A Star Trek: Voyager story. Copyright 1998. Paramount and Viacom owns the rights to the characters (except Stacey, Curtis, and Michaels) involved in the story, and everything else that is Trek. I have also borrowed Terri Z‘s premise of a possible suicide attempt by Tom Paris. However, I have changed details in my favour. It may also bring up some aspects that may remind you of ‚Over the Edge‘ by Neetz (a great piece of fanfic!). This is an original story with no copyright infringements intended. If the story seems a bit convoluted, it was intended as such. This is Tom Paris looking back on an incident in his life, and is from his point of view. Please consider this to be an alternate universe, as it does not coincide with "Mosaic," "Pathways," or canon. Thanks go to Janet for beta-reading this story, and also for her help in improving it. Thanks also go towards Nina for beta-reading this too. I hope that no one minds the fact that I wrote this last summer.LegacyPremise: Tom is sitting at his desk, making a personal log entry, while drinking alcohol (the real stuff).
Lieutenant Paris‘ Personal Log Entry
I was working in Sickbay this morning before my shift at the Conn, when Ensign Curtis was beamed in. Apparently, he tried to attempt suicide. His roommate Crewman Michaels, found him unconscious in the living room of their quarters. He had somehow gotten hold of pills and mixed it with vodkaÑ the real stuff. For a moment, I just stood there doing nothing, my feet frozen where they wereÑor at least until the Doc yelled at me to get moving and help him. We managed to save him and he‘ll need counseling, but I was shaken. Since this was a private matter, I couldn‘t tell anyone. Not even Harry and B‘Elanna and they knew that something was wrong. I covered up and mentioned a nightmare. Harry bought it a little, but not B‘Elanna. She knows me too well.
What am I supposed to tell her? The truth? That a fellow crewmember tried to commit suicide and that it made me remember that when I was 15, I tried to do the same thing? That my dad had beaten me, and belittled me so much thatÉ Actually, it was more than that. I realise now that it was emotional and psychological abuse. He made me feel as though I didn‘t deserve to live. He had been doing that since I was a kid. I was the no-good kid, the loser of the family, who couldn‘t do anything right. I was worthless, pitiful, pathetic, and didn‘t deserved to be loved.
And I believed this.
All my life, I heard this, and believed it to be true.
I learned right then, that I couldn‘t trust anyone. Yep, dear old dad taught me that. If you can‘t trust your own father, the person who helped bring you into this world and is supposed to be there for you, who can you trust? This had ground into me so much, that it became a part of me and who I was that even today, I still have a hard time trusting people. This even includes my own best friend.
If you begin to trust someone, it means that you‘ve let them in. You have granted them access to what is behind the barrier, where you keep your real self, your most private self, and your sanity. I‘m in the process of trusting more, but I‘m wary of this. I will allow myself to go only so farÑeven though I have not exactly been following thisÑ because if you let them in, you give them the ability to hurt you.
And they will hurt you.
There‘s only two questions that need to be answered:
How badly will you hurt?
How badly will you feel betrayed?
How much hurt can one person take, especially when they received so much of it in their lives? My self-confidence is growing, but I know that it will take only so much before I retreat into my most private self, and close myself off. To everyone. I do know that I can‘t take much more. I don‘t want to either.
This is the first legacy that dad left me with.
My mother died when I was young, so it was just dad, my sisters, and myself. My sisters were not treated as I was. I think part of this was due to the fact that despite our last names, I take after my mom, not my dad. Dad said that I was a bleeding heart, a soft touch, easily taken advantage of, and easily got hurt. My grandmother said that this was really compassion, kindness, generosity, and sensitivityÑ qualities that my mother possessed. This sort of freaked him out. I wonder if it still does? For a long while, I didn‘t know who to believe. Later on, I thought that Dad was right, and what Grandma said only verified it, but in more diplomatic terms.
But I have to admit, that I learned several things from dear old dad. One was how to be an actorÑa chameleonÑalways changing to fit your surroundings and the situation. The second was how not to let them show whereÑor whenÑit hurts, because they‘ll only come back for some more. But most of all, never to let anyone see the real you. That was most important of all, and for the longest time, I believed this. I followed this, and todayÑto a certain extentÑI still do. That‘s another one of dad‘s legacies to me.
I was never good enough for him, so he sometimes took it out on meÑbut not too much as I was captain of the swim team, and bruises would show. But when he found out that I quit the team, he got mad. No, it was more along the lines of furious. I just didn‘t see why I should stay with something if I didn‘t enjoy it for the competition anymore, but he didn‘t see it that way. He took a bottle, smashed the bottom off, then smashed me on the back of my head and neckÑwith my back turned too! How‘s that for courage? Hit your own son when he‘s not looking!
I got mad. This was My Life! My Choices! My Mistakes!
And here he was, wanting me to be someone better than who I was.
Someone who I wasn‘t.
Someone I didn‘t know if I could be.
Someone that I probably couldn‘t be.
I‘m far from perfect, I‘m the first to admit that. No, it was actually dad who was the first to admit thatÑor at least point it out. And of course, he was right. He was always right. But he still kept pushing me to be that way. Why did he do this?!? Why couldn‘t he let me be? Ha! Here I am, wondering why he couldn‘t let me be me, when I don‘t even know who I am!
Anyway, I did something he didn‘t expect. This time, I fought back. I turned around after I got up off the floor, and lunged at him. We both fell onto the floor. He was stunned momentarily. I could even see the shock in his eyes, and that thrilled me. For once, I wasn‘t letting him hit me without fighting back. He didn‘t contemplate that I would ever do such a thing. The way we fought each other, throwing punches, blows and kicks, reminded me of an old western. He grabbed me and threw me around, and vice versa. I was mad, and I didn‘t think of anything but beating this man into a pulp. I finally had enough, so I grabbed a vase and hit him square on the chest. I then took a lamp, hit him on the leg, then he fell down onto the floor. I then told him, that if he ever hit me again, I would fight back. Again. I was sick of being a punching bag, a pillow, and that I wasn‘t afraid of fighting dirty. I was serious and meant every single word. I honestly felt like killing him.
And when he laughed and said that I didn‘t have the guts, I took the lamp in my hand, and threw it at the grandfather clock; an heirloom. I yelled that I did have the guts and that I wasn‘t afraid. I even said that if he kept this up, I may lose control one day and do something I may regret. He gave me a smirk and said something like, "What, you may kill me?" I kept silent. It spoke for me. I was honestly afraid that one day I might, but hoped to the gods that I wouldn‘t. I didn‘t say that out loud though, because at the moment, I wanted him to think that I would have no hesitations of doing so. No second thoughts. I was sick of everything and wanted him to stop. Besides, now that I was no longer on the swim team, he may have tried to take his frustrations out on me a little more often to my liking. I didn‘t want that, so I let him think that one day, I might actually do so.
I said that I would get off lightly, because there was proof that I had been physically abused and my sisters could verify it in a court of law. Also, I was a minor, so I probably wouldn‘t stay in a rehab facility for very long. Besides, mom‘s family would do anything to get me off the hook, even if it meant blemishing the ‚noble‘ Paris name. Furthermore, dad was known to have a temper, so would anyone really be surprised to find out that he took his frustrations out on his kids?
What gets me the most, is that I said this with matter-of-fact frankness. I was serious and couldn‘t take much more of itÑwell at least at that point, and at that time period. He was still clenching his fists and was ready to use them on me. He was silent as he got up off the floor, and looked straight at me with cold and glaring eyes, and loathed me at that very minute. He must have seen that I was serious and backed off. He then headed towards the door. He muttered something that I couldn‘t quite make out, so I asked him to speak louder.
"You should have died instead of your mother."
At first I thought that it was his anger which spoke that, but then I watched him closely.
He meant it.
When I asked him in a wavering voice if he really meant it, he said that he had left something at the office and had to go back to get it. I later thought sarcastically, ‚Yeah, you really went to the office looking like that. I wonder what kinds of reactions you got, and what your answers were?‘
As he opened the door to leave, I asked him again. Looking straight ahead towards the great outdoors of suburbia, he said one word.
My life changed after this admission. What else can you say after hearing your own father say that it should have been you, and not your mother that had died?
I had always idolized my dadÑdespite how he treated meÑeven though nothing I ever did was good enough for him. I had tried harder and harder each time, only to be told that "It‘s not good enough." That I, was not good enough. I felt everything that dad had ever said about me was right. That I was worthless, and pathetic and that I didn‘t deserved to be loved, that no one in their right mind could or would ever love me. But most of all, that I didn‘t deserve to live. But on the other hand, he never touched me again. As one of my former fellow prison inmates would say, "At least you got something good from it." Yeah, right. Sure on the one hand I knew that my father would never beat me again, but on the other, I found out how much he hated me.
Still, back then, I felt that I had failed.
I had promised mom that I‘d be a good boy and do what dad said. I would be good, do what I was told, and make her and dad proud. I‘d obviously failed in this endeavour. My dad was definitely not proud of me, and neither would my mom. I mean what kind of person was I? I had basically threatened to kill my own fatherÑor at least let him think so!
And he just said that I should have been the one to die, that I should be dead.
At that moment, I didn‘t care if I was alive or dead, and thought that no one else would either. Silently, tears started to fall down my cheeks, but stopped when I made a decision. I then went to the kitchen and grabbed a sharp kitchen knife. I went into the bathroom and locked the doorÑor at least I thought I did. I chose the bathroom because I wanted an easy mess for others to clean up. Wasn‘t that considerate of me? I slit one wrist. Blood began to seep through the wound. I was about to cut the other one, when I heard my sister call out my name. She had just come home. I thought that maybe if I didn‘t answer, she would think that I was not home. I quickly cut the other wrist, but it wasn‘t deep enough, so I cut it againÑ deeper this timeÑwhen the door opened. Stacey had seen the mess downstairs and suspected that I would be tending to my wounds, not making new ones.
She looked at the scene with horror and screamed. Startled, I dropped the knife and fell to my knees. She went to the hall closet, got out the first aid kit and tended to my wrists. The tears that had stopped when I made the decision to end my life, had begun to fall again, but this time it was harder. I realised that there was at least one person who cared about me. I figured that as long as there was one person who wanted me to live, I had to. When she was finished with my wrists, she hugged me and tried to calm me down. She felt the blood running down my back and traced it to my neck. When she saw the damage that the Admiral did, she swore. As Stacey took the glass out, she realised that this fight was more violent than she had originally thought. I mean, there was no way in hell that I could have bashed the back of myself. She had a hard time making sure that all of the glass was out because I kept shaking uncontrollably, and afterwards, she put me to bed. I curled up into a fetal position.
I don‘t really remember what I was thinking. I think that it was the shock of what I did that got to me. Well, that and what dad said. Stacey later said that I kept saying, "Dad‘s right, Dad‘s right." She asked me about what this meant, and I told herÑthis was later on of course. She became mad at dad. She never told him outright, but he knew. He sensed her distance, her hostility towards him. He never forgave me for that. I turned one of his kids away from him. Well, what the hell was I?!? Oh, that‘s right. My sisters were the ones who were the ‚good, nice, wholesome, and well-behaved kids.‘ I was the one who should have died!
We never told him what I tried to do that day. I wouldn‘t have heard the end of it. Stacey knew this and she became more protective of me. I was never alone in the same room with dad again. She was always there with me.
As stated before, he never touched me again. But he sure doubled that psychological torture of his. I often wondered if he was taught that by the Cardassians while a prisoner of theirs, during the war. Most likely so. Jabs here, stabs there. It didn‘t matter if Stacey was present, they were always covert and not easily recognised. But I recognised them and he knew it. He made me regret that my suicide attempt was not successful, that I was still alive.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night, fresh from re-living my childhood in bits and pieces. Fresh from being a kid all over again. For a long while I felt alone, confused, scared. Scared that dad was right all along. Scared that the life that I was trying to rebuild on Voyager was a farce, and doomed for failure. The failure that he said I was. I knew that he was wrong. Intellectually. But somewhere inside of me, lived that little kid, the one who had no self-confidence and hated himself. And also of the adult that he became. The one who was afraid to give himself a chance, because he was afraid that his father may have been right in that he would only mess up again.
But most of all, because he didn‘t think that he deserved one.
Reflecting back on this, I‘m not really like that anymore.
Sure, I still get those nightmares, and feel scared and confused at times. But not alone. Never alone. As long as I remain on Voyager, I‘ll have friends who like me for who I am, and what I‘ve become. Many of them even respect meÑ though sometimes I can‘t figure out why.
Regarding my self-esteem, it‘s getting better. This is due to my friendships with Harry, B‘Elanna, Neelix, KesÑwhen she was alive, and Captain Janeway. It‘s funny. Captain Janeway gave me something that my own father couldn‘t. Faith. Faith in me and in my abilities. But most of all, trust. My father never trusted me to do anything good in my life. He only trusted me to screw it up. I felt that he was right for the longest time. I now realise that I was just fulfilling his prophecy, and I didn‘t have to. But I felt that I needed to. Yeah, dad certainly screwed me up. But I‘m better now. At least, I hope I am. Then again, I‘m definitely better than I first was when this impromptu trip began. Anyway, I figure that if Captain Janeway can trust me, then I guess I can open up more to others. Especially Harry and B‘Elanna - my best friend and the woman I love.
As stated before, due to the vestige which dad left upon me, I have a hard time opening up, and letting people in. But I want to, and when you think about it, I really don‘t have much of a choice.
For one thing, it gets pretty lonely, being alone that is. And being with B‘Elanna has made me realise that I can‘t keep myself closed off anymore, and that while I will get hurtÑthat‘s inevitableÑI have to find a way for it not to consume me. I have to get beyond the hurt and the pain that accompanies it. Especially if it‘s unintentional. Harry, B‘Elanna and Janeway trust me. It‘s only right that I do the reciprocal. With their love, support and friendship, I‘m sure that I can overcome these barriers that I‘ve erected.
No matter how many setbacks I may undergo, I will get through to the other side. And survive.
Then maybe I can finally overcome all of Dad‘s legacies.