My Father’s Hands

Sunday, January 15th 2017 – 11:24pm

My conversion disorder with abnormal movement is from severe PTSD that I have had since I was very young. And it appeared in earnest about seven months ago.

But in retrospect, we had many warning signs well before it became overt, including dissociative breaks, violent outbursts and blackouts.

Intellectually, I am not what I used to be. I was sent for a four hour neuropsychological evaluation last month and they said my IQ was very high, but I know it is not quite what it once was. We will get more in depth results from that doctor next month.

My PTSD was caused by extreme violence that I began to both suffer and commit from a very young age. Supposedly, this is partly where the high IQ came into play at a young age, being able to mentally break myself away from violence and pain, until it became a serious issue.

One of my earliest memories was my mother yelling, “Not in the face, Paul!”

With gold rings on both of my father’s hands, slaps to the face and back of the head were a regular occurrence, at least weekly. And on the bad stretches that could go for weeks or months with his depression and substance abuse, the slaps to the head and face were then daily. That was on top of the daily “regular” beatings with the belt, whether leather to legs or buckle to face.

My first indelible memory of my father is from the age of four, watching the blood spray up and out of my neighbor’s nose as my dad smashed his fists into it over and over and over.

I know that pin position well, having beaten people unconscious and had the same done to me by others.

By the time I was in my teens, my dad was genuinely afraid of both of us older boys, but continued to use extreme violence to try to control us.

I first started beating my dad at chess when I was five and by the time I was in my teens, I knew the final move on the board was I was going to kill that motherfucker before he killed me.

And he was hoping the same thing, to get to me first. He told me once that he was sure I would be the one to pull his own hunting rifle on him, but it was Paul that did it first.

I will never forget the morning my older brother pulled the lever action on the 30-30 and pulled the trigger with the barrel just a few feet from our dad’s chest.

Fortunately, Paul hadn’t checked to see it wasn’t loaded.

And after the empty click, dad beat him bloody for a very long time until mom and I could get him to stop.

It is hard to explain to people how you can sustain brain damage from PTSD or the validity of a PTSD trigger.

In April of 2016, I was watching the season finale of The Walking Dead, which took their gore and violence to a new level and signaled the final time I ever watched it, when they depicted someone being beaten to death from the point of view of within the eyes of the victim, including the blurred vision as the bat crushed his skull and blood dripped into his eyes.

I immediately went into a panic and couldn’t finish watching the show. I was gasping for breath and feeling like I was having a heart attack.

This was a few months before I even began to “get sick” and have seizures and lose my ability to walk.

The closest my dad got to to killing me was when I was a teen. Those of you who have followed my writing for years have probably read the account more than once.

In April of 1984, my father drunkenly informed us we were all – “including Patrick” – going out as a whole goddamn family for once to see a movie.

That is not how it ended.

I said no.

I always fucking said no.

I still do.

Try me.


When I came to, the blood dripping down into my left eye blurred my vision and I wasn’t sure where I was. This is not the first time I have been knocked unconscious. The first two times were when I was five.

Wiping away the blood, I tried to get away from the danger I could not even define, because I was too dazed to know where I was or that it was my own father that was still punching and kicking me.

I stumbled and ran toward the bathroom and tried to shut the door, but he smashed it down easily and tackled me. The last thing I remember after that was my father grinning and his maniacal face screaming he was going to “FUCKING KILL” me, as he strangled and choked me unconscious again.

Tonight, I was reminded my low tolerance for screen violence since my conversion disorder.

I was trying to watch an action movie with Amy and Austin. When any violence was graphically depicted, I literally had no control of immediately looking away and I even plugged my ears at one point. It was not unlike watching myself, a different man, once again, or a seeing a child watching his first violent movie.

My biggest fear since I was a little kid, even prediction, was that someone would finally push me to the point of no return. And I have gotten frighteningly close to that a number of times, increasingly over recent years. Times when I knew I was one bloody bar fight and blackout away from never being a free man again. I knew it with certainty.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in February of 2016, still a good five months before the seizures and paralysis began to manifest. And then we went another five months with no diagnosis, cycling through different Parkinson and Epilepsy medicines as my condition worsened.

Sure, there are scores more sordid stories that explain why I have PTSD and Conversion Disorder with abnormal movement.

But we are hopeful with therapy to see some improvement this year.

I am more hopeful than ever before and surrounded by people who love me.

I am blessed.


– Patrick Shene

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