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Want to hear a crazy story?
Life happens weirdly doesn’t it? Yesterday we were just minding our own business, and we got a message that our dad was having a medical emergency, alone at his house.
My energetic aunt who lives, like, a 1,000 miles away from us, was somehow the one trying to organize all this, and my dad was calling a bunch of people, but didn’t think to just call a taxi.
Later we found out, to add insult to injury, he’d actually almost passed out several times earlier in the day, but neglected to go to the doctor then, instead he still drove home. I believe they call this “dumb luck”.
After he finally was taken to the hospital probably an hour and a half after he should have just called a taxi or 911, they discovered he had a heart attack and he went in for immediate surgery. The attack was bad and could have killed him.
I haven’t talked to my dad in about 18 months, give or take, and this was the first time I spoke to him, but, with an emergency like that, it would have been cruel not to.
Getting on the speaker, we all talked to him. Almost the first words out of his mouth, once he said “I really would like to talk to the girls in case this is the end for me” or some rubbish like that, were “God has really been working on my heart, and I’ve changed a lot… and I believe with forgiveness should come reconciliation, that the Bible makes it clear they go together.” (I paraphrase a little for clarity, but I assure you I am not exaggerating, I don’t do that, the truth is bad enough on it’s own.)
I suppose it sounds innocent enough, to someone outside the family, but those of you with toxic family members know hot there are certain phrases and words and tones and references that have been built up over the years a s part of an intricate web of manipulation, usually disguised as harmless so that others don’t catch on. But the family members know themselves what it means.
You see, my dad will use the bible as a weapon to cover his own bad behavior. He’d yell at us and rage and throw fits, and use “honor your father” as an exude, ignoring “don’t provoke your children to wrath.” He’d storm about not being respected as “the head of the house” but ignore “love your wives as Christ loved the church.” You’ve probably met people like this too.
Abusive parents tend to use love as a requirement only when they want love, and then deny it to their victims especially children if they are the most insecure about children, or their wife, if they are more insecure about romantic relationships. Depends on their own background usually. Most of the time, it’s both.
My dad also swore to us more times than I can count that God was working on his heart, and he was a different person. He treated us exactly the same every time, and treated God the same too. My dad lives in a fantasy world when it comes to spirituality. It’s simply a game of rules and appearances to him, not depth.
He also said he’d been healed of a lot of stuff, I don’t buy that for an instant.
Later on, he told us that if this was his last request to us, he wanted us not to hold any bitterness or resentment in our heats because God wouldn’t like it. And that he loved us so much, and missed us, blah blah blah.
He didn’t ask once how we’d been doing, my sister told him, but he barley listened. He talked about how he’d been doing most of the time, and how he might die, (though it wasn’t actually that likely), yada yada, and reconciliation, and it was so nice to talk to us again. It was almost worth it for this to happen just to be able o talk to us…
I sympathize with the fear and terror of a medical emergency, I’ve driven my sister to the ER when no one else was home and she was throwing up and having other signs of a concussion. I’ve taken care of my other sister after she fainted from sun poisoning. I’ve had terrible moments myself, especially last year. I am not one to put that down.
But, none of us use medical emergencies as an excuse to be vindictive and manipulative. Amidst all this chaos, my dad still managed to impress me with how petty he can be.
I mean, if it truly could be your last words to your children and wife, would you spend it going on about how terrible you were doing, and how they made you so lonely by not calling, and poor you.
I know I would want to spend it saying things that would leave good memories, if nothing else. It’s not he time for final digs.
I concluded he never really believed he was going to die, as indeed, it was past the point where that was likely anymore. It was an attention grab.
It may sound terrible of me to think so, but his mom pulls stuff like this also, and he’s done it before, and it’s really much sicker to do it at all than to realize someone else is doing it.
I suppose we knew deep down he used his health to manipulate us for pity and attention, I just didn’t think of it much with all the other, more violent stuff, but this one was always so blinking unfair because how can you get angry at soemoen who’s sick? Even if they are making it worse on purpose?
The man says he intends to go right back to work instead of resting like you are supposed to do, I doubt he’ll actually do that, but he wants us to talk him out of it. These tricks are as old as our lives.
I don’t intend to try, but it’s very frustrating to hear someone be such an idiot, and just to garner sympathy.
My aunt was no help, she just encouraged it, and event old my sister “can’t you put aside your feud for a short time?”
Yes, a feud, that’s all 20 years of abuse, neglect, and folly was… sure.
Because none of us have proof of physical damage, our family has elected not to take us that seriously, at least, the one who listen to my dad and aunt in the first place.
Based on my studies and comparing to others who’ve undergone the same treatment, we more than qualify for all three types of abuse, with Emotional being the crowning one.
My dad is something called a “dark empath” if I understand right. He know what you want to hear, and need to hear, but instead of genuinely giving it to you out of compassion, he gives it in a fake twisted way, that always brings the focus back to him. I’ve almost never heard the guy shut up about himself in the whole time I’ve known him.
In conversation with me, it has never been about me. Same with all of us, including my mom.
He’s not totally without sympathetic feelings, but it’s a superficial kind that always ends up becoming about him after about 5 seconds. I don’t doubt he feels bad, but empaths can take our feelings into themselves, and then reflect them back. A dark empath can do that, in a bad bay, making the misery all there own and expecting you to feel sorry for them, when you’re the one suffering.
In proof of this point, my aunt entered her late son’s name in a walk-a-thon for charity that she asked us all to participate in. She asked my dad not to start telling stories about the past and making it about him. That was what he immediately did after she asked, including telling them her embarrassing nickname and encouraging us girls to participate. I declined.
My father is cruel, he was cruel as a kid, he’s cruel now.
Yet, he has the audacity to say he loves us so much while crying and acting like he’s in the worst pain in the world. Like we ever did anything to him. Sheesh.
Okay, as you can tell, I am blowing off steam and I may regret being so raw after I’ve had a few days to think about it.
But I bet you’ve felt the same, and maybe you even understand why it would bother me how he acted.
But is it worse that none of it really surprised me? I didn’t call him when he got Covid-19 because I knew he’d say stuff I didn’t want to hear, and I wouldn’t be comforting him at all, save for the sick satisfaction he gets out of having us pity him and kowtow to him. Perhaps he imagines he is making us feel guilty.
And I called this time only because it might have been my last chance, and however terrible a person he might be, I don’t want anyone to die without hearing some last kind words form the people around them.
I didn’t expect him to really appreciate that, and I was not disappointed in that, but he went further than I would have believed, it took him less than 5 minutes to say something manipulative.
All the nice things he said just because he’s been told to say them. It’s nauseating. I felt my throat tighten up.
I wanted to laugh, my sister held me back, she felt the same but didn’t want me to visibly show it while he was still on the line, especially since we were on speaker. I held back, but if he hadn’t been about to go in for heart surgery, I’d have given him a piece of my mind.
I hope you understand I am not advocating bullying someone who’s potentially dying or in a lot of pain. I am saying it was out of basic decency that I didn’t do that, but I assure you, had our position been reversed, he would not have afforded me the same courtesy. That’s how delusional he is.
I believe we have to show mercy, so I told him I loved him, and we’d forgiven him. That was when he came back with that “reconciliation” crap.
Since he brought it up, and some of you might have similar problems, perhaps I should answer here what the Bible’s idea of reconciliation is.
In the Old Testament, there are far more examples of reconciliation than in the New, because it talks more about people’s stories. The best examples or Joseph with his brothers, Jacob with his twin, Esau and also his uncle Laban; David with Saul; Hagar with Sarah, and Hosea with Gomer.
In only two of those examples did reconciliation involve establishing close contact, or living in the same house. Joseph, and Hosea both stayed in close touch with their family, though we don’t know how often Joseph saw his brothers, or how much Gomer reciprocated Hosea’s love (that was a direct assignment from God to give an example of loving an unfaithful woman. But Gomer was not abusive.)
Joseph did not reconcile with his brothers until he was in a position of power and it was entirely safe to do so, and after testing them to see if they really had changed. Once they proved they had truly repented and regretted their wrongs, he revealed himself.
This is where most therapists will leave it, if you have proof they changed, then you can become close again. I don’t think Joseph intended to kill his brothers if they didn’t change, but I doubt he would have revealed all to them in the same way.
In the other examples I listed, peace was made, and the people went their separate was to live out their own lives. Even Hagar eventually left Sarah’s service, and she was a slave who couldn’t legally do so on her own, but Sarah chose to send her away, and God made it to be for the best. Later in the New Testament, Hager is used as a metaphor for how the slave to sin must be driven out so the child of the promise (us) can flourish. A powerful symbol for abuse also.
“Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”” (Galatians 4:30)
So, my dad has no real basis for using the bible as leverage here, but it’s an old trick he clearly thinks we will still fall for.
As for the New Testament, it was actually or inspiration for kicking him out. When we talked to our mom about it, we reminded her of how Paul kicked some people out of the young church till they could learn respect for God and stop teaching false doctrines. Two people who tried to deceive the believers dropped dead on the spot (harsh, I assure you it doesn’t happen often, I’ve near heard of another case, I think it was just to make a point).
Paul also says that while we are not to judge the world for being the way it is, we are not to associate with people in the church who claim to be holy but still act like the world.
“I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.” 1 Corinthians 5:11 (This version includes “abusive” others don’t, but the idea is there.)
This gets me to thinking about how people tend to split into two camps about abusers:
There’s the people who are so angry about it they stop seeing abusers as human. You should see the death threats against fictional characters that Webtoon and YouTube are littered with, and probably concerning real life stuff also.
Then there’s people who recognize abusers are still wounded human beings, but use that as a reason to stay with them and give them a sort of emotional life support that just barely keeps them functionality at status quo, usually worse.
I am not in either camp, but I do lean more toward staying away from them, as I think the Bible teaches to do anyway.
There’s an anime coming to mind that depicts this struggle well, called Torodora
(Tiger Dragon for you language buffs) in which the main girl had a toxic father, and the main guy encourages her to “reconcile” and give him a chance when he shows up randomly in her life, her dad says all the right things, and seems really repentant.
Then after things go well for a few weeks, there’s a play that Taiga (the girl) is going to have the lead role in, and her dad promises to come see. As you can guess, he doesn’t show up, and instead of calling her himself, he calls Ryuuji, (the main guy) to ask him to tell her for him, that something came up.
Ryuuji can’t understand how the guy could be such a jerk, after seeming so sincere, then Taiga’s best friend drops the final death bomb on him by informing him that the same thing happened a year or so ago, same act, and Taiga went with it, only to be disappointed. Ryuuji feels horrible for not listening when she warned him, and pressure in Taiga based on his preconceived notions of her situation, but he learns from it.
Ryuuji makes the same mistake I’ve made myself, and have felt other people made with me, and still do. He judges by his own experience and the very few things he sees about someone else.
People who haven’t had abusive parents tend to hear how we victim-kids talk about our parents, and think “Wow, they’re a brat.” Because we’ll say things like “My parents don’t love me” and “Yeah, that’s my dad, what a jerk.” “I just can’t believe him” “I don’t miss him” etc.
And yeah, bratty kids do say it, but we have to remember, everyone who fake whines about stuff that’s not actually bad is doing it in imitation of people who have had serious problems.
Like people jokingly say they have depression because depressed people abound so much right now, but it’s not a joke to someone who really has it, and it probably feels like overstating it to them, whether they say so or not.
Or people saying they have a problem with binging when they really couldn’t, while people suffer with real additions around them and don’t think it’s funny.
It’s the same with having bad parents, people will joke and whine about it who shouldn’t precisely because of the attention it gets them to sound like people who do. It’s the difference between real and fake ailments.
And anyone with experience with learn to tell the genuine victims from the fakers very quickly. I’ve gotten fairly good at it myself in a short amount of time.
But I’ve been treated like a faker. Faking my problems to get attention has always been disgusting to me, I can’t say that even as a kid I would do that very often, if at all, and as an adult, I don’t pretend to have problems I don’t have.
The lasting damage from being emotionally abused is that I assume everyone disapproves of me, constantly, and it’s taken a whole year and a half away form my dad to even crack that image enough for me to see some light on the other side. I hope one day I will not feel that way at all, but it’s been hard to shake, even after years of trying.
My aunt has been treating us like fakes who are making a mountain out of a molehill, and our dad talked to us the same way. It’s like it’s nothing to them that we got so miserable we had to kick him out or we’d run off ourselves. They don’t get it.
Well, people who refuse to see the obvious cannot be taught, it’s the sad truth.
Remember my last post, when I talked about PH, and how the truth sets Lauren free?
See post here:
But if you can feed yourself with colorful, but empty visions of meaning, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re being cultured, but you are really being conditioned
But valuing God for Himself is the best gift we can have, and that is the thing we struggle with. We devote our time to so much else.
Okay, this isn’t the most serious topic, but sometimes you just gotta blow off steam. I don’t know if the people who read this blog are really the type to read Young Adult or Teen novels, but some of you watch anime, and that’s kind of the same crowd, so… When I was younger, I … Continue reading Why I hate YA novels…but still read them.
Well, it does when she accepts it, there’s plenty of truth she’s still fighting in the story, that’s at the basis of her dysfunction.
And to tell the truth about yourself is very, very hard.
For me, it’s a question I have a lot. Am I a worse person than I realize? Do I lie to myself. Am I not as kind and compassionate as I think?
But even asking that question, in earnest, shows I am more those things than someone like my dad, who will make excuse possibly to his dying day, if yesterday was any indication. I know his father did, I visited him just a day or two before he died. Still full of dishonesty, though he had made huge strides in forgiveness compared to how he’d been a few years ago.
I will say, trying to be better than your abusive parent is a low bar, my dad aimed for that, and failed because he had a warped perception of what “better” really meant. If better meant not smacking us as hard, and raging at us over every little thing, he only succeeded at one of those things. If better meant being less selfish, he never succeeded at all.
“It’s been a long road losing all I own, you don’t know what you got until you’re gone, and it’s a nasty habit, spitting at all you have,
but if you’re doing all the leaving, then it’s never your love lost, if you leave before the start, than there was never love at all.
Heaven knows I’m prone to leave the only God I should’ve loved, but you’re far too beautiful to leave me.” (The Oh Hellos, In Memoriam.)
You shouldn’t aim to be better than someone else, you should aim to be as good as you can be. As loving, as pure, as brave, as wise, and then you have no real limit, you can always grow.
My family and I will find some way to deal with the crazy of our relatives, but we don’t intend to be a part of it.
My sisters and I laugh about how whacked our situation must sound to people who don’t know the intimate details. Our little unit was supposed to be the “normal” one in the dysfunctional family that was the stuff TV shows are made of. My grandmother once attacked some police officer. My step family got into occult stuff. My uncle was in a cult for years. Because my mom is the “sane” one, no one could believe she married my dad, and it’s the main reason us girls turned out as normal as we did. No one thought we’d be the ones to kick someone out and actually mean it, not just doing it for a power move like the rest of the family.
I am learning to think about it less often, I’ve gotten used to it.
I wonder what my dad would think if I told him we’ve been perfectly fine this whole time without him. In fact, we rejoice in his absence, and all of us have had nightmares about him returning. I’ve said I’d go through it all again before I’d live in the same house as him ever.
You can’t imagine till you’ve gone through it what an utter relief it is not to feel your life and happiness depend solely on one person.
I’m sure he can’t fathom it. He thinks we’ll cave. We’ll get tired of this. He doesn’t know I’m already planning my whole life out without him in it as more than a vague figure. Sometimes, the abuse seems unreal to me, like the difference between then and now is so great, I almost can’t believe I was ever in that place.
I am getting used to not being treated like dirt, and I’m determined never to go back to that willingly.
Because I am doing better, it’s easy to question if we have overreacted. If I were just going by my awareness of it, I might think my aunt was right.
But, I know what God has directed us to do, and I do have people to confer with to remember what happened. I don’t think we should harp on it, but it’s important not to forget, because you have to be able to protect yourself by setting boundaries.
All this progress could go away if we let ourselves be deceived again, but we don’t have to let ourselves, it’s a delicate matter, but it’s not impossible.
As far as I’m concerned, reconciliation means we forgive and can be on peaceful terms. We are ready for that, my dad is the one incapable of letting it go. So, it’ll be on him, and there’s nothing more I can do about it.
And that’s okay.
And if you have someone like that, just try to believe, it is not your job to take care of them. You don’t owe them anything.
All we owe each other in this life is love, and respect for each other’s humanity, anything beyond that is something you have to choose carefully to offer the trustworthy people. No one can demand it, if they try, they won’t get it.
I think that’s all I got for now. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.