I'm debating whether or not to send this to my father. I probably won't. This was more to do with putting my thoughts onto paper (or screen...). He wasn't my abuser - my mother was - but I hold a lot of anger towards him as well for having been complacent and passive while the abuse was going on. There was a lot of emotional abuse that went with the physical/sexual abuse.
I’m writing this for myself: not for you, nor your wife.
I’m addressing the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of your wife. It may even come as a surprise to you that I am labeling it as such, but this is what it is/was.
All these years, I’ve struggled, largely on my own to come to terms with my past. Hundreds and hundreds of hours spent immersed in psychology books and articles, trying to figure out why I had turned out the way I did. I did it all, hardly without any proper therapy, though I’ve been lucky enough to meet some wonderful men who have given me insight into this ordeal. It is now that I’m finally realizing that the aftereffects of the abuse will likely stay with me forever – I cannot erase them, but I can only learn to deal with them, day by day. I’m proud of how much I’ve progressed mentally and emotionally, despite the curse you have ridden me with.
You always rationalized your wife’s behavior as a mother’s love for her son, yet I fiercely contest this. A mother respects her son’s privacy. She respects his body, and his space. She respects his desires, wants, feelings and thoughts. In short, she HELPS him become an autonomous, individual, healthy man. A mother sleeping with her son is NOT normal. A mother fondling her son’s genitals is NOT normal. A mother joking about castrating men is NOT normal. A mother caressing and stroking her son is NOT normal. A mother waking her son up for school everyday by kissing and intimately cuddling him is NOT normal. A mother seducing her son is NOT normal. A mother using her son while he’s asleep for her own pleasure is NOT normal. A mother being naked around her son after showers is NOT normal. It is ALL abuse – intrusive, invasive, incestuous abuse. Plain and simple.
The sleeping, in particular, had adverse effects on me. For a long time, it destroyed me socially, left me isolated, and shattered with insecurity and over-self-consciousness. I am proud to say that I have risen above this, because now I have many who I can count on as friends. They give me much support, love, happiness and meaning in my life – all of which you deserve no credit for. It also destroyed my sexuality. It has left me massively overstimulated and constantly craving for physical affection. Somehow, I was born gifted enough to minimize its effects by suppressing it in my unconscious. You may refer to this as ‘splitting’, or a rupture in my ‘body ego’ – if you care for the proper psychological terms. However, in recent times, it manifested itself in the form of homosexual/sadomasochistic fantasies, on which I have at times acted out. In other words, I sacrificed a healthy sexuality by relegating all of my negative feelings (i.e. anger, rage, hatred, humiliation, desperate, entrapment, hopelessness, helplessness) into my long-gone, once-sacred imagination. I have engaged in acts with men, though at this point, I am confident enough to say, as someone else I know has put it, “I’m a fucked up straight man.” I have dated two women, and, as bad as the relationships were, I’m proud at having overcome my initial difficulties in being intimate with a woman.
Another thing – you left the responsibilities of her emotional well-being with me, which had disastrous consequences. At best, they were over-demanding and overwhelming, veiled under the mask of ‘overprotectiveness’. AT BEST. For a long time, I felt the responsibility, and I lived up to it. It’s drained me of my strengths. This can be really magnified when you take into account the fact that as a child, I was still UNPREPARED for all the onslaught – helpless and defenseless. I did not (and to a large extent, still do not) have the capacity to deal with the situation, mentally and emotionally. It is because of this, that now, I have to constantly build and rebuild my often crumbling ego. This responsibility for your wife’s emotional well-being came at the expense of my masculinity and MY life, though these are no longer things for which I will pay the price. I do not get gratification anymore from succumbing to the demands of your wife, and more subtly, yours. The message I got from your passiveness towards the whole situation was that I was to fulfill my mother’s demands. That is your destructive legacy.
Furthermore, your wife sees me simply as a narcissistic extension of herself. In other words, I exist merely as an object for her gratification. ‘Soul murder’ is a term that captures the phenomenon neatly. Your wife does not accept me as a separate identity; rather, she compromises/sabotages, no – DESTROYS – anything individual or unique about me. There have been countless instances when I was set to have a foothold on my own in this world, and your wife manipulated you into condoning her acts of sabotage. It feels as if sometimes I’m decomposing, though I’m often not aware of it. If I need to cut contact with you and your wife for the sake of having space for my independent thinking and actions, so be it.
Your wife’s behavior has also always been one in which she infantilized me – and this is something you never discouraged. She constantly insisted that she do things for me, robbing me of any chance to develop myself and learn to be self-reliant – whether it be cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, doing homework. On the surface, this may have seemed like ‘love’ to you, but really, what she did was cut my roots before I had a chance to grow. For a long time now, I’ve struggled with my identity as a man. I am 25 – if anything, my age should entitle me to be, and be called, a man – albeit a young man, at that. I constantly have to struggle with tendencies to regress to an age where I feel like a little boy.
You yourself, seem to compound the emasculation by infantilizing me. You merely ask me about trivial things, every time on the phone. In this, you mirror your wife, the puppet that you are. Did I do my laundry? Did I brush my teeth? Did I shower? I am struggling to make myself a career, yet this is all you care about. It is not so much the content of it, but the fact that you repeat this every single time like a broken tape-recorder at the expense of all the other things I would expect, as a son, to hear from a father. The effects are simply nauseating developmental and mental retardation. You address me as a boy, and not a man. In your subtle ways, you compound the destructive behavior of your wife emasculating me. I have feelings, thoughts, beliefs and values which, as a human being, deserve attention and respect – but this seems lost on you. I suspect a part of you feels relief in treating me as a boy – this way, it makes you less conscious of your own low self-esteem in light of the fact that your wife practically abandoned you for me. Perhaps this is your way of dealing with your feelings of lacking masculinity. Ironically, I want you to take responsibility for her – it is mine no longer.
One of the sadder things about this whole ordeal, is the fact that some part of me still feels compassion for your wife. You and I both know that she was abused as a child. But unfortunately, this does not justify her using me as an object so that she can feel her life is worthwhile. I cannot constantly feed her endless appetite for power and feelings of superiority. Her emotional well-being is your responsibility, as is the work that needs to be done in order to address her damage.
You always demand that I go back. I’m finding this more and more impossible, unless something in family dynamics change. I cannot function in your household – it is too much. If you cannot address me as an individual, autonomous man, then I have the right to withhold contact from you – you do not deserve my company. I want to feel whole, and comfortable in my own body. I need to grow and mature; I want to be separate, and lead my own life. I will not have it enmeshed in a mess that I did not create.
I believe it’s rather impossible for you to imagine the magnitude of energy it takes me to keep these effects at bay. How many things I have to do to escape reality in order to simply function and survive. You have often asked why I smoke, and why I gamble. Now you know the answer in full (I have already hinted at this several times, and on all of these occasions you simply brushed it aside as if it wasn’t important). Often times, I find myself at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of self-esteem – pathological, delusional grandiosity followed by the advent of truthful, realistic misery. It goes without say, many times I feel out of control, hindering my ability to focus and concentrate. Throughout most of the day, I feel as if I do not belong in my body; when I do, I feel disgusting, damaged and dirty.
One final thing – I am constantly craving for a strong, masculine figure I can look up to. Sadly, I’ve given up the notion that this may be you, father. You have failed me too many times, on important, pivotal occasions. It seems that the only way out of this, for me, is to become the man I needed, if anything, for my own sake.
So there you have it. The impact you, and your wife (who, for better or worse, also happens to be my mother) have had on my life so far, in a nutshell.
P.S. The reason I have not disclosed all of this to you thus far is because I fear your retaliation. I am still financially dependent on you – this is, perhaps, the only thing holding us together, the final straw. I do not expect you to change – I have given up on this already, as sad as that may be. I doubt it is good-bye, too. I am merely writing this to have a clear idea of where I stand with you, and your wife.
Growing up isn't about losing innocence - it's about learning how to keep it in a cold and unforgiving world.