The Turning Point
I collapsed in a heap on the floor, alone in the dark and silence, too tired to feel much, yet too aware not to notice the burnout, disillusionment, anguish, guilt, resentment and shame that had been quietly gnawing away at my soul. Over the next month, waves of intense grief left my eyes feeling sore and swollen. They were followed by brief interludes of calm, which felt more like reprieve than resolution of grief.
I sat for long periods staring ahead aimlessly, unable to coordinate thought or movement in more than a momentary fashion. It is one thing to grieve when someone dies of illness in the family, but it is a completely different type of grief when one member of the family deliberately and wilfully takes the life of another family member. That grief was immobilising me.
To think that years ago I wanted to be a detective in the police force, but wasn’t tall enough. Now I had solved my own family murder before the police. It all felt like a sick joke. I was aware from my training in psychiatry about the different stages of grief – denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance.
However none of those stages of grief seemed apt in their description when, one day, in a moment of reprieve, I found myself strongly tempted to get a gun and put it to my father’s head to inflict back on him the very pain he had delivered to my sister-in-law.
However revenge was not really the enduring thought. My thoughts surpassed revenge to a more practical consideration. If I killed him it would stop him ever murdering again in the event of his release. It would delete the torture that would ensue for the family, both in anticipation of his release and his actual release. After all, he had continued to maintain his innocence, and believed we had conspired to put him behind bars. He had already continued with murderous intent on the rest of the family before he was arrested, by attempting to poison my mother’s food one evening.
Who knows what other measures he would have taken to wipe out the family, in order to get his hands on any family money. My father had been given a minimum tariff and life sentence of fifteen years. That did not seem long enough. I could put an end to that fifteen year reprieve by killing him before he killed again. I could stop our lives being defined by the anticipation of another murderous cycle starting again, should he ever be released, which I was told was unlikely.
The police seemed to think that he would not have the physical frame to commit murder if he ever came out. How they missed the point! They did not seem to want to accommodate that at fifty five years old, psychology had played the upper hand in the execution of his planned murder, not his physique. I felt quite calm, lucid and rational at this point. At the same time the idea of putting a revolver to my father’s head seemed to remain suspended in time, long after the original thought emerged.
Then, as if woken suddenly from an altered state of consciousness, a fresh wave of horror took over me. What was I becoming in all this, that I could entertain such foreign thoughts to my own character? Was I just like my father? We had often been compared as alike in personality – charming, strong willed, strong minded, stubborn.
Was I now just absorbing and taking on his thoughts, by wanting to end his life? I wanted to get out of my skin, and cleanse myself. It took all conscious thought to prize myself away from that notion, and tell myself that whilst we might be alike in some aspects of our personalities, we stood for different values.
Then I had an awakening moment, an epiphany, as a picture emerged before me. It was to complete a turning point in my quest to recover and find life again. That turning point had been signalled initially by the dream in the night which foretold this event. It came full circle now as I pondered my father’s imprisonment, because what got reflected back to me in my mind’s eye, was an image of myself behind prison bars, in the cell next to my father.
My father was in a physical prison with bars made of steel which prevented his freedom from the outside world. I was in the outside world, supposedly free, yet living within an inner prison. My bars were made of bitterness, hate, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, blame, disillusionment, self-loathing, fear and distrust. Unless I found the key to break free from this prison, I was as good as in a physical prison,next to my father.
I felt like the walking dead. I had a decision to make – to release the true person I was and discover life, or become a prisoner to my past, and merely exist at best as a recovered victim. Spurned by the shock and realisation of this picture, I decided that day that I would make this journey. That decision was made more out of fear and desperation than desire, but it was a starting point. I had no clue as to how I would find the resources or the answers, but I held onto the inspirational message from the dream of the triumphant journey I would make.