This week I want to address the problem with abuse.
Well, maybe not the problem with abuse, but more so maybe my problem with abuse. Okay, that sounds kinda wrong. I’m not an abuser, atleast as far as I’m aware I’m not, but I know someone who is.
In the past I’ve written about issues between myself and my dad, as well as some things about him. To be totally honest I don’t actually remember what I’ve written about most things, so I don’t entirely remember what I’ve shared precisely, so I’m going to “Cliffs Notes” this as best as I can.
My dad has always struggled with emotional problems as long as I remember. He’s suffered from depression in the past. He’s also been physically violent towards myself and my younger brother, but not to the extent where we’ve wound up with breaks or bruises. As far as I’m aware he’s never been physically violent towards my mother, but he is prominently psychologically abusive to all of us. In recent years he has become more bearable, but that has never meant we’ve been able to completely relax as we cannot predict when he’ll be happy or angry. He was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago.
I also still live at the family home because… recession.
This week my father went off the deep end again. I don’t want to go into specific details about why, because as usual with him, it’s extremely difficult to explain in written form without writing an entire novel on the incident. The short of it is this:
He thought I had been untruthful and “sneaky” about something so texted my mother a rather abusive message (another message in a long line of abusive messages she has received at work). She knew I hadn’t, and so spoke to him when she arrived home from work. He didn’t believe her. She asked me to speak to him. He called me a liar. Things became heated. My mother and I then argued with him until the point where she finally snapped after all these years and called him on how he’s treated us, the things that he’s done, and how difficult he has made her life (by being the only parent who has held down a full time job for the majority of their marriage and looked after the home and family whilst he’s made very little effort to support her or any of us).
This argument more or less ended with my mother inviting my father to leave if he didn’t care to live with us anymore.
So he did.
For a night.
But before he left he made it as perfectly painful as he possibly could; storming around the house, collecting his things, huffing and puffing, slamming doors, and dragging his bags out of the bedroom.
During all of this I began to blame myself, thinking I’d just played a hand in the downfall of my parent’s marriage. Then I remembered all the terrible things he has said to us over the years, the intimidation, and the verbal abuses. This was never mine, my brother’s, nor my mother’s fault – it was always him. He did this to himself. I then began to realise that this had been a long time coming and finally we were uniting as a unit to deal with the problem.
My mother had always supported him, defended him, through all the bad times. She would say, “It’s just part of his illness”, and other similar platitudes. For years we’ve all danced around the subject of him and his whimsical outbursts. But this would happen no more. She said if he was to return things would have to change, he would have to learn to live with us and not the other way around. If he wanted the marriage to end then so be it. We were united as a family to deal with our domestic problem.
Or that’s what I thought.
When my father returned at some point after my mother went to work on Thursday morning, things in the house defaulted back to its awkward state. He avoided us by commandeering the living room (as per usual) and refused to speak to my mother. By Saturday they were finally speaking, but not about what had happened – which is actually worse than not speaking at all. He refuses to acknowledge any fault, and as of writing my brother and I still haven’t spoken to him. Again, to be truthful, after he began to talk and stop avoiding us I began to not want to even speak to him – not only have we spent years being abused in this way, but he also walked out on us!
My mother thinks he cares about us in his own way, but how is that relevant when we can’t see that. How little must he care for this family if he feels that he has to control the home with fear and intimidation? How little must he care to be able to pack up his belongings and walk out (which with MS isn’t an easy feat)?
After twenty-something years of putting up with this abuse you’d have thought I’d have moved out, and believe me I wish I had taken the opportunity seriously when I was much younger, but I also wanted to be around to support my mother and brother. What makes me feel even sadder is that my mother won’t force him to leave or force him into a conversation because of a misplaced notion in patching up the marriage, regardless of how tiny he makes her feel.
In a few years my brother and I will have moved out and be moving on in our lives, yet I feel that my mother will remain stuck with pathologically demented, psychologically abusive father until the day he dies. By that point I wonder how many years she would have lost chained to this man.
Abuse of any kind should never be tolerated anywhere. In the battlefield, in the workplace, or at home – it should always be untolerated. Never accept it as a fact of life, nor as the hand that you have been dealt. If you can get out, then get out. Report it where necessary, but never, ever, put up with it. You’re a human being too, and you deserve to be treated better.