There’s a headline that a local journalist used for the outstanding article she did about the release of “My Justice”.
Simply put ……. “For 32 Years I was Afraid to Breathe”
This is indeed the truth about how I viewed my life. While there are a few faint memories of happy, not perfect, but loving events shared with my real father and gentle caring from my mother; all of that is often over taken by the twelve years of detrimental, life altering evil.
I’ll never forget the very moment that I stepped through the threshold of our door and saw his large intimidating figure sitting; as if waiting for my arrival. When I deeply connect with that moment it makes me feel as if he and I had related before, but I’d say that was doubtful. It would have been possible through his connections with the church I attended with my sitter, but highly doubtful.
His presence on our couch; the turquoise colored, sixties style (I believe) sectional sofa, caused such an intense deep pounding fear. It wasn’t the type of fear or unsure nature of a child, but a shock of electrical pulses that caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand at attention.
I remember the gasp of my breath as I made eye contact with him.
I remember looking instantly trying to locate my mother.
I remember seeing my brother, who had come running through the door ahead of me, standing to my left completely still.
I remember the instant grasp with which I clutched my birthday toys.
This was the second my own breath no longer felt safe. I know your questions over the validity of this statement, but I assure you it’s been many repeated years in terror that I could not make it up if I tried.
The other second of holding my breath was as his hands reached toward me and connected with my skin. I felt a singe of heat from his touch. It was the first time in my childhood I felt like running. It was a panic sensation that sensed this would be an evil far worse than imagination, perhaps more than my mother expected.
That word, “EXPECTED” means a sense of foreseeing an end result. This in turn relates to my mother being verbally warned about my stepfather before she married him. The person who told me this fact about five years ago, was none other than my mother herself. She was warned by my stepfather’s adopted son about how sick and evil this man was.
“He is a sick man. Be careful of him. Don’t marry him.”
This is how his son described this man to my mother. If you are a mother, “Would you put your children in this man’s care?”
When his thick hands singed my skin and he pulled me towards him I reached out for my mother to save me. She instead was pushing me towards him encouraging me to hug and welcome him. When she introduced my brother and I to this man, her words were very simple, “This is Walter. He is going to be your new Dad.”
Since, I had just left my father and his family from a weekend visit and birthday celebration, this statement was huge for me. My father was tender and loving with me; he was safe; his touch didn’t burn. Now suddenly I’m meeting this man who instills a deep gut wrenching fear and he is going to take over the name and position of someone I loved so dearly. I had no clue how this would change things for the three of us, but it simply terrified me.
When the man left that night, my brother and I got ready for bed; I remember the worry inside. For whatever reason the normal act of saying “Hello” and welcoming him to our house, had struck a feeling of dreadful change. As always that night, I climbed in bed with Mom. She was my safe person at that time, my protector and comforter. There is the memory of my mother’s arms around me and as I told her I was scared of this man, she responded, “Everything’s going to be fine now.”
Things would actually be so dynamically invaded by this evil man, that our entire bond of three would never exist again. The evil inside this man, combined with my mother’s acceptance of this evil presence; would break us down and cause me to be “AFRAID TO BREATHE FOR THE NEXT TWELVE YEARS”.
At night when I climbed into bed as a child I would clutch the covers so tight my knuckles turned white. I waited for his sneaking approach as he prowled into the room and along the bottom edge of the bed. Looming, threatening, evil stepping towards me and suddenly the coal stained thick hand was covering my mouth. His fingers squeezing at my jaws to show his force. This act would hold me silent for over forty years.
During the next twenty years there would be abusers who have beaten me beyond recognition. Drug me out of bed by my hair and shoved my head into a bathtub filling with water. Repeatedly dumping my head in the tub and holding me there until I fought to be lifted. Numerous times I’ve stared down the barrel of both pistols and shotguns held at my head. When I was just 12, my stepfather used a loaded shotgun to take my virginity while my brother and sister were down stairs watching television. I’ve had years of repeated choking, kicking, punching, getting my face shoved into a mirror while yelling how pathetically ugly I am. My body has endured physical trauma at levels unimaginable to some. My back was seriously injured from being trapped in a corner at 5 am, naked and terrified, as I got repeatedly battered with a heavy chrome kitchen chair by a 6’2″, 180lb raging drunk.
Throughout the many years of extreme brutality and sadistic fear there have been many times when trying to avoid setting off this rage of attacks, that I would find my muscles clenched tight and purposely stopping my breath. Simply being afraid that if my breathing was out of their accepted rhythm, I would be killed; dead from the rage against my natural act of breathing.
I have since escaped this evil and publishing, “My Justice” gives voice to the child, woman, survivor who never believed that she had a say in how others treated her. This fear was a pattern of living and it was a life filled with repeated violent abusers. Now my soul is at peace, my mate has been given by the gracious hand of God. He has brought me to a place where the evil is now gone and my home is filled with love, gentleness and support.
Never give up on gaining your freedom; your happiness. Never stop dreaming of the day when you will be safe. This will surely be a time when you look back and finally catch the rhythm of your own spirit; your heart; your breath.
Patricia A. McKnight
Dreamcatchers Talk Radio
Exec. Director & Host
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