When you hear the car door shut
You know whose home
You pretend to be asleep
But he’s not fooled
Trying to hide under the covers won’t save you from what he’s after
He’ll take it from you
He doesn’t know any better
You are “his” after all
You cringe through every minute, hoping it will be over soon
Then, there’s the relief
He’s passed out
You’re free again, for a little while
This was a good night
There’ve certainly been worse
The nights he arrives home while the kids are still awake
These nights he gets his kicks at everyone else’s expense
He has fun tickling the kids
Perfectly harmless, you try to convince yourself
You watch as he pins your daughter to the floor
Sitting on top of her as he tickles her sides
“I can’t breath! Mom, help!” she gasps
You’re afraid to make it worse
He laughs incessantly, while your daughter struggles under his weight
“That’s enough,” you say in a calm but stern voice, hoping not to set him off
He ignores you as always
You turn and walk away, hoping he’ll soon tire of this game
He runs out of steam five minutes later
Your daughter learns that she’ll need to protect herself
Next time she hears the car door shut
She runs down the hall and locks herself in her room
Is she safe? Are you?
You anticipate what’s to come.
You listen as he stumbles up the stairs
And down the hall to her room
You hear him try to open her door and then pound on it with his fist
You picture your daughter huddled in her bed, petrified
You imagine she’s thinking the same thing you think when he comes to your room
“Go away. Please just go away. God, make him go away.”
You hear his frustration build as he kicks his foot through the hollow core door
He’s done, he’s pissed, he’s going to bed
You fail to see the whole picture
Your oldest daughter begins to “party” like dad
Your middle child takes sanctuary in her room
And, your son starts to experiment with self-mutilation
We all have our coping mechanisms
But, why are we so afraid to face the truth?
Pretending there’s no problem, won’t make it go away
Hiding from it, won’t make it better
Dad suffers from depression
His treatment of choice is the bottle
He loves that bottle more than anyone or anything in the whole world
How’s that bottle treatin’ you dear old dad?
What misery will you hide from today?
Whose joy will you steal?
Whose hope will you crush?
Isn’t it time to start facing the truth?