I want to explain a little more about how I’m feeling and why I’m reacting the way I am.
Tuesday morning, I turned on NPR as I usually do. There was a story about a shooting in a bar in Northport, Alabama, near Tuscaloosa. Seventeen people were injured, including an off-duty cop. My sister is a cop in Northport, Alabama. I tried calling her, but we haven’t talked in probably a year, and the number I had for her was no longer right. I called my mother–no answer. Finally I called my youngest sister, who told me Middle Sister was fine and gave me her new number.
When I was 9, my father told me to choose whether he would hurt me or her. He did this pretty frequently, and I’d always told him to hurt me. But this time…he’d raped me the night before, and it hurt so bad, still. I didn’t want to choose my sister, so I froze. He pulled the gun out of his desk drawer and told me to choose. I couldn’t speak. He pressed the muzzle against my forehead and took the safety off.
I chose my sister.
I’ve never been able to forgive myself for that. I know I was just a kid, I know it was an impossible choice, I know I just wanted the pain to stop. But I still can’t forgive myself. That’s why I’ve made myself be okay with my sister being a cop like our father. That’s why I’ve made myself be okay that she took money from him and then recanted her accusations of abuse. I tell myself that if that’s what she needs to do to be okay, I owe it to her to be okay with it. And I think I am okay with it, at least most of the time.
And when I heard a cop had been shot, I was terrified it was her. I thought I’d failed to protect my sister again. I thought she’d been hurt or killed and it was my fault.
And then they’re saying the shooter was crazy. Then there’s the Colorado shooting, and they’re saying that guy was crazy. My father said I was crazy and had me locked up in a mental hospital where I was abused again. I don’t know why all these things are connected–I know it doesn’t make sense to anyone outside my head. My sister. My father. Guns. Mental hospitals. Terror. Pain. Dying.
I can’t stop crying, but I can’t ask anyone in real life for help. I’m afraid they’ll hate me as much as I hate myself.