Abuse. Domestic and child abuse. Sadly it has become a topic that Mac and I find ourselves struggling to address with Nixon.
I asked Mac this morning, how and if we should talk to Nixon about child abuse. Nixon is in kindergarten now and that means he is around a variety of children from different backgrounds, we don't know any of his classmates families. Mac's answer was that we don't take the easy way out and we talk to him about this topic like we have with any topic honest on a level he will understand.
But how honest is too honest. Do we tell him about our own childhood?. Do we not tell him, to protect his view of our parents? We often joke about our childhoods, but the truth is we suffered some serious shit at the hands of our parents. Were we growing up today, instead of in the 80's and 90's, there is a real chance at least one of us (Mac and myself) would have been removed from our family by the authorities.
I don't shy away from my past and the shitty situations I have overcome. A physically abusive father, an emotionally distant (practically emotionally absent) mother, a physically abusive first boyfriend and my ex-fiance became emotionally and mentally abusive as our young love matured into an adult relationship. To say I was a broken and abused mess would be an understatement.
I have long said, physical abuse is the least of my issues. Bruises, broken bones, welts and scratches all heal and while the memory of them remain, even scar, it is the mental and emotional abuse that haunts me to this day. I am not saying physical abuse is easy, I am saying the damage does not last as long, if you are lucky. I struggle daily with trust. The men I loved and the father I wanted to trust did a real number on me. I was beaten and told it was my own fault for making him do it. I was slapped and backhanded because another guy looked at me. I did nothing but look in the same direction. My ex backhanded me before I knew what was happening. I was 14 or 15 at the time. I was in a shitty family situation and an even shittier relationship.
I was sexually active with boy, T. I remember thinking I might be pregnant. I told T and he slapped me, called me a whore, and after I fell (tripped over something on the ground backing away from him) he kicked me in the abdomen and ribs multiple times. When I got home, late less than 5 minutes for my curfew, my dad beat me. I tried telling my mom about what T had done to me. She walked away and told me I probably had it coming, whatever it was. I do not know if I was pregnant or not. I am pretty sure I had internal bleeding but never went to a doctor.
Mac tells stories of growing up in an Asian household and kneeling on rice as a punishment. He was sent to the backyard to choose his switch for a whooping.
We grew up in a time when neighbors and family members were instructed that ass whoppings were allowed and these adults could do it if our parents were not around.
I saw a shrink once. We barely scratched the surface of my issues, but after just 2 sessions he told me I am far more well-adjusted than most people with like pasts are. I'm pretty sure he was full of shit because well-adjusted is NOT a term I would use to describe myself.
My ex, M. I spent 9 years of my life co-dependant on him. He was tragically damaged and I needed to be needed. After we moved in together and started growing into our adult selves, we weren't the same teenagers we were when we met. I had learned I didn't want to live with an addict again (Dad is an alcoholic) and he was hiding a gambling addiction....poorly. We fought often and epically. I threw dishes and he swore he'd change. He struck me. Once.
I was stunned. We'd never been physically abusive to each other. I left for a few hours. I came back and he had notched up the emotional abuse, making me think I wanted him to hit me because it was the only kind of love I ever felt from my father. What an evil fucking dick he morphed into. I stayed because I believed what he said. I stayed because I was afraid to live on my own. I stayed because he helped me financially. I stayed because his words spoke the words I said to myself every day. I stayed when the cheating happened, but I never admitted to him I knew. I feigned ignorance and kept my focus on the degree I was going to school for. When the words coming from his mouth were bitter and ugly about the degree I was earning and the goals I wanted to achieve, I tuned out. It took 2 years of lies, his painful words, his emotional manipulations, to earn my degree. Less than a month later I left my hometown, my family, M and everything I knew. I fell back to him and his lies more than once those early months away from all I knew.
And then, I just let it all go.
He crossed a line and I was unforgiving. I went home when my dad was hospitalized after having suffered a stroke. I stopped to talk to a couple friends, M was there. While listening to me describe the insurance mess and my dad's weakened state, M says "Well, no offense, but it's not like he has that many brain cells left to damage after all his years of drinking." No offense?? A stunned and awkward silence fell and I left. I could say things like that, a few years later my dad and I will say almost those exact words to each other, but M.....M could not! It wasn't his dad, or even his family. That day I left and never looked back. I mourned the boy M was and the vile man he'd become.
I found my backbone.
Sadly, not every abuse victim does. Sadly they stay, for whatever the reason.
I'm struggling how to tell Nixon about abuse. How to tell him about my own past and why sometimes I read a story or watch TV and feel tears welling up. How to tell him about the pictures of the marks on Adrian Peterson's child, put there at the hand of his father. How to tell him he might have a friend in his life who lives a life like that. How to tell him his parents know the pain that little boy, a year younger than Nixon, feels. How to tell him about the lies I heard about myself from the men I loved. How to tell him about the fear deep inside me, the fear that I'm my father's daughter and I will eventually do to Nixon what was done to me. I'm struggling with how to still be strong for my child and not pollute the love he has for his grandparents.
I know I need to be honest with him. He's not old enough to hear tales from Mac and I's childhoods. But some day I'll have to tell him. Someday he'll see the damaged goods mom once was.
For now, I guess telling about about abuse and the types of will be good enough. I adore Nixon and I've made peace with my past. As difficult as it was, I'm not getting any younger and holding on to that kind of anger, bitterness and hatred was not good for me. I made peace with my parents and the role they played in my fucked-up life. I'm very angry that people are judging Ray Rice's wife for marrying him and staying. Anyone who has never been in any kind of an abusive relationship can quite easily look at her and say she's dumb for staying. They say she should have left, if anything happens now, it's her fault for staying. Sadly, she may think she will never do better. As awful as it is, she may feel that staying and dealing with things at home is better than leaving him and the life style he gives her. It's hard to start over with almost nothing. I've done it. It's one helluva struggle. I had to dig deep and go through some shit, on my own, before I started to accept and believe I was a better person for those experiences.
This blog was supposed to be about my struggle to tell Nixon the truth about abuse, but it turns out I needed a little therapeutic outlet.