I have a thing for closets.
When I was little, I remember hiding in the closet from my father frequently. I was scared to death of him. I would hide in my closet or under my bed and put my hands over my ears in effort to shut out his booming voice.
I felt safe in the closet.
I was told that he loved me and he probably did but he didn’t know how to show it. Still as a young girl I didn’t understand this. It didn’t feel like love to me. I always knew he didn’t like me. I remember wanting him to like me and trying to do things that would make him happy with me.
As long as I can remember he was always angry. Unless he was drinking. Thank God, for the most part he was a happy drunk.
I remember him telling me that I was bad when I was very little. I never understood what bad meant but some how I knew that wasn’t good. I just knew that I was a bad kid.
When he was angry he lashed out at us kids. When he was extremely angry he would go into such a rage that I swear caused him to black out because he’d have no memory of doing these things.
To this day, I am sure he doesn’t remember much of what he did.
Thus I learned early on, to hide as soon as I see the signs of his anger. If I was unable to literally hide in my closet, I would mentally go there.
I learned early on to remain silent and to show no emotions. And no matter what happens, never ever fight back.
I learned to disappear and to fade into the background, where I was not noticed.
I also learned that there was no rhyme or reason to his insanity. What made him upset one day would not the next.
I believed as any little girl would, the things my father said to me and that includes the names he called me. Being called a slut or a whore before I even knew what sex was left me confused. Hearing that he never wanted me…another girl, broke my heart. I believed him when he said I was a mistake.
Being called a “retard like your brother” hurt to my core. Seeing him hurt my brother, made me want to literally kill him. I think a large part of me despised him for the way he treated my brother who could not help being “slow” or retarded, as people who were mentally challenged, were once called. With everything in me I hated him for all of this.
I hated that he used God to justify his actions. I hated that I was made to go to church when it seemed like such hypocrisy.
I had an older brother that would preach to me that there was no existence of God, while I did chores with him in the barn, which made perfect sense since I had cried out to God time and time again, and he surely had never answered my cries.
I hated that he used humiliation and shame to silence all of us around him.
I hated that he was so controlling and thought he was right about everything.
I knew that no matter what I did, it would never be good enough.
I hated that he used his bigness to make me feel so small and insignificant.
I hated that he could act so nice and friendly to strangers and those outside the family.
The only thing worse then getting “it” was seeing one of my siblings get “it”. I hated watching or listening to it. I hated seeing him and my older brother wrestling, and punching each other, in the middle of the farm yard.
Always wanting to scream “stop it” but doing nothing. Silently hiding away, waiting for it to end.
All I wanted was for him to stop…to just leave if he was so unhappy being our dad.
I used alcohol, smoking, cutting, starvation, sex and drugs to make myself numb and to feel better.
The very last time that my father ever slapped me was when I was 18, after I had told him that I was pregnant a second time. (My first baby was still born when I was toward the end of my 6th month of pregnancy.) I had been down this road with him before and feared his reaction. Of course he called me a whore. This was also the last time he called me a name like this.
I didn’t expect anything different from him except this time I responded back to him. When he called me a whore, I said to him, “Mom was 17 when she got pregnant and you two were not married, so did that make Mom a whore too?” I probably deserved the slap I got. To this day, it is still worth it.
I’m not sure why, but I never questioned why my Mom did nothing to stop him. I don’t ever remember thinking I could go to her. I think something inside of me knew she had enough and didn’t need to deal with me. As I grew older, I assumed she had learned to keep quiet in order to keep the peace with him. It was better if she said or did nothing. Yet, for a long time I hated her for this.
I have forgiven my Dad and my Mom. I no longer hate or despise them. They did the best they could with what they knew. I know that their intent was not to hurt me.
I am not real close with them now but I get along with them pretty well. I see them differently now because I understand so much more than I did back then. I realize they have their own sets of hurts and reacted out of them. Yet, I still fear my Dad. And I still doubt that he likes me.
I no longer justify what my father did or my Mom’s lack of response, but I love them in spite of it. I will not deny that these things had lasting affects on me. I have spent a life time trying to get over them and undo their affects.
One after another, I sought out men that ended up being replica’s of my Dad. I even married some of them. Being married to or living with the enemy, comes with it’s own price tags.
I stayed in these relationships for as long as I could because it’s what I knew to do and because I ALWAYS thought there was something wrong with me that brought out their meanness. I did everything in my power to do all the right things so that they would be nice.
I kept it a secret from everyone because I was ashamed.
I remember asking my brother, “How do guys like this find me? How do they know I will tolerate their meanness?”
The last time I was in an abusive relationship, I was defending his actions to a counselor and trying to justify his meanness with the fact that he loved me. His response was to get really close to me and look me in the eyes and say, “Of course he loves you and one of these days he is going to love you to death.” These words were the beginning to my waking up from my slumber.
Waking out of my slumber or the cycle of living in abuse was like having part of my body cut off.
I no longer use alcohol, smoking, cutting, starvation, sex or drugs to numb myself or to feel better about my myself or my life.
Taking off my tinted glasses has enabled me to see people and life in a whole new light.
I no longer consider myself a victim. Getting rid of the victim mentality has not only enabled me to take responsibility for my life, it has left me free to choose good people to spend it with.
I am married to my friend instead of my enemy.
I no longer think I deserve meanness or that I bring it out in others.
I am still a work in progress.
I am still working on accepting myself for who I am and seeing myself as others see me.
I still have a hard time being around strong, controlling or angry people. I still find myself struggling with seeking approval and feeling good enough.
There were events that took place and choices I made during this time of my life, that I have never dealt with. They are my dirty little secrets that I keep locked up in my closet.
Someday, I hope to have enough courage to kick these things out of the closet too.
I believe that our experiences and the events in our lives help shape who we are, so I tell you these things today, not to gain sympathy or to have you feel sorry for me but to have you understand who I am and where I’ve come from.
I know I have come a long ways. I know I have a ways to go.
Still, there is not a day that goes by that I am not completely and absolutely thankful for the life I live now.
Until next time, love & hugs, Lori