Why did you let him abuse us, Mom?

Why did you let him abuse us, Mom?


Mom, WAKE UP. Please. For all our sakes. If not for me, for the four little ones.

Listen. You are sacrificing the psychological and emotional well-being of your children–your children– in favor of always smoothing things over with him. Of placating, pacifying him. Of trying, vainly, futilely, of keeping the peace. That’s how you always phrased it. Keeping the peace.

You know what? That’s not healthy. I know, because I tried, so I could make you happy, so I could keep you from getting in trouble with him.

Please, don’t go away. Sit. Listen. I thought that by pleasing him, by walking carefully on those eggshells, I could protect you. Isn’t that strange? A child protecting her mother? But I thought I could, the same way kids think divorce is all their fault. It’s a fallacy. We really have no control over other people’s lives. We have no control over his choices or actions. If he blows up, it’s his fault. Not yours. Not mine.

Remember the time when the our pew at church was taken because of some special scouting thing, and he made us all sit in last pew in the corner of the church, and people were asking us what was wrong and if we were okay? He had the choice to simply sit in the pew behind the roped off section and to take it in stride. But he chose to throw a temper tantrum and to overreact. He chose to.

Remember how tense he was that one day, before he snapped at Tommy for some little thing? We walked so carefully around him the whole day, but he still chose to snap. No matter how well behaved we were when he was tense, he still chooses to snap over something small and he chooses to allow himself to lose control of his anger. That day, he chose to hit Tommy on the backside over and over and over again. No wonder Tommy laughed nervously, reflexively, when he asked Tommy if he understood his lesson. It was so absurd the way he lost control. It was like a dark comedy. And guess what? He chose, yet again, to completely lose control and hit him with his full strength on his backside, over and over and over again, with such deep red-purple ferocity that scared all of us.

I have many, many examples.

No matter how perfectly we behave ourselves, no matter how perfectly the chores were done, no matter how perfectly we played according to his own ideals, no matter how quickly we fetch things for him, it does nothing, NOTHING, nothing to change his behavior.

No, Mom. Keeping the peace does not work. It only serves to create an even worse environment for the four little ones. You know what would work? Standing up to him. Stand strong. Stand up for the little ones’ sakes. Stand up for what is right. And if what is right means divorce, so be it. Being Catholic doesn’t mean you have to suffer continual emotional and psychological and verbal abuse, nor does it mean you have to subject your children to it.

No, no, believe me, I’m not taking divorce lightly. It’s a grave matter, and I am gravely concerned for my siblings. Either you stand up to him in marriage, or you stand up to him by leaving him and taking the kids.

Which leads me to my question–why?

Why did you support him when he disowned me? Why did you try so hard, so many times, to smooth things over, to put it all on ME to fix things with him when it was his own freaking CHOICE to just abruptly cut me out of the family like that? Why were you so passive? Why do you let him make all your decisions for you? Why do you let him control you so much? Why do you let him create a home full of fear? Why did you let him spew such vitriol at us for upwards of an hour at a time, let him throw away brand new toys in anger, let him kick the dogs, let him hit us? Why did you let him damage us so much that I had nightmares every single night while growing up?

I’m not kidding, Mom, when I said that. After I moved out, I would wake up, screaming in fear and anger many nights. You know it’s bad when I’m profoundly deaf and I can hear myself scream.  It took me years to finally reduce the nightmares to a more rare level.

Why, Mom, why?

It’s okay. I still love you. I’m very angry, and it will take me a long time to ever trust you again, which is why I had, and still have, firm boundaries in place. No manipulation. No more keeping the peace. No more guilt-trips. No more abuse, direct or indirect.

But I still love you.




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