New Year’s Intentions Revisited

The saying always goes, “be careful what you ask for”. I wrote down my intentions for the New Year with every intention on accomplishing those tasks, but I really wanted to spread them out over the year. I did not want to realize all of them by February. I actually haven’t realized all of them, but the biggest item on that list was reconnecting with my father. Well, I thought I could get around to doing that in July, but of course that is not what is happening.

I got a call not too long ago from a strange number. Typically, I wouldn’t answer, but something told me to see who it was. I think I knew who was on the other line because I wasn’t totally shocked to hear my father’s voice. He seemed shocked that he heard my voice. I can only assume that it must have been quite odd to hear someone pick up the line after being blocked for almost 2 years. Yes, I blocked my father’s calls. No, I don’t feel bad for it, not even a little. My father and I have the strangest relationship where I love him deeply, but neither understand nor agree with his actions in the past or present. If you go back a few blog posts, you will see an article I wrote on domestic violence. He was not the nicest of men when I was growing up and I had to make a decision of either distancing myself from him or living in the hurt. I chose distance and I am better for it. So…he was shocked to hear my voice and I was a bit amused. I don’t know why I was amused, but I was. He changed his number or rather, my little brother bought him a new phone and this was a way for him to get in contact with me at least one time before I blocked the new number. We spoke for maybe 5 minutes and it was pleasant. I don’t intend on blocking his number from this point forward, but I do intend on stopping his rants before they get out of hand.

My father raised me. I did not have an absent father. I do not remember a time when he was not involved in my life. For a period of time, he was my only parent. My mother had to leave to get better. My father tormented her and if she would have stayed, I doubt I would have had either one of them. He eventually would have been arrested and she would have eventually lost her battle with life or her sanity. It is hard to come to terms with that as a child and surprisingly as an adult. It is even harder after having children. I do not even want to argue in front of my children much less raise them in a chaotic environment. There were times I did not know what house I woke up in because of the constant back and forth. I was overjoyed when their relationship was over, a fact that still baffles the both of them. They swear it was because I wanted more gifts for my birthday, but the truth is that I was happier when they were apart. I was filled with anxiety when they were together. It made me physically ill when they hugged or kissed. Words cannot begin to describe how at war you are with yourself when you love the abused and the abuser.

It becomes worse when you realize that the abuser is someone who loves you and isn’t all monster. My mother wasn’t the only one my father hit. I had a number of step-mothers who came and went and suffered at the hands of my dad. I just became numb to it all, but when I got married, I could no longer push it down. I had to face what I had been through or I wasn’t going to make it. Up until my marriage, my father and I had a cordial relationship. My husband met me when my father was completely out of my life. Because my father did not agree with the Iraq war, he never wrote me and did not accept my calls. I was without him for 14 months. My husband says that Iraq recovered me from my Stockholm Syndrome. I think he may be right about that.

When I came home from Iraq, I no longer felt obligated to be at my father’s beck and call. Our communication became less frequent and my father became more intent on having his time uninterrupted. If I did not answer one phone call, he would continuously call. I showed my therapist my call log once and he was shocked. In a 24 hour period, my father would call maybe 30 times along with leaving 3 to 4 minute messages. It was obsessive and the more we communicated, the more my marriage suffered. I was always irritated after talking to my father. I always wanted to pick a fight. My normal was not being good or happy. I reached a point where all of it was exhausting and with the help of my therapist at the time, I made the decision to let him go.

When I made the decision to stop communicating with my father, it was never with the intent for it to be permanent. I just needed to heal and not be affected or infected by him. I had to do the work to get past my past and learn to accept who he was and not what I would like him to be. I needed to stop viewing my husband as my father. I needed to learn what love really was and what it wasn’t. I needed to breathe. I did it and I thought this would be the year. I wrote it down. I put it in my heart and then my father called. Isn’t it funny how the universe words?

It’s been about a 2 weeks and he’s only called one other time. He has left some interesting messages, but he is an interesting human being. We did have a heated conversation in which he apologized. I am thankful for that, but I know it won’t stay this way. I know he’s going to go crazy when he doesn’t get his way. He requested to see my children and I remained silent. I did not have these children alone and the one time my father was around my children, he said some horrible things about my husband. He basically called my husband a murderer for being in the Army. It took a very long time to explain what he was said to my daughter. In order for him to see my children, he will have to agree to some rules and he will have to speak to my husband. That may be too much to ask for, but it’s what I’m comfortable with.

All of this has led me to evaluate some things. First, even with all the bad that happened, it warmed my heart to hear my father’s voice. I know that he loved me the only way he knew how. I know he could have left and been absent and I am grateful that he tried his best. Next, relationships are what you make them. A relationship can be toxic if you let it be. If it is toxic, let it go, even if it is a parent. Toxic relationships will only screw up other relationships. You, me, he or she don’t owe anyone our happiness. Lastly, my parenting has nothing to do with the outcome of my children. That’s weird, right? I know others feel different, but reevaluating the relationship I have with my parents made me see something that I think I did not see before. Who they were as parents has everything to do with them, not me. Yes, their actions affected me greatly, but their mistakes affect them even more. The way I parent is my choice. It is what I want out of it, not what I expect to raise out it. When it is all said and done, will I feel good about how I treated them, loved them, listened to them, or nurtured them? I make those choices as I make all of the other choices in my life.

I am very curious to see how this all turns out between my father and I. Hopefully, things will go well.

Love and light y’all.

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An article I submitted for Domestic Violence Awareness

I recently submitted an article to ForHarriet.com on Domestic Violence.  It is my story.  Please read it.  Please share it because you never know who it may help. Here is my story:

For as long as I can remember, I have always had the same reoccurring dream.  It begins with me running down a hallway and into a room.  I am maybe 3 years old and when I get to the opening of the room I freeze. For years, I couldn’t see make out the images I was seeing, but I knew it was something bad because my 3 year old self would be overcome with confusion, sadness, and helplessness. As I got older, the images became clearer, until one day I woke up in tears realizing that this dream I had been having, off and on for years was that of my father beating my mother. I am the daughter of domestic violence.

It is hard to put into words how heartbreaking it is to see your father abuse your mother.  It always tears at you from somewhere deep inside. You hate the abuser, but the love your father. You hate the abused, but love your mother. You hate that your parents are together, but so desperately want the family to stay intact.  It plays on you mentally.  I cannot stand the smell of scrambled eggs cooked in butter because my father would throw them at my mother if they were not cooked right.  I become physically ill at the sight of blood coming from someone’s mouth because of the many times I would clean up my mother’s wounds. I remember the last time we were a family.  My parents had a fight and as usual, I went into the bathroom to check on my mother.  She was sitting on the toilet bruised and battered, her lip hanging and her eyes empty.  She just looked like a shell of a human being. She looked at me and asked if the toilet was talking. I was so confused and scared. I crouched down in front of her and told her no and she told me, “I have to get out of here because I am about to go crazy”. I whispered to my mother, “just leave mom, I will be fine”. She left that evening and for 2 years, I only saw her at a distance because my father would not allow her to have me unless he could have her.

I grew up thinking that all of those years living in that house did not affect me.  I had normal relationships.  I had a radar that could spot the abusive ones.  If he was too charming at first, I would let him go.  If he seemed the least bit controlling, I would let him go. If his temper seemed completely out of character from the cool head presented, then I let him go. If his actions were different than his words, I would let him go. I made a promise to myself on that bathroom floor with my mother to never let her situation be mine.  I kept that promise, but when I really found love, everything came back.  I became the abuser.  I was determined not to be abused. Actually, it had nothing to do with determination. I had never known a normal relationship that did not include abuse. You see, not only am I the daughter of domestic violence, but also the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of domestic violence. My normal included loving men that hit you.  The silver lining was that these men loved you back, took care of you, and in time would stop fighting you. It was quite normal to hear a conversation about your sweet grandfather once having a bad temper and taking it out on your grandmother. I didn’t want that life and my only solution was to fight first because I never thought I was worthy of love without being abused.

My then boyfriend eventually reached his breaking point.  He said two very life-altering statements that changed my life forever: 1.  You need help and 2.  Do you want to be your father? I went and got the help that I needed and I have never raised my hand to anyone again. I learned a great deal about myself while getting the help. I learned that abuse is never about the person being abused, but more about how broken the abuser is. I was broken.  I had never dealt with the reality of my chaotic home. I had never acknowledged that by the age of about 9 years old, that I stopped really feeling. My mother had moved away with little to no contact when I was so young and I never shed a tear over it. I lost my childhood because of domestic violence.  There are years that I have simply lost.  I have no recollection of the time.  I only have bits and pieces because it was just that bad and I had to go into survival mode.

I am married now.  I have been married for about 8 years and I have slowly come to learn that I deserve this type of love.  I sometimes look at my children and marvel at how happy they are and wonder how different I would have been if I had just been able to breathe.

I just want to point out that domestic violence does not stop with the 2 people involved.  It has an affect on everyone who witnesses it.  I remember feeling like my body was being split in half. I can no longer have a relationship with my father because of all that he did in that house to my mother.  At times, I resent my mother for staying so long, especially after having children of my own.  I am 34 years old and I am still dealing with all the images that come into my head at times.  If you’re a woman dealing with ANY type of domestic abuse, please leave.  You owe it to your children and every generation that comes after you.  The greatest gift a parent can give is the feeling of being secure and loved. It took me years to learn that I deserved to be loved and even longer to feel secure enough to love someone wholeheartedly.