Due to the nature of this piece, the writer would like to remain anonymous.
I live in fear of becoming my father.
We are both quick to smile and quick to shout. We hold our emotions too close to the surface, and our face isn’t ours, sometimes. The way it snarls. The way it grits its teeth.
We don’t have many people in the world, but the people we do are ours. We are possessive to the point of holding on too hard; drawing blood. We are jealous, and spiteful, caveman hands clawing people back. Pushing people away. We make snap judgements and we cling to them out of pride.
We both love talking about books and the beginning of the universe, Line of Duty theories and the way fathers should be held accountable. We debate politics and philosophy, play board games and listen to music in the dark. But we are both so angry with the world and everyone in it. It takes us over, sometimes. We see red.
He will always choose anger first; fists forever clenched, words designed to inflict the most damage. I try to choose silence. I am straight-faced compliance until my mask slips and my father comes out. We have the same way of using words as weapons.
When I snap, it isn’t me. It doesn’t feel like me; it feels like him, simmering beneath my skin, lashing out and cutting ties. When I shout at my mother, she says I look and sound like him. It is the worse thing she could say. I wonder if I am destined to repeat the failures of my father.
Mine is a lifetime of jumping at loud noises and only speaking when spoken to. I don’t know how to be calm, how not to live on a razor-edge, how not to thinking about jumping, sometimes. The first time I threw a mug so hard it shattered against the tile, I didn’t speak for days. I recognise the face in the mirror but it isn’t mine.
I think I have his nose.
We sit on opposite sides of the same fence, our backs turned against the other. I am obsessed with finding my place in the world and he has never wanted to have one. He always tells me that I don’t have his eyes, or his long legs. That I take after my mother, with her dark features and loud laugh and habit of taking up too much space.
I will always cry when I’m angry. I am pushing myself to be kinder and he – he is slowly getting worse.
He never says ‘I’m sorry’ and he never says ‘I love you’, so I say both too often, too fast. What he hates, I cling to like a childhood blanket. I am trying to be better. I am wondering if it is enough.
My mother is biding her time to leave and I am wondering if I ever can.
Image courtesy of Brittani Burns.