I sad in the living room, building my courage, telling myself that I was being silly, that I was being pathetic. I should just speak up, ask him. Speak loud and clear as not to annoy him. But I felt it in my chest in my heart and throat; that numbness. I didn’t have the strength to speak aloud. To say something required a will I did not posses. But I had to do it, no matter how wrong it felt. Because if he had to ask me to repeat my words his voice would be laden with annoyance, with impatience and my courage would falter. So I stood and walked to him, a glass of water in my hand. And I looked away from him and drank from the glass, masking my attempt to build up the strength to speak to him.
I saw the can of beer on the table at his side and felt the dread take hold of me. Would he be happy and patient and caring as he answered my question or would he drawl and roll his eyes and sigh as i spoke to him? I had no way of knowing.
I lowered the glass, made myself look into his eyes even if they were glued to the screen of his pc.
“Dad?” I asked.
He was slow in reacting and I wondered if he had heard me through his headphones. If I had to speak again. But no, he had heard.
“What is it, Violet?” he asked, and I saw the frown of his brow, the slight sneer of his lips, the tilt of his head, and the groan in his voice. And my heart hardened in my chest.
“Can we talk now?” I asked, my voice flat. He had written to me earlier, told me we should talk about it later, and I had thought about that all day. That I would have to talk to him that night. And I had felt the anxiety stir in my stomach.
He groaned and then said, never looking at me: “What did the psychologist tell you to do?”
I looked at a point over his head, my face a dead expression, so that he wouldn’t see the hurt and fear and sadness in my eyes if he looked at me. If it was such a bother to talk to me, why had he then suggested it himself? I just said: “She told me that I should figure out if I could get a psychiatrist through your health insurance and if that wasn’t the case then I would have to go to a hospital.”
“I thought she said you would get a call from a psychiatrist.”
He had assumed that at the time, when I came home from the psychologist, but I hadn’t had the guts to correct him, and now I was paying the price for my cowardice.
“She didn’t.” I looked out the window.
He explained what I would have to do, that I should find the call from Falck and call them back and ask them to find a psychiatrist for me, every word out his mouth sounding as the greatest bother.
I just hmmed and looked out the window until I found it fitting to walk away, to sit at my computer and look up phone numbers. I did not want to sit in the living room, to be so close to him while his annoyance was directed at me. I could feel tears pressing at my eyes and they fell silently, and all i wanted was to cry, but there was no private space for me to be in. Every room of the apartment was occupied. No place to be alone. And I hated him in that moment. I yelled at him in my head, yelling and asking why he had to be like that. Why he couldn’t just be patient with me. Be understanding. Have some empathy for my situation. We were talking about getting me to a psychiatrist because a psychologist had deemed me so sick during a single conversation that I needed medical help. And he seemed nothing but annoyed at the inconvenience.
And as I sad a few feet from him, in front of my computer, looking out the window, the tears sliding silently down my cheeks, I heard him open up another can of beer.
My mother walked to me, stroked me across the back, because she saw me. But I couldn’t speak to her or look at her, show her the tears. I had to look up the phone numbers as he had told me to.
“And what if she can’t find the phone number to Falck?” my mother asked.
“She can’t find the phone number?” my father replied and laughed mockingly. He groaned again and explained what we then would have to do, and told us how bothersome that would be.
“How could the psychologist even send you straight to a psychiatrist for a clinical investigation after just one conversation?” he said
Because she saw how sick I am, how low I am, how broken I am. But I could’t say that out loud. I wished he could just see it himself. I wished he could just really see me. But right then I felt that he didn’t think my problems as something big. I felt that he wouldn’t consider my feelings as real and serious. For the hundreth time I wondered what he would think if he knew his eldest daughter sat each night thinking about suicide. But I couldn’t tell him that. I was afraid of how he would react.
And then came the guilt. I hated the assumptions I had against him. Even if he acted this way and seemed like me being sick was the greatest inconvenience of his life, I didn’t know what went on in his head. I didn’t know what he really thought. I couldn’t know if he would work his ass off to help me if he knew how bad I was, and so I hated myself for feeling like he had failed me and would fail me, because I didn’t know. He didn’t know just how bad I was, and I hated myself for feeling like he didn’t care about me. If I wanted him to care for me I should just tell him how I felt, it was my own fault that he acted that way towards me, and that I felt like that. If he knew how I felt, then maybe he would be more caring and careful, but because I couldn’t tell him, it was my own fault that he wasn’t like that. I had put it upon myself.
I had to be patient with him. I owed that to him. Because he was my father. And I loved him. Even if i sometimes feared him. And sometimes hated him.
When i finally walked from the living room to my bedroom, I heard him open his third can.