We Held Our Breath & Grew Up

The beautiful new cities
couldn’t distract
from the chaos
that was my dad’s anger.

Our lives were never consistent,
but his temper was.

It didn’t matter
how far we moved,
or what language we tried to learn,
his rage followed.

We held our breath
and grew up.
Telling ourselves we matured
because of this multicultural life
and not because of the way our dad treated us
or our mom

We became so good
at adapting to every situation
that we adapted
to his anger.

Taking it in our stride
and going through the motions,
like the routine we knew
of packing up our lives.

I concealed these moments of fear
into a box in my mind.
Only to unravel
with triggers,
family functions
the sight of him

I learned to keep moving
assuming it would fix things,
That a new place would distract me
from dealing with my past.

I blamed my upbringing as a TCK
for my desire to move.
I mastered the art of avoidance,
of dealing with hard things.

I still say goodbye too easily
To places, to people, to moments.