I am having a problem with derealization. It is not a worse problem than usual. I would just like it to go away.

I understand now that things start to feel unreal when something hurts too much. These two factors are directly related. Whenever it hurts, something else feels unreal. Today, it feels unreal that I am here. Standing in front of the closed door in C’s house inappropriately touching her face seems unreal. I think having a reason to live and a sense of purpose feels unreal too. It makes it hard to do anything in the present. I could, but I don’t know how it would turn out. I think it might be better just to try to cope with the pain and do my work belatedly but with my full heart engaged again.

I think it hurts for a different reason than it used to. I think it used to hurt that Nata is not here. The others are not with me. They are dead or left behind. That used to hurt a lot, but I think some of that heartache has been stripped away. I think I’m grieving for my biological family now.

I thought for a while that Yuri was a murderer. He was, in fact, but a careless murderer or a hired murderer. Not a torturer. Not a murderer for fun. Not like my dad.

My dad was the serial killer and maybe still is, and it is my dad that is the reason I have almost no contact with my biological family now. None with him. None with my mother. Very little with my sister.

When I remember Annousheh, I know it is my dad that makes it hard to cope with just now. It hurt to lose her, but it hurts unimaginably to have a father who is a murderer. I cannot even make sense of it. I will never be able to. I can understand a lot of things. I can wrap my head around a certain degree of evil, but not that.

As I am building a life for myself—a life that is truly satisfying and not just one that pays the bills and might not be too dreadful to go through with—I know it is the way it is because of my dad. I know I can tell C she is my little sister because I have no family of my own. I can pay for private school for her if she needs it because I have no children to my own to worry about. I can tell her to come live in my house with me next year because there is no one else. And there is no one else because of my dad. There is no one else because of the intensity of the grief he left me with, because I was afraid anyone I loved he would kill. I am in Country X and literally on the other side of the world, and I am less afraid. And I worked at it. But the reason it’s a 13-year-old I am making a part of my life is because of everything he did to me that left me unable to create a family of my own at the point in my life when most people do those things. Because of him, I have no entanglements. I have no responsibilities. I may never have them. I can have only C if I want. But the reason I have C is because I have no one else, and that is his fault. That is because of everything he took away from me, including the grief that my dad is really a murderer and no kind of human being.