You know what one of the freakiest parts of abuse is?
When you miss it.
No one likes admitting it, but victims of abuse generally experience feelings of fondness and longing for their abuser.
If you’re like me, the scapegoat, then you can also “miss” the feeling of being blamed and dumped on.
Now, miss means two different things in this context.
There’s the actual feeling of “I wish they were here, I’d like to talk to them.”
Then there’s the weirder “I just feel off without some one being a jerk to me at least once a day, or every few days.”
When my dad moved out, it had gotten to the point where I could predict him making a biting remark or losing his temper at me about once a week, maybe more often. There were periods of time it was a daily occurrence.
I was remembering today one startling example of how far this had gone.
I have frequent allergy attacks, sometimes bad enough to resemble a bad cold, and I take medication that makes me sleepy, the symptoms themselves can make me tired also.
Well, it was a miserable day, and I had taken the medicine, my sister was taking an art class at the time, just a few streets away. My dad got home in time to take her, but sat down in front of the TV and told me I should do it instead. I told him I wasn’t feeling well and shouldn’t be driving (I’m sure I sounded stressed at the time, this happened a lot.) My dad went ballistic, saying he wasn’t feeling well either (he seemed fine,) and I had better obey him and do it. I refused, he grounded me in a rage–for refusing to drive on medication to go two miles away when he had a car. His main reason was he wasn’t wearing pants, and he was livid that he had to go put pants on, because that was so hard.
My dad can act like a five year old sometimes.
I wish I could say this ended well, but in the end I felt guilty (for no real reason) and went and picked her up, which did not get me off the hook. I got grounded. I was 19 or 20 when this happened, if you’re thinking there’s a red flag to some kind of power imbalance in that, then you’re right.
That might have been when I told my parents to stop punishing me for stuff, a conversation I never should have had to have at 20, but…
The crazy thing is when I asked my mom about it, she was mad at me for acting that way, calling it unacceptable…when I was clearly not in a good position to be driving.
That kind of thing happened all the time. My dad used everything he could to have power over me, and over anyone else he could feasibly control. He got frustrated with people he couldn’t control.
You might wonder how one could possible miss that?
Well, it’s like my therapist says, it was my normal. I don’t miss it because I liked it, I miss it because it was the centre of my life, even if I didn’t choose it.
The Israelites missed Egypt after they left it, they complained that they could get food and water there, and they wished to return to it, thought hey were brutally treated slaves, who had their own sons taken from them and killed just as a power move to keep them second class citizens so they couldn’t overthrow the Pharaoh.
How do you miss that?
How do I miss someone who actively tried to ruin my life and make it as hard as possible. Who resented it if I or my sisters were ever happy, especially doing anything that he had no part in.
I believe the missing that feels like a regular type of longing is what comes in cases like mine where the abuser could seem like an okay person. When they were happy, they could please and be thoughtful. But so can most of us, it’s a very broken person who can never be nice. They exist, but it’s rare.
My dad took fits of “kindness”, saying nice things, trying to be caring, supportive, etc. They were not wholly feigned, as C. S. Lewis put it, nor much dearer than dishwater, a single prick of any little word or event would burst his bubble. The rage would be back.
Often my dad would contrive a fight after any positive day or conversation we had, like he was not comfortable without the resentment being present. This was how I cam to see he hated me.
My mom can be the same way, only she is not comfortable till she’s made it so she feels you’re disappointed in her and unhappy with her. Even if it would have been simple to not say or do something to cause that situation. They are quite a pair aren’t they?
My parents are not really happy the way they are, they are just content to be miserable. If that makes sense.
I, who am not, have always been an anomaly to them, someone they cannot really understand.
My dad’s resentment really became demonic after awhile, he seemed to be incapable of wishing anyone else to be happy, even for a moment.
My dad was also always a bully, even from his childhood. He got picked on, but he also picked on other people as much as he could get away with.
He picked on a young man who had the misfortune of working for him, he went so far as to write and produce a soundtrack mocking the poor guy, and got his friends to help him, I’m not sure why they did, other than my dad’s friends have a lot of issues.
The man finally stopped taking his calls after quitting working for him, and my dad bemoans the fact to this day that he doesn’t get to torment him anymore, he never truly realized why it was horrid. I’m glad the guy had the sense to get out.
And of course, me. I got picked on for years. My dad eventually stopped doing it much once I stopped reacting to it or giving any sign I even heard, he found other ways to get a reaction out of me. But really, as I stopped reacting even to direct insults, he just ignored me as much as possible, blowing up whenever he got the chance to take some control back,
It puzzled my dad why I became immune to him. I think the song Titanium describes it best
“You shout it out, but I can’t hear a word you say. I’m talking loud, not saying much.
Criticized, but all your bullets ricochet, you shoot me down but I get up.
I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose, fire away, fire away. Ricochet, you take your aim, fire away, fire away. Shoot me down, but I won’t fall, I am titanium.
Cut me down, but it’s you who have further to fall, ghost town, and haunted love.
Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones, talking loud, not saying much.
Stone hard! Machine Gun! Fired at the ones who run. Stone hard as bulletproof glass!”
This song perfectly describes how verbal abusers treat people. the “fired at the ones who run” signifies how the people who are intimidated get shot at more.
And, like the song says, if you want to survive, you can end up like titanium. Hard.
I’m not sure there is any way, even with God, to avoid some hardening of yourself when you live with abuse.
The Bible says if you remove the cause of strife, it will cease. People critisize the Bible for it’s insistence on cutting sinful, wicked people out of contact with others, even to the point of death, but the Bible is wiser than we are, God knew long ago how sin works.
Abuse is one of the ugliest forms of domestic sin. Maybe the ugliest. the only things that might be worse are the perversions people do to each other in the name of science, or religion, or some other strange system.
Abuse could be the prototype for every other sin cycle, as it traps not only the abuser but the abused in their private and public sins. Hypocrisy and deception naturally follow abuse, like rain follows clouds.
My dad brought out the worst in all of us, he made us crueler, more spiteful people, because he played off all the worse parts in us to keep in power. Abusers rely on the fact that you have human weaknesses to keep control over you.
Actually, the anime remake Fruits Basket released an episode yesterday that portrayed this perfectly (that anime is genius by the way, using a curse + Beauty and the Beast type story to represent abuse, it works almost too well.) The main abuser manipulated the best boi Kyo by reminding him he was a monster. Till he broke.
Abuse makes you feel you are the monster, my dad set me up to feel that way from birth. All your faults are blown out of proportion, all your virtues are ignored unless they want something from you. You are told no one will love you but them. Or they are doing this because they love you.
God himself must want to gag when an abuser claims to love their victim (hey, it’s in Revelation if you don’t believe God has those emotions).
But because they lied to you, you think you are stuck with them. You really won’t be loved by anyone else.
My dad and his friends used to go off on me for not having people skills, no one ever bothered to teach them to me. That’s the point, abusers don’t want you to get better.
When I obviously had, when I made friends, my dad criticized them for being twits. He criticized my church fro not being like his. He criticized anyone I liked. I should associate with anyone he didn’t approve of, you see.
My dad is no one to miss, but because he could play the part, my mind can easily rick itself into thinking otherwise.
I want to give some advice to anyone reading this who might be recognizing this tenancy in yourself, maybe you even have an ex like this.
The Bible says to forgive, and we must forgive, if we ever want to be free, but it does not say to always forget. In fact, sometimes we need to remember when people sinned.
If you are a victim of abuse of any form, you have a difficult journey, but it is doable.
You must let go of your resentment, but you must remind yourself regularly that you were right to get out of that situation, that you deserved better, and you should get to be happy.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game. The player is at fault, but they probably have no more power to leave the game than you did, until you were rescued form it (even if you left yourself, something happened to open your eyes, we don’t just suddenly become wiser).
Sad as it is, my dad cannot control himself, not because he cannot make different choices, but because he cannot change his own heart. He refuses to be helped, and so he cannot help it.
I wonder sometimes if someone who is abuse might read my posts and wonder about themselves. But they would never change unless a work had already begun in their heart, proof will never change an abuser.
I may someday get told I was stupid to call it abuse, if I ever talk to my Uncle or my dad’s friends gain, no doubt they will protest. But I no longer care if they think I’m over reacting.
Another thing about the Monster complex.
My dad used to feel like a monster growing up, and the truth it, he was one. He still is, but that does not mean he is also not God’s child.
Sadly, sometimes a person is just barely saved. But they do trust God, they just should not be around anyone else they can control.
The Victim feels like a monster too. When you suffer a lot, you can feel like you must deserve it, it’s one of the way we struggle to make sense of the insensible, but Cruelty is always senseless.
Cruelty is madness, that is why it is so horrifying. We can live with anything we feel happened for a reason, but when reason is gone, so is our courage.
That is why one of the paths to healing is through letting God redeem your suffering, bringing about a good out of it. Giving it a reason. But people confuse God giving it a purpose with God having a reason for it to happen in the first place.
God, being outside of time, can have a purpose in something He knows was going to happen, but didn’t want to happen.
It is more like how a mom can see her child get shoved off a junglegym and rush to catch them. They didn’t want it to happen, but they have a response ready.
Why do we have medics on standby at sports events? We know accidents happen. Why do we have laws for punishing crime, we know crime happens, but anyone who says the law causes crime is out of their mind and should be ignored.
God has a plan in place for what will happen.
The Bible says “my life and times are in Your hands.”
We should feel relieved that when suffering happens, God already had a plan to make it work for us for good, even if He didn’t want it to happen.
God is our Insurance Policy. He fixes the damage when other stuff happens to us. When you rely on God, you admit that you cannot protect yourself.
When my dad hit me I could not understand why God allowed it, but a year later, I thought I had an idea, that God allowed it to push my mom and sisters to agree enough was enough. I didn’t really get hurt (outside) and it took the blinders off.
Was it good? No. But it helped keep more stuff like that from happening. Much like a vaccine can only exist because a disease does, but if you survive the disease, you can help more people with the vaccine from getting it at all. It would be better not to need it, but humans don’t get a life free of trouble.
Anyway, this ended up running long.
Missing my dad is kind of an illusion, but if I don’t buy it, it’s not a delusion. A delusion would be to let yourself be fooled.
And the road out is to remember the truth, and then know that God does have a plan for helping you, if you embrace it.
Until next time–Natasha.