Tag Archives: Domestic violence

Do not let your anger lead you into sin

Frustrated man isolated on white

“There’s good anger and bad anger. If you’re driving and a traffic officer finds some non-existent fault with your driving skills or your car, then goes ahead to ask for bribe so he can let you off the hook without getting the concerned authorities involved, if you didn’t get angry there would clearly be something wrong with you. Or if you saw injustice being perpetrated and didn’t get angry, then there would definitely be something so wrong with you.” These were my priest’s sentiments during mass a couple of Sundays ago, and I couldn’t agree more with him.

For starters, life is not perfect, and for that simple reason, it would be practically impossible to always be happy. Nonetheless, anger becomes a sin or just frowned upon when in anger, someone goes and does something so appalling. For instance, a man may find his wife in bed with another man. To any reasonable person, the husband –in such a situation- has all the right to get angry.

However, even in that moment of extreme anger, he should take some time to calm down, so he doesn’t do something that might have the law qualify his right to freedom; when he’s apprehended and subsequently incarcerated for doing something atrocious in the heat of passion, say killing the wife or the other guy.

In reality, there are many people who have found themselves in such undesirable circumstances. I always wonder; when the anger has subsided and someone realizes they did something so dreadful, do they wish they could turn back the hands of time, so they could do things differently? Personally, I know there are many times I’ve done things in anger, which I’ve regretted a lot.

There are a few bible phrases on anger, which I always keep referring to: for instance, Ephesians 4: 26 – “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day”. This, in my understanding, means one can get angry but they shouldn’t go to bed with the anger in their hearts.

My dilemma…

A couple of weeks ago I had a phone conversation with this guy I really like. He was calling to ask me out but since I have my reservations about us dating, I felt I needed to explain why I was opposed to it.

“I told you I hate being lied to?” I asked, referring to a conversation we’d had two days before then.

“Yes.”

“In the spirit of honesty, I feel I owe you some truth.”

“What truth?” He asked, his voice so calm, ready to hear me out.

I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it, but I knew I had to say it anyway. “I’m in a dilemma…” I started, my fingers crossed, praying that whatever I was about to say wouldn’t upset him. “Remember the other night, when you told me, that when you decide to get married you will think of me?”

“Yeah…”

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” I continued.

“You’ve been thinking about it? So you took me seriously?” He asked light-heartedly. “I’m humbled that you take me serious enough to even think about it.”

At the time, all I just wanted was to say what was troubling me so I could just get it out of my system. I wanted us to be on the same page, so he wouldn’t feel like I was leading him on or anything of the sort. “There’s something personal I need to tell you. Don’t judge.”

He laughed nervously, anticipation getting the better of him. “Of course I won’t judge.”

“The thought of getting married terrifies me.”

Honestly I don’t remember much of the immediate conversation after that but what I gladly noted was that he wasn’t pissed… Instead he calmly told me whatever he’d said was not cast in stone and it’s not like anyone was holding a gun to anyone’s head. In short, the proposal wasn’t final and there was more than enough room to make adjustments as we go along.

After that very unusual revelation, he sought to find out why I was scared of getting married; you know, trying to understand my background and what could have led to my startling stance on matters marriage.

Again, I found myself in another quagmire; the pain of having to narrate my ever traumatizing past to someone who could potentially be my better half. I tried to find the words to explain to him how my childhood experiences have contributed to this very disturbing notion I have of getting hitched to anyone.

Since I’d hinted at something, I knew I had to shed some light somehow; unfortunately words failed me. First I made him understand that I’m not really used to talking about myself, leave alone divulging information that could paint my family in very bad light. I further explained that normally I just let the matter slide without offering any explanation.

The difference in this case was this is a guy I actually like, and the nicest guy I’ve met in my life so far. I didn’t want to hurt him in any way, or even give him the slightest feeling that I was rejecting him. Ergo, I knew either way I had to find suitable words to describe the painful pictures from my past, no matter how hard it felt.

My chest rose and I exhaled loudly as I tried to find those elusive words… “God help me!” I sighed. “Do I have to?”

“Yes.”

“You’re not making this any easy,” I complained, hoping he would just let it go.

“I just want to understand you.”

After more sighs, I attempted to elucidate… “I can’t tell you much for now, but in a nutshell, I had a damaging childhood. I’ve watched my parents and the life they lead is not something I’m in a hurry to get into.”

“Are they your biological parents?” He asked, in his very calm, reassuring voice.

“Yeah, they’re my birth parents.”

“Are they separated?” He asked, concern in his voice.

“No. But it’s been pretty bad.”

“So your mom is not happy?”

“Basically.”

The rest of the conversation was him trying to get the truth out of me. He even went to an extent of telling me some pretty personal stuff-his background and all-just so I would find the courage to confide in him. But as it turns out, I didn’t reveal much anyway. One thing I made clear though is that we would be done the instant he proposed marriage and it felt very comforting to know he understood me, even though I had left so much unsaid.

I have known this guy for only three months, and so far he’s been nothing but good to me. He’s kind, understanding, generous, patient, very chivalrous… he’s just everything I would ever want in a husband…

let go of the past

However, there’s just one major hurdle. The instant he mentioned marriage, mom’s painful marital life sprung to mind and all my defences went up. I started seeing younger versions of my sisters and I crying, watching helplessly as dad rained blows on her, and we feared he would kill her… I remembered the many nights we slept hungry because mom didn’t have a job, while dad wasted his money in bars.

The irony of it all is that while in my life dad is the worst man I’ve known (relationshipwise), this guy (if his very good personality isn’t just a charade) is the best man I’ve met so far. Now the worst part is that the fear of reliving mom’s pain-filled life won’t let me have the peace of mind I need to be in a meaningful relationship.

So far we’re only friends, and lately he’s been asking me out a lot. Light-heartedly, he says I’m difficult, but I also feel he’s stubborn; he won’t take any no from me and in any case, he seems so ready to do whatever it is he feels will make me happy-except let me go.

Nothing good comes from drinking

risque dance moves

Alcoholism or any other type of drug addiction doesn’t just affect the person who partakes of the drug, but other members of the family. The last time I had an argument with dad, he said he’d been drinking for the last thirty years. Long before my sisters and I were born. “It’s my money,” he’d argued.

Ever since that day, I leave the room whenever he starts fighting. It had not hit me, until my friend Susan pointed it out, that my parents are both adults and because of that I should just let them handle their own issues. It felt like a hard truth, but nowadays I’m always reminding myself that, whenever I find myself compelled to intervene.

Not arguing with dad takes lots of strength. He says very hurtful stuff that tempts one to give him a piece of their mind. Nonetheless, I always bite my tongue when I feel the urge to talk back. I will myself to forget the fact that he drinks more than his age permits and that he talks a lot of crap.

Last Friday when he came home from work (he comes home on weekends then leaves early Monday morning), he arrived around seven in the evening and went straight to the bedroom to drop his stuff off then left minutes later. My big sister tried convincing him to stay so we could catch up but he wouldn’t hear any of that.

He came home around four in the morning and didn’t go to sleep. At around five in the morning I heard him tell mom he was taking the car to the carwash. I imagined he was just making some lame excuse so he could go out drinking again. I’m not sure if he went or not because I drifted into slumber.

In the afternoon he emerged from the bedroom and he passed by the kitchen, where I was and said hi. Judging by how he was dressed I assumed he was leaving. I didn’t even know he was in the house. He looked so sleepy, drunk and worn out. I doubt he had slept.

“Are you leaving?” I asked.

“Yes,” he nodded, slipping into the shoes he had left near the door when he came in. Right then, my small sister came.

“You look so tired,” she noted.

“I am,” dad affirmed. “I didn’t sleep.”

“Then go sleep,” I suggested nicely.

“I don’t sleep.”

“You’re only exhausting yourself. It’s your body you are hurting.”

“Even where I stay, I don’t sleep.”

I didn’t want to argue with him, so I just went back to the kitchen. When mom came home in the evening she told us dad had gone to visit his elder brother. I wondered why he would go to his brother’s without letting us know, but then I was relieved because the entire time I thought he was somewhere in a bar drinking his wits away.

At around ten at night he came home. He didn’t appear drunk but I could tell he wasn’t sober either. When he came in he gave me his wallet, watch and car keys to take to take to their bedroom and he just crashed on the couch.

It was my small sister’s day to cook, but since she didn’t want to talk to dad she told me to ask him if he wanted anything. He didn’t say a word; he only waved his hand without looking my way. Relatively, I would term that polite. Normally he just barks rudely. I bet that is why my sister didn’t want to ask him.

He seemed bored. We didn’t know what to think as he’d just come from his brother’s and he wasn’t saying how his day was. We let him be. About an hour later he rose and went to bed. Mom said goodnight and followed him.

The next day he didn’t offer to tell us what had happened at his brother’s place, so we didn’t ask. With dad it’s kinda hard to tell what ticks him off, especially at times like that. Monday morning he didn’t go back to work as he had some financial issues to sort out; but when he came home late at night he started fighting. I was tired after a long day running errands, so I got up and went to bed.

Tuesday he left in the morning and came home again at night. Shortly before he came in, mom got a call from her sister-in-law (dad’s brother’s wife). I couldn’t get what she was saying but judging from mom’s dull responses I deduced it wasn’t the usual niceties they exchange.

When she hang up my sisters and I were only too eager to ask what she was saying. Turns out she-my aunt-was mad at dad for two main reasons: One, he had made her husband-dad’s brother- who is a recovering alcoholic drink. And because of that he had a very bad night.

Since my uncle has reached a point where his body can’t stand alcohol he throws up in his sleep and that makes it dangerous as he could choke to death. My aunt had nothing good to say about dad. Two, when dad started dancing he held her inappropriately, in her husband’s presence and for that she felt very disrespected.

About a fortnight ago dad insisted on taking us to see this new joint in town and since we were on our way home, we agreed, thinking it would only take a few minutes. Two bottles later and he was already hitting the dance floor.

Some other lady, who I assumed was already drunk, came and started making some risqué dance moves, trying to rub her groin against dad’s, but thankfully he pushed her away politely. I don’t know if it was because he knew we were watching but I was relieved.

I imagined how awful mom must have felt. If dad took those club moves to my uncle’s, I understand why my aunt felt disrespected.

Memoirs of a battered woman

Domestic violence

It was a late Sunday night. All the lights in the nearby houses were off, a clear indication everyone was asleep as the landlady’s dogs growled fiercely, sending chills down the spines of all who heard them. The night was quiet, and the dogs’ barking was the only sound tearing through the silence, and I hated the sound; because I associated it to break-ins.

The neighbourhood we lived in wasn’t the safest, given that our landlady’s son was a young man, who had recently cleared from high school and had joined a gang which used to break into people’s houses. A few recent burglaries made me so afraid of the night as that meant thieves were free to roam.

Unfortunately, in my house we used to sleep late. It had become a tradition. Dad would come home late drunk, and we would be eagerly waiting for him to bring us food, even though most nights the wait would be for naught as we would still go to bed hungry and crying after seeing mom and dad fight. That night however, as we were sitted in the living room we heard a knock on the door.

At first we were all afraid but when the knocking persisted, mom peeped through the window which was adjacent to the door and seeing it was just her friend, she opened up. The woman, who we had visited earlier in the day walked in, dressed in dark clothes and a shawl over her head. She was a bit reluctant to drop the shawl, and when she finally did, I understood why.

Her face was all swollen, with dried blood stains. I could barely recognize her. To this day, I’ve never forgotten how shaken I felt. She looked so different. Luckily for us, mom and dad hadn’t fought that day and dad had gone to bed early, so mom and her friend had all the time to talk. When we managed to get a chance to talk to mom, we curiously asked her what had happened to her friend because she seemed like she had been mugged.

I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but mom told us her friend’s husband had beaten her. I couldn’t believe it. She had been okay earlier when we visited her at her place after church. Worse still, her house was almost an hour away from ours if one walked and apparently, she had come on foot, alone in the dark. Everything about that picture was scary.

I’m not sure if we were on holiday but the next day my mom and I saw her off at the bus stop, where she took a bus to go back to her mom’s. She had left her four children with her husband. When her husband attacked her she had fled out of the house with no money on her; only with the clothes on her back. It was really sad.

I knew her husband, and he didn’t seem like the violent type. Then again, it’s hard telling men who are violent just by looking at them; dad looks like he couldn’t possibly harm a fly; looks can be deceiving.

After that day I don’t remember seeing much of her as I went to boarding school later so I didn’t tag along often everytime mom went to see her as she was her best friend at the time. All I know is she later went back to her husband.

Years later, she went to see mom at work the Thursday before mom quit her job. They don’t see each other a lot because we moved to a different part of the city and the long distance sought of put a barrier in their relationship. They talk on phone rarely but they are still good friends.
When she visited mom at work, she told mom she’s now separated from her husband.

Sombrely, she went on to tell mom the events that led to their separation and I must admit; it was pretty ugly: One night her husband came home, wielding a sword. Her youngest daughter was away in boarding school, while the oldest was in her college hostel.

She was in the house with her third born daughter. Her only son was just nearby at a friend’s house. Scared, the daughter stood between her mom and dad screaming, shouting for help. Eventually her son came home just in time to find her husband about to slash her. Her son tried to hold his dad from behind but he still overpowered him and hit him on the jaw with the handle.

Her daughter intercepted it, holding the blade with her fingers and she suffered severe cuts, with her fingers almost falling off. When neighbours came in to help, the man hid the sword and sneaked his daughter, who was bleeding profusely to a nearby health centre. After that incident mom’s friend moved out, taking her children with her.

When mom told me about the incident, I pitied them an awful lot. She has been through so much. I always hate it when my parents fight but I don’t remember dad inflicting such physical wounds on us. With my family, the wounds are mostly emotional. It’s difficult too, but I’d hate to lose my fingers in a one-man-sword fight.

The husband as it is, wants his wife to go back to him. I hate to come off as unforgiving, but given the nature of that man, I would really discourage mom’s friend from being sweet talked into reconciling with him. If she went back, he might succeed in killing her the next time; God forbid!

Such abusive people just need to be left alone.

Wife battering; a sign of love?

battered women

Is there any woman out there who gets battered by her husband/partner and is under the impression the reason he does it is because he loves her? The other day I was listening to this very odd conversation on the radio, where some women were contentedly saying that they do get beaten by their husbands because they love them; what’s more, they said they would totally freak out if their husbands stopped battering them because that would mean they don’t love them anymore and are cheating on them.

I’m not really a relationship guru but isn’t it the other way round? In my opinion, a man doesn’t beat the woman he loves; in any case, he will start beating the one he has when he finds another one who he desires to please and finds his wife/partner a hindrance.

I’m not saying this because I’m married, but because I’ve seen dad act violently towards mom and there is no part of me that’s convinced he did it because of all the love he has in his heart for her. I have never had any evidence of dad cheating on mom, but I remember when I was a kid, some women who were mom’s friends at the time kept telling her the reason he stayed out so late was because he was seeing other women.

I can’t say if it was true or false, but I remember the time those rumours were going round, was when he was so violent. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. From my own understanding of love, one doesn’t hurt a person they love.

We interpret different actions differently, but one thing I have difficulty wrapping my head around is the idea of being beaten by a guy as a sign of love. As a result of the domestic violence I’ve witnessed in my family, I feel I would walk out of a relationship the instant I sense the guy I’m with has violent tendencies.

What people need to understand is the fact that domestic violence (because that is what it is) doesn’t just affect the parents but the children too. A woman might interpret battering as a sign of love but the children interpret it pretty badly.

Once, my aunt told mom, she was so furious with my cousin and as a result she slapped her hard. My cousin’s daughter, who was watching got so annoyed and started hitting her-my aunt-with her tiny flip-flop, asking her to stop hurting her mom.

From the way I understood it, my cousin, who lives in her mom’s house together with her daughter had been coming home late when everyone else was asleep. Her mom tried talking to her about it before, but apparently she wouldn’t listen.

Furious that my cousin wasn’t behaving right, my aunt slapped her. From that, one would reason she was doing what was right for both her daughter and her granddaughter. The four year old girl however, felt her mom was being hurt and went to defend her.

My aunt justifiably did that for love, but did the little girl interpret it as love? That is the same way I feel about men beating their wives. Maybe they feel they have all the reasons in the world to do it, but I don’t interpret it that way. When a man decides to hit a woman, it never comes out as love; at least not to me. And I believe any man who truly loves his wife would totally back me up on this one.

Hitting doesn’t signify love. It’s just one way of demeaning women. The way I see it, under no circumstances should a woman feel her man hit her because he loves her. It just doesn’t make sense.

Lately when I go to get my hair done, there’s this lady I see. She’s a beautiful woman, who runs her own salon nearby. Everytime I see her she’s always in dark sunglasses, even when it’s not sunny. Last Sunday though, I saw her without them on and she had a huge black eye. Based on what I heard from some chatty hairdressers, she was beaten by her husband. No one can convince me that was love.

How does a man who claims to love his woman give her a black eye? An evident sign of battering. This is just one example of battered women; I have atleast a dozen of them, and none of them convinces me wife battering is a sign of love.

If battering was a sign of love, why would victims try to conceal scars under layers of makeup, with some saying they fell in the shower or they ran into a door…etc.? Last I checked, when a woman receives flowers from a guy she loves, she proudly shows them off to friends.

Honestly, if a girlfriend walked up to me and proudly showed me some finger imprints on her cheek where her man hit her, I would be tempted to think she is into BDSM or something of the sought (which is an entirely different thing).

Is there any woman who would honestly want to walk around with a bruised face, or scars hidden under layers of clothing, knowing that her man did that to her? Bruises on a woman’s body only bespeak violence. All I’m saying is; no form of battering should be considered acceptable.

 

Incapable of love

incapable of love

In a previous post I mentioned a very disturbing thing dad did right after grams died. The other day mom expressed her concerns about dad playing some songs that were played at grams’ funeral and since dad was still there I asked her to tell him about it, so we could resolve the issue for once and for all.

He has been playing those songs frequently and somehow I had hoped he would be considerate enough to steer clear of them until she had recovered from the grief of losing her mom a few months ago.

In my opinion, what he fails to realize is that she was very close to her mom and her death affected her a lot. He lacks empathy. From what I’ve gathered, he and his mom were never really close. She was a strict disciplinarian and at some point, due to the conflict of interests he ran away from home. That said, I feel he doesn’t quite understand that special bond between a mother and child.

He never had the pleasure of calling his own mother “Mom.” She forbade her own children from calling her ‘mother’. She never really wanted to accept she was growing old and it’s like she imagined being called mom would emphasize the fact that she was losing her youth.

Making up for lost love

However, we understood that fact a long time ago, and for that we’ve always showed dad so much love, hoping it would in a way make up for his love-deprived childhood, though he hardly reciprocates. I feel he deliberately pushes us away.

Shouldn’t the thought that we try to make him feel loved help him overcome the bitterness from his childhood? I am no shrink, but I imagine my presumptions are not too inaccurate.

What ensued though, was a fight. Dad argued that there’s nothing he does that sits well with mom. “People die, you will die too. Let everyone carry their own cross,” he bit out angrily. I hadn’t seen that coming. Somehow I had imagined he would be like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you felt that way.”

On the contrary, he seemed totally unapologetic. “Let everyone listen to the songs they like,” he seethed.

His response shocked me. I had hoped he would atleast empathize with mom. But then, the more I think of it, the more I realize why he seems incapable of love. The one person, who was supposed to show him how to love, didn’t.

Substandard parenting

I may never have this conversation with his mother-for respect’s sake-but I feel she’s entirely to blame for her children’s misfortunes. As damaged as dad might seem, he appears to be the best of the siblings. That definitely tells a lot about her. She failed her children, now we’re left with the empty shells she raised; mean people who don’t seem to know what love is.

How do we teach dad how to love? How to be empathetic? It’s true what they say about teaching an old dog new tricks; how can we possibly fill his heart with love, when he grew up, not knowing how it feels to be loved? How can he love, if he doesn’t know what love is?

In a twisted kind of love, I talked about how he has a weird way of showing us he loves us. He tells us he loves us, but his actions tell a tale of their own. I don’t remember any single thing dad did for me that made me feel he loves me. I get the impression that every little thing he’s ever done for my sisters and me, he did out of obligation.

When I was small, I managed to overlook his shortcomings. I knew I would have wished for a better dad, but somehow I still loved him, and hoped he would love me back. Now I’m all grown up, and there’s nothing he does that even gives the illusion he is capable of love. In any case, nowadays it even feels worse because he has become an alcoholic so any free time he spends away from the office, he spends it alone, drinking; and most of the time he is plainly hostile.

Neighbours who have come to know the type of man dad is keep telling mom whenever they meet outside, “Be strong.”

After that brief argument, he said goodnight and flounced out of the room. Clearly, it hadn’t gone the way I had expected it to. I know mom has her own shortcomings and all, but that’s not the response I had hoped for. She had approached him meekly, in a conciliatory tone; one that didn’t brook argument, yet he reacted like mom had thrown hot coal at him, throwing hands up in the air and all.

I know dad had a difficult childhood and that’s why he has turned out into the hostile man he is today. However, I believe even though we might not have the power to change the lives we led as kids, life gives us numerous opportunities to forge out our own paths.

It’s not easy trying to ditch one’s past, that much I know; but at the same time I believe that with a little determination one can make so much progress.

 

Love you beer… The confrontation: Part 3

my father is an alcoholic

“I promise you dad, if you address this drinking issue, I will not text you again,” I shouted angrily, “but if you don’t, feel free to block me because I won’t stop.”

“See how she talks to me?” He looked at mom and my sister, who were already standing between me and him, so he wouldn’t hit me.

“If I were you, I’d check into rehab.”

“You think you’re clever?”

“I am clever,” I told him, “That’s why I’m telling you, you have a drinking problem. How can you drink this much, and you’re not even eating?”

“Are you the one who buys me that beer? Just go find a man and get married. And if you keep up with this, your husband will be beating you seriously.”

“Honestly, if this is what you call marriage, and if men are like you, then I would rather stay single.”

Remember that essay I told you I wrote? ‘Why I think you have a drinking problem?’ It’s because I had foreseen that fight, and I didn’t want to be involved in that verbal altercation with him. If only I had given it to him earlier.

I almost complained that a fight mom had provoked was now directed towards me, but then I figured, dad is an alcoholic and he is in denial, and I pointed that out. He definitely had every reason to hate/hit me; speaking from a drunken point of view.

Most of the time, when I’m not in the mood to fight, I leave dad and go to the bedroom even though he interprets it as cowardice and follows me, threatening to hurt me and stuff. On Sunday however, I wanted him to fully understand that I meant everything I was telling him; I decided not to run. If he wanted to take all his rage out on me, then I was going to stand there and let him do it.

See the thing with my father, is when he starts talking, he gets so vulgar, one forgets they are talking to a parent; still, I tried hard not to lose my temper, because I didn’t want to have issues that would take me to the confession booth when the waters had calmed. There’s so much I wanted to say to him, but I restrained myself.

“You’re going to be a truck driver,” he seethed.

“God forbid!”

“I’m not going to pay your fees for law school.”

“This far I’ve come dad, God has brought me. And if it’s His plan that I become a lawyer someday, it won’t be because of you. Besides, I already knew you drank my fees.”

A parent wishes only the best for their children; that’s what people say, right? Well, not my old man. He’s wished very many things upon me, none of them good. I remember this one time he was in my big sister’s bedroom, fighting, and by mistake, as he waved his hands carelessly in the air, he hit a low hanging light bulb and it fell on the floor, shattering into pieces.

That day I hadn’t argued with him, but when he saw me picking the pieces up with a dustpan, he just scoffed, “All you do is clean up. You’re going to be a maid.”

I was hurt, obviously, but slowly I’ve come to understand that’s who he is. So when he said I would be a truck driver, I deduced it was because of the fact I had taken the car without his permission and normally he never lets me drive it unless he really wants me to; when he’s in a good mood, and it has nothing to do with him being protective of his car. I hate to admit it, but he’s just mean.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this, or said it, but dad is just mean. Now that I’m much older, I understand how he was able to spend long hours in bars, leaving three defenceless kids hungry. It’s not my place to judge him, but everytime I see him binge-drinking, I pity him. Soon, my sisters and I will be moving out, and every little thing he does bespeaks anything but love/care.

One might be tempted to think I’m just a crazy girl, desperate to be loved by her father, but honestly, I couldn’t care less if he hates me. When I decided I was going to confront him for his alcoholism, I knew he would hate me for it; but I did it anyway; because I hate the way he treats mom when he is drunk; I hate the man he is when he is intoxicated, and the things he does would make me wish for a better dad if I were still a baby.

No child or woman deserves the drunken treatment he so enthusiastically dishes out. And even he were a woman, no man would deserve such.

I understand alcohol could overpower someone, especially when one becomes addicted to it, but I also imagine, if one truly loved someone, they would give it all up for them. In the text I sent dad, I told him to consider giving it up for mom. He always says he loves her, and when my sisters and I move out, it will be just the two of them left.

What worries me is the thought that I don’t trust him enough to leave mom in his care when we move out. I’m scared he will hurt her, like he did when we were young. He has done it so many times before, and now he drinks more than he did then and he is more violent than he was then. How I’m I supposed to trust he won’t do something stupid?

Love you beer… The confrontation: Part 2

alcoholism

If something unsettles you, it’s better to address it and just get done with it, because waiting for it to happen is much worse… That’s what I was thinking the entire time I was watching dad. He’s really not the forgiving/forgetting type. Even if he doesn’t confront someone for something they did, he will eventually. I was waiting for the façade to come down; for him to finally confront me, problem is, I didn’t know how long it would take before he got tired of pretending everything was hunky-dory.

Two and a half hours later, he came back, visibly drunk. Mom had already gone to bed. He went straight to the bedroom. He didn’t ask for food, and no one asked if he was hungry. When he is drunk we prefer to let him be because talking to him would be opening sluice-gates to incessant carping. The night was too serene to ruin it with drunken ramblings.

Relieved that he was safely home, my sisters and I sat down to watch the fifth season of the vampire diaries. At eleven forty five, almost an hour later, dad walked into the living room and without a word he left the house.

At around two in the morning, my sisters went to bed and shortly after, mom woke up. She was stressed dad was out that late. Seeming distraught, she asked what time he had left. Seeing her so troubled reminded me what had led me to text dad on Tuesday morning; when he starts drinking, he can’t seem to stop, until he runs out of money.

By the time I went to bed at four, my old man was nowhere in sight. After saying my night prayers, I went to check on mom and found she had already gone to bed. Empathizing with her, I switched the lights off and went to bed.

Sunday morning, my alarm went off at seven forty five, and though I was sleepy, I knew I had to wake up to prep for church; however, sleep overpowered me and I drifted back into slumber, until my small sister came to wake me up at eight thirty. I didn’t have much time to prepare so I got up, prayed and got out of bed.

I didn’t know what time dad had come but my big sister told me he’d come in the morning. I wasn’t surprised; that seems to be something he is doing a lot lately. Mom had already left for the mid-morning mass, my big sister wanted to sleep in after a gruelling week interning and attending classes, and dad didn’t pick up when I tried calling him; he was in a deep sleep.

I took the car keys and asked my big sister to tell him I took the car. I knew he wouldn’t be too pleased but seeing as he couldn’t drive, I knew it was a necessary risk as my small sister and I were already getting late for church.

When we got back home later in the afternoon, dad had just woken up. He didn’t complain I had taken the car; instead he just greeted us, and left, again. He came back at around seven in the evening, took some more money and left again. He showed up two hours later, looking pretty much at ease.

Mom and I left to go sign in at the gate. It’s a security measure taken to keep tabs on all residents/non-residents, who come into the estate. When I drove in earlier, I hadn’t signed in because I had thought dad would, but then he didn’t. After signing in, we walked back to the house, and found loud music playing.

Other than the fact that it’s against estate policy, it was just too loud. I gestured to my dad, to turn the volume down.

“It’s too loud?” He shouted.

I nodded, and he acquiescently turned it down. A while later, he rose and left for the bedroom. Minutes later, he walked back to the living room, headed for the main door. Mom couldn’t take it anymore. She walked to him and asked him, evidently shocked, “You’re leaving again, at this time?”

“I’m not talking to you, unless you want us to fight,” he barked.

“Just tell us if there’s someone you can’t stand in this house. You’ve been drinking since you came. You spent the whole night out, and now you want to leave again.”

“I was listening to music and you said it was too loud, so now I’m leaving.” He threatened to hit her, but then mom told him if he dared she would call the cops on him. It wouldn’t be his first time to spend the night behind bars; eight year ago, he was at it, disrupting peace in the house when mom called the police and they took him away.

When the police came in that night I was at the verge of hitting him on the head with a soda bottle, in defence. I shudder at the thought of what could have happened had the police not showed up in time. It’s a dreadful night I try to forget.

Just like that, everything turned chaotic, everyone talking at the top of their voices, and finally dad managed to get whatever had been troubling him off his chest.

“You started this,” he yelled at me. “You are your mother’s accomplice. Don’t send me those silly texts again.”

“You need to get help dad,” I shouted. “You have a drinking problem.”

“I’ve had it with you,” he snarled.

Love you beer… The confrontation: Part 1

alcoholism 2

After texting dad, asking him to reconsider his love for beer, we didn’t get to talk and he never texted back. In preparation for his arrival, I wrote down a short essay, ‘Why I think you might have a drinking problem’, listing all the things he does that have led me to the conclusion he is an alcoholic, and furthermore attaching some receipt he’d drunkenly left lying around to support my findings.

It might sound extreme that I went to such an extent but I figured if he started accusing me of ‘calling him an alcoholic’, even though I hadn’t said it like that, he wouldn’t give me a chance to explain. On the other hand I also figured, if he didn’t rip the papers in anger, curiosity would get him to read them.

He had already asked mom to tell me to stop sending him silly texts, so I sought of had an inkling what mood he was in. I hoped to convince him my complaints weren’t just based on hearsay or things I had just concocted.

He was supposed to come home Friday evening but instead, he texted mom around eight at night, telling her he was in bed; he wasn’t coming. I know he gets lonely out there because he goes for a whole week without seeing us but somehow, as much as I empathized with him, I felt relieved he wasn’t coming.

It’s been a while since he failed to come home on weekend. The only time he doesn’t come is when he has so much work he needs to finish up in the office, especially after being on leave. So when mom told me he wasn’t coming, I imagined it had something to do with the text.

Based on previous incidents, I assumed it had gone two ways: either he had felt so ashamed that I had candidly pointed out he had a drinking problem and would try to make up for his shortcomings, or he had gotten so furious and would spend each minute of his time home threatening to snap my neck.

Well, I’m not sure he is capable of actually causing me such physical harm but nowadays there’s no telling what he can/can’t do when he’s under the influence. When the beer goes to his head he does crazy things. I hadn’t seen him since I texted him that Tuesday morning, but I knew things wouldn’t be all rainbows and unicorns when he came.

alcoholism 3

Saturday afternoon, my small sister told my big sister and me dad had called mom; he was on his way, coming home. I had imagined he would be coming the following weekend. Somehow I felt disappointed. The uncertainty made me tense up for a while, but then I reminded myself why I had sent him that text in the first place; he’s drinking a lot, and someone had to tell him.

While we were waiting for him, my big sister got a call from a friend; a lecturer she had grown to like had been MIA for a while. Reason being that he had been involved in an accident and no one knew of his whereabouts. Distressed, she called him up but his phone was off. That only had her more worried.

It was while I was comforting her, telling her not to worry and all, that dad came. When I opened the door, I didn’t know whether to smile or remain poker faced, but when I extended my hand, he pulled me and hugged me.

That, I had seen coming.

Surprised, I hugged him back. He had beer on his breath, so I assumed he had been drinking before he got home. But I didn’t care; he already knew what I felt about him binge-drinking, and that’s all that really mattered. My big sister was still feeling down and he tried finding out what was wrong with her, though she remained mum. He went straight to the bedroom and came out a few minutes later, before leaving again.

He came back almost two hours later with mom and left again right after. I couldn’t quite figure if he was happy or mad, though he seemed unperturbed; however, I knew there was a storm brewing underneath his cool exterior. It wouldn’t be long before he eventually flipped his lid…

An encounter with my younger self

If you met up with your younger self, say in another dimension, what would you tell him/her? Like in the Disney movie: The Kid, starring Bruce Willis, where his persona-Russ Duritz, a highly sought after image consultant, meets his younger self, Rusty Duritz, played by Spencer Breslin.

In the movie, Russ is impolite and has a very strained relationship with his father. Then he meets Rusty, who asks him if he is already become a pilot, if he has a dog named Chester and if he’s already married, to which he replies no. He tells young Rusty that he can’t be able to handle dogs because of his constant travelling, and he is not a pilot but an image consultant and he doesn’t have a wife yet. Rusty tells him he dislikes his future.

When Russ’ assistant, Amy, meets the young boy she sees so many similarities with the two so she assumes Rusty is Russ’ son but later they tell her the truth. Russ mocks Rusty because of his weight and he finds him a bother, ever afraid that the boy will embarrass him. However, Amy likes Rusty and tells Russ he should try to learn more from him.

Russ finally decides to make time for Rusty, deciding it was time he learned why the young boy is there and if there’s something he needs to fix from his past. He recalls a fight he had on his birthday and that takes them back in time. Rusty has a fight in school where he was being bullied but because Russ had taught him how to ward off bullies, Rusty wins the fight.

Afterwards they go back home, where Russ meets his embittered dad, who admonishes Rusty, manhandling him and the boy starts crying. Russ comforts him, telling him that his dad was only scared because his mom was dying and he was afraid of raising a young boy alone.

They then go to a diner, where they talk about the fight earlier; how Rusty beat the bullies and they congratulate each other. While they are still talking a dog walks up to Rusty and they hear an older Russ call the dog Chester. They both run out and find he has a red plane. Rusty and Russ learn that in late middle age they will become a pilot, have a dog and marry Amy, who will be the mother of their children. Excited, they realize they both changed the future, after which old Russ and Rusty return to their own time.

That’s just a fictional story, but today when I woke up, right before I said my morning prayers, I wondered what I would tell my younger self, teenage Aly, to be precise. Because the things I did/didn’t do as a child somehow shaped my life into what it is today. That’s how I remembered the movie.

As a child I was just introverted, never divulging much. Everyone who knew me branded me ‘the quiet one’. When I wasn’t being ‘quiet’ I had very violent outbursts. Even teachers and fellow students in school knew I was a walking time bomb. As I got into teenage hood, I started experiencing panic attacks and since then, they have always been with me and honestly, there’s nothing pleasant about it.

For the better part of my teenage years, I spent most of my life in and out of hospitals, getting treated for anxiety-related illnesses. If I knew what I know now, chances are I would have sailed happily through teenage hood.

From how I decipher it, all those times I spent in solitude gave me so much time to analyse everything, the good and the bad in depth. I wasn’t talking much, so whenever I had anything troubling me, I internalized it and from that stemmed a deep sitted fear, which eventually morphed into an anxiety disorder.

Most of my thoughts and my perspective of things in general leaned towards pessimism. Because of that, I found myself battling constantly with a racing heart and frantic thoughts…it was chaotic inside; I was always feeling restless. Sometimes I wished my body wasn’t mine, just so I could enjoy some peace of mind, some tranquillity, even if for just a short while.

When I was away in boarding school I would always wonder how mom was doing; if dad was hurting her, and when I went back home during the holidays the situation at home didn’t help either. Mom and dad would be caught up in regular fights. For someone struggling with anxiety issues, that only aggravated my disorder.

If I met my younger self, I would tell her not to worry too much. Parents fight sometimes but it doesn’t always mean they hate each other or they will kill each other. Sometimes I look at my parents and I get the impression they love each other a lot, it’s only that sometimes they seem to have so many conflicting interests.

I would also ask my younger self to go out more and interact with people. This is because I feel I spent too much time alone, mulling over things and that’s how I always managed to get so anxious. It is indeed true that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Most importantly, I would remind her she is not alone. I would tell her that God is always watching over her and even though she may feel things are not going the way she expects, He only wishes the best for her. I would ask her to trust Him more, and to live in the moment, taking one day at a time, without worrying about the future.