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VERY PERSONAL -- A troubled childhood that still haunts.


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It was not as awful as we sometimes see in movies, but it was bad. And nobody in my immediate family will really recognize it and/or try to apologize for it.

 

My father was the 'head' of the household. And EVERYBODY was intimidated by him. This includes my mom, my aunt, my aunts husband, my uncles etc. But for me it was horrible. I was around 4 (and this is my first childhood memory). And I was punched in the face severely for playing with a souvenir that belonged to him. Many years later (last summer) I found that same souvenir lying around the house randomly and no one cared about it. I put it on his door knob, and he later put it aside, perhaps even asked someone what it was. My mom, when I try to talk to her about it, tries to deny this happened or if she can't she will dispute it was not as severe (she has this attitude about any unpleasant event especially ones involving family issues).

 

There were physical attacks here and there throughout my childhood, some worse than others but most of the time it was verbal and mental domination over me. I was ALWAYS uncomfortable. I was always in stress. When walking inside the house or whenever he arrived home I would immediately retreat to my room because I was so scared and uncomfortable. He wasn't always mean, but just enough to always keep me on the edge. Always and constantly trying to behave good, the best child. Always in watch out mode. Just like you train a puppy. He was a smart man, he was a diplomat at heart. When something was wrong we would have talks and he would convince me everything was ok etc. He was successful to, he would for a short while convince even me.

 

He would go on business trips for extended amounts of time. I can still feel the relief and joy I remember when he was not home for a week, several weeks, whatever it was. When he was there, I was always in survival mode.

 

Years went on like this until I could afford living on my own. The controlling, belittling, scaring attitude. He still has this attitude over everyone in the family, but it has affected me the most.

 

As years go by I get more and more distanced from him. At times his behavior is even worse. He goes in cycles good until he can get close enough, then horrible, especially if he doesn't have his way with something.

 

Interestingly he is the exact opposite to outsiders or not immediate family members. It is so disgusting to watch. He will be kind and caring and patient with anyone. Last summer I was watching him with my cousin (my mothers side), my uncles daughter. She would do something silly or bad, like picking a flower that isn't supposed to be picked, like any normal kid will do sometimes. Her mom would say something like 'honey, don't do that' like a natural mom. My father would interfere and say hey don't behave like that to the kid, let her play and do what she wants. I felt disgusted with his constant interference and phony behavior. It was not him and I am disgusted and angry sill. When I was a kid, and I was walking with him, I would never dare pick up a flower I was so scared and intimidated. I was scared to tell him I was thirsty or needed to go to the bathroom.

 

It has just been a horrible childhood that I can never forgive. So many things I want to but wont share here. To this day I wake up with nightmares sometimes screaming.

 

Non of it will ever be forgiven. Even when he once asked if I can give him another chance (last summer) he several days later disowned me as a child for the third time, because I hadn't said hello to him in the morning. (I am at this age still intimidated and scared of him, I do not understand how he expects me to act normal, I can not. I am always in robot-survival mode). The first time he disowned me was because I could not read a map backwards, as he wished me to read it - backwards! while he was driving.

 

How do you forgive something like this? How do you forget? He is now sick because for years he has not been careful with his diet or health in general. And I am sad he will get worse and worse, but I also feel a relief. Because as he gets weaker I think I will be less intimidated by him. The the fact that I think this makes me feel sad again. But I cannot help it. I am still in survival mode and always will be. Perhaps even after he dies.

 

How do I deal with this. I have tried counseling once. Talked to her about something completely different. But it was not much help even with that smaller issue. So after 2 sessions I never went back.

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Well first, make sure you're not blaming yourself at all. Even an scrap. Because you know it's not your fault he was terrible to you but not your little cousin.

 

Then, realize that you do not have to have him in your life. You're the adult and you make the choices for your life. That's such an amazing gift in situations like these.

 

The man sounds controlling obviously, and very abusive. He needs your fear of him to keep himself going. Don't give him that.

 

I would forgive him for yourself, to yourself in order to move on. You are not the little girl who couldn't do anything right anymore.

 

I am glad you got this out a bit, does it help?

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Sure it helps that I got it out. Only person that ever knew this was my mom mostly because she was witness to this the whole time. But even being a witness she will still deny it to this day, or avoid talking about it. To some extent my aunt knows. I have recently started talking about it to my bf. It helps to be able to acknowledge it finally and say it out loud. As a kid he had used fear of being slapped, humiliated as his weapon. Now he uses disowning me, and I am sure he will use his illnesses soon. 'I am sick and old and you are doing this to me' etc. The looks he gives, the words. But at least he cannot hit me anymore. Especially when he gets weaker and weaker. My poor mom still does all the housework for him. Including changing his sheets and and wash his dirty dishes and his dirty laundry (the sleep in separate bedrooms) and still take all his crap, his cursing, belittling, yelling, shouting, his dirty looks... I live in a different country now (thank GOD) and I visit yearly. I will be there in may, and I have already begun stressing out. Last summer is still painful and scary in my head. It was a horrible time. Like all the times I have had with him. Almost all my childhood memories are horrible and scary and sad.

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Hike,

I think writing this down has probably helped you some. He is a monster. Anyone who would do this to their own flesh and blood is a very sick person.

You do not have to forgive him, unless you want to.

 

Perhaps try the counseling again, it seems you are opening up. Or if not, try writing this down in a journal.

 

Or perhaps, write a letter to him explaining how this has affected you.

 

You are on your own now, so you can become stronger, and hopefully, put this behind you.

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You just described my childhood- to a tee- i could have written this myself.

 

I had been in counseling for years and years - and years... and years... and i still have many many issues surrounding my relationship with my father.

 

I still struggle with many lingering issues- self esteem, feeling responsible for other peoples feelings- ect.

 

i lived in fear most of the time with my father as well-

 

ironically ... my first memory of my father hitting me was when i was about 3-4 as well- a punch right in the stomach- that was stays with me because i look at little 3-4 yr olds now i can't even imagine doing that to a child- what kind of monster does something like that-

 

someone with a lot of issues.

 

its ok to cut your dad out of your life for a while- you are on your own and you do not need his approval- focus on building your self esteem- focus on your inner thoughts- what are you saying to yourself about yourself... ect.

 

try reading as many books on abuse as you can- learn about triggers ..ect.

 

its a long long struggle - one thing that helped me a lot was learning about my fathers childhood- what were his parents like? what was his father like? ect.... it helped me understand where he was coming from and took away some of the anger i was feeling towards him- it humanized him a bit for me.... and allowed me to forgive him to a certain degree.

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Your mom sounds like she is just playing the ostrich in the sand, and that is probably the easiest way she deals with all of this. She probably deeply feels a lot of guilt.

 

And you really don't owe him anything. A child cares for a loving parent when they become ill. He voided his chance when he decided to mistreat you.

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Your mom sounds like she is just playing the ostrich in the sand, and that is probably the easiest way she deals with all of this. She probably deeply feels a lot of guilt.

 

And you really don't owe him anything. A child cares for a loving parent when they become ill. He voided his chance when he decided to mistreat you.

 

my mother also buried her head in the sand- i think because it was easier to not really face what was happening- my father was also very overpowering and very smart- so he had a way of justifying his behavior and turn the blame on to me.

 

and no you don't owe HIM anything - but you owe it to yourself to let go of the hurt and anger- because it will only destroy you.

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According to my mom and a distant relative of mine, he did have a traumatic event in his childhood. And they were very poor. But still this does not excuse the years of abuse (mostly mental but physical too) I had to go through. It does not make me want to forgive him. All I know is that his father committed suicide. That does not excuse anything he did to me in my opinion. Especially since I see how he behaves to other people when/if he wants, for example my cousin. It was really sickening watching that. It made me want to throw up. I could describe it in detail and compare it to so many events in my childhood. It is like he is lying about who he is to the world, in front of ME.

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According to my mom and a distant relative of mine, he did have a traumatic event in his childhood. And they were very poor. But still this does not excuse the years of abuse (mostly mental but physical too) I had to go through. It does not make me want to forgive him. All I know is that his father committed suicide. That does not excuse anything he did to me in my opinion. Especially since I see how he behaves to other people when/if he wants, for example my cousin. It was really sickening watching that. It made me want to throw up. I could describe it in detail and compare it to so many events in my childhood. It is like he is lying about who he is to the world, in front of ME.

 

It doesn't excuse anything- you're right. But many abusers were abused. If you don't process what happened in your life and rise above it, you'll sink into it. That seems like what your father did. He sank into his trauma and never grew.

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I feel now like I have no father. But really it was worse than that. Aside for the financial benefits he provided, and I thank him for that (paying for my college education etc) it was WORSE than being fatherless. Aside from the fear and the occasional (but very severe when it did happen) physical abuse, there was also the controlling factor. I could never say, feel, think what I wanted. Since he was paying for college, I had to choose the major HE wanted me to choose. I graduated with honors however it was not what I wanted. 4 years lost out of my career. Now I am training myself for what I want, all over again. And I also pay with my constant nightmares. Waking up yelling HELP. I wonder if I would have been better off fatherless. Even without the financial buffer he provided.

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I face this, personally, as well. My father is not someone I would wish to be around. Drinking, drugs, sleazy behavior, lies, hookers, yuck. I don't know if I am going to have him be a part of my life... he always talks about how I will have to care for him when he is older...

 

How can I force myself? He was a terrible father!

 

It's hard. I feel for you.

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have you told him how you felt?

 

understanding why your father did what he did is a way to release a lot of the anger you feel towards him- it also takes the blame off of yourself - its all a part of the healing process.

 

commit yourself to healing for YOU - not for him.

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sounds like my dad. only he didnt hit me until i was 8 and he was no diplomat, he was equally unfriendly to strangers, and there was no 'its okay' talks.

i know that my dad is like this because of his dad and the way he was raised. I realize now that he didnt know how to be a dad and was unfriendly because of his turbulent childhood and relationship with his father who was often physically abusive.

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have you told him how you felt?

 

understanding why your father did what he did is a way to release a lot of the anger you feel towards him- it also takes the blame off of yourself - its all a part of the healing process.

 

commit yourself to healing for YOU - not for him.

 

I tried, once while I was still living there (and he listened and I cried), things went back to being the same soon after. Once last summer, and he asked if I could forgive him and we could start over, and we would talk again soon (he was about to leave the city). But then he disowned me after I didn't reply to his good morning.

 

So I have tried 2 times with little to no success. I don't enjoy talking to him, especially about this, so I refuse to put myself through it a third time.

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I face this, personally, as well. My father is not someone I would wish to be around. Drinking, drugs, sleazy behavior, lies, hookers, yuck. I don't know if I am going to have him be a part of my life... he always talks about how I will have to care for him when he is older...

 

How can I force myself? He was a terrible father!

 

It's hard. I feel for you.

 

you truly do not owe your father anything-

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Sometimes you can't forgive the past (and shouldn't), but you can decide you are not going to let it rule or ruin your present or future.

 

You were helpless and dependent as a child and had no choice but to tolerate him. But as an adult, you don't have to include him in your life at all unless you choose to. So if he is toxic, you can choose not to interact with him.

 

You also need to stop and think about how much time you are dwelling on the past, and recognize that you can't change it and although you deserved a loving parent (and every child does), it doesn't always happen and you have to accept that and move on with your life to find the love you need now, not the love you needed then.

 

You also need to recognize when the anger you hold onto is not helping you but harming you. You have a perfect right to be angry, but if you continue to dwell on your past and dwell on the anger, you really are dragging the past (and its negative emotions) into the present and allowing it to ruin your present.

 

I think the best way to approach this is to schedule some limited therapy, with the very focused goals of learning to release your anger and rage at him and not allow thoughts of him to control your present. Tell your counselor you have a lot of anger at what happened, and you want to learn to let it go so that you can allow love into your present rather than dwelling on the past.

 

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to accept that something happened, it wasn't right or fair, you can't change the past, and it is up to you to control your present in a way that makes you happy, and find the love you didn't have as a child. But when you do accept that, it will be very freeing and you are then free to focus on your present and not the past.

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I tried, once while I was still living there (and he listened and I cried), things went back to being the same soon after. Once last summer, and he asked if I could forgive him and we could start over, and we would talk again soon (he was about to leave the city). But then he disowned me after I didn't reply to his good morning.

 

So I have tried 2 times with little to no success. I don't enjoy talking to him, especially about this, so I refuse to put myself through it a third time.

 

my father does the same thing- disowns me - or won't speak to me for weeks- at first it used to bother me- and now i'm like... ok... good now i don't have to listen to your mouth.

 

i realize why my father is the way he is- but at this point he is a grown man and should know better- he sees my struggle and takes responsibility but at times just can't help himself and falls back into his old ways.

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sounds like my dad. only he didnt hit me until i was 8 and he was no diplomat, he was equally unfriendly to strangers, and there was no 'its okay' talks.

i know that my dad is like this because of his dad and the way he was raised. I realize now that he didnt know how to be a dad and was unfriendly because of his turbulent childhood and relationship with his father who was often physically abusive.

 

My dad DOES know. I will try to explain to you the sickening feeling in my abdomen and painful headache in my head.

 

The kid (my cousin) was having fun pouring a drink into a glass, making it bubble on his lap. Occasionally spilling. The mother, naturally said honey, be careful don't spill. My father intervenes very animated and protective: Don't behave like that to the child! Let her play! You go on honey.

 

Now some childhood memories from me:

 

We had company, guests. My father who has always been smoking cigars asks me to bring him an ashtray. I am around 10 years old. I know no better so I bring him an ashtray laying around somewhere that is not clean (has his ashes in it). The ashtray by the way is bigger and heavier than my head. I carry it to where he is sitting and smoking. He takes it and THROWS it at me, shouting obscenities (all the while the guests are watching me) scattering ashes all around me and the living room. He is displeased that I failed to bring him a clean ash tray. I don't remember the rest clearly, but I probably leave to bring him a clean one with ashes on my clothes and face.

 

All through my childhood my father has smoked cigars and pipes. Occasionally my mother would dispute it and he would curse. He sometimes asked me in front of her if I was bothered by it. Scared with a trembling voice and the inside of my throat burning from the constant smoke I was exposed to, I said : no, not at all.

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i feel bad for you. but the more you allow yourself to dwell on the past the longer its going to take you to recover.

you dont live with him now, he has no control over you, and the emotional scarring that has been done is healing and can be sped up through counselling.

dont make yourself a victim of your past. rise above it.

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i feel bad for you. but the more you allow yourself to dwell on the past the longer its going to take you to recover.

you dont live with him now, he has no control over you, and the emotional scarring that has been done is healing and can be sped up through counselling.

dont make yourself a victim of your past. rise above it.

 

Yes but still I feel his presence. He lives far from me, but the other day when my phone rang I was so scared and felt so horrible that it could be him (always calls in private numbers), with his diplomatic voice and controlling behavior. I changed my phone number.

 

It is not just the anger in me, but more importantly it is the fear, the anxiety the dreams, the constant feeling of being controlled. The belittling looks and words I will get when I visit my mom and brother.

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Yes but still I feel his presence. He lives far from me, but the other day when my phone rang I was so scared and felt so horrible that it could be him (always calls in private numbers), with his diplomatic voice and controlling behavior. I changed my phone number.

 

It is not just the anger in me, but more importantly it is the fear, the anxiety the dreams, the constant feeling of being controlled. The belittling looks and words I will get when I visit my mom and brother.

 

 

His presence is all in your head, so to speak. It's now up to you to take control, though this is hard by definition. He was an authoritarian parent- no explanation for his harshness, no love, mostly punishment. As a result, you become a bit unable to make your own decisions with 100% confidence.

 

You always felt you had to please him. Now you don't. His presence is gone. Start believing that.

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I see what you mean and agree, but it is hard to do. I know it is the right thing to do for me. Part of what makes it harder is I DO have to interact with him. When I go home to visit my mother and brother, and sometimes I will (have to) stay an extended amount of time. A month, 2 months (there are valid reasons for this that I won't go into). They all live together and I DO have to deal with it. And it affects me a lot believe it or not. How do I deal with it then?

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His presence is all in your head, so to speak. It's now up to you to take control, though this is hard by definition. He was an authoritarian parent- no explanation for his harshness, no love, mostly punishment. As a result, you become a bit unable to make your own decisions with 100% confidence.

 

You always felt you had to please him. Now you don't. His presence is gone. Start believing that.

 

That is SO true. I couldn't word it but that is true. That is part of my problem. Even when I KNOW the decisions I made and make everyday are good and right for me, I am always so scared. And it's not like I was a horrible kid with problems. I never smoked, never drank, was never out late. I had good grades, I was polite. But still there was always SOMETHING that could make him blow up. Like why did I not put x back where I took it from. Hadn't he told me this THREE times before! How dare I!

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That is SO true. I couldn't word it but that is true. That is part of my problem. Even when I KNOW the decisions I made and make everyday are good and right for me, I am always so scared. And it's not like I was a horrible kid with problems. I never smoked, never drank, was never out late. I had good grades, I was polite. But still there was always SOMETHING that could make him blow up. Like why did I not put x back where I took it from. Hadn't he told me this THREE times before! How dare I!

 

That is textbook for children of a parent like that. Unstable. Kids do want to be good, but when you make it impossible for them to "be good" they start having a hard time being secure.

 

You're doing yourself such an injustice by staying afraid.

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