The list of mental, emotional, and physical abuse runs 14 pages deep. Most of these events I have never spoken of. I was taught from an early age that I had no right to speak of them. To do so would bring shame upon my father and myself. If I spoke of them, I would be treated differently, and I have been. Merely mentioning them to people turns a moment awkward, as most people don’t know how to react. To me, the events were normal within my family, but society made me well aware they were far from normal. It used to make me feel defective, broken, different and very alone.
At times I wanted pity, but didn’t want to be weak and I didn’t think I deserved it. I just wanted the right to feel what I was feeling – for someone to say that it’s ok to feel angry, sad or scared about what I went through. But, I let a voice inside my head, my father’s voice, take that right away from me. The words he would use to keep me under his control, would echo through my mind daily, hourly, and sometimes constantly.
“You’re nothing but a spoiled rotten little f**ken brat! You think you have it so rough? This ain’t nothin. I have been around the block a few times. This ain’t nothin! Why are you crying? Jesus Christ you little f**ken baby!”
In my mind, to allow myself to feel these emotions would make me weak. Weakness was something I couldn’t afford when I was trying to survive. I needed to show only strength; strength for myself as well as my mother, sister, and most of all, to my father.
My father’s criticisms became my inner voice and I then victimized myself with negative self-talk. “You don’t deserve to be happy. Who do you think you are to have good in your life? You are such an idiot. You can’t be trusted with anything. You are not worthy” The list goes on and on. This was my daily battle that drove me. The internal struggle of defying what my mind was telling me; determined to prove it wrong. It often drives people to their own self-destruction.
Today, as I look back, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing. If I had the opportunity to go back and have my life go any other way, I wouldn’t change it.. I have endured much and made many mistakes, but I have learned things not everyone gets to learn.
Having to study subtle body language, voice tones and mood to know what kind of danger I was in taught me to read people and be socially successful. Dealing with days and nights of terror has given me the ability to think and solve problems under pressure. Having my father, our family protector, choke me, beat me and threaten to kill me, taught me to trust with caution and awareness. Years of reasoning with someone who is angry, drunk, violent, with a gun to his head or to the head of a loved one has taught me to think quickly on my feet, and communicate effectively. It has taught me to be a convincing sales person with the ability to rationalize with the irrational and reason with the unreasonable. Being criticized and picked apart from a very young age has taught me the importance of being supportive and encouraging. It has taught me empathy, insight and kindness. It has taught me honesty, conviction and how to proceed in the face of fear. It has taught me how to use humor and fairness. I could go on and on. Not that I feel I am such a great person, but because I can see so clearly now that I am a product of these opportunities that not everyone gets.
Had it not been for these experiences, and the struggle to understand and overcome them, I would never have been able to achieve the promise I made to myself when I was eight years old. The promise to break this generational cycle, and be the dedicated father and husband that I am today. I have been blessed.
I have been blessed with a life full of struggle. It wasn’t the worst life. It wasn’t the best life. But it is my life, and I have embraced it as my own and that has made all the difference. The struggles I have been given are a gift that I am to learn from and find a purpose for. There is not a person I can pay or a university I can attend that could possibly provide me with the education I have been given through my struggles and for that I am so thankful. Though I may weep for the child who had to endure, I am proud of the adult who has triumphed. The struggles that have made the man that so proudly stands in the mirror before me, could have just as easily destroyed me had I allowed it.
I used to ask God, “why me? Why do I have to go through these things?” I finally understand that these gifts of struggle aren’t given to just anyone. For some reason I was given them and it is up to me to figure out how I can take these raw materials of knowledge, experience, and emotions and build something positive with them rather than a wall around myself.
This is surely my purpose in life and it has ignited a passion within me to a depth I have never before felt and seems to be pulling me down a path that has no logical destination. Yet, I feel an odd comfort knowing I need to follow it and believe it will lead me to where I am suppose to go. I guess this is what you call faith.
I continue to heal my mind. I have come to understand my feelings and and work to reprogram my thinking.
I continue to heal my body. Anxiety and depression depletes my body of nutrients and offset the balance needed for a healthy mind and body.
I continue to heal my spirit. Keeping a healthy perspective and outlook empowers me to be in control of the things I can control.
In the links below, I have shared a few of my experiences growing up to help you understand where I started. I have never understood the magnitude of these events until I had children of my own and imagined them going through them. By breaking my silence and sharing my story, I hope to help others heal and break the cycle in their family. By helping others, maybe we can spare the next generation.