tighe. All rights reserved.

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