I’ll never forget the night I kicked my dad in the balls. Did you ever kick your dad in the balls, when you were a kid? It was actually my dad who told me, if someone’s ever coming at you, kick him in the balls. I’m sure he didn’t mean himself, but he was the only one who had come at me at that time.
It had started out like any other night. We came home from somewhere, maybe dinner, and I kicked my shoe off. ON ACCIDENT, it hit a framed Chagall print. But my dad was a powder keg, so I knew, the second it happened, I was in for it.
I’m sure what followed was a lot of chasing and screaming and running. Usually there was also arm twisting and name calling, shaking and shoving. But then there was this moment: he was facing me, enraged. I mean literally, his face was red. He was in a cat stance, knees bent, arms outstretched, ready to strike. He was very close to my face. I think I was eleven or twelve, so probably 4’11, a foot shorter and lot lighter. I was scared. I wasn’t sure what to do, but when he charged I took my moment.
It worked! I was thrilled but also terrified. At least he was off me now, though. He was in so much pain at that moment, he really couldn’t retaliate. That was great. I remember thinking, wow, this really works. His balls swelled up like grapefruits. My parents were really worried, and somehow got a doctor to come to the house that night. I can’t see the doc’s face, but I distinctly remember them lying to him about how it happened.
I also remember contemplating calling the child abuse hotline, but my mom said no, my abuse wasn’t that bad and they would take me away to God knows where.
And I remember feeling guilty too. Because by 12 it had already gotten into my bloodstream what a piece of shit I was.
Shortly after that, I started taking karate to boost my self-esteem. But also to protect myself. It turned out I was pretty good. A natural. I became a second degree brown belt in four years. I could break boards with my head, hands and feet by the time I graduated high school. I sparred with men twice my size. I could wield nunchucks and carried them in my car for extra protection.
My dad did not mess with me physically after that. He kept up the torrent of emotional abuse and mind games though; and he stole from me. When he died in 2000, I was crushed. Not really by his death, but by the death of the fantasy of family. Because where was mother that night? And every night.