That slumbered, wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
-John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV lines 23-25
For me, the unfolding truth about my family- back when I was a kid, now, and what future it has, is like a horror film without the stylized running and screaming. Running is not an option, although it does not matter because there is nothing to run from. It is that moment when the main character realizes that this is not all in my mind, I am not over-reacting, this is really happening. Another similarity I see between this situation and a horror film is in the existence of the anti-protagonist, the bad guy, the malevolent forces of evil.
Yes, evil. Evil is a loaded word- primarily from associations with Satan, of course. I have concluded my dad is evil. I realize evil is the most black and white, intolerant term I could apply here. It brings up all sorts of issues of whether it is unreasonably judgmental and rigid to classify someone as evil when, as many people believe, all people have varying degrees of good and evil in them, as well as the capacity for both, and to condemn someone else is to condemn yourself. Am I the Spawn of Satan? Is it psychologically healthy or even possible to categorically reject the 2 people who are the source of your being?
I believe it is both psychologically necessary for me, and inevitable. I have no choice, because I cannot morally accept or tolerate my parents anymore. I have carefully considered the evidence, such as-
My dad has been bringing a 4-year-old girl to a child molester's home, the same one who sexually abused his own daughter. He kept this information from the girl's father and grandmother. When I told my mom about this, instead of reacting with concern or outrage, she whinnied about my dad having a new wife. Both my parents promised me they would have no further contact with the child molester, but not when I told them what he was doing to me. No, it was only after the police got involved 5 years later.
My stepbrother told me that my dad told his current family that my mom was such a bad parent that he was going to divorce her, but in those days the woman always got custody of the kids so he stayed to protect us. I am not even going to try to explain how disgusted it makes me feel that he would tell such outrageous lies, and not take any responsibility at all for the abuse he put me though during my entire miserable childhood. Now I really know that when he apologized to me and begged my forgiveness, it was a completely depraved manipulation to get me to go along with his “I am such a normal father, nothing is wrong” act.
My dad also told his new family that my mom drove my brother to kill himself (because she was such a bad parent). He did not tell them my brother was living with him at the time, used his gun, and that my mom was living 145 miles away. What kind of father would use the circumstances of his son's death to manipulate people in his little game of "if I can convince you that I did not destroy my last family, you will let me destroy your family. My own son's death means nothing more than an opportunity to control you with the most sickening lies and deceptions I can think up." And what kind of mother wants to pretend that her son never even existed, because his suicide makes her feel like a bad parent, who stood by while her children were abused by her husband, the husband who she finally left, but only after it was too late to protect her kids? Of course, the answer is my father and my mother.
My dad's wife never responded to the letter I sent. After talking to my stepbrother, it seems clear why. My stepbrother's dad was abusive. My dad is verbally and emotionally abusing his stepson and step-granddaughter, and if they do not move out soon, it will only escalate. Not only is she letting it happen, covering up for my dad, making excuses for him, and facilitating the abuse (sounds so familiar), but she told my stepbrother, do not make me choose between you (her own son) and my husband, because I will choose my husband. When I told my support group about this last week, the facilitator said, she probably wants them in the house to take his abuse, so she does not have to. She had better have her bags packed as soon as they move out. She is next in line.
That got me thinking. Why did my mom wait to leave my dad until after I was long gone and my brother went to college (he came back after a semester and that was when he was living just with my dad)? I know that plenty of couples stay together until the kids grown because they think it is better for them to have both parents around, but this is hardly a compelling argument for my family. Any idiot off the street could have figured out that my brother and I would have been better off with a single mother, not living with a violently abusive father. So if my mom stayed with my dad through the yelling, the threats, the insults, the hitting, the furniture throwing, the beatings, the sexual abuse, and the child abuse charges, what motivated her to leave my dad after all that was over? Could it be because her human shields, a.k.a. her own children, were not there anymore to protect her from my dad's abuse? What kind of a mother prefers to see her children abused rather than her, and will leave an abuse man to protect herself but not her defenseless children? Apparently, my mom and my step-mom.
This is how abuse perpetuates itself, generation through generation. My dad was the youngest in his family, and bore the brunt of my grandfather's abuse. My grandmother was in an insane asylum during 4 years of my dad's childhood. He resented his mom for not protecting and taking care of him, and his older sister because he felt she was the favored child in the family, but did not hate his dad, and spent his whole life trying to win his dad's approval up until his death a few years ago. In my family, he decided I was just like his sister. I was a 7 year old bookworm when I remember the abuse starting, so how much could I really have reminded his of his loud, obnoxious, insensitive red-headed sister who married a severe alcoholic who cannot stay out of jail. He took his anger and resentment out on me. My mom was his mom, only he could control and manipulate her to his satisfaction, and my brother represented him, only this time he was the favored child. He was the puppet master, controlling our family, giving him the sense of power he never had as a child. He tried to mold my brother in his image, and denied my brother the freedom to develop as his own person. My brother defied my dad's control when he took his own life.
In his new group of victims, his wife is his ex-wife. His wife's granddaughter is his daughter. His stepson is his son. He even told them that he disliked my stepbrother because he reminded him of my brother, and he is angry that his stepson is alive while his son is not. He keeps replaying the same scenario, because he is addicted to the sense of power he gets from dominating other people, and punishing them for other people's perceived wrongs against him.
My dad will continue doing what he is doing as long as he can find women who will abandon their responsibilities to their children for him, and accept his rule. After talking to my mom, I am convinced that she is still codependent with my dad, and will continue to defend, cover up for, and obsess over him. (Why does he hate me? she asks me. Why the hell should she care? They’ve been divorced for 8 years.)
I asked my mom to come clean with our extended family about what happened, but her dishonesty continues. Just like when I was a kid, she blames me rather than taking responsibility for her failings as a parent, and recognizing that my dad is responsible for my dad being abusive. My mom’s excuses: I would not go to therapy when I was 13 (not true. I did go, the therapist said what was happening to me was emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse. My mom never took me back.) I never told her that my great-uncle was sexually abusing me (this is a complete lie that she has contradicted several times herself, most notably when she said she believed me when I told her when I was 12, but thought I could take care of it myself.) She did not know why I kept running away from home on mornings before we went to the child molester's house. I told her I was okay while I was lying on the floor bleeding with a concussion so she took my word for it; if I needed an ambulance, I should have told her. Her therapist told her not to take me to the hospital. My dad only hit me that once, so it was not really abuse (which makes so much sense considering she threatened to leave my dad when I was 7 because he was abusing me.)
She thinks we should not talk about what happened because I get so angry and she is worried that is emotionally unhealthy for me (because put-downs, threats, and constantly being yelled at is so healthy). My therapist says my mom is very sick, and that she must have been abused as a child herself because her mindset is that of an abused child, which is that it is the child’s fault.
Nothing has changed, neither one of my parents will take responsibility for what they have done wrong, and stop doing it. Because of that, I cannot forgive them.
I was angry, but I am not angry anymore. I was depressed, but I am not anymore. I accept that my parents did not, and will not change, and even if they did, it is too late. I have paid a heavy price in this family, and I will never get what I wanted from my parents. The one person in my family who I trusted, who was there for me, and got me through what was a complete nightmare of a childhood, is dead. My childhood is over, I am left with 2 selfish, dishonest, and immoral human beings who are my parents in name alone. I cannot heal and break this cycle while they are influencing my life, so this is where I get off the bus. Goodbye, and good riddance.