Things I can’t say to my father-in-law
This past June, my husband stopped all contact with his father. After years of not speaking to his biological monster (except for the one day she stupidly called our home and interrupted a football game), my husband has finally cut ties with the abuse-enabling parent.
My father-in-law is a born and bred southerner. Very proud of his roots. While claiming to not be a racist, he has said that he knows a white man who was beaten up by the Klan because he cheated on his wife. Many people in the south know that “one white man.” It’s a widespread urban legend. There is no good Klan. But it’s a story that many racist southerners cling to when their world view is challenged.
He hates Muslims and Mexicans. He will tell you that he doesn’t, but he does. If you ask him anything about Islam or Mexico, though, he can’t give answers. He knows nothing about them other than what he’s read on fake news sites like westernjournalism or conservativetribune. Fox News isn’t far enough to the right for him. It doesn’t support his hate well enough to suit him.
This man approaches politics as though it were a football team. Rah rah rah! Go Republicans! But will complain about high costs and unfair policies related to his Medicare coverage. He doesn’t want his Social Security to be reduced. In fact, he’s pissed that he hasn’t had an increase in several years, other than the annual COLA increase. He hates rich people and thinks they should pay more in taxes. But since Republicans have branded themselves the Party of Jesus™, they’re his All-American Team.
You don’t know what he’s really thinking. Being “hospitable” is a southern quality that rarely coincides with being honest. His views on a multitude of issues vary based on his audience. Because I am an intimidating Yankee who doesn’t back down, he will concede when salient points are made, when facts are presented and well-sourced. But behind that smile is anger. Outrage. Disgust.
Immediately after contact was cut off from him, he declared proudly, on Facebook, that the only person he owes anything to is Jesus. His belief is all he needs. Like in the story of Abraham, he has sacrificed his sons for his God. He has done this throughout their lives. When his elder son called the police on his mother for whipping him until bloody with a fishing pole, my father-in-law yelled at him because he was at work and the phone call was an inconvenience. After providing the elder son with a stern lecture about listening to one’s parents, another bloody whipping commenced, with the promise of more violence once daddy got home.
According to my father-in-law, these things didn’t happen. Or, at least, they didn’t happen the way the victims in this story described them. He was their hero! He saved them from worse beatings at the hands of the monster mother by beating them himself! Such a sacrifice for someone who was abused during his childhood, and whose father also ignored all signs of abuse for his own convenience. What father wants to raise two children alone? Not my father-in-law. Not his father.
When the eldest son was bullied by his mother into attending church and getting baptized at 16, and said son responded that he no longer believed in god (how difficult it is to maintain faith when you have no hope of escape from such monsters), this wonderful father responded by forcing the elder son to sit silently as he read aloud from the Bible. Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1. He didn’t make it too far into Genesis by the time his wife located his .22 revolver and pointed it in the eldest son’s face, threatening to prove to the teen that Jesus existed. All she had to do was pull the trigger. This hero, this selfless man, took the gun away from her. He also never called the police, not even after his elder son ran away for a few weeks and hid at a friend’s house. He remained married to the monster. He documented nothing, not even when the monster would disappear with his younger son for weeks at a time. No police were involved. It’s not as though the police cared, but it would have been nice if there had been a paper trail of the monster’s abuses.
Divorce happened well after the elder son was out of the home, and only came about because the monster was spending daddy’s money and bouncing checks at every Mexican restaurant in town. She was also fornicating with every restaurant employee who would have her. When it came down to good ol’ dad having to sell CDs and DVDs in order to buy dented cans of food at a discount store, coping with a voracious case of botulism in the process, that was when he finally put his foot down and divorced her.
For years, both sons have struggled with the knowledge that he could have stopped the monster but did not. One call to the police. Just one. That’s all he had to do. It was more important that he not have to pay her alimony after it was discovered that she was living with a new man, a violation of the divorce decree that nullified her monthly payments. That required action, dammit!
The point of all of this is that I have a lot of anger. I’m angry because my husband has been hospitalized multiple times for his complex PTSD, anxiety, and a multitude of other mental health issues that are directly related to the abuse he suffered for 19 years of his life. I am angry because the man who whinges about no one wanting to talk to him denies that these things happened. I am angry because this man still treats my husband like a dog, raising his voice over differences of opinion as though my husband is still five years old. I am angry because he once said to me, “I am so glad you married [my son] because I am too old to have to take care of him,” shortly after my husband was released from the local behavioral health center and around the time he applied for Social Security Disability.
This blog will serve as a replacement for all of the conversations and emails and hand-written letters I’ve abandoned over the past 12 years. I will pick apart his myopic public Facebook posts with facts. I will address the many things he hasn’t done. I will enumerate the reasons why he is no longer worthy of anyone’s affection or attention. I will defend and protect my husband.