This came across my Tumblr and I have thoughts.
I can not remember a time in my life when I felt like the man who was my father loved me. He spent my entire childhood, indeed he spent every day until I ended contact with both my parents when I was in my 40s, bullying and hurting me. Nothing I ever did was good enough for him, and he made sure I knew it.
And my mother, who stole my childhood from me and forced me to work when I was seven, always made me apologize to him when he hurt me.
The very few times I spoke up to defend myself, or tried to say this wasn’t okay, or ever challenged his endless cruelty to me, he would blow up at me, fly into a rage, while she stood by and said nothing. By the time I was in my teens, I recognized this impotent rage for what it was, and I learned how to not react to it. It turns out that passive resistance was effective, I guess, because after he ran out of rage energy, he would pout and sulk. Then he would ignore me for a blissful day or two, before my mother would start the campaign of manipulation to make me apologize to him, because I’d upset him so much. And don’t I love my dad? Nothing is more important than family, Wil. Don’t you love your family?
The thing is, I never did anything wrong. I was never the aggressor. I was a child, reacting to cruelty and bullying from a man I desperately wanted to love me. I never broke any bonds between us, because he never built them in the first place. I watched him forge bonds with my brother, so I knew he was able to give love to his children, he was just choosing to withhold it from me. And my mother’s solution to this was for me to apologize to him more, apologize harder, be more, be better, be the best. Solve the impossible puzzle and I would be loved and valued just like my brother was. It was all on me. I had to do it alone.
I wasted three decades of my life trying to figure out the right way to apologize to that motherfucker so he would finally love me, before I figured out that he will never love me. He made that choice about 50 years ago and nothing I can do will change that, because it was never about me in the first place.
I just realized that my mother never even acknowledged how much, or how frequently, my dad hurt me.
It’s not like she didn’t know. I told her about it a bunch of times, and I know she saw it happen frequently. She was there when he screamed at me, called me names in front of my friends, jabbed me in the sternum with his finger, daring me to stand up for myself. She was there for all of it, and she pretends that none of it ever happened. And if it did, it was my fault.
I tried to confide in her. I tried to enlist my mother to help me deal with my father, and she was unwilling or unable to do a thing to take care of me, her son. I have no memory at all of her ever telling me she was sorry for how I felt when I confided in her, or that it wasn’t my fault, or suggesting that we sit down with him to talk, or anything like that. I can only remember her telling me (directly or by manipulation) that it was my responsibility to somehow win back his favor. She never protected me, never stood up for me, never even acknowledged that what I was experiencing was real. Gaslighted me about it for literal decades after I had realized she was never going to admit that her husband abused her son while she did nothing to stop it.
When he was … I want to say 68? Right before I divorced them, she proudly told me, “Your father is finally working on his empathy…” Okay, she admits he’s never had any empathy, but if I’d just apologized more, you see…
Jesus. What a shitty mom. What a selfish, shitty mom. After everything she took from me, she couldn’t be bothered to stick up for me when I was hurting in my own home. No wonder I spent so much of my life feeling like a thing to them, and not a son.
I know I’m not the only person in the world who has felt or feels this way, and I wonder if I could have saved myself at least some suffering and pain if I’d figured out sooner than I did that he was never going to love me, doesn’t even like me, never made an effort to get to know me, and that none of that has anything to do with me.
It’s hard not to take it personally, but what other choice do I have? I can not repair a bond I never broke, that probably wasn’t even there in the first place, because it has nothing to do with me. It’s just extremely bad luck to be born to a narcissist and his codependent enabler.
I guess I need to remind myself, and anyone else who needs to hear it today, that it isn’t, wasn’t, and will never be about me as a person. He doesn’t even know me, because he never made the effort. He hates me because he hates himself.
It sucks so much, and it’ll never not hurt at least a little bit. But I am doing everything I can to take care of myself, to be the person I needed and deserve. it is so important to remember that it’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything. He made a choice, she made a choice, and they’re both so selfish and emotionally immature, they don’t care how it affected me.
Because it wasn’t and isn’t about me, and I’m going to keep saying that until it stops hurting.