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Loss of a Secret

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

In January 1995, I received a 2:30 a.m. phone call from my hysterical sister. “Dad shot Mother while she was sleeping. Then he shot himself in the front yard.”

Because she thought Mother to be alive, my wife and I got to the hospital as fast as we could. I was such a mess, all I could say was, “No, no, no.”

The rest of the month was a blur, and the next two or three years a roller coaster. Eventually, I settled into a working funk that slowly faded. Yet, at this time every year, I have an ache that won’t go away. I miss Mom and probably always will. I left so many things unsaid.

More than that, I grieve the loss of my secret. I kept it as a good boy should, but I cherished the fantasy I had made of it. In my mind I romanticized it as something other than abuse. It was a secret that was just for Dad and me and no one else. If I couldn’t have the healthy relationship I needed and wanted from a father, at least I could console myself that I had the secret of our “special times.”

After that January night, I had nothing but the truth. I wasn’t special—I was just more convenient. It wasn’t love—it was selfish, abusive, and damaging.

Along with my mother, Dad’s bullet took away everything I thought I had. I suspect I’ve been afraid to mourn Mom because I’d have to mourn all the rest. So, every January I just ache until I can push it back and move on to what the new year brings.

Some losses stick with us a long time.

3 comments:

Preston Hill said...

Roger, thank you for the vulnerable and courageous post here. I cherish your story. The heartache is so palpable. I was struck hearing your story by the validation that must come from your father's suicide. His death powerfully and sadly shows that everything was not alright, everything was not as it should have been, and that he was deeply troubled. I suspect this could cast some retrospective shadows on his abuse to you in the past. Death had been aching in your family long before he passed away.

Your willingness to bravely articulate this story speaks to the immense honor and healing you are undergoing in your own life. I am honored to in some small way share in your sorrow this January month.

Larry Clemson said...

Thank you Roger for sharing your story & your hurt.

D8a said...

My heart breaks for you. What a terrible phone call to get!