Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tough Conversations

I'm going to get a bit heavy here folks. I'm writing what I'm about to share more to heal my heart than anything else, but hopefully it can help heal someone else out there too.

Growing up, my father was emotionally, physically, and psychologically abusive toward me. I have had very heartfelt talks with my mother (they have long been divorced) and learned that he was also abusive to her. For years each of us didn't realize we were victims of abuse, because he is very good at making you feel as if YOU are the crazy one.

Three months ago my father was arrested for domestic violence against his current wife, with whom he has a 6 year old daughter. Somehow, again, he convinced all his friends and his wife that SHE had gone crazy and started "hurting herself". She reached out to me. She felt scared and alone. I kept telling her, That is not what love is. That is not what marriage is. She deserves respect. No one has the right to touch her, in any way, without permission. Should she continue to stay in such a situation, her daughter will grow up thinking this is what love looks like; this is what marriage looks like; this is what she should seek in a partner. Unfortunately at the time, she was not ready to hear what I was saying.

I am glad to say today she called me to let me know she is packing and leaving. She is getting assistance to find a job, find a home, and care for her daughter.

Of course, my father is quite upset with me that I would "take her side". My grandmother and great-grandmother are also quite upset with me. They invoke the term "family" as if my genetics are more important than my values. They say things like, "after all we've done for you."

On the subject of "family"- I have learned over the last few years that family has much less to do with your genealogy and much more to do with finding people with whom you share values, support, and love. There are people I've known for less than three years who are more family to me than some of my relatives ever have been. Furthermore, anything my father has ever done for me has been a fulfillment of his parental responsibility. I owe him nothing for that, nor does any child owe their parent anything. No child chooses to be born or to be raised by which family. Parents make the choice to be parents, and in so owe their children the very best they can give. In order for me to fulfill my parental responsibility of giving my children the best I can, I choose to stand by my values and not associate with people who clearly go against them.

And so there is the basis of the tough conversation I had to have, which I'd mentioned a few days go. It was hard. It was emotional. But it was also liberating and strengthening.

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