scared child

I Don’t Want My Kids to Grow Up the Way I Did

“Don’t do anything. Please. I shouldn’t have fucking told you. It was 10 months ago,” my sister pleaded.

I was furious, numb, livid and calculated all at the same time.

I had just learned that my father had laid a hand on my mother. The same motherf*cker who used to smack the shit out of me growing up.

I thought back to 25 years ago to when he last laid his hands on me. The exact opposite to the upbringing I have given my children.

No one lays a hand on my kids, no one.

That’s the kind of upbringing I don’t want my kids to ever witness or experience. I shelter them from my father. My children are never to be alone with him, never to be transported in a vehicle by him, never to be alone in his care.

My dad is a drunk. He is an alcoholic and a very angry one at that. Nothing can ever mask or suppress my anger with him for my upbringing. I’ve spent countless hours in counseling relaying episode after episode. I’ll never understand why he did what he did. I know I didn’t deserve any of it. I know is that my children will never experience that.

My pre-teen years were filled with fear. As a young girl, you’re supposed to idolize your father, look to him as the vision of what a man is supposed to be. Instead, I cowered when his arm went into the air. I clenched every muscle in my body when he grabbed the wooden ruler off the top of the fridge, the one with the metal edge. I hid and locked the washroom door when he came home from the bars. He needed an outlet when he got home. He needed to unleash his anger at someone. That someone was usually me.

When I was seven, my seventeen-year-old brother ran away. Left. Not to be seen or heard from until I found him via the white pages in a phone book while on an airplane stopover in Halifax, Canada a few years later. I knew he was on the east coast and I scanned multiple phone books trying to find him. One day I struck gold. He didn’t really want to speak to me when I called, but I made him listen.

Not too long after, I heard he moved to British Columbia. I was there without my parents in 1995 for a sports competition. I was almost sixteen and I called to tell him I was coming. I begged him to see me. It was nine years since I had seen him last. We had a lot to talk about.

Why did you go? Why didn’t we hear from you? What happened?

More importantly, I wanted to tell him what I had been through since he’d left.

One of the most vivid memories I shared was a night our Dad had drove himself home from the bar. He was drunk, which was normal. I don’t quite remember what set him off when he got home, but I do remember him rolling around on the floor and crying that he was ugly because he had a big nose. It was everyone’s fault but his.

When he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, my father was usually on my case about my grades. They were high, but he wanted to know where the rest of them were. That last 3-5% that makes up 100.

He also got on my case about wasting my golf talents. I had a good swing, but I didn’t have the drive to do anything about it. That pissed him off because he thought I could be his retirement package. You know, live off my abilities. Dad had once had a great career, but was injured on the job, and couldn’t do it anymore, therefore the world owed him. He has this incredulous entitlement mentality. And because I was his child, I owed him.

He “masked this pain” with alcohol and lashed out with his words and his hands when he deemed it necessary. With my older brother gone, I was next in the line of fire. I was a disappointment. I had all the abilities in the world, but I wouldn’t do anything great enough for him.

In hindsight, it was a good thing he chose me as his target. I was the strong one. I was the tomboy, the jock.

My little sister didn’t have to take a licking when I was around. That licking was reserved for me.

One day, the tides turned. It was a combination of my not wanting to take it anymore, my anger boiling over and my Dad’s declining health. He could no longer catch me, I outran him. He was too slow taking a swing, I could block and counter before he landed. There was nothing he could say to me anymore. I was on fire, in my soul, in my heart, and in my mind.

He can’t touch me now—he’s old, crippled and a sad, pathetic piece of shit. He is an asshole, but he is still my Dad. We’ve tried to help him many, many times over the last couple decades. Nothing has worked. His ailments have landed him in the hospital numerous times, even on life support. He’s been told by his GP, his cardiologist and any other specialist he has seen that he should not drink anymore. Still, every time he comes out of the hospital looking for the bottle of rye or vodka or rum or his beer. It doesn’t matter how many times we clean him out, it keeps resurfacing.

I carry a huge chip on my shoulder with his name on it. That chip is my protector, my barrier and my safety. That chip has a wicked hook and a jab that he never expected. That chip is a constant reminder of the life I want to give my children. My children will never witness their grandfather swinging at their mother. My children will never have a drunk parent rolling on the ground. My children will never see a parent that out of control and violent.

And now I sit here in the dark, in my parent’s living room, at the age of 39. In the wee hours of the morning as everyone sleeps soundly, I wonder how I am going to deal with the fact that my father has laid his hands on my mother for the first time in many years.

Someone has to protect my mom.

And this is yet another example of the childhood or life experience I don’t want my kids to ever have.

This post was submitted anonymously.

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