Barbiturates and Salt Sandwiches

With taking his evening medication, my father would sprinkle salt on two slices of bread and butter and then make them into a sandwich.

Who does that?

My Father in his early 40’s

His days were spent in terrible physical pain and his night’s were plagued with horrendous nightmares – the kind that forced his body into a soaking wet sweat. That’s where the drugs came in and did their job of knocking him out into an unconcious state, often appearing dead with a cold and bluish complexion.

I wonder where he travelled in his sleep?

I wonder if he ever was able to access peace beyond the realms of being awake?

I hope so.

I have painted such a bad picture of the man I called my father and that’s not really the truth of it all. He was a good man and a very sick man, that’s the paradox. There is so much to write about him and the pain he must have endured as a child, also the rejection he sufferred from trying to tell his story and having it ignored.

Maybe that’s why it is so important for me to tell mine!

The atrocities he experienced from the age of 4 until 7 in a prisoner of war camp scarred his young mind and was enough to damage his life and the lives of the people he loved. There have been many times when I have felt so desperate to see him again – to hold him close and tell him that I understand, tell him that I love him so much and tell him its okay.

I don’t know if he is resting?

He deserves to rest…

You see, we all have the power to judge another as my father was judged by his family, doctors, neighbours etc… everyone had something to say but never really gave him the time to begin to wonder why he behaved the way he did or even to try and unravel his pain.

I give people time to unravel.

I guess in that day and age it was just easier to shut him up with medication and send him on his way which ultimately, killed his body.

I can never justify his actions but I can always choose love over hate and ignorance.

The doctor that plied my father with drugs was stuck off some years later. He was well known for over prescribing medications for his patients.

I wonder what pain he was carrying was too?

©All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Author: Michelle Denness

Wife, mother to three incredible kids and aspiring writer/poet. I am passionate about sharing personal stories to empower others and this space is for me to be open and free with my thoughts. This is my journey...

13 thoughts on “Barbiturates and Salt Sandwiches”

  1. You have not painted a picture of your Dad being bad. You have shown a man in distress, treated in the system as they did then. You clearly love the man but not the behaviour, which is a creed you and I live by. The world now accepts PTSD in all its forms and I hope that if your Dad was alive now this treatment would be compassionate. Keep writing.


  2. Where was your Dad held prisoner? The hearts and minds of human beings are so fragile. The horrors that some of us are subjected to is unbelievable. There is no explanation for it, except the human failures of the perpetrators.


  3. Honestly Michelle how the hell else was he to live with that unspeakable horror. PTSD is a shocking condition that alters every cell and unless you go through a certain experience there is no way you can judge how it feels. People would never understand where I go to the minute I get into bed and that terrible blow to the head ‘wakes up’ as if it was still all happening. I just think we need education and a shit load of empathy to truly even fathom 1 percent of what your father suffered. It pains me to know no one could break through and he was just given drugs. The same happened to my sister and it broke her. And it nearly broke me to witness the time she was crying or screaming in pain and all they did in the home was hand her drugs. I sat with her and let her scream and she always always calmed down. You Dad suffered through no fault of his own he was trying to defend his country. That’s not to deny the terrible impact upon all of your family. I am sure you talk to him all the time now and give him love. He needed love most of all but unfortuneately in the after math of trauma all that remans pushes everyone else away. Its so so so so sad. ❤ ❤ ❤


    1. I’m so sorry that you suffered so much and your sister too. Education is always needed and I think that all those years ago they just didn’t have the resources to deal with the fall out of war. My father was just a tiny child and as we know, the pattern can be repeated. The trauma he experienced led him to create trauma for others. It is very sad but also this is our chance to tell our stories and hopefully help others to tell theirs.
      Thank you once again for taking the time to read my writing 🙏


      1. We can learn from the pain of the past and choose love over hatred and ignorance. I love that you share this and also show curiosity to what these doctors struggle with or try to keep under wraps. Lets always be a force for love and compassion. 💖


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