My husband usually says that he was not physically abused but once in a while in the past few years he has admitted that there were a few occasions when he actually was physically abused by his father. He is willing to call what happened “abusive”. I have always found it fascinating that he didn’t consider what happened to him as abuse prior to these last few years. The events didn’t fit with his definition of the word abuse before.
This one particular time, he “pulled a case of beer” which means that he bought a case of beer when he was underage. He went to the school dance and he drank too much and his Uncle kicked him out of the dance. When his father found out, he literally kicked the stuffing out of him. My husband thought he deserved it. Now, depending on your own background some people can almost see why my husband thinks he deserved it, but did the punishment fit the crime? Does anyone have the right to do that to someone else? Today, we have laws about that kind of thing. I can almost guarantee that in my father in law’s mind, he thinks that it was his right as a father, to beat up his son in this way; to just hit him like that and put the boots to him. If my husband had come round the corner of the barn, and saw his father kicking his sister that way, he certainly would have considered that to be physical abuse, but in his own case he didn’t think it was really abuse.
Where the heck does this belief come from, that we actually might deserve this kind of treatment? Even more of a mystery is that when other people tell us these stories, we are outraged. We try to convince others that what happened to them was or is abuse, and yet we don’t think what happened to us was. We so often don’t validate ourselves the way that we validate other people. We don’t react to our own stories the same way we react to other peoples stories.
How did we get convinced that it was our fault, or that we deserved it? I have come to realize that this kind belief does not develop overnight, but over time. Like many of us, I was conditioned over time to accept different definitions of certain words as the truth. My husband believed that getting a beating as severe as the one he got was his deserved punishment. That was his truth.
As children we might believe that it is our always our shortcoming when our parents are disappointed in us and that becomes our truth. Along with one false definition, we develop other false definitions. It is like lying, one lie needs to be covered up with another lie and eventually we develop a definition of love that isn’t accurate, our definition of respect is the wrong, and therefore it shouldn’t surprise us when our definition of abuse gets skewed too, but these definitions become our truth. I encourage you to think about what your truth is and where it came from. My motivation for writing this post is due to how often I hear people defending abusive parents.
In my process of recovery, I had to learn the true truth, the real truth about myself; with help, I had to re-wire my brain as well as change my definitions of words like abuse, love and respect and I had to re-parent myself so that I could thrive in wholeness and freedom.