There’s this rhyme that goes around the school yard and it goes like this, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. It means that the shitty kids on the playground can say what they want and those insults will just bounce off you. But I’m calling bullshit. Physical wounds will heal, verbal wounds seep into your system and poison your mind. Keep hearing something over and over and pretty soon you’ll start believing in it.
I grew up in a toxic environment. It’s taken me so long to openly admit that to those that are not closest to me. On a level, I was still trying to protect my abuser, but I can’t anymore. My father was a bully. His family were his victims. My whole life I’ve lived with this negative, draining presence in my life. He worms his way into every area of my life and takes the goodness out of it. For years I went through this constant onslaught of abuse. I was fat, lazy, useless. As a kid, this hurt me. I was a smart kid, I was always popular at school, I had a lot of friends. I was never bullied at school, but my bully was always waiting at home for me. When my teens started creeping in, I started taking all this stuff I was being told to heart. I was self conscious. About everything. My weight, the way I laughed, my accent for crying out loud. He pointed out everything about me, every single thing, and all of it was wrong. So I became cut off. I pretended to be someone else. My home life was miserable for the most part because I was afraid to draw attention to myself and set him off. He flipped in a second and those rages were unbearable. I was severely uncomfortable in my own home, always on edge.
It was around age 15 that this started really taking a toll. I developed an eating disorder because I thought I was fat and ugly, I suffered major anxiety, I developed depression. I was obsessive, a perfectionist. I had to have control. I had to be everything I wasn’t because the real me wasn’t good enough. I blamed my mother. We’re two completely different people. I didn’t know why she didn’t leave him. Why she didn’t protect us from him. But as I’ve gotten older I know that he manipulated her. Fed her lies and messed with her head so she couldn’t leave. He told her that all her family were tired of her, he was the only person that loved her. He’s a complete narcissist. Everything is always about him, he’s always, always, the victim. I recovered from my eating disorder 4 years ago but I still feel the effects of it. I moved away from home for almost 2 years. In that time, he couldn’t reach me. I finally found peace and happiness. I found self love. But now I’m back in my home town. He calls to my house. I hate it. But he won’t leave me alone. I don’t know how to cut him out of my life for good, because he’s so convincing. I still fall for the lies. Today is the day I call an end to it. Today I finally told him how much he hurt me. That he put me through hell, that he caused my eating disorder, my depression. I told him that he was supposed to protect me but he did the opposite, he instead was the person that put me through the most shit.
His reply was that he’s sorry I feel that way. His reply was that I’m just dramatic. His reply was essentially him dismissing my struggles. Belittling what he has done to me, worse, not even acknowledging it. All I wanted was for him to just once say sorry. He’s incapable of doing even that for me and so I’m finished. I don’t pity him. I have no more compassion left for him. I don’t hate him because that’s a waste of my energy. I simply don’t wish to acknowledge him anymore. He’s irrelevant to me. My mother took us out of that environment eventually. Now he doesn’t get to see his kids. He doesn’t get to do to my younger siblings what he did to us. My little sister needs to grow up knowing she is smart, she is beautiful and she is loved.
He tried to ingrain his beliefs in me. His beliefs about me, his racism and sexism. His intolerance, his nastiness. It didn’t work. I’m still here, a proud intersectional feminist. I am strong. This bully will not win.