Abuse Is More Than Just Hitting

3 04 2010

This blog post by Transmillennial inspired what I need to say today.

I was abused as a child.

But not in the way you would think.   Yes, I was once “spanked” by my dad for telling him to “Fuck OFF!”, and that made me terrified to go against his will, but that is not the kind of abuse that made me who I was.  Yes, I learned that to be “the man of the house” you must be willing to “spare the rod, spoil the child” and to be a male you must be willing to hurt the ones you love.

I still have problems dealing with my dad.  Our points of view are so far away from each others that we are unable to say “I love you”.  Part of that is my dad’s generation and how he was raised,  but that is another story.

I was a kind as a child, but was looked upon as a weak nerd.  I liked Star Wars, Star Trek and all those geeky things.  I was a band nerd and not even respected by those in the band.  All the Drama people liked me better. I would have rather hang out with the drama kids all day, because they accepted me for who I was.  I could just be me and was not made fun of.  Total acceptance and no one tried to change me.

When you are a child, especially in your teen years, you are trying to come into your own, but when you have parents who really are ego driven themselves, at least from my perception at the time, who are more concerned with the happiness of themselves than their family, then you learn to act the same way when you  have a family of your own.

My parents argued behind closed doors and my grandmother, bless her heart, did what she could to make sure I didn’t hear them.  But when a child hears hatred and thinks that is “normal”  then it becomes normal for that child.

There was also the “backhanded” complements that were meant to “raise me up” but were also derogatory.  Example:  My dad comes into the room where I’m practicing my drums and pretends to play the air drums along with me.  Now I know to my dad that he though he was saying how much he liked my playing, but to my passive/aggressive ego I thought he was making fun of me.

I got the backhanded compliments of “you got a C on the assignment,  that’s average, good job, but I KNOW you can do better than that.”   The constant I want better for you than I had.   This is “normal”?

My dad studied  psychology and will not admit that he did anything wrong with this kind of behavior.   This type of being defined my reality for a long time.

There was also the lack of presence when my dad was around.  Yet again, this is from my point of view.  My dad would argue that he was “around” for many of my school concerts, ect.   Kids know when dad is around.  They can SEE them.  Dad would come home late from the school due to meetings, ect.   This was what I was shown that the man of the house was supposed to do to make things work.

It got to the point where I stopped looking for my dad at concerts and school events because I knew that his work as a principal “was more important than his sons.”   And because I was embarrassed to have a dad who was a principal and a “bully”.

When you are a child, the world DOES revolve around you.  If you are taught that an early age.  Even the church at that time was teaching me that I have a personal relationship with Jesus.  That is was about I and GOD.   This to me is abuse of the worst kind.  When you focus only on yourself, then that is what the world will be when you grow up.

If everyone has a “dad” in God and it’s only about I and HIM, then why is there anyone else in the world? If God tells you to hit a person, then it must be good?  God never hit me.  So why did my dad?  Why did I not speak up? Why did I not say anything to my dad when I was younger.  Why do I still look at the “spanking” as the defining moment of my life.

I became so afraid of offending anyone that I withdrew into myself, became an “expert” on how to not be in conflict and get in fights, neither physical or mental.   I started to live in my own imaginary world when I was in charge.  I remember playing with my Star Wars figures in a more humane way.  I ended the war and had them restoring the galaxy in to a more friendly place.  The Death Star became a New Republic center with the Ion Cannon power source changed to a giant radio for spreading word of the peace that comes from The Force.

I was too afraid to make this known then, my dad is still the type of person that believes in war making right.   And he is welcome to that opinion, but that is not the way to peace.

For many years I had to overcome the abuse that I was putting myself through by still living as if I was in an abusive home.

It wasn’t until I read “No More Christian Nice Guy” by Paul Coughlin that I came to realize that I am able to change the way I have been.  His book showed me a Jesus I didn’t know about and started me down a new path that has opened me up to the way humanity can BE.

Paul’s book is about how to see Jesus in a different light, not the passive “blond hair, white middle class” one that was shown to me in church.

The Jesus that I encountered now in the Bible was more heroic that the church made him out to be.

More of this story is on the “Following Where Others Have Gone Before” page of this blog.

Abuse is not just about the physical, but what it can do mentally to you too.

How is my relationship with my dad?  Better than it was when I was a child and teen, but still strained.  We have some great conversations about politics, he being conservative bent, me more liberal,  we have his grandchildren who do like to see him, but really don’t know him, and I’d rather have them visit with him while I’m around.

This is the protective dad in me.

What I hope you understand is that as a parent, you have the opportunity to change the world with how you are raising the kids.  Fear and hatred always leads to suffering.

Have I got this all worked out and am I a perfect dad.  Of course not.  But I do find that the cycle of  sarcasm, backhanded compliment and lack of presence is fading from my family.

I find the words of Jesus comforting here:  If you wish to be treated a certain way, take the initiative and do it first.  In other words, Do unto others and they would do unto you.

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