by Cindy Holbrook
I grew up with a verbally and physically abusive father. He was like two different people. He was the strong loving protector, but he also had a dark evil side.My family was pretty happy while dad was at work. My four siblings and I held our breath when he came home. Our nights depended on what type of mood he was in. Because I was the youngest and also my dad’s “Baby Girl,” my siblings would pay me to go sit on his lap to try to get him in a good mood.If Dad was in a bad mood, we would be on our best behavior. It didn’t always help. We would have to be careful of everything we did or said. Talking back to our mother was always something that would set him off. He never once laid a hand on her. Mom had her place too though, she knew that she had to have dinner hot and ready on the table for him, or else we would all pay throughout the evening.My brothers were always supposed to be “men.” They were not to cry or to show emotion. My sister (eight years older than me) was to always be a lady.
My brothers were probably beat, on average, one or two times a week. My sister and I were more fortunate as we were girls. We probably got beat two to four times a year.
Looking back the verbal abuse caused the most damage. Being told things like “You are stupid,” “You will never amount to anything,” and “You never do anything right” was almost said on a daily basis.
My dad ridiculed anything. I’ve always loved to write, and he used to put down my writing and tell me how stupid I was for sharing it with anyone. He also always told me I was fat and would grow up to be as fat as my Aunt Evelyn who was five feet tall and weighed over 400 pounds.
Once he dropped my brother and me off in the middle of the desert in Arizona because we were arguing in the car. He left us there for quite a while, probably 30 to 60 minutes, which seemed like an eternity to me at ten years old.
When I was 14, he slapped me across the face so hard that I fell over a table and broke my ribs.My mom forced him to take me to the hospital. All the way there my dad warned me, “Don’t tell them I hit you.” I didn’t tell them, I just stuck to my story that I fell. The doctor wrapped me up and sent me home. I was on bed rest for a couple of weeks. My ribs healed slowly and, as a result, I was unable to run or play sports for close to a year.
I was really the fortunate one out of all the children ―as I got the least abuse. However, I can recall him yelling and screaming and beating the heck out of my brothers.
Once my father sat in a chair, tied one of his hands behind his back, and ordered/screamed at my brother to hit him. He did this to prove that he could beat the heck out of him with one arm tied behind his back. It terrified me.
As I grew into adult-hood, I blamed a lot of my life on my dad. I also held back a lot of who I am because of him. Books I read, and people I spoke to said it was natural for me to feel the way I did. It was as if society itself approved—gave me a “way out” so to speak.
Blaming my dad was “just an excuse” for me not to take responsibility for my own life. Before I could grow into the person I desired to be, I had to forgive my father. I had to TOTALLY let go of the anger and the hatred I felt for him. I would constantly repeat the following quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
By harboring the negative feelings, I was allowing my dad to make me feel inferior. What’s sort of ironic is the fact that these things happened years before. My dad probably never gave them a second thought. My feelings were hurting me—not him. FORGIVING my dad gave me control over my emotions and over my life. There were no excuses. I could no longer blame my actions or my emotions on the abuse I experienced as a child. By freeing myself of these negative emotions, it allowed me to live the life I choose to live. This is truly the basis for forgiveness. Harboring ill thoughts only destroys you, not the person you are angry with. Holding onto anger and hurtful feelings gives you an excuse by blaming others for the way you think, act and feel. This can be dangerous. After all, you are the only person that has 100% invested in you. So it’s time to take charge and take control of your feelings. The first step is to forgive those that have hurt you.
Cindy Holbrook is founder of Cindy Sense, www.cindysense.com, an inspiring website where she shares with people what has helped her get through life’s many struggles. Featured on her site are articles on subjects such as Positive Thinking, Law of Attraction, Self-Esteem, Emotions, and Overcoming Obstacles. Be sure to sign up for Cindy’s free monthly newsletter and receive her bonus E-book, “Your Guide to Happiness.”