by J. Speer-Williams
I hated my mother for taunting my father, and hated him more whenever he’d slap her to the floor.
In my mind, I could see him again slapping her in the kitchen, while I tried to sleep. Did he feel he was being gentlemanly by not hitting her with a closed fist? Was my mother playing the role of a martyr? Did she choose to suffer physical abuse, rather than to placate a drunk, who predictably behaved like a lunatic whenever he drank?
My younger sister would always disappear or pretend to be asleep whenever our parents fought. She actually had little to fear, as I cannot remember my father ever laying a hand on her; it was always me and my mother he bruised. She slept in a bed opposite mine, in our small and unadorned room, without a single picture in it.
It was a small room totally without any embellishment; but rather than being simple, genuine, or pure, it was ugly, hot, and depressing, and was never an oasis from the constant upsets that characterized our entire household.
And as the kitchen beating moved closer to my hot and claustrophobic room, I wished I had a different father, a different mother; and, I wished I was different myself. I was small, weak, and cowardly, and hated my mother for proving my cowardice to myself. By not keeping her mouth shut, she was causing me to feel too ignobly frightened to defend her against my sociopathic father, the man I longed for her to divorce. But as I rolled onto my side, and pulled my sweat-soaked sheet to my chin, I hated myself more than my parents.
Then it happened. Someone came into my room. It was my mother. She got into my bed and under my sheet. She was hugging me. Why? Was I to protect her? Did she really believe I could protect her?
Then, the lights came on, carrying my father to my bed. He tore off the sheet covering me and my mother; and then proceeded in ripping my mother’s night clothes off her body until she was naked. My mother hugged me tightly, with my boxer shorts the only thing between us.
I closed my eyes, praying my father would leave us, which he must have done, as the next thing I can recall was my mother whispering to me. Oddly, she told me that she was proud of me as I was a born leader, who currently led my little friends, but would one day be a leader of men. I became confused as I had never considered myself as a leader. A coward yes, but not a leader.
As my mother whispered to me, I remembered the afternoon when my next door friend “Junior,” had gotten riled with me and chased me down the street in front of my house; but, I was faster than Junior and escaped into what I thought would be the safety of my home, only to be confronted by my father.
My father took off his belt and began beating me with it, telling me I had to fight Junior. Finally, he stopped swinging his belt, telling me to go batter Junior or he’d beat me again.
Knowing he could hurt me far worse than Junior could, I flew out of my back door, running across a vacant lot that separated our two homes.
Junior was on his knees, in his back yard, playing with something on the ground; but, suddenly he looked up to see me running straight for him. I hit Junior flush in the face as I ran past him, then circled back to deliver more of his “deserved” blows. Soon, I was on top of Junior punching him with both fists, as he screamed in fright, and my father yelled commands to “hit him again.”
Junior’s mother rushed out of her back door, crying in horror.
Then my father began yelling, “Stop it, stop it Jack,” as he yanked me off of Junior and pulled me back home.
Maybe I could be a leader, I thought as my mother talked us both to sleep.
Unknown to me at that time, was my hate for myself, mother, and father was fueled by the fear I had for my father. My father was a volatile parent and husband. Otherwise, he maintained a pleasant enough disposition with all others. But how my mother and I could throw my father into such rages – even when he was sober – is still a mystery to me.
Trembling with anger from what exactly I was never sure, my father would rush me into the bathroom, where he would take off his belt and beat my legs with it.
Unfortunately, I sometimes wore short pants during these beatings, which I was then forbidden to wear to school due to the bruises my father would leave on my legs.
But much as my father’s belt-beatings scared me, it was his fists that I most feared. On some occasions, when drunk, my father preferred to intimidate me rather than beat me. He’d tremble with anger and shake his fist under my nose, yelling, “You see it? You smell it? You wanna feel it?”
“No sir,” was my usual snap answer, even though I was always appalled by his lack of creativity with words or his intolerance for words from others.
“And don’t you f—ing ever do it again, he’d say.”
“No sir, I won’t,” I would respond, never fully aware of what I had done to so provoke him.
After each beating my father gave me, he would force me to hug him and say, “I love you.”
If I faltered on the hug or my “I love you” words, he’d threaten me with another beating.
And of course, being the pragmatic little coward that I thought myself to be, I quickly gave in. And in time, this sort of enforced affinity, coupled with pain and the threat of more pain, produced a kind of cognitive dissonance within me that channeled hate, borne from fear, into unsuspected areas.
It is said that there are only two basic human emotions: Love and fear, and that all other emotions are direct or indirect branches of our two basic emotions. If this is true, then certainly hate is born from fear. But to mix real fear with an artificial kind of love, as my father attempted with me, can produce, I believe, a sort of direction in life that will be fraught with failure.
My father believed my only hope of success in life, or because of his own ego, was for me to become a professional baseball player. So I began to play baseball with some energy and enthusiasm to please him; but, I also played with an indifference to get even with him. And that indifference cost me my two front teeth, when a ground ball hit me in my mouth. Moreover, I lacked the will to learn how to hit a curve ball.
Then I opted for football, and being a football star for the Florida Gators would certainly please my father.
I still remember the mandatory phone calls I had to make every Sunday evening to my father, to report on my football progress. And, I also remember the pleasure it gave me to always report that I had not yet made it any further than the “scout team.”
My next attempt to please my father, while in college, came from the Army ROTC.
The Viet Nam war was heating up at that time, so I decided to become a war hero. And I began by becoming the Cadet Commander of the entire ROTC unit.
And for good measure, I became the president of the military honorary society, Scabbard and Blade. I was about to please not only my father, but my mother as well, as a leader of men. But, my Guardian Angels had different ideas.
Before I graduated and received my commission, the local police intervened. The Gainesville police reported all my police arrests of fighting and public drunkenness to the authorities, and I was kicked out of the ROTC program. Success, followed by failure, was becoming a pattern in my life, which I am sure was enforced by my early Methodist upbringing.
You see, my father was a Christian, who forced me and my sister to go to Sunday School and church. It was there that I learned about a wrathful God who could not only beat me with a belt, but throw me into Hell’s fires forever; but still, I was required to love him. It was all beginning to sound much like the love-hate relationship I had with my father, but it took me years to actually really see the parallels.
In time, I learned that Moslems and Jews, also, had wrathful Gods, they were required to love. Could it be that Christians, Jews, and Moslems were all being reared as if they all had had abusive fathers like I had? Could there be some massive Con (spiracy) afoot?
I have come to believe that Jesus was an advanced spiritual being sent to Earth to awaken and enlighten us, but I believe the same of Buddha. And that there could be no way that either Jesus or Buddha would ever condone the wars or tortures perpetrated by Christians, Jews, and Moslems. Obviously the tenets, texts and teachings of those religions were altered by a power structure that purposely set up wrathful Gods we are to love.
It has been a perfect set up to ensure endless fear, with hate, torture, and wars as its by-products.
Thanks to the love-hate I had for my father, I would have never succeeded in life, until I had caught on to the trap I was in.
Mankind will never exist in a peaceful harmonious state, until Christians, Jews, and Moslems stop inventing “rational” reasons for fear and the resultant tortures and wars, promoted by their governments, and transmitted by the controlled, corporate media.
Love is man’s truly natural emotion, while fear is artificially imposed, usually for self-serving reasons to generate hate. How else would wars or tortures be possible?
But, we can learn from those who peddle and cause fear that leads to hate, as I learned from my father.
Would I have ever caught on to the greatest hate producing gimmick of the ages, had not my father beaten me and then demanded that I love him?
And, I pray that my father’s contribution to this article absolves him of all his petty tyranny as a husband and father.
Jesus told us to love and forgive our enemies, and I know that’s difficult to do, even when we learn from them.
When on his death-bed, my father tried to apologize to me for his misdeeds. But never having forgiven myself for my cowardice and self-hate, how could I forgive him? I dismissed my father’s plea with, “Don’t worry about it.” And those were the last words I remember ever speaking to my father.
Today, I forgive myself. And Daddy, I forgive you.