Breaking the chainOct 2, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
While this review could be placed into several different parenting sections, I have decided to put it in the violence section. Because no matter what all is included, that is where the root is. I have debated long and hard about even writing a review about such a personal and charged subject, but I hope that my experiences and fears will help just one other parent or child out there.
While I hear many times, from acquaintances, family, on the news, etc... the reason this or that person is so destructive or poor in their attitude and behavior is because of such a rough life growing up. While I can understand, I am here to say that having a rough childhood isnít tantamount to turning out that way.
I am the child of an abusive alcoholic father, and later a step-father who was as bad, if not worse. I am the child of a mother who worked 80 hours a week for years, alone, trying to just keep the bill-collectors from taking what we had. I fear that the abuse my siblings and I suffered will one day surface in me towards my child. I cry every time I raise my voice at my daughter thinking ďcan I truly break the chain?Ē
Where do I start? When I was three and I remember my father beating my sister, brother and I with a belt because one of us forgot to rinse the soap after washing our muddy hands? Or with the memory of having banana peppers shoved into our mouths because he didnít want to hear us laugh and play while he just wanted to enjoy his bourbon and water. The memory of him literally shoving fish down my throat in retaliation for me accidentally spilling kool-aid on it when I rose from the table- canít waste food ya know.
I have hundreds of such memories growing up, but even though we suffered a great amount from him physically, we also suffered mentally and verbally. He would get drunk and just yell and yell and yell and us and our mother. Many times that was worse. You can prepare yourself for physical pain, like a smack or a belt buckle across your back, you knew it was coming, but when you hear yelling all the time about how horrible you, your siblings and your mother are- you start to believe it. And you never knew when it would start, or stop.
My mother left my father when I was almost four years old, but until I was 16 we had to see him on weekends. After that age I tried to limit any contact with him and tried to make it on my terms. When I was 18 I stopped talking to him altogether.
When I was 8 years old my mother married her second husband. Before the marriage he was wonderful to her and us. For a short while after he still seemed normal, but that soon changed. He had been a recovering alcoholic before he met my mother and never told her. Soon after the marriage he (in his own words) Ďgot comfortableí and decided to start drinking again.
There were times when he would just scream at her or us. In all honesty we didnít think much of it. We were used to yelling. Thatís the odd thing, when you are raised with it, it really isnít that unusual. But then the violence started. He would take things of ours and break them to make us upset or cry, then he would laugh and expect us to do the same. If we didnít, then the beating. I remember him bashing my motherís head off of walls. I used to sit at the top of the stairs with a tape recorder almost every night and tape his violent outbursts so I would have evidence when the police decided to do something. They were called often by neighbors, but never took him away, even when my mother was standing there with her head bleeding from being bounced off of a wall.
One night he got drunk and ran around the house with a gun threatening to kill everyone Ďjust like in a movieí he said. There is still a 911 call which recorded the time he had a gun to my head and I begged him to shoot me so that he would finally be put behind bars. The night of this incident the police came, but the gun was gone- thrown over the hill and they refused to search for it. WE spent the night in the car in his motherís driveway because the police told us we should go somewhere else to spend the night if we were afraid. Thankfully laws concerning violence are stricter these days and the same conclusion would not necessarily have happened in the present. What did we hear in the morning from his mother? ďNot my son, it must have been you who drove him to it. My son is a saintĒ. That is the last time I ever saw her, thankfully. Not long after we packed everything up in 3 hours and disappeared so he couldnít find us.
Why go into all this? Because I am a person who has some-what superceded the odds. I have a husband who isnít violent. I have a daughter who I do not beat. I went to college and got a degree. But I am still afraid. I am afraid that I will lose my control and my temper and wind up being just like the two Ďfather-figuresí in my life.
I do not want my daughter to hear yelling like I grew up with. I do not want her to wonder if she is the reason that Mama is upset. I am a good mother and I love my daughter with all my heart. The one time I have ever hurt her - I cut her finger with the nail clippers because my bad hand spasmed while I tried to cut her nails- I was devastated and literally cried for days. Even though no one else can see it, I still see the fine thin scar on the top of her thumb. I just started cutting her nails again, 2 years later. I made a promise when she was born that I would never hurt her. I felt like I had broken that promise.
I think I can break the chain because of one reason; my mother. My mother who worked herself to the bone just to get by. My mother who no matter what let us know how much she loved us. My mother who, in the small frustrated time she had, would sit and listen when I had a problem. My mother who never hit us, who got us away from these Ďbad mení. I know love and caring from her.
I do not know what it is like to have a father that loved me. I never knew how other people could love their fathers so much. But I know my daughter will never have that problem. People joke that my daughter is a clone of me, since she looks and acts so much like I did as a child, with one exception- she isnít shy. She isnít shy because she doesnít have fear everyday. She knows what it is like to *want* Papa to come home and she knows she will get love in return. I joke and say she is me without all the scars, with endless possibilities, because she wonít know what it is like to be abused or to not have the love of both parents.
But I donít think I turned out so bad. Iím not in jail. I am a good person, some people tell me Iím too good to people sometimes. :-) I try to help everyone I can. I donít lie or steal. I want to break the chain of violence so bad. So far I have, but there is always a doubt in my brain that I can. Maybe that is the voice of my father saying it, but I have a faith in myself. It is keeping that faith that is the hard part.
So why am I writing this again you ask? If you are in this kind of situation, the sooner you break free the better it is for you and your children. The sooner that everyone can start to heal. Tell others what has been going on and ask for help if you need it. Have your children talk about it with a professional. Donít keep it inside for years, letting it fester until the pain and anger overwhelm you. Iíve seen what that can do, and it isnít good for the person or anyone around them. It isnít easy to do, but it is the best thing you can do.
An above all, love your children. Tell them you love them. If you are a parent and were abused as a child and feel your nerves snapping, walk away for a while or just grab your child and hug and kiss them. Try to remember how humiliating and emotionally depraving it was to be hit. Listen to them when they have problems and help them when you can. I always thought this was a corny line, but it is true: Together we can all break the chain of violence.
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