What’s the most illegal thing you’ve ever done? In my experience, most people answer that question with some story involving a car; speeding to an extreme level, off-roading in an area where that’s not allowed, or something along those lines. Sometimes you hear about the childhood petty theft everyone seems to have done once. Really honest people may list Internet piracy. Rarely, you hear about minor drug use. My answer to that question is attempted murder.
I’m not proud of what I did, but I don’t regret it either. It’s a story about being pushed beyond your limit; a story about the beast that lives in all of us waiting for an excuse to strike. I think most people would be surprised at how minor a thing it can take to unleash the beast when you’re close to your limit.
It happened when I was not quite 16; I didn’t know it at the time, but my ordeal was almost over. I can’t remember what it was now, but there was some special coming on TV which would only air once that I had been looking forward to and talking about for weeks. My whole family knew I planned on watching it and what time it came on. About 5 or 10 minutes before it was due to start, I came out of my bedroom and went to the living room. There I found my parents watching TV and was told to go watch my show on the TV in their bedroom. So I went to their bedroom and found my brother watching the TV in there.
Not long before this, my dad installed a new video card into the computer and this card accepted input via co-axial cable allowing us to watch TV on the computer. It doesn’t seem like big thing now, but this was the days of dial-up when streaming video over the Internet seemed an impossible dream, so being able to watch TV on the computer was a huge deal. I hadn’t used the TV on the computer yet and I didn’t know how, but my brother had used it and, since both of the real TVs were in use, I asked him how to watch TV on the computer. He refused to tell me.
It seems stupid to me now that after 10 years of beatings, 2 years of sexual assault, and 2 years of mental abuse the thing that made me snap was a TV show I can’t even remember. I’m still not sure why that was my breaking point, but my best guess is that it was the thought of being denied the one thing in my life that I had been excited about in years; I didn’t let myself get excited about many things in those days.
Anyway, my brother refused to tell me what program I had to open to watch TV on the computer. The next thing I can remember, I was on top of him on the bed with my hands around his throat, screaming for him to tell me how to work the TV on the computer. He was laughing, which made me angrier and I remember squeezing tighter and leaning forward to put more weight into the hold; the more he laughed, the angrier I got and the tighter I squeezed; the only thing in my head was “die, die, die.” It was a very strange feeling. Even though all that anger was in me, it was also separate from me; even though I am aware of doing those things, it was also like I was behind someone else’s eyes watching her do them. Somehow, at the same time, it was and wasn’t me trying to kill my brother and that is the best description I can give of what the beast is.
The incident ended when my mother came in and showed me how to work the TV on the computer. I choose to view the incident as a good thing; I find the understanding of the beast in all of us and of my own limits it gave me to be invaluable. Now it remains for me to make sure that I don’t allow anyone to push me anywhere near that far ever again because I believe that anger is one of the worst reasons to kill someone. Should it ever become necessary for me to kill someone in order to defend others or myself, I will do so without hesitation, but I won’t kill out of anger.