I, with my wife Karen and my second oldest daughter Rebekah, went to Rochester, New York last month because of my mother's passing on June 16. I had mixed emotions during the 5 days I was there and the days leading up to her passing, since she was so ill. I have had to deal with an issue that I have crammed so far down inside me that I didn't know it was still present. Knowing that I had forgiven past wrongs, I moved on with life, thinking that everything would be okay. It wasn't. It took my mother's passing to bring it to the surface, and for that I am grateful. What I am about to tell you is very hard and personal, but necessary. I need to tell this story for my own healing and for others who have been scarred for life and do not know what to do. We just keep quiet and try to go along. Not anymore.
Most of my extended family back in New York and even some of my immediate family here in Zion will not understand. That's okay. The only ones who will truly understand are the ones who have been through it. Since I have limited space, I will get right to it. I am a victim of abuse and my abuser was my dad. I am not looking for pity, just to be heard. I did not experience any sexual abuse; however, I did experience physical abuse (I'm not talking about spanking). But the most damaging thing to me was the verbal and emotional abuse. It was beyond anything a child should have to endure.
Some have experienced being yelled at and having negative words directed at them. That is not what I am referring to. My father was a volcano - you didn't know when he was going to erupt, but you knew he was going to, and often. Sometimes it was over trivial things or circumstances outside the house. It was a rage so intense, it would leave me emotionally drained. I lived a life knowing my dad did not love me or even like me. That was obvious.
Many times, we (5 children) were lined up in a row like soldiers. I was always so scared. I knew what my dad was going to do. He would take a knife and rage, "Stab your mother in the back! And after that, stab me in the back! Because that is what you are doing!" (He was not expecting us to do that... just making a point.) And what had we done? We had forgotten to dust behind the door or something like that. It was way over the top. Why did my mother allow this to go on? I don't know.
One time, he told my older brother and me to go upstairs and strip down. He could not take his belt off fast enough. He whipped us like dogs and raged. Not yelled... raged! What had we done? We had eaten a piece of bread because we were hungry (earlier, we had been told we couldn't eat supper). We didn't know we were doing wrong.
I could tell similar stories but that would take a book. And the abuse didn't stop with my dad. My brother would constantly badger me verbally and physically. Daily! He would never refer to me by name, but by derogatory terms. He would not stop until I got terribly upset with tears. I could not escape my abusers. I couldn't avoid my dad, and I was in the top bunk above my brother, which he never let me forget. I felt trapped in a house where there was no love. The only limited love I felt was from my mother, who would not stop my abusers... even my brother. Why?!! She couldn't or wouldn't, I don't know.
If my dad and older brother read this, will they feel remorse? I hope so, but probably they won't. I can hear them now. My dad will probably be directing anger towards me, justifying his rage like he has in times past. My brother will probably think that it wasn't that bad and that it (the abuse) was good for me. How terribly wrong. They have never once directed any remorse to me personally, apparently not understanding the ramifications of their abuse. Abuse is usually taken lightly by the abusers, but for the abused, it is traumatic and a scarring for life.
What about my other siblings? They each had their own abuse, but it was not to the extent of mine, since I was the second oldest. I am doing what I should have done before... open up. Open up to all, in hopes of healing for me and others. I thank God that I have a caring wife, even though she does not fully understand. I am also glad that my children have not had to endure any of this, since we moved away over 20 years ago. To many, this will seem foreign to them. I'm glad. To others, it will cut to the heart, because we know the emotional baggage that we have had to carry. To them, I say: It is not your fault. Forgive if you can. After that, it's up to you! Don't let your abuser(s) force you to do anything ever again. It's your choice whether to include them in your life or not.
As for me, I forgive my abusers and pray for them that they can have their own healing. I would hope for some acknowledgement and for some remorse, but it is not necessary for me. I plan to start living life in a whole new way, since the healing process is finally starting. Most of all, I thank God, who has shown me what real love is. He has done what my mother couldn't. He has shown me that I am worth being saved. Though my family may not understand, He always does. And for that, I say to Him, "Thank you. Thank you so very much."