Sunday, July 8, 2007

Family nightmare

To you, little blog, I will turn with my sorrow. I cannot express it to anyone else.

What I thought would be a relaxing week with my family turned into a nightmare, and today the horror continues.

I have a sibling with long-established social llproblems, which we’ve always blamed on a certain emotional disorder which runs in our family, and in his case, a little bit more, which I cannot reveal here. During my visit home, he and his wife were at the epicenter of family quarrel after family quarrel – a scene of tears, tantrums and even cursing such as I have never seen there.

I was bewildered by his behavior, by his wife’s behavior, by my grandmother’s response, by my mother’s response.

Today, talking to another sibling, let’s call him X, a horrible possibility emerges.

My late paternal grandfather was a hard man and my father rarely speaks of him. We’ve long known of said grandfather’s alcoholism and suspected that he was abusive. We’ve been proud of my father for giving up the bottle early in his marriage and for striving mightily to break the cycle. Today, he is a sweet, lovable man with only rare bursts of temper that lead to nothing physical, so far as I know. But this afternoon, Sibling X, who has lived with, and closer to, the family for much longer than I have, made a suggestion: that my father’s effort to overcome his upbringing took longer than I believed, and that his rages over the years have been more terrible than I knew, that they crossed the line at least once into genuine physical and emotional abuse.

This would explain the strange behavior and apparent emotional instability of my mother. She has been abused – not ever to the point of black eyes or broken bones – not even at his angriest could I suspect my father of such – but by harsh names, by slaps, by hands around her throat at least once. These things I vaguely remember witnessing in childhood – only a few times but could there have been more?

Sibling X and I, I learned today, independently vowed never to hit a Woman and we have both kept our promise to ourselves. I have made the protection and uplift of Women one of my life concerns. But what of the other sibling? I hesitate to be more specific, I need to keep this blog anonymous, maybe I shouldn’t have written any of this. Let’s just say that this sibling is an instable, explosive person – and he is married, with a baby. Could he have inculcated lessons of anger learned in childhood, could he be continuing the cycle that my dad struggled so hard to break? Could this explain the nightmare of this week?

Could some of my own peculiarities – my difficulties in responding properly to authority figures, for example – be traced to a childhood that was rougher than I actually remember it?

My dad could be so tender and caring. There was a certain time when I probably deserved a whipping and he put me over his knee but couldn’t go through with it. There were other times when he rapped me on the head and called me names, or went into a rage because I didn’t agree with certain petty things, but I remember nothing worse than that. I don’t believe I have any of those infamous, so-called repressed memories. But could things have been different, worse, for my mother, my other siblings? The thought makes me sick.

And if my mother is a classic abuse victim, even if my dad has finally purged his own demons, is my grown sibling now manipulating her – and if so, what can I do? How can I help him, and her? From the thousands of miles away that I live from them?

It’s easy to simply and utterly hate a stranger who hurts a Woman, to wish him a slow, pitiless and painful death crushed in heavy machinery – but when the possibility rears up within your own family, with men whom you dearly love, it is not so black and white, it is not so cut-and-dried.


chipazoid said...

Oh shit, that must've been horrible. Good luck with that, there's no way I could begin to advise you in a personal matter, ecd. All families have their own bag of shit. I would totally air mine out if I didn't intend to reveal my name and face.

Although, you should pry a little bit more information before any rash decisions. The only way to stop anything like this is to either have a big blown out conversation, which doesn't always end up very well. It's a losing battle, something will always be lost in this case.

Good luck.

Dawn said...

That bites. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

I wish I had some awesome advice for you but...

chipazoid said...

Oh yeah, or move back home. I didn't put the "or" bit.

-Jeane Michelle Culp said...

There are choices, to stay and remain the victim – an uncomfortable comfort zone, to stay and remain the abuser – a pattern of learnt behavior unbroken. And so the nightmare one is born into continues. Your rose colored glasses have faded perhaps merely to open your eyes to what you once avoided seeing, which can never be avoided. Eventually the truth slaps us in the face and says look. Yet no where has anyone asked for your help, so no need to intervene on what has become an uncomfortable way of norm. Perhaps you are not the intended rescuer here, rather the intentional healer. One must always heal thou self first, then “be the example you wish others to be.” Easier said then done when emotions are attached and the situation is personal. Yet possible.

Chase March said...

I wish I knew what to say, but I don't.

Welcome back. I hope things work out.

...amarpreet said...

I feel for you, not how any vacation should be and certainly the least expected as well.
As for if and how you should talk to your dad about...I don't know. My dad passed away when I was 2 so I don't even know anything about that sort of relationship to go there.
As for your mom though you need to be very cautious - keep in mind the following - a woman's heart is deeper than any ocean and she carries with her alot of secrets. Any proud woman controls what she makes public and what she keeps to herself and for the fact that you have not ever heard anything from her about this should tell how guarded she really is. Should you decide to approach her don't ask her any questions, none at all. Simply come to her and tell her that because of everything happening over these past few days that you're concerned. Let her know what you're feeling and what you may be assuming. Let her know you are not going to ask her anything but if she would like then she can come to you and talk, you'll listen. This will let her know that not only are you her son but an adult she has the freedom to go to. She may open up to, she may not and that's her call. What happened in the past is exactly that, the past but unfortunately it tends to manifest itself in our present and this is where you get caught - should you or shouldn't you say something. The talk you had with your other brother is great and aside from letting your mom know what is going through your mind you may not want to take it any further with them.
An abuser knows what they're doing is wrong but are in denial, the abused are also usually in denial, even shocked that they let it get as far as it has - when you question an abuser directly their reaction is never a calm one.
You may decide it best not to say anything and that call is based on your family's dynamic and how well you believe they would be able to handle it.

I hope things better for you and your family

Lance said...

hope it works out ok