I Will Tell My Story

“Violators cannot live with the truth: survivors cannot live without it. There are those who still, once again, are poised to invalidate and deny us. If we don’t assert our truth, it may again be relegated to fantasy. But the truth won’t go away. It will keep surfacing until it is recognized. Truth will outlast any campaigns mounted against it, no matter how mighty, clever, or long. It is invincible. It’s only a matter of which generation is willing to face it and, in so doing, protect future generations from abuse.”
Christine Oksana

I will not go back to silence, to a time when not proclaiming my truth made me complicit in Pat and Ed’s lies.  I. Will. Not.

This blog has given me catharsis and solace – and an unmitigated view of the events that shaped my young life and led to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.  It is my story, and I will tell it.

For others – the perpetrators of abuse, this blog is a stark, cold, bleak mirror reflecting the darkness of their soul. It has led to embarrassment, shame, and even confession. It has brought fervent denial, offered in vain; disbelieved by those who matter most.  It has exposed character flaws and vile, repellent acts committed only by the cruel and depraved. It has shined a light on generations of abuse; morally bereft parenting practices that have led to estrangement, alienation and mental illness.

It has brought me peace.

I have been fully well for a long time now; my thoughts clear, my feelings and emotions tempered only by what is real and true – it is good, so good.

I do not do this out of a need for revenge – nothing I could ever do would be enough anyway.  I do this because it is right, and it is true.  I offer no apology to those who would be far more comfortable with my silence – I did not ask to be Pat and Ed’s child.

“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent.”

The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis 

When we give shelter to those who have abused and tortured, when we cloak their sins and embrace their lies, can we really believe in our own goodness and integrity?

The Last Word

 

I have been stable for a long time now – years really.  Oh, I’ve had bouts with insomnia, and cycles in which stress and fatigue caused my Bipolar symptoms to recur, but I’ve caught it early and those symptoms were, for the most part, very mild.  No psychosis, no deep depression, no impulsive behavior.  If you just met me, and didn’t know I have Bipolar Disorder, nothing about your interaction with me would tip you off.

I am not a spontaneous person by nature, and I over think everything; logical almost to a fault, my emotions seldom get the better of me.  I almost never react in the moment.

But when Ed-the-Narcissist sent me the following note – prompting the ensuing exchange – on April 3rd, during the height of my sister’s most recent crisis, something inside me snapped:

Hi Tim,

 

I said I would go and see Elizabeth after Easter, but for got [sic] I had a jury summons for this week and have been selected to be on a jury expected to last up to 6 weeks.

 

I will get over to see her when I can, and wanted you to know my current limitations.

My reply:

Ed,

 

There was absolutely no expectation on my part that you would reach out to Elizabeth in any that matters; you are a coward, you have always been a coward.  You have not changed.  

 

Jury duty?  In what universe are you a representative of another’s peers? Who the hell are you to sit in judgement of anyone else’s behaviour or choices?  Are juries now comprised of criminals?  

 

My God, Ed … for once, just once, really look at yourself.  

 

His defense:

 

Tim

 

I have no answer for this, The court system has privy to criminal records, so between them and the DMV  jurors are reveiwed [sic] and selected.

And I am still in the jury selection process.

 

The last word:

 

Once again, you miss the point entirely.  I was not speaking of legality, I was speaking of morality – very different things. You are able to exist as you do in society today ONLY because of when you were convicted, and expungement.  Nothing will ever alter the fact that you are a rapist and child abuser, Ed.  Nothing.

 

Your daughter is ill, she will likely die, because of what you did to her.  The fact that you feel no obligation to face that within yourself speaks volumes about your character … today.  Your refusal to reach out to her in any way that matters makes you a coward – and far worse.  

 

No decent human being would condone your behaviour, then … or now. 

 

I haven’t heard from him since …

 

His immoral and egocentric choices didn’t trigger me – I didn’t get sick; I didn’t become depressed or manic – just irrevocably resigned to his complete lack of integrity, honor and character.  He no longer has the power to cause me even  a moment’s instability, and that’s a damn good thing for me to know.

I didn’t say anything to him that isn’t true, but I’d like to have been able to say it devoid of anger and frustration; you can’t win a battle, much less a war, with a narcissist – and I understand that now.   Anger and frustration have passed; lesson learned.

He will die without ever understanding …

and that no longer bothers me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responsibility

“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.” — Hal Elrod

I write a lot about responsibility and ownership of personal mistakes, behavior and choices.  I hold people accountable for their actions, especially when they hurt others.

In my own life, I hold Pat and Ed directly responsible for the illness I will contend with for the rest of my life – the illness is, without a doubt, the direct result of their reprehensible parenting.

However, no one – including Pat and Ed, is responsible for my choices, behavior and actions.  I alone own all of those things, and I alone assume responsibility for the good as well as the bad.

Having an illness – be it Bipolar Disorder or Alcoholism, does not absolve me, or my sister, of the pain we have caused the people in our lives.  The choices we make are still our own, despite knowing why we make them …

the bottom line is very clear: there is no one to blame but ourselves.

Knowing why I have Bipolar Disorder was the foundation I needed to get well; we can’t fix what’s wrong until we know what’s wrong.  Why matters, it is important – vital even, to our recovery …

but it does not give us people we can rightfully blame for our own repugnant behavior, bad choices, or the miserable state of our life.

Elizabeth – no one other than you is responsible for your life today; you and you alone bear that burden.   You had terrible parents, and you will carry the scars of childhood for the rest of your life; I will never say, ‘get over it,’ because I know you can’t – I know it is part of you, part of your brain chemistry …

but it does not have to be your life.

If you choose to blame rather than get well, that is ALL on you …

Not on Pat …

Or Ed …

Or Jim ..

Or, most especially, Jacqueline.

The Legacy Continues …

“Healing from childhood abuse is not going mad, it is going sane.

Jan Hawkins

It seems my sister is drinking again – not that she had stopped really, but there had been no crisis of which I was aware for several months.  Last weekend, that changed.

The text message my aunt Bev sent Rhonda asking if we had heard from Elizabeth was ominous; I never know quite how to feel where Elizabeth is concerned, and hearing from her can mean a myriad of things, most of which are not good.

It seems Elizabeth needed a place to detox for seventy-two hours so that she could admit herself to rehab.

This is her latest cry for help; over the years there have been dozens.  Suicide attempts which began in adolescence, alcoholism, misuse of prescription drugs, unsafe and risky behavior, sexual promiscuity as far back as high school – I could go on and on.

And now, she has lost everyone she ever truly loved – her husband and only child.  This was the ultimate cost of her refusal to face and deal with her childhood …

If I – or our aunt Bev, believed she would stay at our house for seventy-two hours and detox, then enter rehab and do the work she must do to get well, we’d have both been there for her in a heartbeat …

but we’ve heard it all before – many, many times.

It’s sad – no, it’s tragic.  I know why she is as she is – I lived the same childhood nightmare she did.

My aunt advised Elizabeth to call her mother, and I understand this; she should be able to call her mother, and find help there.  But Pat was never a mother …

Or Ed, Elizabeth should call her father …

I guess I think Pat and Ed should call her – she is what they made her.  Only and exactly what they made her.  She needs them …

but that doesn’t matter and it never did – if it had, Elizabeth wouldn’t be where she is now.

Yes, she is an adult, and she has to take responsibility for her life, but Pat and Ed alone are to blame for her illness(s).

And in the end, every child should be able to call his/her mother and father and find emotional support, and a soft place to land …

and heal.

After all this time, they – Pat and Ed, continue to fail as parents, and as human beings.

Answers To Your Comment

Dear Reader,

I am ready to discuss your lengthy comment of 15 September.

This blog is not static; it represents my thoughts at a given point in time; I fully understand that healing is not a linear process.  In keeping with my personally held belief that everyone is entitled to a second chance, I heard what Ed had to say, and I gave him almost a year to take responsibility for what he did.  That was the right thing to do, for me. Forgiveness, in the true sense of the word, was impossible from the start; child abuse is unforgivable, and I never sought peace through a relationship with Ed – I sought answers.  Answers I found.

I did not further vilify Pat through correspondence with Ed; I learned to separate MyAbusiveParents into Pat and Ed, my abusive parents.  I didn’t know, for example, that Ed was unaware of Pat’s penchant for abandoning her children, so I held him collectively accountable along with her; he may not have played the abandonment card himself, but for decades I believed he supported and condoned this action – therefore, to my mind, he was complicit in her actions.

Pat is someone I know very well, and have for the whole of my life.  For everything I share on Silence Shattered, there is much more I don’t share – or at least haven’t shared yet; Pat vilifies herself, as does Ed.

The decision to distance myself from Ed now is based in the anxiety I feel when I am with him.  This anxiety is palpable, and it makes my wife and children extremely uncomfortable.  The bottom line:  Ed has not changed, he has merely grown older and better at manipulation.  I don’t want to be alone with him, and I certainly would never leave him alone with a child.

When I was first diagnosed, my psychiatrist was insistent that I revisit the past; feel everything I had never allowed myself to feel before – this in order to gain understanding and acceptance of my own thoughts and feelings, thoughts and feelings that had never mattered a damn to Pat and Ed; it was hell, but I did it.  This therapy, though highly beneficial, was incomplete; it had been more than thirty years since I had seen my parents, and I had never confronted them in a constructive way – never had a chance to find all of my answers; what I have done with Ed this past year allowed for Post-Traumatic Growth, and for me it was necessary.

Although I did give Ed an opportunity he did not deserve, I never felt an emotional connection to him, or pull to find one; he is and ever will be the father who beat and neglected me.  He is the man – no, the monster, who sexually molested my sister’s friend – and if my sister is to be believed, the repugnant, depraved father who molested her.

But I was at a place where I had to know … and now I do.  The abuse in my family, at least on Ed’s side, is multi-generational; it is part and parcel of being Shockley.  It is insidious and pervasive – and worst of all, it is simply accepted. No one talks about it, no one seeks to examine or change anything; no one breaks the cycle.  The damage is so deep, and so much a part of their genetic legacy, they are, in many ways, inhuman; incapable of empathy, understanding or insight – Ed lacks the ability to simply feel.

I found my peace many years ago; first when I married my wife and became part of a functional, loving family, and later when I became a father and discovered a complete love I never knew was possible.  In breaking the cycle, I became whole. Healing and consistent recovery in dealing with Bipolar Disorder required that I evaluate my childhood — peace will never be found, for anyone, in a world in which Pat and Ed are a part; I knew this when I decided to give Ed a chance, and I knew it when I realized that with Pat I could never even go that far.

I’m sorry you know firsthand the necessity of estrangement from your parents, but trust this means you have some idea of the complexities that lead to its inception, and the need for it to continue.  There are layers and layers of thoughts, feelings and emotions at the core of this issue – none of it is easy to sift through and make sense of; hence this blog represents my thoughts and feelings at a given point in time; it is abstract because abuse and its aftermath creates an abstract world for survivors.  Conclusions are reached – but they aren’t what we are conditioned to believe they should be; a child is not supposed to be better off without his parents in his life … and hurting their child should be inconceivable for any parent; sadly, societal truths are not my truth, nor are they truth for any survivor.

It is what it is, and survivors deal with the aftermath in unique and individual ways. For most thinking, feeling human beings, it is difficult to see our parents, or anyone, as inhuman; incapable of emotional connection, love or empathy.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t shake their head in dismay when they learn that I haven’t seen my parents in decades … we are conditioned to expect the best in people, sometimes even though we know better.  For what its worth, I have never been surprised that my parents didn’t reach out – they were happy to be rid of their children; we weren’t wanted to begin with, and we were a link to a past they wanted no one to know of.  I make a liar of Pat and Ed in the eyes of everyone who knows them … Did I expect that Ed had changed? No.  Ed was put into the position of having to reach out, this blog did that.  He has a life he wants to protect.  There was no sincerity in his actions, and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.

I am not jaded or cynical; I am a realist; pragmatic and resolute.  My parents taught me very well who and what they were, and always will be.

I wish you a happy and fulfilling outcome, whatever that may be for you.

Kind regards,

Tim

Reconciliation: A Step Back

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Ed,

Just so we’re clear — my ability to communicate effectively isn’t altered due to Bipolar Disorder; you and I just think in fundamentally different ways.  I teach, I write, I perform a highly technical and complex job and I interact with friends, colleagues and family with no glitches at all – my cognition isn’t different from anyone else’s, nor is it in any way impaired.  (psychosis not withstanding, but you haven’t known me in a psychotic state, or anything even close to a psychotic state) Be careful assigning your failure to properly communicate with me to my having Bipolar Disorder – to make such a ludicrous assumption would be to display your ignorance and bias.

Here’s the issue:  I don’t understand how it is – how it can possibly be, that you don’t understand the story, or that you are unable to get it. You wrote the story for the first two decades of my life; you beat me, Ed.  You were an asshole – not just one day, but every day.  My memories are clear and vivid and real, so please don’t try to exonerate yourself by oh so ignorantly asserting that my memory is impaired, or my cognition faulty, due to Bipolar Disorder. If the fault lies in memory impairment, or cognition, you’re the one with the problem.

I didn’t write the letter about mental illness to give you an excuse for poorly communicating with me, I wrote it to give you some background; if you can say “happiness is a fickle virtue,” of Elizabeth not being able find real happiness, after all I had shared with you, you obviously don’t understand all she deals with because of your reprehensible parenting.  If what you got out of that letter was a belief that my responses to you are different than you expect because I have Bipolar Disorder, I can’t help you understand — no one can, you see ONLY what you want to see.  You don’t get it because you don’t want to – you cannot face yourself.

The fact is, during the first twenty-two years of my life, you failed Universally; as a father and as a man.  That is the story, that is all there is to it.  And after the ball game, when you went into the bathroom through the exit – presumably so you didn’t have to wait in line, I was appalled.  Where is the kindness and consideration you want me to believe is so much a part of you today?  Where is the integrity?  That was an asshole move.  Now, if there is something I don’t know – if you went in and waited in line, or if you are incontinent due to having had prostate cancer, I will amend my sentiments, but if it is nothing more than it appeared to be, the move speaks to your character and I don’t like what it says.

Regarding the bet YOU made.  What I felt when reading your texts was two-fold: one, you had to address something – meaning I could just wait in your opinion, without even the consideration of your telling me you had to end our conversation for the time being, and two; you were attempting to weasel out of your bet.  Perhaps I don’t get your sense of humor, I don’t think I ever did, actually, but you came across badly and that is on you, not on me, so it has nothing to do with Bipolar Disorder. I understood exactly what you said, and what you implied.

It should be fairly obvious to you by now I am still angry – I didn’t really think I was, but the bathroom incident at the ballgame, followed by the bet text, followed by your most recent email to me has shown me that I am, and rightfully so.  I’ve let a lot go, but not everything and I don’t think I can do that until you get honest with yourself, and with me, about the monster I knew you to be when I was a child.

You want me to detail every beating so you can share my pain — they all look just like the ones you’re willing to recall.  There were dozens of them, Ed.  I begged you for mercy, which you never gave.  You humiliated me time and time again.  The self-admitted asshole you were the day of the church picnic IS THE MAN WHO RAISED ME – HE IS THE ONLY FATHER I REMEMBER.  I cannot make this anymore clear.  You were a miserable bastard, a complete and utter failure, and your failure led to some pretty dire consequences; I’m reminded every single day when I take Risperdal, Wellbutrin and Lithium of the father you were.

But I am not unable to communicate properly because of that man – you are.  Read what I write, listen to what I say — and take it as gospel, don’t spin it, don’t see it through your eyes.  I am not a hard-headed, stubborn Shockley, I abhor that trait, that kind of person – I am able to see and feel and process the pain of others, even when doing so makes me understand myself to be a miserable human being. Sometimes it’s necessary to see ourselves through another’s eyes to truly know ourselves.

When you can do that, when you’re ready to do that, please let me know.  Until then, enjoy your trip, don’t drink too much bourbon, and we’ll see you and Marie for Catch Me If You Can and dinner to follow on June 12th.

Tim

Arduous Journey

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None of this is easy, if I have made it appear easy, I apologize for the unintentional duplicity.

Depression is hard, and mine has returned.  It isn’t as deep and dark as it has been, not by a long shot, but I’m not exactly myself either.  To top it off, I’ve been hypo-manic as well – and mixed states are hard to treat.  I’m taking Lithium and Wellbutrin, and balance is returning, but the process is slower than I would like and I can be impatient.  I’m still working, still engaged in life, still involved with my family and friends – and I still very much want to be; that isn’t a facade – I’m not just going through the motions this time, so I know it could be much, much worse than it is; the benefit to having been here before is recognizing the signs quickly, before they spin out of control and drag you into the abyss.

Naturally, because I hadn’t been depressed for a long time, my therapist and psychiatrist began treatment by assessing what had changed in my life; “what were the triggers and or stressors?”  The answer wasn’t immediately clear, but over the last few weeks it has become obvious …

Ed – having Ed in my life is what has changed.  That isn’t bad or stressful in-and-of-itself, but the thoughts and feelings it evokes can be.  I shared with my sister that he is trying now, and I can see it – the things he has done for my daughter are thoughtful and kind and would be for any grandfather, but all I can think of is how different my life would be, how different our relationship would be today, if he had valued me in the way he values building a relationship with her.   And that is just one example …

I still don’t know if people change; I’m beginning to think they just acquire a better mask.  I’ve seen glimpses here and there of the father I remember – a man quite unlike the man he sees himself as today.

Early in our email conversations, he mentioned that he “checked in with me mentally every year or so.”  Aside from not knowing exactly what that means, it baffles me; I am his son, did he not feel a sense of loss?  He also indicated that he “sought therapy for anger” – anger he believed to be directed at me for having ended our relationship … he felt anger with me? I was incredulous.  Then I remembered, and it didn’t take me long – anger was always his go to emotion.  Was he grieving our lost relationship, as any normal father would; did he replace the pain he felt with anger?  Would he even recognize this if it were true?

I don’t buy his not knowing exactly what he did to me, don’t appreciate his inability to look at life as it truly was while he was raising me.  The deeper we get into a new relationship, the more this concerns and bothers me.  I know some things are best left in the past, and I’ve let go of a lot in the months since we began speaking again – but I’m finding that the past is made relevant by today, and that bit of irony can be cruel, messy and complicated.

Rhonda asked me the other night what I wanted from Ed now, and I replied; “I want him to be a dad.” The deeper meaning behind those seven words is this:  I want him to feel something about who he is to me; I want it to matter and to be important to him — I want him to view fatherhood like I do … and that just can’t happen; he has no idea how to be a father, much less a dad.  So I have forgiven him this shortcoming, but I’m still left with a man who makes almost no sense to me.

He has apologized to me, to Rhonda, to our children – and we all appreciate that, but I don’t think he has any understanding of the depth of what he did; how can he?  He refuses to engage, to remember.  He likes who he thinks he is now, facing the monster he was would be hell, but for his apology to have the meaning it should have, he needs to do this.  I need for him to do this – on his own, deep soul-searching – a willingness to face who and what he was.  A willingness to feel my pain, and my sister’s.

And it would mean a lot if he’d do some research, find out how to support a family member with Bipolar Disorder – if my child were diagnosed with an illness, any illness, I wouldn’t rest until I’d become an authority on the subject.  This is what dads do.

Reconciliation is a One Step Up and Two Steps Back process;  many, many stops and starts all predicated on the past as it is reflected in today.

It isn’t easy, it’s more complicated than anything I have ever done before.

The Power of Information

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Information and knowledge are power, this is especially true when trying to understand an illness or disease – any illness or disease. Medical professionals, no matter how diligent, educated, competent and compassionate they are can be a limited resource; we get the best care when we ourselves are well informed and actively involved in treatment and wellness.

Long before anyone suspected I was Bipolar, I developed gout – a very painful form of inflammatory arthritis.  I was, at the time, forty years old; fit and healthy.  Even with dietary monitoring, which should have been all I needed, we could not isolate the cause of my acute and chronic flare-ups, so my physician suggested I begin a course of preventative medication.  When I agreed, he gave me a list of possible pharmaceuticals and told me to go home and research them, compare them against my symptoms, and call him when I was ready for him to write the prescription.  I learned a lot through this experience, most importantly to be an informed patient actively involved in my own care and health management.

Information is power; whether you have Bipolar Disorder yourself, or love someone who does, knowledge of the disease is an invaluable asset.  The following links are to some of the best information I have found online – for the patient and his family and friends.

1. bpHope – The single most comprehensive, up-to-date, user-friendly site I have found; solid and useful information on all aspects of Bipolar Disorder.  A great resource.  Follow on Facebook, an easy way to become and stay informed.

2. Mental Health Advocates United – While not specific to Bipolar Disorder, this site is advocacy at its best and most powerful.  Understand and end the stigma.  Follow on Facebook to have daily inspiration appear in your news feed.

3. NAMI – a great place to start your research; broad, general information you can use to target specific aspects of diagnosis and treatment – a spring board for more more in-depth personal study.  Incredibly useful for finding support groups and hospitals in your area.  Legal, financial and social help/tools are just a click away.  Calls for help are promptly returned.  Wonderful, caring people.

Relationships have the best chance of thriving, despite Bipolar Disorder, when family and friends understand the condition and learn to separate the illness from the person they love.  If you love someone with the disease, become informed – for yourself, and them.

If you have Bipolar Disorder yourself, it is vitally important to be informed.  Successful treatment requires your educated involvement – and it means a solid, healthy life for you – and your family.

Subtext

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Ed,

Thank you for understanding why I would find it difficult to speak to you directly regarding the letter on Timothy’s blog, but it is probably even more complicated than you realize.

Nothing about his having Bipolar Disorder is easy, but knowing how and why he has it makes me angry, especially when he is going through a period of imbalance.  These periods are inevitable, they are just part of the illness, but they can be intense and frightening, and they can disrupt our lives pretty completely.

For all that you do know from reading the blog, there is a great deal you don’t know, details we do not share publically; one day Timothy might feel compelled to discuss these things with you face to face, or blog about them, but for now he has decided not to. It is in these terrible truths that I, personally, find the most pain and difficulty separating Bipolar Disorder from the man I love – and this is where my anger with you and Pat is most profound. This is what prompted me to write the letter he posted on his blog.

This latest struggle with the disease, while we were simultaneously interacting with you, was particularly unsettling for me. Right or wrong, I felt in many ways like we were cavorting with the enemy.

My feelings were/are based on Tim’s childhood – the father you were, not on who you are now, or on the father and grandfather you are trying to be today. I appreciate your efforts today more than I could ever tell you, and I enjoy our evenings out – getting to know you and Marie, and so do our children.  More importantly, Tim enjoys this time with you and I would never do anything to change or disrupt that; I will always support his having a relationship with you, even though I don’t understand how it is he is able to do this after everything that happened to him as a child – and everything I know he believes a father must be.

He is a remarkable man, Ed; in all honesty, I couldn’t do what he is doing.  But I see that unraveling his feelings about you, and having a relationship with you today is helping him in ways traditional therapy could not.  So much was left unspoken and unfelt thirty years ago, and this new beginning is in many ways also closure.

I do recognize Pat’s part in all of this cannot be discounted, and I know Timothy believes many of the most heinous acts of abuse to have been committed by her, but I also know you are not innocent, and you bear a great deal of responsibility for all that has happened to him – as a child, and now as an adult facing a terrible mental illness.

My feelings are complicated; I love him more completely than I could ever hope to make you understand, and I have walked through Hell with and for him – I’ve cleaned up the mess you and Pat made time and time and time again, and there is a part of me that wants nothing more in this world than to make you feel ALL the pain you caused, know ALL of the people you’ve hurt – directly and indirectly, understand completely ALL of what you’ve done, and know personally what it cost your children, their children and spouses.

And then logic and reason return to me and I realize … besides being impossible to make you feel and understand, your understanding wouldn’t even be productive – it would change nothing about today; no one can erase the past. But when I am watching him struggle, knowing you caused his challenges, logic and reason fail me, and I always seem to feel the need to make you see clearly what you have done, thus my letter to him about you.

Realistically, and devoid of anger, I hope you will choose to continue being a good father and grandfather today. These are things you can do now; whereas they can’t alter what has been, they have the best chance of easing the pain and ending the frustration for everyone concerned.

Rhonda

Lesson Learned

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I once had a therapist who asked me to try to find a good memory for each bad memory I had of my childhood – I didn’t have near enough good memories to make the exercise productive, so she changed gears:

Find the good that came from the bad …

“I learned who and what I did NOT want to be.”

This answer appeased my therapist, but the wisdom was born of injustice:

Aren’t parents supposed to be role models?

All parents make mistakes, but overall shouldn’t a man be able to look back over his childhood and find far more good than bad?

Aside from feeding me, clothing me and giving me a place to live, I don’t see that my parents felt any obligation at all to their children, which is mind boggling, really.  If you bring a child into this world, do you not bear some obligation for their happiness and emotional well being?

Ideally, what we do for our children we do out of love, concern and caring, but obligation is an absolute inherent to the parent child relationship …

In the sixties and seventies, when I was growing up, parents spanked their children.  Few people stopped to consider whether or not they should, they just did it – it was what they knew because their own parents had spanked them.

My own view on spanking is resolute – it is wrong.  It is a terrible way to instruct and guide because it teaches the child nothing of value, and it is cruel.  You’re also playing with fire; no one knows the emotional breaking point of an individual child – when the pain, emotional and physical, is too much; when discipline, however well-intentioned it might have been, crosses a line and damages the child.  Hitting is wrong – you’d be arrested for hitting an adult, what makes it OK to hit a child?  Aren’t you, as a parent, morally obligated NOT to harm your child, not to cause him pain?

Even with my personal view on spanking falling so close to the extreme, I don’t think I’d have held an occasional, mild, non-humiliating spanking against my parents – as I said, when I grew up spanking was routine …

but we aren’t talking about spanking here, we’re talking about beatings – and not occasional beatings either.

We’re also talking about abandonment, humiliation and neglect of my emotional needs.

I had no idea what I wanted in life, or who I was, because my parents did not help me discover these things – did not live up to their obligation.  Did not love, care for or nurture  …

Seriously, Dear Reader, we are talking about egregiously bad parents here. And their cruelty, neglect and emotional torment led to a lifetime struggle with Bipolar Disorder.

My parents did, however, teach me one thing of value — their actions screamed this lesson at me night and day for the whole of my childhood:

Do NOT be like me.

They did not break the cycle of abuse themselves – far from it, but they did, through their own thoughtless and abusive parenting empower me to do it.

The end does not justify the means;

I am not the kind of man who needed to be taught through cruelty how NOT to be cruel to his own children.

Still, there is immense satisfaction in knowing I am not only better than Pat and Ed …

I am a good, kind and compassionate father.