I shouldn’t cry, but I did.
I should protect those weaker than me even if I came back around to prey on them later. Oh, just a little bit. And I should guard my mom and draw my dad’s aggression. Better the target weigh on my back than hers. Especially those rough days when he’d pick the stupidest arguments like the best way to load a dishwasher or if rape is better dealt with legally or through vigilante justice. And after airing a few of his strong opinions, he’d meet some innocent resistance. Someone with another thought on it, a minor difference in opinion, and he’d go absolutely apeshit. Slowly at first, but you could set your watch to when he’d land at thundering, red eyed, spitting aggression. He’d back us into corners. We’d be pinned down for hours under the fire of unrelenting shouting either to demonstrate his original opinion SHOULD be adopted as fact by definition or prove a related point, that we should understand why we were so stupid and why was so much better. My mom could never handle it. She was too sweet and gentle a creature for it. So I took it on. That’s how good daughters should spend their weekends. Offering themselves as body shields. And like an uncomplicated beast, my dad always took the bait. So at least once a week, he’d get to that limit just a milimark below putting a fist through a wall or my face like his father had done to him, and done that and so much worse to his mother. He never crossed that line though. I should be grateful. Maybe I am, but not for those reasons. I’m grateful for every part of my story that made me who I am now, the person tearing down the mask. So I should be grateful for those times too. But should is a dangerous word. Maybe the MOST dangerous word. At the very beginning of exfoliating that hard juvenile crust of palatability and letting me be myself, it’s funny, “should” and milk were the first things to go.