Living in a nightmare isn’t what I expected growing up. Aren’t kids supposed to be happy, carefree, and not worry? But not me, not my siblings, or my mom. I was between the age 3-9 when it started, maybe earlier…but when I began to understand what was going on. All of us lived in a nightmare that took 7 years to wake up from my mom had to literally move out of the state 3,000 miles away to make it end. I remember hiding behind my mom while she took the beatings from my father who was mad about something my mom had nothing to do with. I remember her bruises and how strong she was to make sure we never saw her breakdown, I remember how we hid in other rooms sometimes while he beat her. I never understood why he was always so mad at her, and then I learned that’s what drug withdrawals do to you. I can close my eyes and see and hear my sisters screaming at him to stop, I can hear my mom crying, but what makes it hurt more is I remember all 4 of us kids hiding behind my mom telling my dad to stop while he threw plates at her for her food not tasting like his mothers cooking. My mom grew the courage to finally just let him go. I look at her now and still see some scars on her face from the beatings, but she’s beautiful. She’s not scared, I’m not scared. I learned to forgive but never forget, because if I forget then just maybe I’d allow it to happen to me. I’ll never forget because it’s too much to let go. I pass that street on summer days when I’m visiting my dad; I pass the street where our home stood. Maryland and if I close my eyes it all comes back. I remember it all, as if it were happening all over again: the nightmare. When I remember it hurts. Then I open my eyes and remember it’s gone, the nightmares are gone, but we’ll never forget. He’ll never let us forget. It’s there FOREVER. I talk to my dad now, and I’ve grown really close to him. My mom can’t stand his voice, his face, or anything that has to do with my father. I learned I can’t punish him only god can, he made a lot of mistakes that impacted our family but regardless he’s still my father. I learned to deal with my pain by never bottling up my feelings.