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Michelle Almandres' Response to Paul Almandres' Website
I’m writing this to help me close this chapter of my life. I’m writing this so I can move on.
As an only child, I grew up watching my parents fight. My earliest memory of that was when I was maybe about 4 and I was sitting in our living room eating cereal when all of a sudden I heard my dad start yelling at my mom and my mom yelling back. I remember immediately dropping my spoon into my cereal bowl (which made a big splash of milk) and I started to bawl. I could hear myself… and see myself.
I never understood why they fought. I just knew that my dad was always angry with my mom and my mom always looked sad and would cry. He often punched holes in the wall of our home. He would yell at the top of his lungs curse words. He said very hurtful things to my mom. It was very scary. It was just me, and my mom, and my dad. It was scary to know that he just got home from work. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew he was almost always mad.
I do remember him occasionally being calm. He and I would watch TV together. A lot of times it was his shows – wrestling, Star Trek, news. I remember him reading me a book once (though I’m sure he read a few more times to me). I remember that one of his favorite things to do was to scare me in the mornings by rattling my bed hard, making me think there was an earthquake. I also have a memory of me hiding in the closet and him jumping in with white powder all of his face, scaring me and laughing. I was probably 5. I didn’t find either of things funny. They made my heart pound.
When I started elementary school, that’s when his anger started to direct towards me. The reason? To him, I was never doing good enough in school. Or just not good enough in general I guess. That’s when he started to hit me. I think maybe the first forms of punishment though was putting Tabasco on my tongue. Or he would draw a dot on the wall in the hallway and make me stand there with my nose touching it for a very, very long time.
But those were nothing. That was just the introduction to the cruelty that was yet to come. He hit me. Hard. Countless times. With his belt. It was only when he felt I did something wrong of course. The routine was he would tell me to pull my pants down and lie on my stomach on the bed and wait for him. I remember how bad it stung. Usually he would hit me at least 2 or 3 times in a row. I can’t remember if my mom was there. Most likely not. She had 2 jobs and had to work graveyard shifts and on the weekends. I think if she had been there, she would have stopped him. But then he would’ve turned on her. He would never hit her. He would just yell at the top of his lungs to her and curse her.
As I got a little older, older than 6 or 7, I remember he would let me watch Faces of Death movies. Faces of Death are movies which consist of real home videos of people dying by accident. I remember seeing this girl water skiing, and then she got topless, and then accidentally fell off. The speedboat accidentally ran right over, and the propeller chopped her up and she was bleeding profusely when they pulled her out of the water. Another one I remember was a magician who was lying on a flat bed, trying to escape before a candle burned the rope holding a chandelier of large knives, dangling above him. He didn’t make it. It fell right into his face. He died instantly. I guess that’s how I learned about death.
A memory. My parents were fighting in the kitchen and I picked up the cordless phone and I threatened to dial 911. He told me to do it in a menacing way. I hung up.
I remember that around that time, my Grandma (my mom’s mom) visited from the Philippines. She saw my parents fight. I didn’t find out until I was an adult that my Grandma’s heart ached the whole time watching my dad emotionally abuse my mom and I. And that she really wanted my mom to leave him. But my mom couldn’t. As for other family who came to visit, my Grandpa and Grandma (my dad’s parents) came. It was short-lived. I don’t remember much of that. And lastly, I remember my Uncle Mark came (my dad’s brother) to visit from Guam, and for some reason my dad got into a big fight with him and he literally kicked him out of our house after a few days. There’s a picture of my dad somewhere of me, my dad and my Uncle Mark, looking unhappy, with my dad holding his middle finger out on his lap. I think my mom took the picture, hoping for one quick family pic before my Uncle had to go to the airport. When I saw that pic later on in a photo album, my mom cut out my dad’s middle finger in hopes to salvage it.
I have other bad memories of my dad. He would take me to the video store and would make me wait outside of the adult section while he chose a porn video. I was probably 7. I also remember one hot summer night when my dad and I were sleeping on the living room floor (because it was too hot to sleep in the rooms), I remember waking up in the middle of the night to hear him on the phone talking to some woman asking her what she’s wearing. Yeah..
When I was 10, we moved out of our small townhouse into an actual house. I thought that this would be a fresh start to a new beginning, but things just got worse. I was older, I had more responsibilities at home and at school. There was more to be expected of me. There was more reason for my dad to get angry with me. As usual, I was never good enough at anything in life. Whenever I would bring home bad grades, he hit me. With his belt, or his slipper. He never hit my face, I don’t think. Most likely because he didn’t want to leave evidence. It would always be my butt or my upper legs. It’s hard to see which time was the worst abuse, but it’s hard to say. I do remember however a time when we were in the garage (I think I was 12 or 13) and he was yelling in my face, saying the most awful things to me, putting me down, when he hocked a loogee and spit in my face. It was incredibly disgusting. He also yanked on my hair really hard. I remember he hit me really really hard with his slipper. It was so hard that the next day it left a clear imprint on my upper leg. It had the mark of the sole of the slipper and everything. When I was at school the next day (I went to Catholic school and wore a skirt), my skirt accidentally went up just a little and one of my friends saw and I remember them saying, “..oh Michelle!…” I don’t remember what I said or did. I just remember they showed sympathy and moved on. And I moved on. And that was the end of that. No one ever knew.
Upon moving into the new house, my cousin Ruby surprised me with something I had wanted all my life – a dog! He was a Doberman puppy and we named him Max. My dad decided to be in charge of the disciplining. Great. I remember my dad had Max on a choke chain all the time. Whenever Max wouldn’t do what he wanted to do, he would hang him by the choke chain on a leash. Like hang him off the ground for a few seconds. I think Max was probably like several months old, but not yet a year. My dad often hit him with his slipper. Max was a dog. A…. dog. One time when I was 13 or 14, I was in the backyard with Max and I found out he did something bad. My dad was inside the house watching from the window and he kept yelling at me to hit him hard. FUCKING HIT HIM! he would say. My dad got so worked up about me hitting him that he accidentally punched the window and it made a long crack across it. We had to get it replaced. And I had to hit Max while crying. Another memory just came to mind. One day I found an injured little brown bird in our backyard. I kept it under an overturned laundry basket. I wanted to take care of it. I really really loved animals. But then when I went to pet it, I accidentally let it go and it hopped away a little, then Max got a hold of it and gave it a bite. My dad yelled at me and at Max. Then he took some kind of pipe and smashed the bird’s head in. He blamed me for it.
Another memory. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was to take his BB gun and shoot at the birds and cats in the backyard. He called it “target practice.” In fact he loved it so much that he wanted his dear daughter to partake in it. So he would tell me to aim for the birds and shoot them. I could never tell my dad no. Never. So I shot at them. And then one time, I hit one. I felt awful. But he walked me over to where the injured bird lay, still fluttering around on the ground, and told me to finish it off. So I did. Sometimes in the middle of the night I would wake up to him opening my bedroom window so he could sit and be on the lookout for cats trying to cross our front yard. And he would shoot them. He would sit and wait for long periods of time just to shoot them. Countless nights.
A day almost never went by without my parents fighting. My mom and I would be just fine while he was at work, but as soon as I heard the garage door opening, my heart would pound. It really would. I would have this feeling of fear and anxiety every single time. Even if I didn’t do anything wrong. I have a feeling it was the same for my mom. Even in our new home, my dad punched holes in the walls. If you looked around, you would see these obvious patches of stuff he used to fill them in. It was just a common thing to see around the house. Here’s a memory. In the middle of the night, I heard my mom coming home from work. I heard them yelling. Then after some time I heard my mom go, “I have to pee. I have to pee! Let me go! Okay, you want me to pee?? There, now I’m peeing in my pants!” Awful..
A lot of times my dad would get mad at me for just about anything. One time he told me to find batteries in the kitchen drawer. I couldn’t find them. Hell broke loose. Another time I thought it would be funny to put ice on my dad’s back when he was napping (yeah I know, but I was a kid). He woke up enraged and took the remote control and hurled it at me really hard. It hit the wall thankfully because I ran really fast.
My dad feeds off the misery of others. He really gets off on it.
One time all three of us were crying and yelling in the master bedroom. My dad tried throwing himself into a closet mirror and I guess purposely tried to injure his shoulder. Then I heard the doorbell ring. Someone was trying to check on us. But no one went to the door. We just stayed there, in the dark room, sobbing . My dad too. Sobbing.
As a teenager, if I got in trouble, anything that ever meant anything to me was destroyed. After hitting me he would go in my room and tear down the posters off my wall, bend or cut up my CDs. But there was also a time when he cut off my hair. I brought home bad grades one day and he took me to a Super Cuts. Announced to everyone how bad I’m doing in school. And told the lady to chop off my hair. She felt so bad for me that she tried braiding what was left of my hair, in one short braid. I remember after that, my dad took me to Fry’s and felt so pleased with the punishment that he offered to buy me something from Fry’s. He was happy. He felt good.
My dad enjoyed comparing me with my friends and even my own younger cousin. I had this best friend who was always at the top of her class, and she would come over to the house a lot. He would always ask her how she’s doing in school in front of me. With a big smile on his face, saying how proud he is of her. Then he would turn to me (in front of her) and tell her how he wished I could be more like her. And then with my younger cousin (younger by 4 years), he would do the same thing and give her money as a reward for doing good in school. He never did that with me.
I forgot to mention that, growing up, whenever we would try to go out as a family (me, my mom and my dad), to have a good time, he always ended up getting mad or irritated about something and basically ruin the trip for all of us. I remember one time we drove all the way to Disneyland (I must have been 8 or 9) and I think we made as far as walking past the Magic Castle when he got mad about something and started walking back out the park. My mom and I followed him. My dad hated going to family get togethers. If he did go, he ended up wanting to leave shortly after. We seldom went anywhere with him. It was a burden to have him go with us anywhere because we knew that at any moment he would explode.
I remember this one time when I think I was around the same age when my dad was driving my mom and I somewhere at night and he got insanely pissed off about something. It got so bad that he was probably going close to 90 mph and changing lanes, cutting people off like crazy. Another memory. On the night before Thanksgiving, again I brought home a bad grade. My mom was working that night so again I was alone with him. I think I was 13 or 14. After yelling at me, he ordered me to get into his car. We sped off into the fwy, all the while he was holding up his middle finger to everyone behind us. Cars were honking and trying to look at us. I was so embarrassed. He ended up taking me to Skid Row. Yup, Skid Row. He parked in some alley and told me to get out. As soon as I opened the door he told me to shut the door closed and we sped off back home.
I think when I was 15 my mom tried to leave my dad. She rented a guest house and moved all her clothes and other belongings by herself. I stayed with her whenever she didn’t have to work. One night I remember my dad came over and begged my mom to come back. Again there was a lot of yelling and crying. But he was begging her. She went back. We went back. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my mom were talking about it and she said that she had just undergone a hysterectomy and was trying to recover from her surgery. But she moved out anyway and it was intensely physically painful for her. I regret not knowing any better at the time… I would have done more to help her.
One of the main things my dad wanted to make sure he got into my head was that I knew how ugly and disgusting and pathetic my mom was. He started telling me things like that early on. Probably when I was 8 or 9. As I got older and became a teenager, he made sure I knew that I would end up getting fat and ugly and that men would only use me and leave me. He made sure I knew.
Another memory. When my parents officially separated when I was 15, I lived with my mom but would visit my dad on the weekends. He was a wreck and his house was disgusting (my mom let my dad keep the house and she moved out to rent an apartment). One weekend when I came over, he ordered me to clean the bathroom. It was disgusting and filthy and there was gross pee splashes everywhere around the toilet. I was going to throw up. So for once in my life I stood up for myself and said no. Oh my god the wrath. After cursing at me for some time, he told me to get in his car and he drove me (very fast and dangerously of course) back to my mom’s place. We were in his pickup truck and my backpack was in the bed. So when I got out and reached to get it, he started to speed off and almost ran over my foot. I remember I wanted to die.
At some point between the time my mom first tried leaving him and when she officially moved out for the last time, he fell into a severe depression. There was this one time when I was staying at his place for a few days and I noticed that he didn’t come out of his room for like almost 2 days. His bedroom door was always locked. But then one night, he finally came out of his room in the middle of the night and went into my room. And I remember sitting up and going, “Dad.. What’s wrong?” And he started crying and telling me that he tried killing himself by overdosing on Tylenol. But he panicked and then tried throwing them up.
Another memory. Again around the same time period, my dad had purchased a gun. A real gun. And a couple of times he had to beg one of my relatives to keep it for him because he was afraid that he might use it.
After my parents divorced, I would visit my dad from time to time. One time I saw a woman’s belt on the kitchen counter and he goes, “Oh yeah that’s _____. She was here last night and we fucked last night and she was like “omg I’ve never tried anything like this before.” My dad was always open about his sexuality or just sex in the world in general. Fortunately he never sexually abused me. But as I got older he would just casually talk to me as if he’s having a good time talking to his buddy about inappropriate things.
I ended up making the decision to cut him out of my life completely when I was 16 I think. He would make all attempts to get a hold of me to apologize and beg my forgiveness but I held strong and it felt good. Finally my mom and I were free. He missed out on my Homecoming for Junior year, my Senior Prom, and my High School Graduation.
Yes something very bad happened to me. One thing in his slanderous website about me was true, I was raped. No, I did not tell him. He was not in my life. He was and is my abuser. I do not trust him.
Yes over the past several years, he has tried to do right. But as many chances as I have given him since then, he has always ended up doing me wrong.
The worst part is that he fails to truly acknowledge the lifetime of abuse he has bestowed upon me and my mom. He thinks that by having my soon to be 7 year old half sister, he is an immaculate father. That I have no right to remind him of the terrible things he has done. That all of his attempts at doing good is somehow cancelling out the damage that has been done. My scars are here inside me. They will always be inside me. But this is what I am doing to help bring closure to the terror my father has put me through.
When I began writing this blog hours ago (it’s 5:41am right now), I had severe anxiety. But I didn’t take Xanax. I used to have to, but I’ve slowly been doing without my medication (including antidepressants) thanks to healing over time, almost two years of therapy, love and support, etc. In fact, as of yesterday I have officially weaned off of meds completely.
I am ready to move on. I have told my story and with the click of the Publish button, I have closed this chapter of my life. I am ready to fully heal.