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“Dad what’s wrong? What Happened?” I asked.
“I really screwed up KC, she hates me!” he whimpered.
“Dad, who? Who hates you? What’s going on?”
“It’s your sister... she hates me.”
“What happened?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to find out. “When we went to dinner everything was fine and that was only an hour ago.”
“You know that phone I just gave her for her birthday? I made a stupid mistake and gave her a memory card that I forgot to delete and it had some bad things on it,” he said.
“Like what?” I stuttered. I really didn’t want to know, the words escaped me before I realized what I asked. There was a long pause, and awkward pause.
“Very graphic pictures,” he whispered.
I wanted to get mad at him, but I just couldn’t; he was crying so hard. I really didn’t know what to say. I felt so bad, and I knew it was very wrong what he did, but I also knew it was a total accident, an accident that could have been avoided if he just paid attention. I felt bad for Shelby because she knows he has a “problem.” We couldn’t even call it what it was. Pornography.
Now everything was just going to get worse. She’ll never talk to him I thought, I wondered if my brother would either. I’ll try to be as supportive as possible I told myself. I pulled myself back to reality. I was sitting on the couch, not remembering how I got there, my heart was pounding, and tears were streaming down my cheeks. What would happen if I just hung up the phone? But wait…. someone was talking.
“It was a mistake KC, that’s all it was, a mistake!”
Screaming I said, “No Dad, this is not a mistake, this is an addiction, a deteriorating disease! One that everyone has to deal with. One that no one should have to deal with! How can this be casual for you? Is it so difficult to hide your secrets under your couch, or your mattress like everyone else does? Do you really want this to be something you share with your kids…?” If only I was strong enough to say this out loud instead of just in my mind. But he has heard it before. Ex-wives, friends, parents, and now his kids…. how could my words change him if theirs didn’t?
I didn’t want him to know I was upset, so I made up my usual excuse. Telling him Mom needed my help and that I would talk to him later, I hung up the phone before he had time to respond.
Frozen and stiff I tried to process all the thoughts that were exploding in my head. All of his “mistakes” could be avoided if he just tried, if he just found another outlet.
The temperature had dropped and I began to get uncomfortable. Looking down I realized that the only coldness was from my own tears, freezing my body as well as my heart. How were we ever going to recover from this? Would our family ever be the same? Sitting on what felt like a freezing leather couch, drenched in my own tears, was the moment I realized it was no longer a problem that could be dealt with.