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I then for the first time in my life confronted my father and held him accountable for his actions. I called him a domestic abuser for hitting his wife and kids.
Trigger Warning: This has child abuse, violence against women and domestic violence, and may be triggering for survivors.
In a society that places parents on a pedestal equivalent to God, and preaches us to be thankful to our parents for all their sacrifices, what about those Of us who are less fortunate? Those whose sufferings have been undermined, who feel ashamed to voice out their truth even in front of their closest relationships, who relive their trauma every waking moment of their lives and find all the answers to their psychological condition in their childhood memories.
I am an introvert and a textbook people pleaser, who finds true happiness in helping others to the point of an obsession and regularly neglects her needs and wishes, a total opposite of my parents. I have been made fun of by my near and dear ones for being “too sensitive”.
Sometimes I am opinionated and respectfully disagree, other times I go back to my shell when I feel drained and exhausted and just agree with every opinion of others to avoid conflicts. My self-confidence dwindles now and then and I find myself feeling guilty of expressing my wishes and needs since I am so attuned to other people’s feelings. For so long I have tried to maintain harmony and keep everyone happy as a child, that I have lost touch with my own emotional needs.
I have always felt out of place in this world and used to have such low self-esteem to the point that I felt uncomfortable accepting accolades and compliments, all because instead of my parents being proud of their children’s accomplishments, always chose to belittle them.
I had not reacted so as not to ruffle any feathers as a child for so long that I let people walk all over me as an adult.
My father who has retired from a respectable position of government service was never happy with his marriage or family. I have never known what unconditional and selfless love truly means. As a child, I have only witnessed ugly fights between my parents to the point that my father used to and still hits my mom and throws any item within his reach in a fit of rage. He has even hit me and my brother, but that is considered normal parenting in our society. I used to have my heart in my mouth looking at their spats and prayed to God to bless me with a normal life.
My father’s perceptions stem from patriarchal beliefs and as far as my memory takes me, he has always preferred ‘his son’ over his daughter though I am blessed to have a compassionate and understanding brother who is the opposite of my parents.
The last visit to my parents’ home 2 months back was traumatic, to say the least, and I came to terms with how it feels to lose a parent. It all started the day my husband left my parents’ place after a brief visit and I extended my stay since how many chances do we get in a lifetime to be able to work from home and be with our family on all occasions.
On the fateful night, I had informed my parents that I have an important meeting and need to close the door for one of the two bedrooms for an hour. Who would have thought that this would lead to losing the person whom I have called “baba” for 30 years of my life?
My father, a 3rd stage COPD patient is a chain smoker and alcohol addict and had left his wallet in the locked room and wanted to get a pack of cigarettes and all shops were closing up since it was 11 at night. He father started banging on the door loudly and my mom and brother tried to intervene. While I was presenting the meeting, my father in a fit of rage finally succeeded in breaking the bolt of the room and cursed me saying “Useless female!” He then took his wallet and went on to purchase cigarettes without giving a second thought to what he had done.
We locked the main gate of our home expecting him to break it open in the middle of the night in front of the neighbours.
But as it turns out my father can control his urges in public places.
When the door was opened for him my father came straight up to me and instead of apologizing for his actions demanded that I leave “HIS” room since he had bought the house with his hard-earned money and wishes to do as he pleases.
I then for the first time in my life confronted him and held him accountable for his actions. I called him a domestic abuser for hitting his wife and in his exact words he replied ‘You don’t know what domestic abuse is and have a lot of growing up to do, and I am not a domestic abuser!’
A single sentence negated all of our sufferings for all these years.
I called him a disgusting human being for disrespecting his wife all his life and sharing photos of women he is obsessed with all over his Facebook wall and making sleazy comments beneath their pictures.
He told me these women are way better than me and that I should have been born under Taliban rule for having such a foul mouth.
He then hit me and I hit him back.
All my pent-up anger and rage and my self-respect being tarnished in front of my friends, relatives, and in-laws time and again because of his actions had taken a toll on me and I snapped.
This is the day my father disowned me and I felt truly abandoned and orphaned, and hated myself for reacting in such a way that I felt I had lost myself.
This is the day I also realized that my mom might be a strong-willed opinionated person who has never shied away from confrontations, who speaks her mind, yet has always chosen and still chooses to live with her abuser.
What we perceive to be a normal middle-class family in our society can truly be a dysfunctional one without a hint to the outsiders and our society does not leave any room for discussions on Familial and mental health issues.
My experiences in life contradict the belief that society has inculcated in me and I choose to disown the beliefs that do not feel true to my being. Today I realize that I am important, that my voice matters, that I am here to only please myself, and that I have to speak my truth no matter what our society propagates.
Today I realize that I was just a child and it was not my responsibility to keep everyone’s anger at bay.
At the end of the day no matter what, I am truly grateful to have them as my parents because I still want to believe that they love me in their way, and I choose to look at all the good things that have happened because I got them as my parents. I choose to forgive myself for what I have done and to let go of the heavy baggage I have been carrying all these years. I have to learn how to set boundaries, have to learn to love myself for who I am, have to learn assertiveness, have to learn to put myself first in every situation… I have realized that I am only responsible for my actions and choose to find my solace in my furry kids, in my supportive in-laws, in my books, and in my imaginary world where life is perfect.
Image source: a still from the film Secret Superstar
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