Sunday, December 14, 2008

I drove away

The first few days at my parents' house went well, perhaps the best of any visit I have had with them. Dad enjoyed the birthday dinner we had with him. My brother and nephew were able to be there also.

On Tuesday evening I was able to do some language research with my father. I recorded a number of words from his first language.

I helped clean things around the house. My brother and nephew did a lot of cleaning when they were there on the weekend, also.

The lady who had been coming to help Mom bathe had notified Dad that she was limited on time because she has so many children to take care of. So I followed up by calling some agencies that a local doctor had suggested might be able to provide help. One of them had an in-home care worker who did not currently have any clients. The lady and her supervisor were happy to come for an evaluation and interview time Wednesday morning. Before they came Dad started getting tense, saying that he didn't need help, even though everyone else knows he does and he often tells us by phone how difficult it is for him to take care of Mom. The appointment went OK. Dad agreed to help one day a week. He paid the required two weeks in advance.

Not too long after the ladies left Dad exploded in a rage. It caught me off guard. It was like his rages when I was younger. He swore saying all the resource people could "go to hell." I instantly decided that I did not want to listen to any more of his raging. I quickly, quietly packed up my things, told goodbye to both Mom and Dad and drove off. I cried for miles, wishing that Dad would not have raged again. I cried wishing that things were different. I was able to cry, something I could not do when Dad raged when I was younger and when he beat me. And this time I could set a boundary for myself and leave. It hurt to leave, but I did. And I knew, somehow, that I had done the right thing.

I called one of my cousins who knows my story and who has experienced spousal abuse for many years and told her what had happened, and cried with her. She was the first person to tell me I did the right thing. What a good thing to hear even though I felt so sad. My cousin asked me if I had planned to leave if my father had raged and I said no, but that I had had a number of dreams in which I had wrestled with what to do when my father was raging. Perhaps that wrestling, as a recovering adult, had helped me so that when the bad time came I was able to leave.

It took me more than four hours to drive the wintery roads to get to my brother's house. I got to talk to my wife by phone. She cried with me as I told her what had happened. She, also, was totally supportive and told me I had done the right thing.

I still feel sad, but I feel freer. My father may think I am mad at him. Anger is how people in our big family system tried to control each other. But I'm not mad at him. I feel so very sad for him. He is missing out on getting better help to deal with the difficulties of taking care of Mom and their house. I wish I could change him so that he would take the help, but I can't. I'll continue to try to get him help, but I'll continue to try to do it in a way that he feels he is in charge, making decisions. That seems to be very important to him, not losing control. He has already suffered some big losses, losing his driver's license, Mom not having the mind she used to have anymore, her losing continence, their house being dirty and smelly from urine (but he has lost much of his usual keen sense of smell so he doesn't think their house is in bad shape). When the point comes that they actually are in danger from having such a bad living situation, we'll have to intervene, even if he rages. Maybe doctors will have to give Dad something to calm him at that point.

Life is sometimes difficult. I don't feel great about how my trip ended up. But I still think I did the right thing driving away, quietly, but resolutely. And if that's right, I progressed a little more on this trip.


Blogger butterfly said...

I know dreams are horrible, but maybe it is good you had been dreaming similar situations, you're right. A lot of recovery therapy is about healing your "inner child"...I think you stood up for that child... even if no one did it back then, you did it now... and that counts. You stood up for Little You and said no more hurting him... and I bet he felt protected.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did SO good. I really like what butterfly said stood up for that kid. (Wow. That thought gave me the shivers)...

9:16 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Butterfly is right on...You did stand up to your "inner child" something that we all need to do, but is often hard to do. I myself have difficultly in that area. We need to heal ourselves, and if driving away was the thing to do, then yes you did do the right thing, I would have done that too. I like your blog, it's my first time here..take care..Merry Christmas..

7:39 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

You didn't just stand up for your inner child, but for your present self. You also kept your father accountable for his actions, showing him that he's wrong to treat you (or others) that way and that there are consequences for wrong (as well as right) actions.

I don't know if it would help to write & explain to your dad why you could tell him you understand it's hard to have to rely on help but that it's okay and no one will respect him any less -- or whatever you think he needs to hear.

I'm also wondering, before you called the agencies did you ask your dad if he thought it'd be a good idea to find some new help?

9:00 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Al Johnson said...

I'm also wondering, before you called the agencies did you ask your dad if he thought it'd be a good idea to find some new help?

Good question. Thanks for asking. Yes, we talked it over. Dad wanted the previous helper to continue, but she reported she couldn't. So I followed up with the agencies that Dad's doctor had told him could help him. I checked with Dad each step. We don't make decisions for him. That really backfires.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

That's great, Al.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Kathy Mansfield said...

Good for you! The last time I spoke to my step dad, he was in a rage, too. We got into a huge argument, and all of a sudden I realized, "You know what? I can pack my bags and drive away. I'm not a kid anymore." So, that's what I did. I never saw him again until his funeral. I hated driving away leaving Mom and my sick Grandma with him, but I had to take care of me at that point. And Mom and Grandma were adults, too. They could drive away if they chose to do so. Hard decision, but the right one for my ultimate well-being.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Marj aka Thriver said...

I think what you shared is GREAT progress. Kudos. I also agree that you did the right thing. And I'm glad that you were able to express some feelings about it. It is, very sad. I'm sorry.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Vinesh Panditpotra said...

fuck you.

Stop crying!

He is raged and furious, thats bad for his heart, he is screwing his own life up.

Why are you being upset about it? why don't you do some awesome things with your life like learn an instrument, backpack europe, get an amazing lover.

Keep in mind, I am not saying what he did was correct but all I am saying is don't waste your life on this shit, you won't realize when your youth just left you.

Get out of home, see the amazing sky and all the things you can do and LIVE!

Stop whinning and thinking about such things.

Here's a cure for you: Listen to good happy happy songs and watch these movies:

Forrest Gump
You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Take my advice, DO IT!

And yeah, don't ruin your cousin's day by crying with her.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Children with out voices said...

I had written about our family and its dysfunction and than a person left a negative comment and I had it shut the blog down, but I am reminded why I put it up and that was to raise awareness and so I continue to write and commend you for doing the same,It shows how much strength you really have and how you realigning he path.
Good luck

5:12 AM  
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9:12 AM  
Blogger 台灣的101 said...

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7:25 PM  
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11:45 PM  
Blogger Stolle Family said...

I am a 29 year old sexual child abuse survivor. My abuser was a removed distant family member. I am looking to make connections with other surviors and specifically other survivors who are writing. I just recently published a Christian Childrens book that aims to give hope back to children whom have had theirs stolen. I have a site with my backstory and info on what I have written. Please check it out and leave me a comment.

PS. I have had to drive away before too...with 2 small children...alone and no installed car seats. Terrifing

7:54 PM  
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12:52 AM  

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