Jane's personal story
Sunday, March 17, 2019
One in Three Campaign

Growing up my mother was very emotionally/verbally abusive toward my father. I've never really talked about this before, but after reading so many of these stories in which men stay with abusive women for the sake of the kids, I'm going to go ahead and do so.

My mother is one of those people who isn't happy unless she has someone to hate. That person was usually my dad, but he worked out of town a lot and when he wasn't there that person was me, the oldest child. She was often cruel to me, telling me she wished I'd never been born because I ruined her life and such, but the pain of that sort of thing was nothing compared to hearing her say terrible things about my dad, or, when he was there, to him.

He was a wonderful dad and I loved him fiercely. At the same time, though, I dreaded him coming home, because that meant non-stop screaming and yelling between him and my mom. Sometimes I'd catch myself wishing he wouldn't come home... then I'd be terrified that my wish would cause him to die (so he wouldn't come home) and I'd spend all night crying, looking out the window for his headlights and taking back my wish with all my might.

Sometimes my mom would rip into him with such cruelty that he'd start crying. When that happened sometimes I'd think about sneaking into their bedroom and killing my mom in her sleep. Those thoughts also terrified me, ripped me to pieces, because she is, after all, my mom; she wasn't pure evil, sometimes she was very kind and fun, and I couldn't help loving her despite her cruelty.

The conflict of loving both one's parents while simultaneously wishing one of them would be gone for the sake of the other is a special kind of hell that children aren't equipped to deal with.

If my parents were in general proximity to each other they were guaranteed to be screaming at each other. My sisters and I spent countless nights under beds or in closets, covering our ears with pillows, trying not to hear the words that hurt as much as any physical blow. I still can't explain why our parents yelling at each other was so scary - there was never any physical violence and us kids were generally ignored when they had each other to yell at - but it was very frightening all the same.

We lived in a small town and the whole neighbourhood could easily hear their fights. Most of my friends weren't allowed to come to my house because of the fighting. Us kids got a lot of sympathy from the neighbours, always offering a place to stay and such if things got bad at home; while that was kind of them, it was also humiliating. I'm 40 years old now and still too ashamed to contact anyone I knew as a kid, be it my peers or their parents.

When I was 16 my parents finally got divorced. We were all so, so much happier. My dad only got to see my sisters a couple times a year (due to distance), which was sad for him and them, but it was worth the trade-off overall. I know that sounds terrible and in some ways it is, but it was much less terrible than the almost daily torture sessions of before.

The pain of abuse is often worse when it is targeted at someone you deeply care for. Wouldn't you gladly take a blow or an insult for your child, to spare them that pain? Your child would do the same for you, for the same reasons.

My point here is, leaving, even if it means you don't get to see your kids very often, is not necessarily the worst decision for them. Us kids were aware that our mom was kind of nuts and we never held any resentment toward our dad, nor did we believe for a moment the lies she tried to tell us about him. I remember being conscious of her lies as young as 5; small children may not be able to articulate this sort of thing, but, I believe, they often know exactly what's going on.

I wish you all the best and am truly sorry you have such hurtful people in your lives.

Article originally appeared on One in Three Campaign (http://www.oneinthree.com.au/).
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