Of all the posts I’ve done, this is one of the two most open and explicit ones. I’ve actually been sitting on this post for a long time; trying to determine how I should go about this or if I should include this at all.
Eventually, I know that people close to me will read my posts and part of me wonders how my story will effect them and how they’ll view or judge me afterwards. But this is my story and it is the truth according to me. There’s parts of my life that I’m hesitant to tell but also brave enough to tell. This is one of those parts.
You’ll have to bear with me; there’s a lot to say. I’m going to go into my memory bank and tell all that I remember. Then I’d like to tell where God and my Faith come in. Finally, I’ll include how my relationship with my dad effected me. So without further ado, I’ll get right into it.
I always say in relation to my other four brothers: “I had a different dad than y’all”. And when I think about my dad, I tell myself even now: “I never had a dad.”
My dad was a middle child of I believe eight children altogether from the same parents; made up of one eldest daughter and the rest sons. After high school, he went on to join the military. So, my brothers and I were military brats.
A point of introspection.
If you’re in your late 20’s and early 30’s, you may have gone through a period where you look back on your life and childhood memories begin to resurface.
You start to evaluate who you are and how you became who you became. You start to analyze your parent(s’) impact on who you turned out to be. And depending on how you turned out, you either ascribe praise or you ascribe blame.
Maybe there’s a combination of both. For me, there turned out to be more blame than praise. And much of that blame goes towards dad more so than mom.
I was broken down; not built up.
I don’t know when it started but it must’ve been at a very young age for me. But ever since I can remember, when my dad came around, I would shut down. I would just not talk.
I remember whenever everyone was huddled around the TV for a movie, they’d have to force me to sit and watch with them because I didn’t want to be around.
I felt like I couldn’t be myself around him for fear of being rebuked in some way like my words and actions were being micromanaged.
He made me feel small, helpless, insecure, and devalued whenever there was some sort of family discussion where everyone was giving there thoughts and opinions.
So, if I voiced my perspective on something, it’s like he would tell me I was wrong by trying to make me see it his way. To this day, he talks like he knows more than he actually does.
I can’t say for certain but I believe that’s the main reason why I shut down whenever he was around.
Everything was a “No” with him.
They say I was a momma’s boy because whenever she had to go somewhere, I’d cry and cry. No! It’s because I was left with my dad and I felt I wasn’t aloud to do anything.
If I wanted to go outside, he’d either not let me or I couldn’t go past the front or backyard. If I asked for something to eat or to do something, it was always, “no”. If I asked my mom, she would at times tell me to go ask my dad. I hated that because after being denied so much, I just wouldn’t ask at all.
I remember being little and I had something in the microwave that he set the timer on. He must’ve set it wrong because when the timer went off, he accused me of messing with it. I told him I didn’t touch it and he hit me anyway. I didn’t need to lie about something like that.
Why was my word not good enough? Is hitting me because of that, justifiable?
I’m not a dog.
I remember being about 10yrs old. I was playing with a ball by myself in the backyard and my little brother wanted to play with me. I didn’t want to play with him. He went and complained so my dad made me let him play with me. I got upset with that and kicked the ball over the fence.
He made me go get it and then I had to sit down in the same room he was in. He was telling me that if he tells me to do something, I better run and do it. Well, because my mom was standing there, I felt courageous enough to tell him, “I’m not a dog”. I only remember both of my parents pausing at that for a moment.
The next day, everyone was gone somewhere except me and him. I was walking past him in the hallway and out of nowhere he pinches my chest really hard. I didn’t feel safe around him. Maybe that’s why I shut down around him.
In that same house, I could be sitting down eating dinner at the table and he would out of nowhere hit me upside the head for no reason as he passed by. I didn’t know what to call it then but now I realize he was abusive towards me.
This isn’t discipline, this is abuse!
I remember being about 13yrs old. My dad and uncle by marriage were talking and he told me to get something out the car. The window was let down a little and for some reason, I thought the door was locked but it wasn’t.
And me, being so shy and uncomfortable around my dad, I was too scared to ask for the key. So, I waited till after my uncle was gone to tell him I couldn’t get it. Well, he starts getting in my face, talking his crap to me while purposely spitting in my face as he talked.
I’ll never forget that. I went and told my mom but she brushed it off saying he didn’t do it on purpose.
Later sometime in that same house, my younger brother came bothering me again. I got a little irritated and I told him he had ten seconds to leave. My dad overhears and decided I should get a whooping for that.
I was getting to that age where belts didn’t hurt anymore. So, after hitting me with the belt a few times and seeing that it didn’t hurt, he goes to get a different belt. I still didn’t cry. He hit me so many times, it left a bruise.
My mom came into the room to see what was going on and he told her not to interfere and after she left, he went back to it. The way he was hitting me, he wasn’t trying to discipline me; he was trying to hurt me.
Low self esteem.
Because of the way he talked to me, I felt stupid around him. I couldn’t function with him around. I’d stumble over my words or I’d appear awkward while doing doing some kind of task.
There was a time where he left the impression on me that my words had no value.
I was in middle school and starting to like girls and they were showing interest in me. We weren’t allowed to have girlfriends until we turned 16. Off and on I begged them to reconsider.
At some point, my dad says that if I want a girlfriend so bad, I’d have to write down the reasons why and give it to him. I took that seriously and did write it.
Being that I had my guards up around him, it took me some time to get the courage to give it to him but I finally did. I saw it sit day after day where I left it with him. He never did read it. I felt he didn’t take me or the things I cared about seriously.
He didn’t respect me.
I remember letting him use my car for a time. I didn’t have a job or money so, since I had nowhere to be I let him use it. He treated my backseat like a garbage can for his beer cans. Total disregard for my property and complete disrespect for me. Who would treat their own son this way?!
Finally, I got sick of it. But it took me so much energy to muster up the courage to tell him I didn’t want him driving my car anymore. He wouldn’t have treated my other brothers that way but he felt like he could do it to me? Here I am in my late 20’s and still afraid to stand up to my dad. He knew it and that instance showed how far he would go in taking advantage of that.
I know he knew I was afraid to speak up. There would be times where I would be watching TV and he’d purposely stand in my line of sight. He tore me down inwardly so much that I was too afraid to simply tell him he was in the way or plainly ask him to please move. He fucked with me like that.
Mom had no clue.
About 10yrs ago when these memories resurfaced, I finally pulled my mom away and told her about these instances in my life where my dad treated me wrong. Everything I’m saying here is what I told her.
I don’t remember her reactions to these things but it bothers me that in all those years, she couldn’t see what was going on. There were numerous occasions where I’d be with my mom laughing and talking and as soon as he came around, I’d go quiet.
How could she not pick up on that at some point? My dad wasn’t completely faithful in the marriage. She would say, God would give her a dream about the woman, if he was messing around.
I believed her then but now I think that if he could give you warnings about things going on outside the house, why couldn’t this God warn you about the things going on inside? Why would he inform you about those things but not inform you about the abuses one of your sons was suffering?!
Faith played a part.
Here I was, this softhearted innocent child. I have a brother who is one year apart from me. We were close because of that but it was easy to see the differences in our personalities. He was stubborn, hardheaded, and a fighter. He was the type to hold a grudge.
I feel my dad saw those differences and treated me as weak because I wasn’t the “tough guy” type. My dad exploited my “weaknesses” in how he bullied and mistreated me.
Being raised in a Christian home and learning about God and Jesus, I learned to be obedient and submissive to my parents and authorities. Whatever they say goes. Don’t fight back. Pray for people who treat you wrong. Keep doing good to them even if they treat you bad.
So, if you’re wondering why I had trouble standing up to my dad all those years, my beliefs played a big part. I think I took to God at an early age because he was portrayed as a loving and caring Father who would protect and fight for me.
That’s very appealing to a broken person with low self esteem who feels weak, powerless, and helpless. My dad was in the business of tearing me down. God was supposed to build me up and make me into his image. Where I was weak, God would be strong!
As I got older and grew more devoted to my Walk, I wanted to be healed of the damage my dad had caused me internally. The more I reminisced about my upbringing, the more hatred and violence I stored up against my dad.
But that’s not the Christian way. We’re supposed to forgive and love our enemies just as Christ supposedly did and I wanted to please God and be in right standing with him. So forgiveness damn near obligatory.
I began to understand that much of my destructive behaviors were a manifestation of suppressed emotions and pain from childhood. I wanted to be saved from myself so bad felt so pressed and distressed that one day I finally confronted my dad about it.
You can read about how that happened in my post: My De/conversion story: Tony in Montana.
How my life was affected.
I feel like I have so much to offer. I believe that I am full of potential. I believe I have all those qualities that make for a virtuous, strong, loving, brave man that people rally around. I’m silly, lighthearted, and playful.
But that person I described is wounded and locked away where he can’t be hurt, mistreated, or abused. The growth of fully coming into being that ideal self was violently stunted at a young age by a dad who used me as a target because of his own imperfections, preying on my innocence.
I turned out to be very shy and reserved in school. I didn’t draw attention to myself. I wasn’t popular. I gravitated more towards the misfits and troublemakers even though I would consider myself a “good boy”.
I was very self-conscious and overly so. I was always worried about how people looked at me so I was afraid of looking dumb or being made fun of.
I was afraid to talk around people and had trouble giving eye contact. I didn’t get invited to parties and the one time I went to a school dance, I felt so awkward and alone. My Christian upbringing apart from my shyness wouldn’t let me enjoy myself.
I didn’t know it then but I had developed social anxiety early. To this day, I have that bad. We lived with my wife’s family for over a year and I basically went secluded in the room where we slept. I didn’t come out to even eat. Conveniently for me, we had our own bathroom so I was able to minimize my interactions.
I chose a job where I primarily work independently. I basically spend my whole shift alone. I’m constantly dealing with my anxiety, self-esteem, and self-consciousness issues.
How my dad treated me has had a major effect on how I deal with other men. I always feel inferior. I thought that if I chose a job where it was mostly men, I’d be able to force myself to confront my issues but it didn’t work. I can greet people in passing and talk some but I can’t go out of my way to approach people.
I have trouble making friends at work or anywhere else. Being a believer and so enveloped in it, it was hard for me to really relate to anyone who didn’t believe. And because of my self-esteem issues and religious shame, I felt an underlying sense of worthlessness and lacking in much to offer.
As far as authority figures, I’m compliant but anxious to rebel whenever I can. I like order but have an appreciation for chaos.
I find that much of my failed relationships and ill dealings with women had to do with my relationship with my dad.
For some reason, I tended to attract women who came from dysfunctional homes or dysfunctional relationships. I was damaged and lost so that’s what I attracted.
If I came across a “good girl”, I’d end up hurting them emotionally. I feel like I died emotionally in the past. I can be very apathetic and feel nothing. Even in marriage now, I can feel emotionally detached.
My very first relationship was dysfunctional. It was the first time I experienced heartbreak. We were both insecure. It lasted off and on for seven years. I was definitely scarred.
I didn’t have a dad or a mom to teach me what to look out for in women. If they had, maybe I’d have been more careful in my selections.
But as the story goes, I was looking for love in all the wrong place. As a teen I was lost and wild and very promiscuous. I was a wounded child filling up voids.
Where was God in all this?
You know, when my dad was treating me the way he did, there was no God to protect me from him. There aren’t any scriptures that tell you how to protect yourself from an abusive parent.
My mom was a believer but God didn’t reveal to her what was happening to me. I was defenseless. I was taught to turn the other cheek.
God didn’t protect women from me. I was no good for some of those women the way I was. He didn’t keep bad women from me either. As damaged as I was, I was left to figure this out the hard way. There was no God directing my steps.
Plus, God never helped me deal with my pain. Like I said in another post, God is only concerned with your obedience and getting glory for himself.
It wasn’t God who revealed to me what I needed to change in my life; I had to search that out for myself. The help I got didn’t come from God or the Bible; I found that elsewhere as well.
Because I am no longer a believer, I don’t have this conflict over forgiving my dad. I simply choose not to forgive. I reserve that right. I don’t have to forgive anyone who offends me and if I do it’s not out of obligation.
Not forgiving my dad for what he did is not eating away at me and the hatred is not consuming me. I also hate my sons’ mother for how she treated me and I’m not ashamed to say so. I’ve chosen to never forgive her. In my unforgiveness, I’ve found peace.
There will be people who offend that I will forgive and there will be people who I won’t forgive. And if God has a problem, I will point out instances in the Bible where he wasn’t as forgiving as he should’ve been. No one can judge me.