Hey, guys. I need advice and I can’t think of someone who would not take sides.
Ninety-nine percent of my childhood memory is my dad beating my mom. Not just a push or slap, but a beating until she sometimes bled. My sister and I used to get between. My brother would apply wet towels to mom’s wounds afterwards.
My dad had affairs, didn’t work much, didn’t drink and never smoked. He attended school meetings, woke up the village dentist when our teeth ached at midnight and made sure boys who harassed my sister and I regretted it immediately. My sister thinks he’s a great father.
Mom went to work, and with my brother’s support, took charge financially while us girls went to school. They worked and worked and you could say we became an upper class family after 20 years.
All this time, at home and publicly, the beatings continued. When mom got sick, dad took the work reins. He now controls every cent. If we, his kids, ask for anything, he gives. Readily. Mom, however, is afraid to buy anything if he’s around.
I’m currently visiting them and asked if he still hits her. Years ago I threatened to get him jailed if he did it again. She said he threatens but doesn’t do it. Then she told me about their other problem, untidiness. If you didn’t know him, you’d think he’s an extreme hoarder. So I thought I would have a calm, understanding chat with him about it.
His response took me by surprise. He accused me of being ungrateful, taking my mother’s side and promised to leave us all soon.” Those words took me back 20 years to the time he beat her and then locked himself up with a bottle of poison and threatened to drink it.
I wanted to tell him he could go die right now.
Honestly I’m so angry at her for staying with him. I don’t understand their relationship. I’m still young yet twice divorced. Being alone is hard, but it’s so much easier than being in an abusive, unhappy relationship.
Mom continues to complain but chooses to do nothing. I told her I won’t listen to her complaints anymore unless she does something, and this hurts her.
Marlia, every time you visit your parents, it puts you back in your child self. “My father and mother are doing this to each other, and I am powerless to stop it.” Both parents have traumatized you. That the damage is in part unintentional, unthinking or unnoticed doesn’t make it any less.
There is no reason to explain why you are twice divorced. You didn’t have good role models. You don’t have the same baseline as the daughter of parents who loved her and cared about her and loved each other.
Listening to your mother complain and letting her vent doesn’t help her leave, it helps her stay. She is hurting you. When she complains, say, “Who are we going to call? But if we are not calling someone, if I am not taking you somewhere else, if you are not filing for divorce, I don’t want to hear about it.”
When your mother took over the financing and the breadwinning, what was her husband there for? Your mother wouldn’t leave even for the sake of her kids. So what is most important to her? The man. Not her kids. All she wants is to have him fixed.
Your letter really is about you, not your mother. Your mother chooses abuse and you cannot stop her. You need to heal as much as you can so your future life is as good as it can be. You need to stop being abused.
The real victims in situations like this are the children. They are the innocent ones. That is why the most important thing you can do is change your point of view.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of December 28, 2015
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