Thursday, February 29, 2024

My Journey is Long

 I like a good crime documentary. It seems consistent with my delight with murder mystery novels. So, last night I chose to watch a documentary series called, I Killed My Father. The killer is 17-year-old Anthony. In his 911 call to the police, he reports himself as the killer. 

I’m not writing to recommend this film as entertainment, I’m writing about it because of how the story of the building of Anthony’s defence affected me. Spoiler alert. Skip to the next dot if you want to watch the series. It’s short. 

In the end, he pleads guilty to negligent manslaughter, and he’s sentenced to 3 years of probation. Further, if he complies with the terms of his probation, he will a right to have his charges expunged. It’s a very happy ending for a young man who puts two bullets into his father. And it’s a chilly tale that unfolds to bring the authorities to sympathy with Anthony.

He was neglected, uneducated and kept by a father who was disturbingly controlling. When a forensic psychologist was hired by Anthony’s defence attorney—his defence attorney was raised by an abusive father and provided Anthony with his services pro bono—who quickly becomes Anthony’s advocate.

The irony is this: The father had 17 video cameras in the home, and he had a GPS tracking device on Anthony’s phone. Plus, he supervised his phone calls. But, to the psychologist, regardless of all this intense supervision, Anthony was a neglected child. 

It took six months of consultation for Dr. S. to diagnose me. Not long after that, I wondered: Is the abuse my problem, or the remembering of it?

Watching that movie last night, was another nudge of growth. That’s what I call every experience when something forces me to think about that part of my life, and I feel intense sorrow. Last night’s movie was provocative because of the constant referencing to neglect and abuse.

Another aspect of the case is that this horribly abusive husband and child lived invisibly in their neighbourhood. His criminal controlling was invisible to everyone. Meanwhile, in a neighbouring state, a mother is posting Missing Child posters everywhere.

To me this movie is about “abuse without bruises.” That’s what neglect was to me. My dad would use the flat of his hand, not his fist. I’d have red welts for a while, but they’d look fine in the morning. One day when I was a late teenager and he was chasing me around the house, I went down into the basement. I turned left at the bottom of the stairs into the furnace room, and stopped where I could see whether my father followed me, or if he went the other way round to come at me from the other direction. There was a circular path through our basement. He went hard left, toward the back door, so I bolted for the stairs.

I was always such a chicken. I always cowered. But this time, when I got to the top of the stairs, the door was stuck, and he caught up to me. I turned to face him this time, instead of cowering, and I asked him to use his fist so his abuse would show, and I could prove how little they cared about me to everyone who saw me.

He didn’t hit me, and he never hit me, or chased me, or chastised me again. Perhaps he knew that I’d fight back forever from then on.

I never felt anything for them. They always felt far away. I watched them; I wasn’t part of them, but it didn’t hurt. I’ve written here often that I’m relentlessly content. I am not at all prone to sadness or loneliness. Pets have died; Steve left me; I had AIDS; those were the big sads of my life. But through everything, I carried on, and that’s what we both did, but we were further apart than ever.

My last take-away with Dr. S. is this: I have just begun the journal of emotionally reacting to this neglect. More than anything, when my breakdown occurred and I was having up to 20 seizures a day, I wanted to know what was wrong, but the diagnosis wasn’t what I wanted to know about, it was the cause of my condition. That was the start of a journey, with Dr. S. at my side, to go through the experience of understanding what happened to me. 

I always knew I was adopted. I didn’t know what it meant until I was 5 years old. I wasn’t concerned about the revelation at all. But this word, “neglect,’ is hurting me. It’s causing me great pain to discover this about myself, as you might if you heard about an abused son, nephew, or best friend’s son. That’s another word that hurts. Abused. Fuck.

Adopted. Gay. PWA (person with aids), and now neglected and abused. So many things about me have been challenging. Considering the odds, I grew up to be satisfactorily functioning and a happy person. But this abuse/neglect thing has felled me, and my sense of my conversation with Dr. S. is this: I’m in for a bumpy ride. The process of adaptation was mechanical. This process of coming to terms with the cause of my diagnoses is very emotional and will be ongoing for an indeterminate amount of time.

I’m sticking with her. She’s free, she’s good, and I do my homework. Why complain?

Thank you, Sharon Dawn, for your notes and kindness. I don't know how to answer a comment on my blog, so this note of thanks is the best way for me to acknowledge your thoughtfulness. Best, best wishes, Chris.

1 comment:

Sharon Dawn said...

Thank you for your kind words, Chris. If you ever did want to respond, (I completely get it if you'd prefer not) my email is or Enjoy the sunshine today!!Spring is coming!! My favourite time of the year, every day is more beautiful than the one before.