In the crowd of pain
St. Jimmy comes without any shame
He says, “We’re f***ed up”, but we’re not the same
And mom and dad are the ones you can blame
– ‘Homecoming’ by Green Day
While I’m not here to blame my mental health issues solely on my parents, and I don’t think that anyone is responsible for overcoming those issues except me, I can’t deny that my parents have likely contributed to my anxiety and depression. I have been sitting on this post for a while because I don’t want to seem ungrateful towards them for raising me, or like I’m blaming everything on them. And I’m not saying that I had a bad childhood. It was good for the most part (though my teenage years were fairly horrendous). Nonetheless, writing this series of posts at all feels like a betrayal. Putting them on my blog (even though neither of my parents are likely to ever stumble across it) feels like an even bigger betrayal. I’m anticipating that I will probably get a lot of hate for this – people telling me to grow up and stop being so ungrateful/ disrespectful towards my parents, or telling me that what happened wasn’t a big deal/ that I’m being pathetic or over-dramatic. I’m beginning to work through a lot of stuff surrounding my parents (mostly to do with the way my dad treated me when I was younger) with my counsellor, so probably this series of posts will read as if I’m just spitting vitriol about both of them, because the anger is very raw right now.
I’ve been having real issues with anger these past few weeks and I think a lot of it is to do with finally feeling the anger around my dad and around being bullied that I had repressed for so many years. To be honest, as pathetic as it might sound, I’ve been really struggling to manage such intense anger and I frequently feel as if I’d rather just go back to repressing that anger and pretending that nothing ever happened because at least I know HOW to do that. I don’t know how to deal with this intensity of anger in a healthy way, other than writing this all down here. My counsellor said that she thinks this may be because when I was growing up, I wasn’t really shown a healthy way of dealing with anger. Either you let your anger build up and then explode and take it out on someone else, or you bottle it all up and take it out on yourself. I’ve therefore only really ever seen anger as something very destructive. I think she’s hit the nail on the head with that one.
I do love both of my parents (as hard as that has been to feel for my dad in particular over the last few weeks) and I am grateful to them for bringing me up, and for all they’ve done for me over the years. Ultimately, they’re two flawed human beings, like everyone else, and (while it in no way justifies many of my dad’s actions) both had their own fair share of issues to contend with. But I needed to write this. I need the catharsis and I need to get this out there/ off my chest. My mum has never done anything abusive towards me, while a lot of people would consider some of my dad’s actions and words towards me when I was younger to be abusive, and I still don’t know how I feel about that. What often complicates things like this is that what counts as “abuse” differs for everyone depending on a variety of different factors, including your own upbringing, cultural background, and generational views. On one end of the spectrum, there are people who think that as soon as a parent hits their child in anger or says something horrible to their child in anger, it’s abuse, while on the other end, there are people who don’t seem to think it’s abuse unless a parent lands their child in A&E or worse. While I’m not sure exactly where I sit on that scale at the moment, I’d like to be on the former end of the spectrum if I ever become a parent myself.
Two of my classmates from my master’s course that I got to know (and who I could technically even call my friends while we still had classes) were both hit by their parents as children. One was Italian and said that she and her sister would constantly be slapped in the face by her mother for misbehaving when they were children. The other was from India and said that her mother would hit her and her siblings with a shoe for misbehaving when they were younger. Both said they had no issues with it and that it did them no harm (though I think they may be demonstrating by virtue of that statement that it actually did). Anyway…this post isn’t (just) about my views on corporal punishment – I’m saving THAT for another (mega)rant.
In my mind, there’s still an element of doubt as to whether what my dad did was really abuse – even though a number of people have said it was – because my parents have never validated me in that sense. (That’s something else I’m becoming more aware of in therapy – how I doubt myself and my own views/ opinions/ choices unless they are validated by other people). And I don’t know if it fundamentally matters if what he did/ said counts (legally or otherwise) as abuse or not. What I can say with confidence is that it harmed me and damaged me as a person, and has contributed towards my low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
As per usual, I’ve already written an essay here, so I’ve made this a post in itself and will make the next one about my mum. I’ll probably need at least a couple to write about my dad. I found it fairly easy to write the post about my mum but will probably really struggle to write the post/s about my dad, and it will probably take me quite some time. Brace yourself for some long blog posts!