Day 273 - The Legacy
Three steps to dealing with physical abuse:
There are two people who get hurt when one person physically abuses another. It's easier for one of the two to recognize it, but equally hard for both to admit it. And when it escalates, as it always will, it is extremely rare that the abuser, the anger addict, can leave it.
I didn't realize that what I was doing was physical abuse. I thought it was discipline, the way I had been disciplined as a child. I thought that if I kept the paddle strictly to their bottoms, that it was okay. What I also didn't realize was that physical abuse is just one symptom of underlying emotional abuse, and that emotional abuse crosses generations. When I became angry, so angry that I paddled my boys, I was playing out what had happened to me. In order to lay hands on them I had to overcome the fear I had felt as a child. In order to do that, I had to become angry; and so fear fed anger, and begat fear and anger in generational mis-array.
It took recognizing myself in the wide eyed look of sheer terror in my child's face to recognize that I was abusive. And although I have never publicly admitted it to another before now, I admitted it to myself and just... stopped. I walked away from that sickness and began to prepare myself for a better future. I had recognized my wrong, admitted it, and left it behind.
Now, today, and for many days in the future, I deal with what I created. One of my sons has recognized it, admitted it and left it. The other still hasn't. Oh I don't get any more broken ribs or concussions; both have left that behind, but my younger son is still living in fear and rage, and still being emotionally abusive.
These days I work on getting him to recognize it. I tell him when he's being abusive. Some day he'll admit it, I hope. And I hope it is long before he has sons, so that my generational legacy is hope, not fear. I hope we both leave my father's legacy behind.