Father’s day just passed. Almost everywhere I went, there were some form of cordial and jovial sentiment regarding a man’s fatherhood. I looked at every single one of them with complete and utter disdain. I do it because they all had something or are giving something, I’ll never have and was never given - a strong father figure who knew the difference between the right way and the wrong way to raise children. And for that, I hold a lot of resentment because I don’t know if I will ever find a healthy and positive perspective on the negative way my father raised me.
I remember vividly, when my older sister, 11 at the time, me, 9 at the time, and my younger brother, 7 at the time, were the only children I knew and have ever known to be absolutely terrified of and under no circumstances ever wanted to go to a Toys R Us. What child doesn’t want to go to Toys R Us? Well, we hated it. The reason being is because every time my father took us there, he was looking for only one thing - boxing gloves. When we got there, we would always run to the section where they had the gloves and hid them all. We did this every time we went to Toys R Us. And my father tried to take us there A LOT.
The reason why he wanted us to have boxing gloves was so we didn’t have to fight each other in the living room with our bare knuckles during Fight Night Training - Fight Night Training was every night. If you ever seen Django Unchained, there’s a scene when Leonardo DiCaprio and his guests are watching two grown African Americans fighting in his house while they sip their whiskeys, smoke their cigars, and cheer them on. That was Fight Night for us. As kids. And yes, I cringed and nearly wept during that scene.
This scene brought me back to the time, during Fight Night, when my sister was holding me down over the armrest of the couch. She was holding me down, not punching me but protecting me but i was forced to fight back. So I just swung at her and punched her in the nose. Her nose immediately started bleeding and she ran upstairs crying. I wanted to run to her to say I was sorry but my father gave me that “attaboy” and forced me to stay and feel good about it. This was planting a level of coldness I had in my heart for a very long time.
We didn’t want to do Fight Night. We tried to conspire to take it easy on each other. But when noticed we were going easy on each other, he stepped in kicked our asses.
He planted many, many more brutal memories. Just a few more quick examples:
When a kid I used to bully other kids all the time. One night, a kid I used to bully consistently, came to my house with his dad to have a man to man discussion. After about an hour talk, my father promised that I would leave his kid alone. When the kid and his father left, my dad asked if he said was true. I said, “yes”. My father’s response was “good boy”. Cement that cold heart.
Another image that continues to resonant in my periphery is the day we dumped our dog on the side of the street and drove away. To this day, I have that horrifying image of looking out the back of the rear window watching our dog desperately trying to catch us but finally quitting when he couldn’t. Fortify that cold heart.
For me, because I was raised in such an environment, it was really difficult to be social. Everything I did or said was offensive or inappropriate. I grew angrier and angrier every time I was shunned by a particular group for ostracizing me from their clique or community. It took a lot of therapy for me to understand that what I thought was normal behavior was completely the opposite. I thank my father for that. I thank my father for a lot of things. I have to thank him for raising me to think that:
Beating up girls was normal behavior,
Stealing was normal behavior,
Polluting was normal behavior,
Being a racist was normal behavior,
Beating up anyone was weaker than me was normal behavior,
Being an emotional, physical and psychological bully was normal behavior,
Being completely and utterly selfish was normal behavior,
Laughing at the faces of people who are hurt or in pain, especially if I was the cause of it was normal behavior, and
Abusing animals was normal behavior.
If you wondered why bullies are bullies, this is why. They say, hurt people hurt people. There’s a small percentage of people who hate just because. Most of the time, like myself, we hate because we hated what others had. Probably, more importantly, we hated what we didn’t have. A healthy and positive environment to grow up in.
My father passed away in January 2018. When he died, it felt like a tremendous curse was lifted off my shoulders. It felt as though a new legacy can be created. I was ready to start that path, that road to recovery and I knew the first thing I needed to do was forgive him. Which I was fully ready to do until my sister and mother broke some sad news about my childhood a couple of days after he passed.
They told me that when I was an infant, he drop kicked me against the wall during an argument with my mom. Hurt people hurt people? How much fucking pain was he in to do something like that to a fucking infant? I’ll never get the answer to that question. For the life of me, I just can’t imagine any circumstance where that is okay.
I guess the best way to look at my experience is that everything my father taught me, I simply do the opposite. To me, there is no other choice. That’s one way I’m choosing to look back at my experience being raised by my father. My father tried to breed a bully but it didn’t take. Thanks, dad. Happy belated Father’s Day.