Your blows reigned down as hammers on my head, but they did not hurt me. It was the fact that you landed them that hurt me. As the last remnants of innocence were violently ripped away from my psyche, I puzzled over whether what you did to me was a manifestation of your love, or your hate? You were always such an angry ill tempered man. I tried my best to please you, but my every effort was met with derision. Your sarcastic barbs hurt even more than the beatings. I grew up wondering why you hated me so, in the end I hated myself. I hated the plump soft being that I was and wished I was someone else – anyone else but the failure that was me. That was your cruellest gift – my own self loathing, my sense of shame. I also felt ashamed on those occasions when you beat me – I often wondered if you felt shame too.
Would it surprise you to know that I grew up to be just like you? Lacking self control and lashing out at those I loved. I had to face that demon – the demon within. I don’t hit people now. I don’t carry that anger anymore. They tell me that I’ve broken the cycle of violence. Why couldn’t you break it? Why were you so weak that you beat up on women and little boys? I learned to break the cycle through shame when one day I did something so foul I could no longer live with myself.
I jeopardised the most precious thing in my life because I could not control my rage. That was the last time; there have been no others since. I was so ashamed I could have died from it – I could have ended my life with little regret, but for the pain I had caused others. I swore that day I would never raise my hands again and that I’d be a man of reason. I count to ten, then ten again if need be – I count until the anger subsides and I keep my mouth shut while I count. No dirty words will escape my lips – my mouth shall not shame me, much less my fists.
I find that with the passage of time it has grown easier to be a reasonable man. There is little that can cause me anger today. I’m ashamed of the man that I was and that shame has been a great teacher, but I’ll suffer it no more. I can at last hold my head high and say that I’m proud of who I am – a peaceful and loving man who is comfortable in his own skin and in balance with his world. I am the father you could have been, but never were to me. I hope that in your new life you have peace and prosperity and that you live to never again feel anger or to experience shame.