I think I’ve hinted at this before, but I am a terribly haunted person. I’m plagued by phantoms of my past. Memories like ghosts. I’m trying to move on, and I’ve made progress overall, I think, even though it seems like for every three steps I take in the right direction I fall back two more.

I’ve been having disturbing, compulsive thoughts lately, and I admit that I am writing this at this very moment in part to distract me. And where does my mind tend to wander when I let it? To my past.

I’m going to write about one of my worst memories here, one of the many events in my life that have made me who and what I am. A warning: this is a pretty dark memory, and if you don’t care to read something troubling at the moment or if you think it might trigger an episode within yourself, please, by all means, go read something else.

For anyone left, here we go.

Rewind time to several years ago–I was still in middle school, living with my mother and my brother and sisters. My biological father was still in the picture, and I had not even met my adopted father yet. My father had, at this point, nearly killed me and had sent me to the hospital a few times, but this memory is not about one of those times.

My parents fought often, as they always did, and usually, things ended violently, though it was never my mom doing any of the violence. Frequently, I would collect my frightened and/or crying siblings and take them upstairs to the spare room, shut the door, and pop in a Star Wars DVD and turn the volume on the sound system up. Eventually, they would become engrossed in the movie, and since this often happened late at night, they would fall asleep. And I would sit and worry, and sometimes, if they were all three asleep, I would sneak out of the room to listen at the top of the stairs, and worry some more (what I heard there was never reassuring.)

On one particular night, my parents were in their room fighting. Well, shouting loudly. The fighting hadn’t begun yet. It happened in a flash–my father traded berating my mom in favor of hitting her.

Then, he drew the gun from the closet. And aimed it at her.

I was terrified. In that moment, I was certain he would kill her. I was sure of it. And in my stress and terror, I really think I dissociated a little bit, because this next part felt more like I was watching myself do it.

I ran to the kitchen and got the biggest knife I could find (and my mother, being quite the culinary expert, had more than a collection of kitchen tools) and then dashed back to the room.

The son of a bitch, my father, had his back to me, and only my mother saw me approach. She wanted me to leave, I know it, but I couldn’t. I was going to kill him and end this once and for all, in my early-teenage mind.

Did I mention that my father was a muscular ex-Naval officer?

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that when I held the knife to his neck, he easily twisted it away from me, tossed it to the ground as easily as he had my self-confidence and trust in people.

But he had set down the gun to do it. For just a few seconds.

It was enough.

My mother had dashed forward and obtained the gun.

“Get out,” she commanded to him.

He stood there, I swear to god, with a grin on his face. My mom repeated her statement, and he shook his head and walked–out of the room, out of the hallway, out of the house. I ran to the door and locked it.

I was shaking, physically. My mom and my family were safe; I expected to feel relief.

Instead, I wanted to die. I was miserable and confused and my heart was racing. I went to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of wine that belonged to my mother as well as a plastic glass, and sat down at the table, and succeeded in leaving my mind for a little while. I managed not to pass out at the table, and must have dragged myself to my room first, because the next morning, I woke up on floor.

It was the first and only time I had intentionally drunk to get, well, drunk. Afterward I vowed that I would not allow myself to self-medicate my misery with alcohol again, and though at times it’s come close, I’ve managed to hold by that promise to myself. Because ultimately I know that if I started, I would not be able to stop, and that is not how I want to end up.

So, there you have it. I’ve revealed one of the ghosts that stalk the corridors of my mind. And to be honest, I do feel a little better now. Reflecting on this incident from my past has reminded my that my situation is better now. My mom is now happily married to a genuinely great guy who is proud to be my father, I hear my siblings are doing well in school, and none of us have heard from my monster of a biological father.

I don’t feel entirely better, but at least reminding myself that that situation is far in the past helps with my mood a little.