I have more. It incorporates some of the previous work I have written.
Catastrophe (n.) 1530’s, originally from the Greek katastrophe, meaning ‘an overturning; a sudden end’. From kata ‘down’ and strephein ‘turn’.
As a psychologist, I have fallen into the habit of trying to discover the turning point, the catastrophe that changes people’s lives. Perhaps then, it will not seem unnatural that I have tried to pinpoint my personal catastrophe. The problem is, once you begin to try and identify the ultimate cause, other causes keep cropping up. To begin with, I identified the divorce as the tipping point. After all, it was after the divorce that all the trouble started for me. It was after the divorce that I learned about the gambling addiction, that we nearly because homeless, that all the pieces started to fall apart. But really, this is only when I became aware of the problems, it isn’t when they started. And pinpointing when they started gets difficult because I was so young and you were able to keep everything a secret when Dad was still around. So, I had to go further back, all the way back to the cause of your problems. This seemed like an easier problem to solve, for there could only be one answer. Opa. A single word, a proper noun. In German or Dutch it means grandfather, but in Greek it is an interjection that can be a command to halt, or a warning against general danger. I thought I had found the true name for him.
The first time I wrote about him in an attempt to bind him with words and reduce his power over me, I wrote this.
I shouldn’t think about you. I know I shouldn’t. I should be stronger. I should kill you. My rage towards you is not even anger. Anger is hot and it burns fiercely. My rage is cold, like a sword made of ice. It freezes inside me each time I exhale. It is like a desolate wasteland of blues and whites. Tears don’t even run down my face. They freeze before they are born.
And do you know what the funniest thing is? You have no idea. You may not think about me from one day to the next. You are a giant in my life, a figure whose shadow looms over all the wreckage. But in your life, I am less than a speck of dust. I am less than nothing.
But you remember her, I am sure. How can you not? You were the monster if her closet, the hands that grabbed at her in the dark. You were all her darkest fears wrapped up in human skin. I am sure you never imagined that your actions would affect the rest of her life...and then all of mine.
I have been told I shouldn’t hold on to my anger. But what they don’t understand is that I don’t. It holds on to me. It wraps its decayed, ice-burnt arms around me, and chokes every good feeling out of me.
I wrote that when I was still very young, when I thought that maybe angry words were the right ones to help you. I stuck with angry words for a very long time. Some were about you, some were about the world and some were about me. I only ever wrote about him twice.
Leaving the words aside for a moment, as THE catastrophe, he wouldn’t do. For one thing, I know now that he was abused when he was young, which in turn made him the terror of his children, and subsequently made you into what you are. That line of reasoning could probably extend into the distant past and the notion that all my present troubles are caused by a chain forged centuries ago is too depressing for me to contemplate. However, there is another more important reason I rejected this. There is nothing I can do about a chain of events that began long before I was born. The right words aren’t going to be found lurking in the muddy branches of our family tree.
Upon reflection, it seems strange that it took me so long to identify the tipping point. It seems so obvious now. My journey began when I started the search for the right words to fix you.
I think the first time I ever consciously started looking for the right words was after another huge fight we had. You had just come home and I had accused you of being at the casino again. You denied it, as you always did, but we both knew the words we were supposed to speak by now. I froze on the inside, assumed my cold and haughty demeanour and looked at you disdainfully. You screamed and told me I was a horrible person and that you would never get better with a daughter like me.
“Why are you always so judgmental?”, you asked me.
“Why can’t you just stop doing this? Do you even try anymore?”, I asked coolly. By then I had become amazingly dispassionate, controlled to the point that you would actually strive to break through and make me cry, just to get a reaction.
To this you had said nothing, you just sat on the couch weeping. After the we had played out the scene, I asked you whether or not the photo had made any difference. I had a put a photo in your wallet a few days earlier, a photo of my brother and I, in the hopes that when you opened it up to feed the monster, you would see us and reconsider.
“No, it didn't work. It isn't that I don’t think of you, I don’t think of anything. I go there to be empty of all thoughts and feelings, and as long as I am there, I am. I am totally empty.”, you replied.
After this I realised that my strategies so far had been feeble. I couldn't fight oblivion with pictures or begging or crying. I had to find something far more powerful. Somewhere, deep inside of you, there was a belief, a phrase, that made you want to hide from everything. If I could figure it out and find the right words to say to you, I could shatter the words that held you prisoner.