I was an abused child. For most of my adult life, I have been dealing with scars that were given to me many years ago. These scars run deep. They affect my self-esteem, my views on the world, and most importantly, my views on love. Here we go. My most memorable example of abuse occurred when I was ten years old. Actually, it was my 10th birthday. I was excited because I had two digits associated with my age rather than one. I remember waking up super early in the morning and running out to greet my mother. Before I had the opportunity to see my mother, I had to see my father. I said, “I’m ten years old today. What did you get me for my birthday?” Without batting an eye, my father took the back of his hand and smacked me across my face. He hit me so hard that my top lip began to bleed. His exact words were, “I don’t give a got dog about your birthday. Now, get out of my face!” I was so hurt that I couldn’t cry. Hearing what was going on, my mother ran out of the kitchen and immediately embraced me. When she asked my father why he hit me, he warned her that he would do the same to her if she didn’t shut up. That was my tenth birthday. To this day, I don’t remember anything else about my tenth birthday. Nothing. I spent most of my young life avoiding or running from my father. My mother seemed to do the same. My father taught me to be silent and invisible at the same time. Ironically, my father forced us to go to church every week. As I grew older, I understood that was more about appearances than spiritual enlightenment or love. When my mother died, I thought that she chose to die because for the first time in her life, she was going to choose peace rather than me. That’s true. I now know that was clearly not the case. I was forced to deal with the abuse my father endured as a child. I was the container for his rage. My brothers and sisters were containers for his rage. My mother was the container, cups, and spoons for his rage. We endured. They say that when you grow up as an abused child, you either become the abuser or the polar opposite. I am the polar opposite. My father taught me rage, but my mother taught me patience. My father taught me hate, but my mother taught me to love. As I’ve stated before, the only person that I never quite learned to love was me. It was hard. Who am I kidding? It still is. Recently, my cousin that is more like my niece was shot seven times by her ex-boyfriend. In the process of shooting her, he killed her friend. He abused my cousin. She was silent about her hell. She endured. I am so hurt. It seems that no matter how far I run, abuse is always right on my heels. As an abused child, I always felt that the love that I wanted so much would come if I complied with the requests or demands of the abuser. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I know now that you can’t pour from an empty bucket. Maybe my father needed my tears to fill his bucket so that he could quench the thirst of someone else. I don’t know. My bucket once seemed to be filled with a liquid that only I was allergic to. I guess it’s safe to say that I have found the anecdote. Today, I can drink from my own bucket. This is what I have learned on journey. Abuse is not love. There is no “right time or right thing” that will come or can be done to stop abuse..” There is NOTHING that the abused did to cause the abuser to abuse. Nothing. You can’t help an abuser before you help yourself. You don’t deserve what happened to you. I realize that my father preferred to beat me because he felt that the world was beating him. That is not an excuse for him. That is a reflection of my need to explain why to myself. Nonetheless, I don’t have to worry about him beating me or my mother anymore. Those days are done. She’s free, and I am far away. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who tears you down in order to build themselves up, leave. As I said earlier, abuse is not love. You can’t save anyone until you save yourself. If you are an abuser, seek help as a shelter for your rage rather than the people who are closest to you. Everyone deserves true love. However, I don’t believe that love should hurt more than it heals. Abuse is wrong. Speaking to myself, I say, “Patrick, it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t understand, and you did nothing wrong. You are a good person who experienced a horrible ordeal. However, you made it. Look forward rather than backwards. I know that your heart was broken, but at least it still works. He was wrong. He was wrong about you and your mother. I love you.” Do not turn a blind eye to abuse. Sometimes, the abused lack these simple words; help me….. Until next time, Patrick.
This week, do something to help someone else for no other reason than to make their lives better. As always, if you make it to where you are going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. The world will only become a better place when we decide that we are the solutions to our own dilemmas.