The #metoo that’s going around has had me at odds with whether or not I wanted to talk about it, but after reading about Joy Bryant, my heart broke as I found a touching similarity to her story. Read it here… Joy Bryant’s story
I do not know the entirety of the story behind my conception save for the he say/she say versions my parents have served up, but I do know that neither parent knew how to parent well. Their varied backgrounds prevented them from loving their children in the right way.
From what I’ve learned of my father’s childhood it was violent, angry, bitter, and strict. He was academically smart; however, his father prevented him from seeking further education , so he filtered his skills into being a good craftsman and working with his hands. His relationship with his mother was tenuous and the foundation for his misogyny. My father was an extremely attractive man and that parlayed into his ability to score women and oftentimes in inappropriate ways.
After conversations with my half-sister and his current last wife, I learned some extremely ugly things about my father, and while I was in many ways appalled, I can’t say I was entirely shocked, as I saw things first hand growing up that my half-siblings did not and it set the tone for how I viewed him. I saw women come and go on the weekends I spent with him, and learned not to get attached to any of them because I didn’t know how long they’d last. Some were nice and some were not, but again, it didn’t really matter because I wasn’t sure if they’d last as I said. This fluctuation in women translated into my inability to bond with women or even fully trust them since some of the women my father dealt ill treated me.
I learned how abusive my father then, and as recent as this February when he passed, I learned more. And again, while disturbing, I was not entirely shocked, but what sickened me the most was hearing my half-sister detail her own conception, which led me to thinking, I could have very well been conceived the same way…out of violence/force/coercion…Rape!
I wanted to ask my mother about it, but don’t really want to dredge up the past and have her go into one of her many tirades about my father. I’d actually rather know about her childhood and relationship with her mother. Her father passed when she was two. She’s never really detailed what it was like growing up, but from the fragments I’ve heard from my deceased aunt/uncle and my mother’s sister, it wasn’t great. The little she’s shared about her relationship with my father was drenched in bitterness and anger.
About ten years ago, she blurted out that he raped her, but I dismissed it, not that I didn’t believe her, but she said it in mixed company; (around MY friends) and it was an inappropriate time and place for such a revelation. I never brought it up again. Given what I learned from my half-sister, previous conversations with my half-brother, and my father’s last wife, I don’t dispute my mother’s revelation. I don’t have any resentful or angry feelings about it in all honesty because I had an acrimonious and tenuous relationship with my father anyway. I have long since reconciled my feelings; or lack thereof toward him, so when he passed, I was completely fine. I’d been previously estranged from him for ten years and it wasn’t until 2007 that I allowed myself contact with him again. Those seven years were fraught with drama and I merely tolerated his existence all while forging a very close relationship with his now widow of whom he treated her poorly too!
I have always had an oil and water relationship with my mother; a little similar to how Ms. Bryant explained hers with her mother. She was verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive toward me and there were a few extreme physically violent episodes too. I think there was a lot of envy that she had toward me as I succeeded in things she’d hoped to and she found ways to either take credit for my accomplishments, demean them in some way, or find ways to steal the spotlight. The myriad of things she’s done to assassinate my character, make assumptions about me, or misrepresent the facts of my life has caused a lot of hurt and pain over the years and fractured my relationship with my siblings and my eldest brothers children. (Fortunately, we’ve grown through and past them now – but that was decades in the making) The combination of my mothers abuse and that which I fortunately escaped from my father sexually, served as a painful foundation for my life. For decades, I lived with a level of self-hatred, in spite of the Colgate smile I wore and then somehow amassed herculean strength to overcome all of the pain of the various abuse I endured.
My own #metoo is something I’m choosing not to discuss because it’s not necessary. I know what I went through and what’s more important, is that I came though it to be where I am today. Speaking about the foundation of it all is a sealing part of the healing package. Reading Ms. Bryant’s story allowed me to speak to parts of my #metoo in a different way. I even more understand the adage, “hurt people; hurt people“. I make zero excuses for my parents behaviour in any way as it is inexcusable. I just see it all for the ugly truth that it is. MY truth! MY healing! MY catharsis! MY closure!
I wholly empathize with the women; and men, that have been sexually assaulted, molested, raped, and/or sodomized. I wholly empathize with those who have been abused in any way and I stand in solidarity with those who’ve had the courage to speak up about their experiences. I understand why it was “easier” to not say anything than to speak up. I commend those who now have come forward and are speaking publically about their experiences. I silently pray for those who still do not have the voice or courage to speak up and pray they’ll one day be able to heal and not remain in emotional bondage.
In closing, I hope that we can and will find a way to accept the ugly truth about what is truly an epidemic in society and find ways to embrace and heal those affected and hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. Abuse in its varied forms should not be swept under the rug and victims should not be shamed or disbelieved for speaking up.