My dad just did the thing he does where he pushes down anger for years, until he finally snaps and turns and walks away. He will do anything from throw a knife point down into the floor and say that he will beat the crap out of his own child (he never has, and never would), to pull the car over, and tell us all the we can find someone else to take care of us. Or put his head through a wall – he did that once, too. Mostly he just yells at us to shut up. He once screamed at me ‘Will you stop? For once in your life will you just fucking stop?” Today, he just started screaming at my sister to shut up. He came roaring in while mama and my sis were fighting, slammed the door, and just started laying into my sister, verbally, roaring that she needed to shut up. My sister yelled back that she wouldn’t, and it just kind of deteriorated from there.
I know he finds us irritating, but for the most part, mama asks him to do a lot of stuff, henpecks the man within an inch of his life, and acts like he’s not holding up his end of the deal if there are emotional thresholds he holds back from her. He takes it.
She does similar stuff to me and Jessa (all unintentional, she just really wants to be taken care of like a child, and is very picky about *how* she’s taken care of). We do not just take it, and often set boundaries, or sound frustrated, and say anything from ‘okay, but I can’t right now’, to ‘I love you, but that’s not my job’. In more ungracious moments, I’ve been known to be more colorful than that, mostly beginning with the words ‘for *real*?’
Mama’s great, and we’re great, but it’s hard to take care of a care-taker, and she has a habit of doing things for you that are nice, but not something you’d have chosen, and then saying ‘well I did all this stuff for you’. Needless to say, she does not respond well to the answer ‘yes, but I never asked nor wanted for you to’. She’s getting better all the time, as am I (I’m an asshole), and I’m proud of the progress that we’re making. Still, there’s always lots of conflict, and that’s a lot of fun…
Papa hates conflict, so he goes out of his way to avoid it, and resents us when we don’t. I’m not super keen on conflict, in act it kind of scares me witless, but I think sometimes it’s necessary, and better than lying about your feelings. Sometimes conflict can result in sorting things out. Lying never really will.
That said, usually it’s after mama has henpecked his eyes out, and Rose (my sister), mama, and I, are all arguing over something (none of us are keen on rolling over to avoid trouble, though mama and rose both come closer than I do), that papa finally snaps.
If he didn’t have a drinking issue, and if he weren’t borderline suicidal, I might to be so worried? He’s never hurt any of us when he’s drunk, but he gets very depressed and seems to have a lot of suicide ideation.
I sympathize with that – I nearly killed myself in my early twenties. I know how that can suck, and I know how the more outside stimuli you get the more it starts to overload you.
But my near suicide is also how I know that it DOES NOT give you the right to tear everyone else down with you.
Being a fucking martyr to a cause that only you wanted, does not entitle you to being selfish again by being fucking rude to everyone around you. Avoiding conflict was what *he* wants. Not me, not mama, not Rose. Acting like a persecuted hero because he did what he wanted and not what we wanted is not a reason to come yelling and screaming at those of us who are stuck at home together while he goes to work. I AM STAYING HOME AND CARING FOR MY MOTHER INSTEAD OF GETTING A JOB THAT WOULD LET ME FEEL FREE OF MY PARENTS. Yes it sucks that he is our main source of income right now. Yes, we are all falling apart around the edges with four adults and one car, and one income. Yes it is frustrating that he has to earn money to support four different people, and the other three of us are freelancing, and barely have time for that. This is a very frustrating situation and he could easily pull the ‘breadwinner – my house my rules’ card at any point.
Here’s the thing. I have other places I can live. I have jobs that I am good at. I have things I want and am able to do. I feel that staying home, writing, taking care of my mother, and stepping in as housekeeper/homemaker with my sister is more important than running off on my own, and going back to college, and finishing up my degree right now. Laugh all you want, I genuinely think that God has told me this is where I need to be.
But still, I find myself feeling really trapped, because the same dad who picked a lock with a knife and then threw it into the ground screaming “I’m gonna beat the crap out of you” at my sister, is the one with access to the only car we have, and can pull the trump card of being the breadwinner any time he wants. He’s already threatened to walk away before, and he is totally unpredictable when he gets this way. I’m sure he’d never hurts us, but I feel really, really unsafe, and I don’t know how to handle it.
When he yelled at Rose, she started hitting her own face (the only form of self-harming she still does) and left the room in tears. (She admires him much more than I do, and he has always been more like her than our mother. It has tended to pair up: me/mama, Rose/papa. Needless to say, she also feels more betrayed than I do – at least on a surface level – and is having even more trouble processing than I am, since we were both raised being told that frustration is fine, and healthy, and expressing it politely is ok: not something that you’ll be screamed at by the people who protected you when you were kids.)
Anyway, I found myself sending her to her room (how did I end up as her parent?) and then body-blocking papa in the hallway so he couldn’t follow her to her room. He stood, less than foot from me (in fact we bumped a couple times, and screamed down the hallway about how he *never* gets on anybody’s case, he always keeps his mouth shut, why can’t we do the same, why don’t we all just shut up, just for once just shut up.
I’m not proud that I waited til he’d turned away, and very quietly asked him how he fucking dared act like that, and said that it must be *so hard* being the only *sane one* in the family. All this to the person who just acted like a fucking lunatic, slamming his hands into the walls, and a roaring loud enough to hurt my ears. I went to my room and slammed the door (very mature, Jehanne), and checked on my sister. I brought her Zyrtec, and a cup of tea (I made one for mama, too – Rose had been halfway through making it when this whole shit-storm started). I talked to mama, who was a fucking saint, and said that she was very glad that papa hadn’t suppressed his feelings – though she was sorry that he had been so rude to Rose, and that she was glad that Rose had stuck up for herself – though she was sorry that Rosy hurt herself. (A lot of times, we treat her like she’s just a little crazy, but I think that she was every kind of hero just now.)
Rose is feeling a little better and sent a couple of messages to my dad – he has summarily ignored them, possibly waiting til he’s calmed down. Mama’s physical therapist and her best (mama’s friend, not the therapist’s) have randomly arrived at our house at the same time, so it’s kind of interesting, and there’s a bit of a crowd in our two bed one bath house. Meanwhile, my dad has gone outside, and after I spent a while convincing myself to talk to him (it seemed fitting but mature to give him some kind of silent treatment), I have found that he’s all but giving me one. I told him that mama was in the bathroom, and he made a soft grunting sound. I told him that Rosy had messaged him, and he said he’d seen that. I told him that I was sorry if I’d responded poorly earlier. He literally said nothing. He just walked away.
I don’t know how to handle living with a mother who gets back and forth between being wise/caring and being a five-year-old, and a father who goes back and forth between being Santa clause and being a sullen teenager who hasn’t got a girlfriend. Lie my parents go back and forth between perfection and psychosis really quickly. It’s a great, big, yo-yo miracle. Hide me. An hour ago, mama was telling papa that he seemed frustrated every time she opened her mouth. Papa sounded upset at her, and eventually went outside. (I was in the other room so I’m not prepared to call it ‘storming outside.) Next thing I know they’re both sounding frustrated at my sister, when she literally did nothing but sound irked at bing give three more jobs before she’d finished the last three. (I had been in mid-sentence trying to tell her something I’d been working on. She was very disheartened and stressed about how many times we ha d been interrupted within a couple minutes.) It’s like… it feels like we’re being punished for the tension in our parent’s relationship and having our choices judged by the choice they make. As though when papa hasn’t been there for mama enough, she tries to make us fill in for him, and when mama has been poking at him, and he forces down his frustration, he goes off on me and Jessa if we don’t push it down too…
Meanwhile, our intrepid loser, Jehanne is sitting on her bed trying to filter through her feelings.
I want to to trust my dad, and I’m sure that what he’s doing isn’t actually that big a deal. That being said: if I heard one of my friends talking about their father storming in and yelling at them, because they were bickering with their mother while he was LITERALLY OUTSIDE THE HOUSE? I would tell them they needed to get out of that house. If after that they told me that he had once threatened to beat them up, and that he had abandoned them and their mother in the car, and tried to just walk away until they all begged him to come back, and that he would give them the silent treatment for hours after he screamed at them, I WOULD FREAK OUT ON THEIR BEHALF. I would assume that this was an emotionally unstable man who had taken on too much responsibility, and had come to resent it, to the extent that it justified emotional abuse in his mind. That he wasn’t sold on being the father of this family, but thought that they couldn’t make it without him. I’d think he probably did care about them – loved them quite a great deal, probably – but that that didn’t mean that he was healthy for them. I would…
Honestly, I would think that this person was unhappy with his life, and his choices, but could not bring himself to leave them after years of them being dependent on him. I would suggest that they just all leave: my friend, their siblings, their mom. I would think that they should probably free this confused, misguided person from their family, and that he might feel better if he didn’t think that he was saddled with them, and they would be happier, healthier, and safer, if they all learned how to cope without him. I would assume that what he wanted was to be free of this family that he was having second thoughts about,. And hat they would all be healthier if he stopped forcing himself to be their care-taker. I would think that the whole family should just leave, or let him leave. I would worry about my friend, but I would assume by this man’s reactions to his life that he felt trapped in it. I would suggest that he get therapy (that all of them get therapy), and that they seriously consider that the parents separate (either officially or just as a temporary measure), and have a trial run of the family living divided – the father by himself, and the three women (or two-point-five women – as you may recall I am non-binary) live a life by themselves. I would think that it would be healthy for this man to learn, a) that he didn’t have to run the world and keep all the plates spinning, and b) that he was not as necessary as he seemed to think to the mental and emotional health of his family. I would assume that it would do them all good to learn that they could function without this father figure who so clearly resented being made to fill this role.
That scares me, kind of, like, a lot.
I keep finding myself shaking. I feel oddly rejected. Like papa would be happier if we just let him leave, cause until then he’ll just take out his frustration by passive aggressively not wanting us. But that can’t stop me shaking. I can’t stop myself from starting to feel scared. I’m scared, cause he’s so much bigger than me, and when he yells I’m so, so scared. And a part of me thinks that it’s all my fault, because I should have moved out of this house by now, but I really wanted to do what I felt God was calling me to do, and that included staying here for a while longer. Trying to be healthy in my relationships with my family – not just leaving because I felt trapped and scared. I get scared, because I feel so overwhelmed by his anger, and I know that I can’t just lash out, and be horrible. But he is so unfair to my sister. She’s only trying to trust mama enough to talk to her when they are both upset, and papa treats it like it is our holy order to be silent in the face of pain and frustration. I hate it. I hate … I want to say that I hate him. He was supposed to take care of us. He was supposed to be the one who cleaned up the mess he made – not lurk in his room and act like he’s a fucking saint for doing it. Not hide like a sniveling coward when his wife is needy, and the world is hard, and none of us can do this on our own, and then treat us like we are ruining his life if we actually engage – with anger, with life, with anything. I cannot just hide in my room while my world flies by without me. I cannot, and will not do that. I don’t care if he treats me like there is something wrong with me if I don’t curl up in a dark corner and ignore the outside world like him. Don’t think that there’s some sort of divine right in hiding in your bed and waiting til your wife who made vows to gives up on waiting for you to act like you’re alive. I don’t think that that is some holy good that can excuse looking at the woman who your tiny child grew into and being a loud, bellowing, ASS to her. You can go back and bray you piece of shit father, because I am not in the mood to watch you treat it like not having the perfect nineteen fifties family is too much a of strain for your fucking perfect halo that you earned by hiding in the darkness like the selfish cunt you are.
I want to leave. Only trying to do the right thing has kept me here. I can’t keep being afraid at every full turn that if I sound unhappy too loudly, I will be… the thing that makes my father want to kill himself oh God….
More painful than the yelling… more painful than the threatening… more painful than watching my father stop the car and walk away… …”Sometimes, I hear you fighting in the other room… and I just wonder how much it would actually hurt if I just slit my wrists…”
I feel like I’m killing my own father. And he’s not even fighting me. And then he comes into the room and yells… after months or years of rolling over and pretending that this slow sinking into darkness is ok… after months of numbing himself with alcohol, and cigars, and Netflix, and cruel comments about people he has Never met… after years of waiting in the darkness of his room, rather than face the harsh realities of having a family… He blows up at me – as though I’m the thing that’s wrong… and I don’t know if I can disprove him…
I don’t want to kill my father. I don’t even want to be here. I just want to go to a home I don’t have, hide in an RV that isn’t finished, with a sister who my father treats even worse he has treated me, and pretend that the world I grew up in will be okay if I’m not there to see it fall apart.
I wish I didn’t want him.