Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Inaction of Others

Anyone who has been in the same shoes I was in as a kid, has to at some point in their lives, wonder why so many people knew what they were being subjected to - but chose to do nothing.

The fact that not only did family members know, they often times witnessed a lot of what happened to myself and my younger siblings.

Other people would comment on how well "behaved" we were. Little did they know, we were in genuine fear for our lives. I don't know for sure if my dad would've gotten to that point, but when a person is raging on a small child, who the hell knows what could happen. We see this a LOT today. A three year old dies at the hands of his step dad - a little baby died because he was shaken to death.

I sincerely believe that if someone would have tried to help us kids, my dad would have THEN gotten the help he so desperately needed. I really have to believe that my father was repeating the same discipline principles on us, that were used on him as a kid. I also believe his own demons from the military haunted him and probably still do. As far as I know, he's never received help for either of these things.

There was an instance where my best friend from high school witnessed my father beating the living hell out of me and it was then that I started to wonder if what happened in my house, didn't happen everywhere. I came to this conclusion after the total fear and shock on her face after the fact.

There was no food or beverage allowed in our rooms - and as a mother myself - I can totally understand why. Kids' rooms get messy enough without the added 'gross' of having dead food left in a room or dirty dishes for that matter.

Anyway.. my best friend came over one day after school and she had stopped and gotten herself a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's. I let her in and we went to my room.

She got out her food and ate it all, then proceeded to go into the hall bathroom and throw her bag with the trash inside, away in the trashcan.

It was shortly after that, I heard thumping up the stairs and my heart stopped. I knew what was coming and my friend sat there, oblivious to what was about to transpire.

My door was kicked off its hinges and my dad is sceaming that he "smells french fries!" and "goddamnit, there had better not be ANY food in this goddamned room!" He was weilding a razor strap and was storming around my room, dumping over my stereo, pulled my mattress off my box springs and then got in my face. My friend stood up like a bolt when the door came flying in, and stood with her back pressed against the wall with a 'what the hell!' look on her face followed by a look of flat fear.

I told him through tears that the food wasn't mine, that it was *****'* and that she'd finished and had thrown the trash into the trashcan in the bathroom. He wheeled around to her and then started yelling at her, asking her what she had eaten. She was so terrified.. she was rattling off the contents of her lunch, her voice shaking, very close to tears.

I wasn't crying for any other reason than I was so humiliated.. seeing my friend over my dad's shoulder as he sprayed spittle onto my face... his nose pressed against mine. His eyes bloodshot and his veins popping out....

He then threw me onto my box springs and proceeded to whip me with that razor strap. I actually fought him on this occasion, not so much that I cared (sad as that is to say) that he was beating me, but that he was doing it in front of one of my friends. My best friend, in fact. I kept trying to flip over onto my back, so I could get up and run, but he was too strong and it didn't take long for me to realize that I was only making it worse.. so I just laid there and let him beat me.

After it was over, I was bawling like a loon, my friend was crying and he just left the room. He went back downstairs to finish watching television.


My friend wanted me to pack my things and leave.. that this "isn't right!" But how could I leave? My brother and sister were there and what would happen to them? She wound up going home and she told her parents. While they were appalled... they did nothing.

It seems we've come to a point in our society where any child discipline is reported and to that effect, we have children running households instead of parents. I don't believe that children shouldn't be disciplined.. but beat? No.

It's just too bad that true abuse isn't acted upon and the regular upbringing of children by responsible parents, is.

I really let my son have it at the grocery store one time because he started whining about wanting some candy and wouldn't stop. I got in his face and said in a forced whisper, "If you don't knock it off, you will be sorry" and just gave him that "look". Some lady gave me the evil eye of disgust because I reprimanded my then 7 year old and wasn't going to give in to him. To bad that lady wasn't around when we were getting our bones broken.. she'da had a freakin' HEYDAY.

What I did that day was wrong, I don't deny that. I knew the rules and while my friend didn't live there, I did and so did my parents. Their house, their rules. I would have even taken a regular spanking or grounding. But not that. That went down wrong and unfortunately, there were many more times like this where the punishment went above and beyond anything that any child should have to endure.

Hey.. I was a kid and kids fuck up. As a parent, I make mistakes and yes, my kids can be butts as well.... but a little perspective is needed sometimes and if that takes a person stepping in to say, "Hey.. what the hell do you think you're doing?!", then so be it.

Trouble is, that line seems to have gotten blurred.


Mushy said...

Why do I get angry and want to whip his ass...I guess 'cause I hate it when the beauty of childhood is taken away.

Stay strong and leave good memories for your children.

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

It's hard for me to read this stuff...just can't imagine the horrors you endured. :( I agree with mushy...focus on making GREAT memories with your children, as I know you are doing. {{{hugs!}}}

Tory said...

This is the result of 'good people doing nothing'! Shame on those people who knew about you and I and sat on their hands. It makes you sick to think about it.
Take care

Untreatable said...

I have tried to deal with the abuse of my childhood with a few different doctors and therapists. Even after a major breakthrough there was still so much anger left over. A therapist asked me what my mother did and my answer was "nothing", the therapist then replied "For you to complete the process you are going to have to forgive her as well". Some time later I sat down with my Mom and let her have it about all the anger I had carried because she just stood by an never acted then she said something to me that I will never forget "I am sorry for everything that happened to you from the second you were born". I didn't know what to say after that but at least the air is a lot more clear. Take care

Jillian said...

Again, these posts are hard for me to read. Seriously, I like how you are understanding and can see things from different perspectives, but (and this is coming from an outsider) it's hard for me to feel anything remotely redeeming about your Dad. But then I'm not supposed to, I guess.

Anyways, thanks for letting us come along on your journey to healing. :-)

I'll continue to read...

The_Mrs said...

@mushy - Thanks for your kind words. I went for a long time, wishing I could kick his ass and 'make him sorry'... it's taken me a lot of time to get to this point where I can even talk about it without feeling an overcoming rage building inside of me... even to admit that, makes my stomach hurt..

@olga - Funny thing... even though I'm writing down all of these things, it's still hard for me to really understand what exactly happened to me (and my younger sibs). I guess that's the really bad part about all this. It still has a sense of 'normalcy' to me because it's how we lived.

@tory - Oh I know, Tory.. I know. :( I have a hard time trying to understand why someone wouldn't speak up.. I mean, what was their excuse? To me, it was pretty blatant what was going on.... were they scared as well?

@untreatable - I sometimes wonder if there will ever be a point where I'll feel "OK" - you know? Like you said, even after a major breakthrough you still had so much anger. I feel much the same way. I mean, if we continually purge ourselves of all this crap... what then? It's something I'm trying to wrap my head around. My husband says I tend to over analyze everything. I think I have to agree with him. Thanks for your insight - it's a good thing to share these things with others that have some similar feelings, experiences, etc... I appreciate your comment.

@jillian - Oh believe me.. for many years I've felt nothing but hatred for the man. It was really only recently that I started to forgive him in a small way. I just say small way, because I don't know if I can ever come to the path were I forgive him totally.

Like now, he's almost a different person. In fact, it's like my mother and him have switched roles. She's the loud and abrasive one (we're all grown so there's no physical stuff anymore..)and he's quiet and I suspect.. still dealing in his own mind with what he's done.

I think all I want at this juncture in my life is an "I'm sorry" to at the very least, acknowledge what happened and to say that it was wrong.

Sadly though, after having interacted with them both since I moved out (the day I turned 18) I don't see that ever happening. Maybe, but highly doubtful.

A part of me is accepting because my mind just can't accept that my own flesh and blood would do such horrible things purposefully with the intent of causing such physical and emotional harm... at least that's what I think/feel.

Fran said...

That's very hard for me to read this stuff, I can't understand why people around did nothing for you and your family, witnesses, neighborgs, someone at school who could see your wounds, that sucks ...
Myself, I have never been helped by someone, but my pain was hidden, and my family seemed so good, people knew my father was an alcoholic, but they didn't care.
If you can't remind good memories, don't hesitate to tell the truth and the fact that you'll never hurt them.

Courage Michelle.

Bobbi said...

Girlfriend you are not alone. I read your musings and see my own sad childhood in your words, and it makes me see that I, too, am not alone in wondering why my parents couldn't be more capable and understanding. My Mother was the abuser in my house, while my Father, God rest his soul, used drink to enable his ignorance. Thank goodness I was an only child, I wouldn't have wished any of what my Mother handed out on anyone else.

As for reprimanding your child, for behaving badly, in the store, in my humble opinion, it wasn't wrong, just wrong of the lady who witnessed it to judge you for doing the right thing. There are way to many spoiled brats running about today, and it scares me to think, one day, they will run the planet we live on. I'm not for the punishment my Mother handed out, but just proper discipline would be a breath of fresh air today.

It's nice to know there are people who do love you, and care that you are a great person. Take care of you.

Karen ^..^ said...

This post knocked me on my ass on just about every single level. Everything you said about it is exactly how I feel, after enduring the childhood I did.

this: ~~To bad that lady wasn't around when we were getting our bones broken.. she'da had a freakin' HEYDAY. ~~

I wonder if she would have??? I know my foster mother used to TSK TSK when she witnessed a woman losing control of her temper with her child, and I remember wondering how she could be such a filthy hypocrite.

The same thing happened to me, my daughter was 2 years old, and I had just picked her up from Daycare. She looked for all the world like a little war orphan. She was dirty, needed a diaper change, had mosquito bites all over her, and they had been scratched to full blown welts. She was in the cart in the grocery store, screaming and kicking me in the chest. (she was in one of those carts with the baby seats on top)

I slapped her on her fat little leg after repeated warnings, and she wailed. An elderly woman saw this, and gave me a filthy look. Ten minutes later there was a cop in the store following me around. Fortunately, my little one had settled down by then and I had gotten her a cookie from the bakery. All was well. She was dirty, tired and welted. The slap I gave her did not even leave so much as a pink mark on her leg, but I am sure I would have been detained had she still been crying when that cop got there. UGH. That old lady that gave you the look probably belted her own kids, but it has just been 300 years since then and she's forgotten how crazy kids can make you at times.

Strip Poker said...

As a variant, yes