How do I help you?

Is it our familial DNA- nature- or nurture that causes one to slit throats? My brother prepared me for life with my son who takes after his father. They all know how to “go for the jugular” and it takes every bit of patience and love in me to ignore- to not react in a way that lets him know it kills me… But he knows, so he keeps cutting.

My brother tormented me growing up. He knew I loved my kittens so he would force their tiny paws on the scorching metal of the car in summer, just to make me cry and scream! He spit in my hair and in my food on the daily. I got used to not eating. He hated me because I was the baby of the family and got our mother’s attention when she had so little time to give. When he tormented me, I would tattle on him and thus he would gain mother’s attention. Negative attention is better than no attention in the eyes of a child.

My son’s dad would go from 0 to 60 in his consequences for the littlest thing our son would do. He would determine how to hurt him the most and use it to gain control when our son would deviate from what was expected. My son would work hard all day long to earn “wrestling time with dad.” Yet, in his excitement, he might prematurely jump on him. Rather than give a calm warning or reminder to wait for him to be ready, his dad would heavily chastise him and send him to his room for the rest of the night. My son would cry and cry and wonder why his dad hated him so much. He wanted to die because he could never do anything right.

Here we are now- three years after we left- with these ideas about himself ingrained. Any time I give a consequence or must raise my voice, he reverts back to a time when he was treated with injustice. He claims we don’t respect him as he cusses up a storm and uses physical means as an attempt to “control the girls’ behavior.” I calmly remind him that I cannot have him around the girls when he acts like that but that I love him and will talk with him when he is calm.

He continues to slice at me with comments that he knows hit a chord: “You hate me. I’m just going to go kill myself. Can you look up for me ways to kill myself? Dad’s wife is a better mother than you. You treat me like shit! You only use us for the child support money.” Breathe deeply. Don’t react. Lord help me.

I finally declare that if we don’t care about him nor respect him and it is so horrible to be in my home and if she is such a better mom, then let’s call your dad and tell him that you need to live with him for awhile: Let the back peddling commence, “Uh, no! That’s not what I want!” As I pick up the phone, “Don’t! I just want you to respect me!” He sobs.

Inside I am crying. The tears are welling up. But, I have to push them down. But why? Isn’t he pushing and slicing so that I will bleed too? Isn’t he trying to get me to feel as much pain as he is inside? Perhaps we should cry together instead. For it pains me greatly to see him in such torment. In time, given space, it passes and he returns to say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. I love you.” We hug for a long while and I tell him that I love him too. His words suture the wounds just a bit, but they still hurt. And I know it’s only a matter of time before the knives come out again and he starts slashing!

*I hope that my story can help someone out there who also struggles with similar parenting issues. Thanks.


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