Question: An abusive father

Grew up with a father who hated me from day1. Beat me black&blue everyday. Mother stood up for me. He tried to kill her once with knife to throat. But he was so loving to my lil sis. At the same time mother was stronger, more dominant than him. Ive always hated him so the divorce when I was 8 made me happy. Divorce took 3 yrs 2 go through. He wanted money from mother. He still harassed us so we moved twice. Years later mother started treating me the way father did physically&emotionally. Every minute of day scream and hits and mean words. Id wake up with butterflies in belly everyday scared of whats going to happen. would sit on park swing for hours after school to avoid going home. but both mother and father were always loving and nice to my lil sis. i love her shes an angel so i understand. aunty and uncles horrible to me too. not lil sis though. so i always said i must be cursed. years later everyone blames me for divorce&family breakdown. deep down it really hurts. What good…

As harrowing as an experience as that is, it has a few blessings in it that are not immediately evident. And I say this with every sensitivity that such an experience deserves, because I can relate to some of it. What you may not realise is that you’ve been afforded an insight into the insecurities of adults that most people barely even realise exists. This results in many, like your parents for example, not knowing how to deal with these insecurities when it arises.

As a parent myself, I can assure you that it’s easy to project my shortcomings on my daughter. It’s easy to believe that it would all be so much better if only she would listen, if only she would behave, if only she would comply, if only… But when I sit back and reflect on what’s really happening, I realise that it’s simply me feeling incompetent as a parent because I’m failing to connect with a seven year old in a manner that she can relate to.

A fear of insignificance, incompetence or likeability is at the core of every single person’s anger. And don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. I learnt that from the man that influenced by his lazy father in that arm chair, and I’ve found it to be true every single time I got angry ever since. Some of the good that came out of your situation is that the divorce happened, and that is good because it would be unimaginably worse if both parents became angry at the same time and you had to bear the brunt of both sides simultaneously.

The important lesson in all this is that you need to understand that they’re projecting their insecurities on you. Taking ownership for our shortcomings requires us to accept that we’re flawed or weak or incompetent. So most people refuse to accept that they’re less than perfect, so they blame others or environmental factors for everything that goes wrong in their lives.

The moment you accept that your parent’s actions were a reflection of their insecurities and in no way is rooted in you being who you are or who you were, you’ll save yourself from the trap of acting out the way they do when you reach their age. The only way to break the cycle is to recognise it. So this is your opportunity to extract yourself from that cycle, and to see it for what it is. And by breaking that cycle, you would be giving birth to a new and more wholesome cycle of life that you’ve always yearned for. Chances are, your parents probably also yearn for the same, but they’re too distracted by their anger and insecurities to realise it. So perhaps in you breaking the cycle, you’ll force them to start reflecting rather than constantly projecting.

Final thought on this is that as humans, we’re prone to memory by association. They may see your presence as an association to a time in their lives when they weren’t proud of themselves. So it once again makes it easy for them to deflect attention away from themselves and instead project it on you so that they don’t have to deal with the reality of their shortcomings. Apologies for the length of this response, but I hope it helped to provide an alternate perspective on something that is difficult to see any good in.

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