– Sandra Pupatello

It’s been a while since I wrote. I have had a lot to think about, a lot of life happening, and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue to write. I’ve been really trying to be present with myself and focus on self-care and self-growth. During the last few months, I thought about whether or not these posts are even helping me. I felt discouraged and thought “why am I even focusing on the past? Who cares? I know my truth, I know what happened, my closest friends know some of my childhood stories, so why do I need to relive the trauma?” Honestly, I don’t know. Some books say the more you talk about it and then let it go, the more you free yourself of the pain that you’ve held in for so long.

I’ve also decided that I will only tell my story to the world once and then I would like to make my blog about overcoming the sorrow and growing from it. If I am going to be real I might as well share the whole process. I think for me, the hardest part of this growth process has been being afraid… afraid to speak up, afraid of what people will think and say about me, afraid of the unknown I guess. I have to just face the fear head on and move forward. I know that things are ok and always will be. I know I have gone through the hard stuff and life is full of hard stuff, but it’s also beautiful. Let me talk about some memories.

Most of my childhood memories (or the parts that I do remember) which include my father were not positive. They were fear based, where I had to make sure to please him so he doesn’t get angry at us and hurt us.

Even though most of my childhood memories with my dad were not pleasant, there were some that were and so I want to mention those today. When I was little, I hated going to school. My dad would be the only one that would let me skip school (grade 1 and 2) and sleep in. If I cried about something he would always say it will be ok and he would hug me. At those times I felt that he loved me so much. As I write this and connect it to all the psychology and therapy books I’ve read, it’s so clear to me the amount of confusion I grew up with. My dad loved me so much but if I didn’t do what he said then he would hurt me and to me that meant he didn’t love me. This feeling stayed with me and at times still stays with me but is transformed into a “I am not good enough” and “If I would just do what he says, he wouldn’t leave me” and “I must be a good girlfriend and be more giving so he would like me more” type of feelings. I have completely abandoned my true identity and true self. You know, at times I think to myself, “well Desi, your dad did the best he could with what he had. He came from an abusive home and was so full of anger inside, he took it out on your mom, your sister and you, he didn’t know any better.” Fair enough, but some of the shit I’ve seen, it’s really hard to forget and let it go.

Pain is everywhere. Everyone has their own cross to bare. When we were little, we had some good times and some bad times. I remember the bad times like they were yesterday. I remember one time my dad threw a baking pan full of burnt potatoes at my disabled grandma because she burned the potatoes a little bit. Right at her face. She was in a wheelchair. I also remember in 2020 my father was diagnosed with the Guillain-Barre Syndrome and almost died. He was paralyzed from the feet up. Call it karma, call it fate, but I 1000% believe that one day everyone will get to pay the price for their sins. Lord knows I am not perfect, but I could never hurt someone like he did. I can’t bare to sit with that memory of my poor granny just sitting there apologizing for the potatoes while he yelled like a fucking lunatic.

Another memory (one of hundreds), when my dad hit and kicked my mom all over her body. He hit her so hard I could hear it. Have you ever heard someone be kicked and hit? It’s the worst sound ever, it stays with you for years. This time my mom picked us up (this was here in Canada by the way) and I remember I was in grade 3, barely speaking English, just fresh off the boat, she grabbed us and told us to run now and so we ran down the hall. We ran out of the apartment, into the car, and we drove to a motel. I will never forget my mom sitting by the window scared, unable to sleep all night, looking out the window to make sure he didn’t come for us. The next morning she drove us to school as if nothing happened, she even gave us lunch, I don’t even know how that happened. I remember being so scared in class, I was not able to focus or learn anything, I just kept thinking “Is mom going to be ok? What if he kills her? Is my mom going to come get us today? I just want to go home with my mom.” I remember my sister coming to see me at the lunch break and hugging me and crying with me quietly outside and telling me its ok we will be ok. My heart sank when I saw my father after school walking with my mother. I thought we got rid of him but we didn’t. I felt so sad, hurt, abandoned. I felt abandoned that my mom didn’t choose us and leave him. Why did she take him back, didn’t she love us? At that time I didn’t understand how domestic violence works. I was just a kid. I didn’t know how scared she must have been. What a horrible cycle. I know that she didn’t abandon us, she loved us so much, she was just scared.

Another memory, the worst of them all was when I was in grade 5. My dad asked my mom to go buy him some Johnny Walker or whatever the hell bs alcohol he drank. He was already drunk so it was definitely going to be a bad night. So we went to the liquor store, it must have been like 8pm because it was dark out, it was in the winter and it was snowy and cold. We came back and my sister walked right in and delivered the bottle to him and he grabbed the bottle and hit my sister with it. She ran outside bare foot without a coat crying. My mom got into it with him and said they didn’t have what he wanted so she bought this instead. So he starts hitting and punching her in her face like she’s some 200 lb man (my mom was maybe 115 lbs). I remember seeing it all, the way he hit her, the way her face moved, the way she cried, the way blood was pouring down her face, the way her eyes swelled up blue within minutes. I remember him holding my mom up by the throat against the wall with her feet dangling and her face all bloody. All he kept saying was “i’m going to kill you bitch”. I remember shaking and crying, and telling him to stop. When he didn’t and my mom was now turning purple, I grabbed a frying pan, hit him repeatedly until he dropped her and screamed so loud non stop. My father kept yelling to shut up. The police arrived within minutes. Our next door neighbor was some kind of patrol officer I think and she called the police. When they arrived he kept saying to me and my mom “tell them nothing happened, this little idiot its her fault she screamed, why did you scream?” They took him away, my sister was walking around outside crying with her bare feet in the snow. My mom was in shock, her face swollen and her friend from the 3rd floor came down trying to clean her face in the bathroom. I remember thinking “this is it, my mom is going to die. I am going to be stuck alone with this monster and my mom will die. My sister and I are going to die without her.” This was the worst and the last time my dad ever hit my mom. I don’t think I’ve told many people this story. I still remember the feeling I had inside me that night. Pure fear. My thoughts were “how are we going to get rid of him? I don’t want to live like this.” I remember feeling so confused and scared, I was still a kid and I didn’t want to live in that anymore. The next day we went to school. When we came back, fuck, my heart sank even further than the last time. My father was sitting there with his fucked up smile acting like nothing happened. “Hi honey, look I got us a new tv.” I wanted to throw up and scream. I remember wanting to scream for help, my heart felt like it was going to explode. He kept saying “I won’t hit your mom anymore ok? I promise.” Not one sorry. To this day, he has never ever apologized for his behaviour, for his abuse, for his trauma that he caused us all. I fucking hated him. I wished he would disappear or that we would run away and he would never find us. That was the worst experience for me living in domestic violence as an 11 year old.

Next time, I will talk about how my mother left him…10 years later.

To anyone reading this that is impacted by domestic violence and or knows someone who is living in it, I pray and hope for you that you will choose yourself, choose your children. Your children need you more than you know. Choose your babies and run. Don’t spend 22 years living in hell because your children will spend years if not a lifetime trying to figure out how to undo the trauma and find their true selves. Save your children, choose yourself!

Until next time,

Assaulted Women’s Helpline: Provides anonymous and confidential crisis counseling, informational and emotional support to women. (Toronto, ON)

Toll Free: 1-866-863-0511

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