The Day I Stopped Feeling
This story is a long one, and not a pleasant one, but I want to share it in the event anyone can relate or at least understand. Trigger warnings for emotional and physical abuse/neglect.
As a young kid, I was always afraid of what would happen when I would come home from school. Teachers always wondered, some more aggressively than others, why I would never do my homework outside of class. They never understood that going home was unpredictable: some days I would go home and have a snack and watch tv until my mother came home from work; some days I would hide in my closet for hours until my mother came home from work; most days I was constantly on edge, worrying when my father would come find me to scream at me for whatever random thing bothered him that moment.
Until I was around 9, my father was never physical with me. Usually, he just ignored me. He was the 'stay-at-home dad' who played golf and watched tv all day, without ever actually spending time with his only child. He relied on 'the help': my 2 baby sitters, originally hired to take care of my dying grandparents (whom my father refused adamantly to help in any way), who then became my surrogate mothers (The story of how I was told/dealt with the loss of my closest babysitter if another, long and horrible story for another day). He was an angry, defeated man. His wife was the sole breadwinner, he held no job (he claimed a medical disability, but played golf daily), and was the baby-boomer version of an incel (spent all day in an echo chamber, listening to hateful right-wing radio and tv broadcasts, cursing and screaming along with everything he agreed with, and instantly hating anyone who held a differing opinion than his. He was also a pack or two-a-day smoker.
When I was in elementary school, he was only responsible for me from 315 - 6p, when my mother would get home from work. However, he went out of his way to show me that he hated dealing with me. If I was preoccupied, as children tend to be, and he wanted/needed to leave the house, he would scream at me, then drive away down the driveway the moment I ran out the door, leaving me. He would usually pull back in a few minutes later, but by that point, I was scream-crying because he had abandoned me. When I got in the car, he would be laughing at me telling me that he'd give me something to really cry about if I didn't shut up. One day, I talked back and called him for being mean to me. His response was to grab me by the throat, lift me up off the ground, and scream at me until I was scratching at his arm because I couldn't breathe. Then he threw me out of the house until my mother got home. He would also go into my room and throw away my prized possessions (my blankie, my maps, and my books) if my room wasn't spotless. I would almost always check every garbage can in the house when I got home from school to see what else he had thrown away that day.
When I was 11, he was told by doctors for the Nth time that he needed to quit smoking for his health and the health of his child, and for some reason, he decided that he was actually going to do it this time. But instead of using nicotine gum or patches, which had just become a big thing around that time (early/mid 2000s), he went cold turkey. And he lost his mind. He would scream and yell about any minor thing that set him off. My mother and I spent years walking on eggshells around him, making sure we didn't do anything to get him going on a swear-filled rant. In those hours between school and my mother going home, I often hid in my closet, or a distant room watching tv quietly, just to avoid his rage.
This day, I came home and tried to stick to my usual routine. Go to the kitchen, check the trash, get myself a quick snack, watch an episode of Charmed or Pokemon on TV, then go to my room to hide/distract myself until my mom got home. But I never made it past getting a snack. I heard the garage door open and my father's footsteps stomping up the stairs. I tried to leave the kitchen but wasn't able to clean up before he got there. I don't remember what he was going off about that day, and I don't think it really matters, but he was raging and I was the only thing there to take it. I tried to move away from him, as he was trying to empty the dishwasher. He tried to pull out the middle rack of glasses and bowls and it got stuck. That was the spark that lit his fuse, and he snapped. He grabbed the rack, pulled with all of his strength, and threw it across the kitchen at full force. At me. I moved away and the rack hit the cabinet I was leaning against and shattered most of the glasses and bowls.
I ran across the room into a corner, as far away as I could in the moment, and screamed for him to stop. That only angered him further. He then threw the silverware bucket across the room, and began taking plates out of the bottom rack and threw them at me. I think we had a full set of dishes and bowls in there, including some serving dishes, to give you an idea of how many things he threw at me. A few hit me directly, and the rest shattered on the floor around me. All the while he was cursing and yelling at the top of his lungs. When he ran out of dishes, he stomped to the middle rack with the glasses and bowls and began throwing those around and at me. Then he left.
I froze. And after a few moments began to sob. I had always been told by my parents and relatives that they were always impressed by how I never cried as a baby. I was always so quiet, people would forget I was there. But that day, I scream-cried. I didn't hear my father leave, but he was gone. After a few minutes, I ran out of the house to my aunt & uncle's house next door. I walked into their kitchen, saw my aunt, uncle, cousins, and kids, and tried to explain what happened, but couldn't. I collapsed to the floor and continued scream-crying. After a few minutes, I told them what happened. They tried to calm me down, but I couldn't. At some point, I think someone looked out the window and said that my father's car had just pulled into my driveway (my house, not my aunt/uncle's house), and I screamed, ran upstairs to the farthest bedroom away from the stairs, and hid under a blanket in the corner of the room sobbing.
The next hour or so was a blur. I think at some point someone had called my mother to tell her what was happening and that I was at their house and refused to leave. She came home around 530 that day. She parked in our driveway and walked across the lawn to her sister's house. I remember her coming upstairs and telling me that she was going to take me home. I told her, through sobs, what had happened and that I didn't want to go back there. But she insisted, saying that it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be, and that I didn't need to be crying that much. She grabbed my hand and brought me downstairs, outside, and back into my house. I was shaking and tried to resist being pulled up the stairs, but she insisted.
When we walked into the kitchen, it looked like the aftermath of a natural disaster. Every square inch of floor was covered in broken porcelain and glass. There was some blood where my father had cut himself, and food strewn about. She didn't say anything at first, just looked around and surveyed the damage. Every plate in the kitchen was destroyed, as were all of the bowls, and most of the glassware. Some of the cabinets had dents and scratches, and a few of the floor tiles were cracked.
While I don't remember the exact words she used, I'll never forget my reaction to what she said next. She looked at the damage, then looked at me and said something to the effect of 'help me clean up this mess before your father gets home and sees this'.
I froze. At age 12, I had always relied on my mother to protect me and defend me from his attacks when she was around. At that point, I was too immature to realize that she never really protected me, but only worked to prevent her husband from blowing up around her. While usually this would result in me feeling protected, I realized later, through years of processing old memories, that was never her true goal. Her only goal was to maintain the facade that her marriage and family were perfect from the outside, and that her social standing was intact.
I froze. Physically locked in place, and emotionally stiff. My insides were as shattered as the dish I ate breakfast on earlier that morning. My mother saw what happened, heard my story, and yet she was making me clean up the mess.
I froze, until my mother snapped me out of it and made me bend down to pick up large shards and sweep up the rest. When we had finished cleaning the floor, she told me I could leave, and I ran to my room and hid under my blanket.
That day was the last day that I showed emotion to anyone. I stopped trusting her, my aunt, uncle and cousins. I stopped trusting anyone that day. Whenever someone asked how I was, I gave an automatic "I'm fine" and redirected the conversation away from me. When anyone would try and press to see how I was doing, I shut down. I began crying regularly that day, and whenever something happened that I had no control over, I would cry. My parents would both berate me for crying, saying I was "so emotional", and that I never cried like this as a baby. They would threaten to and follow through with taking away my PlayStation, books, maps, stuffed animals, and not give them back to me until years later. They would kick me out of the house, until they realized that I was just sitting at the foot of the driveway and all the neighbors could see me crying.
When I was 13, they yelled and threatened to send me to therapy, because I was an 'ungrateful, whiny brat, who complained about anything and everything', and that the therapist would see that I was just acting out for attention, and they would know that I was lying about any of my problems. I never did get sent to a therapist, and withdrew inside myself. The only times I was ever happy was on camping trips with the scouts (my parents never attended anything after I turned 11), and occasionally at school. I stopped trusting authority figures, and the few that I did end up trusting, never got to know me well enough, or cared enough to actually ask why I was so quiet and sad all of the time.
I wish I could say there is a happy ending to this tale, that I finally gained the courage to leave and run to the other side of the country and stay NC with them. But I haven't. I went to college 3 hours away, which was the furthest they would let me go and still pay for it. I was told which major I should sign up for by them, and in trying to minimize any conflict with them, I just went along with it. I met some good friends at college, and was finally able to loosen their grip on me, but I never felt that I had any control over my future. I didn't have a support system to help me get away from their grip. I graduated college and moved back in with them and am still here. I tried therapy a few years ago, but had a traumatic experience when the billing department sent my bill with detailed information on my diagnosis and appointments directly to my mother, and I haven't been back to one since.
I have spiraled in and out of depressive, anxiety-ridden states for the past 15 years, and have near-constant suicidal thoughts. I've managed to ignore them, but they are always there, like a parasite, eating away at my will to live. I don't have enough income right now to support myself independently, and certainly not to afford therapy visits on my own. But I am trying to at least write down my horrible stories and share them with a group of anonymous internet names who have been nothing but supportive with my previous posts. This sub was the reason that the fog of why I hated myself and my family has been lifted, and the reason that I am trying to do anything to get myself out of this, so I thank you as a whole and individually for existing as a safe place to share things like this.
submitted by StorytimewithNs