THIS JUST IN: Mother’s Day 2015 lament coming soon!
One daughter’s lament
After all is said and done, I have a father. My sperm won the amazing sperm race to the ova so I’m here today.
What stinks is the rub my father would prefer to tell my daughter that because he has not been arrested, he never molested or abused anyone. That’s right. Because he’s never been presented with the silver cuff links, nothing happened. This is precisely the logic my father has used with me all of my life. His favorite phrase: Forget about it. I did until eight years ago.
Who I THOUGHT my father was
I thought there couldn’t possibly be any father better than my dad. He ruled the roost with an iron fist making statements like, “I am King, Hitler, God,” while lording it over his wife who once said, “I would breathe for him.” Does it get any better than that?
Wanna know what love is?
He seemed to have it together and under control in front of friends and family. When we would visit his friends, kids like me would steal from his friend’s kids because it was the only thing I could control. Whenever we got into trouble rest assured he was always there either with the back of his hand or his trusty belt. It sure worked on me. I’m certain I’m better person for it.
For example, my father told us never to enter his room–EVER–or else. Apparently, previous manifold beatings with a belt weren’t deterrent enough. It was a direct challenge and I was up for it. I not only regularly picked the lock to his room but I also rummaged through his drawers looking for his guitar tuning harmonica. When he couldn’t find it because I forgot to be sneaky enough to put it back, I thought that if I told the truth and gave it back with an apology the punishment wouldn’t be so bad.
I remember it vividly. We were in the hallway between my room and his. My mother was right there. I gave him back the harmonica. I felt ashamed for taking it and expected appropriate punishment. He really worked up a rage and before I knew it he backhanded me.
“There’s hell in the hallway.”–Bishop Joseph Garlington.
The next time he’d backhand me would be just as we entered his apartment after I got busted shoplifting at Alpha Beta bringing immense shame to the family name. That time I saw stars and awoke on the floor. Don’t they call that tough love these days?
My brother and I used to make Dad chase us in a circle, i.e., through the hallway and kitchen, as he wielded his belt. It might have been funny looking from the outside until you considered the fact that Dad was really pissed off, was holding a belt and his kids were running, terrified, screaming and crying. After a while, I got so used to belt lashings on the legs I’d ask him to aim for them.
Dad always told me that if he didn’t love me he wouldn’t beat me, that one day I would look back on this and laugh. Thanks Dad. It kinda made me feel like that moment when Mean Joe Green schlepped that kid his Steeler’s football jersey NOT! Actually, I was plotting ways to make his life a living hell because the pain in my body was excruciating and the bruises were embarrassing.
Safe and secure from all hurt, harm, danger
Nevertheless, the penultimate beating took place the Sunday evening my parents came back from a weekend together. Just like his father before him, he felt strongly that he had to beat me into submission … on a chair.
I was a royal flippin’ brat that weekend because that’s what 10-year-olds do when the parents are gone and left with a babysitter. When he found out–because the babysitter had had enough–I knew there was hell to pay. I had no idea how much.
My father made me stand on the desk chair. I was already in tears because I knew what was coming. I heard the belt flying out of their respective loops and was terrified. To this day that sound paralyzes me.
My worst fears were realized. He made me remain standing on that chair until he was finished beating me just like his father did to him. I distinctly remember my mother coming into the kitchen and turning immediately around to head back to the master bedroom. I had no hope for intervention. She left me twisting in the wind.
My father also was my softball coach. He expected me to be a star player and, of course, I disappointed him. While I don’t recall specific instances, I do remember many a parent comment on how hard he was on me. When I was about age 12 or 13, I’d had enough and let him know it. It would be the only time he would not retaliate immediately because it was in front of the entire team and any parents who were still present for practice.
It would follow the all-too-familiar pattern of never quite living up to his expectations. I was first in my family to earn a bachelors degree. You know what he said after he congratulated me: So when will you be earning your graduate degree? That’s right. It was never enough.
Did I mention the time I caught my father on his knees weeping loudly over my mother who was lying face up on their bed in what appeared to be a catatonic state? It was a reunion attempt gone wrong. He also had beaten my mother. The police officer at the emergency room took photos of the bruises and whatnot for his report and tried to convince my mother to press charges against Dad. She wasn’t having it. She couldn’t stomach it.
The reality was she feared that if he went to jail, he would lose his job and be unable to provide child support, which would cause her to possibly lose the house. She was a mandated reporter but she would come to this same “logical” conclusion where another family dealing with sexual abuse was concerned.
Dad and mom both made me swear never to tell my brother and sister. I never anyone until today. To his current wife, I hope you sleep with a knife or gun under your pillow.
Here’s how you victimize a dying man
While I could go on and on, I’ll cite one final instance. About three weeks before my husband died, I had finished preparing dinner and called Edd to the table. He was upstairs in the bedroom on the phone with my father. The phone rang just before he came down for dinner. Just before we sat down to eat he pulled me into the guest bathroom, closed the door and informed me of a rather disturbing exchange between he and my father.
Apparently, my father thought Edd had hung up on him and was livid. Edd thought he made it clear to Dad that he had to go and properly ended the phone conversation. My father called back and cussed him out citing Edd’s apparently negative attitude with him over the last several months.
According to Edd, he said he found it harder and harder to be civilized with my father after learning I had been sexually abused growing up. He supposed he wasn’t doing a terribly good job of hiding what he really thought about my father. Fact was my husband witnessed my uncontrolled abreactions in and out of therapy and was sufficiently convinced that what I said was true.
The fact that Edd had “hung up” on him was the straw breaking that camel’s back. I couldn’t believe my ears but my husband also was puzzled. He couldn’t quite believe it himself and was horrified at telling me what had just transpired.
The second time my father called, i.e., to cuss out Edd, it was obvious his rage skewed his right thinking because he apparently didn’t care that the answering machine was recording his rant. I almost died of embarrassment and shame when I heard it. Edd was telling me the truth.
I called my father immediately and asked what happened. He wouldn’t say except that he would not be participating in delivering dinner meals to us while Edd was in hospice. Something deep inside told me my father was looking for any excuse to get out of this scheduled commitment and Edd unknowingly handed it to him on a silver platter. Nevermind the fact that Edd was a dead man walking, my father simply had zero capacity to give my husband the benefit of the doubt.
When I talked with my sister, she thought there must have been something Edd said or did that provoked Dad. Wait. My sister is now defending my father, the one she so resented for abandoning her most of her adolescent years? A defense from the same person who I had to talk into letting Dad walk her down the aisle when she got married?
But seriously …
So as you gather around the BBQ and engage in good times with your father, just remember: You are blessed.
ABOUT BORICUA CONFIDENTIAL©™
Boricua Confidential chronicles my new life as a single mom of two kids after my husband died from cancer on our son’s seventh birthday. Join me on this journey of change, revival, reformation, discovery and new direction ordered of God. Being a widow ain’t easy, that’s for sure. I refuse to rollover and die. Quite the contrary. I intend to thrive from this crazy life. You can’t keep this woman down. If I’m down, I won’t be for long.
God created me to bounce back. Watch me.
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