The Bully in My House

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tell us about your first encounter with a bully, then tell us about your last one.

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My father is a bully.

He likes to intimidate people. He likes to fill your space with his own and take over. When he would visit, he would try to do that and it is something I intensely detest. It’s kind of like a bull cook – which is a person who takes over your kitchen and basically crowds you out of the way. I know quite a few people who are like this and it annoys the hell out of me.

From the time I was a little girl, he tried to control my mother, my brother and me.  He was emotionally and verbally abusive and had a fiery temper. Although he never physically abused us (save for throwing things) the emotional torment was bad enough, I think. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mean to insinuate that my circumstance is unique. I realize there are many who endured far more terrible things than I. Please do not think I am putting myself in the same classification. In comparison to others, I had it damn good. I know that. But this is my story and the only one I know.

Everything had to be done his way and on his timeline. Mom and I couldn’t go to town without him calling everyone to see where we were if we weren’t home in time to fix him a meal. Then when we did get home, he was mad as a hornet and life was anything but peaceful.

He was and is a male chauvinist and an ego-maniac. He has to be the best at everything. If he bought us something, he expected us to fall all over him with praise and gushiness and would berate us if we didn’t adequately freak out over the gift. He’s still like this. He only does something for you if he wants something in return.

He is also a genius. I’m not just saying that. The man can fix and build anything. He built me some really awesome toys when I was a kid and taught me many cool things but unfortunately, the negative outweighed the positive as it often does. You could put him in the middle of the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back and he could survive handsomely.

He had his good moments, times when he could be fun but you never knew when that mood would switch off and he would “Jekyll and Hyde” it.  That’s the best way I can describe him. He was Jekyll and Hyde. When he was in his dark place, his eyes became black as coal and fiery at the same time – almost as if I was looking into the eyes of the devil himself. I know that sounds extreme, but there are others who will tell you the same thing in regards to my dad. It is scary and chilling.

One time when I was around 15 or 16, I unrolled the power windows on my ’71 Thunderbird my uncle had given me. I couldn’t get the window back up. My father was so furious with me that when I got out, he threw a wrench at my head, just missing me by inches. Yes, I do realize that could be an example of physical abuse. Whenever I helped him in his workshop and he would ask me to get him a certain tool, I had to be quick about it. He expected it in his hand almost immediately. If it wasn’t, I would get reamed.

He always tried to strong arm me into doing things his way. My class projects – he would take over because I wasn’t smart enough – according to him. I was never thin enough or pretty enough. I shouldn’t go into forestry because I didn’t excel as he did in math or science. I admit, I am at fault for allowing him to convince me that I was “less than”.

He threatened to commit suicide on several occasions when he felt he needed to get us to cave in on something or to make us feel bad. Granted, those who usually talk about suicide rarely follow through, but it still was a horrific thing to lay on your loved ones. I resented him for doing that to my mother and brother. I still do. He threw ceramic coffee cups at the fireplace – his violent outbursts an attempt to frighten us. I only just recently found out that he shot out the glass of our sliding glass doors in our downstairs family room when he was angry. Fortunately we weren’t home at the time (I had no knowledge of this) and he gave my brother some lame excuse as to how the window broke.

My dad made suggestive comments to me from time to time. I don’t think he realized how they sounded but they made me very insecure to the point where I always felt uncomfortable about being a girl. I would lose weight and gain weight in high school – gaining enough just to protect myself – like a layer of insulation to keep the gawking and comments at bay. A lot of these things, I didn’t realize I was doing and why I was doing them until years later. It was a sick cycle and one of the reasons I fled to Montana – to get away from him.

Although my parents’ split and eventual divorce was hell on my mom and me, we both realized it was a Godsend. It was freedom from a man who sought to hold us down and keep us under his thumb for all too many years. I’ve tried to be the good Christian girl and turn the other cheek especially since he is my father but time and time again, he would unsheathe the proverbial knife and stab me in the back.  I don’t think God means for us to be a perpetual punching bag for anyone nor should we be.

0 thoughts on “The Bully in My House

  1. Wow. Just…wow. I can’t even imagine, and I had a step-father that was verbally abusive…it was called “teasing.” So sad what damage people do.

    I’m glad that you have some distance and some relief from that situation. It had to have been hell…walking on eggshells is a terrible way to go through life.

    This was incredibly powerful, Tracy. It’s very well written, and the pain is palpable.

    Brandee

  2. Children fear the monster hiding in the closet or under the bed, yet they are able to overcome that fear after a nightly inspection with a flashlight in one hand and a teddy bear in the other. Upon reaching adulthood, the child abandons the ritual and grows up unscathed, usually with a humorous monster anecdote to impart to his or her own child.

    Then there are those children who have reached maturity with no funny stories to tell. They bear scars—physically, mentally, or emotionally—from battling the monster who devoured breakfast at the kitchen table every morning. That’s a much harder issue to understand and deal with, but that’s what this piece is doing. Like the child armed with nothing more than a bit of courage obtained from a plastic flashlight and a stuffed animal, this piece searches the past and the current state of the mind and melds the two into a poignant narrative that finds a way to accept and a way to hope.

    Thanks for sharing your story, your writing, and your perseverance with us!

  3. “But this is my story and the only one I know.” So beautiful.

    I am so sorry to hear of the abuse you suffered as a child. And verbal abuse is just as horrible as the other kinds, it can leave all kind of horrible, unseen scars and bad thought patterns that are damn near impossible to break out of.

    I agree–God doesn’t want you to be someone’s punching bag. He wants you to heal, and the only way to do that sometimes is to say “enough is enough.”

    Thank you for sharing these personal memories here.

  4. I hate that you lived through this. But I’m glad you can write about it now from a place of strength and wisdom instead of fear. And I hope your mom feels the same, and a sense of pride that she got you out of that situation.

  5. How terrifying for you and your family, Tracy. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live with that kind of fear and frustration everyday. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story and I am glad that you have some kind of peace now. ♥

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