OK finally read all the way through...I don't even know where to start with my family.
I often try to give my mom a break because her childhood was truly the stuff of nightmares and I know she tried hard to do better with me. She did do better, but it was still fairly screwed up. My dad, otoh, I don't know how to make excuses for him. His parents, while far from perfect human beings, are basically decent people. There were years when they all but raised me and my brother so I got to know them pretty well. My dad grew up in suburban (relative) privilege with a stable, caring extended family. So I have no idea how he grew up to be such a monster.
I have a very long memory and can remember incidents from when I was 2 and 3 years old. My very first memory is of being screamed at by my father, when I was 2 years old and I had "sassed back." For most of my life I was ashamed of this memory because I saw it as evidence of what a bad person I was, but when I grew up I realized that um, it's not ok to scream at 2 year olds just because they said the word "stupid." And when I say he screamed I mean total full on rage, towering over me red-faced and bellowing at the top of his lungs. Because the 2 year old said "stupid dumb stupids." That should give you a taste for what my childhood was like.
His rage was the center of my life until I moved out and for a good bit of time afterwards. Sometimes, though, cruelly enough, he was the nicest daddy ever, and I loved him terribly. I treasured special times with him like sharing chicken mcnuggets and grape soda, quoting silly movies at each other, playing a game where he pretended to be so stupid I had to steer him around telephone poles or he would run into them and get "stuck." You never knew which daddy you were going to get, and as I grew, I also grew more and more anxious.
At age nine mealtimes were so tense I had trouble swallowing my food. My father, who has always had a weight problem, took it personally and decided I was becoming anorexic to spite him. He screamed at me to eat. As I broke down and started crying, he screamed louder. As I became hysterical and started gasping for air (basically I was having a panic attack with my mouth full of beef stroganoff, if you can imagine) his rage just grew and grew. I can't remember what he said to me but it was always awful, always the worst slanders, accusations, and insults. As always, my mom sat there and just shook her head. Maybe she was disapproving of him but was afraid to say anything, but I always thought she was disapproving of me.
There were a lot of times like that. When I would cry it would make things worse. But I was a little kid, I couldn't help crying. Hell, I don't know of many adults who could take that kind of abuse without breaking down.
He was very paranoid and had some bizarre fixations. He probably has some form of mental illness, but thanks to my family life I have studied psychology in depth and I have never been able to guess a diagnosis for him. Some sort of personality disorder cocktail is the closest I can get, maybe schizotypal or paranoid, borderline for sure ("I hate you don't leave me" is his way of life), and narcissistic or histrionic. But like, we lived where rural met suburbs and he wouldn't let us play out front because he thought that "inner city blacks" would drive by and shoot at us. And he was completely unhealthily obsessed with my "reputation" and "purity."
He travelled within the state for business and would take me with him. I liked having the days off school but soon he began to impose on me in an improper way. I was like his second wife and I was terrified and knew it was wrong but couldn't stop it. First just emotionally, eventually physically, though there were some lines he never crossed I think those lines are fairly arbitrary. Nothing as terrible as what happened to my mother as a child, but bad enough to scar me and bad enough that whenever something triggers me I have nightmares about him literally for weeks.
He was so jealous, I wasn't allowed to date AT ALL in high school even. I had a sort of boyfriend but we weren't allowed to be alone together even at a movie or concert. He used to say he'd shoot any boy I brought home, which I know a lot of men say as a joke, but he was vicious enough I knew there was some seriousness behind it. Besides, what a weird thing to say. Personally I WANT my daughter to grow up and know the joy of a close relationship with a man or another woman, someone she can share everything with and build a family with. Who would be threatened by their kid growing up and finding love and happiness?
Where was my mother in all of this? Not exactly ignorant. Not as guilty, but definitely complicit. She participated in some abuse, a lot of it also took place when she was at work, though. I know in my heart that she knew what was happening but she was too warped and screwed up herself to deal with it, she had to deny it to keep herself going. I don't think that's a great excuse and yeah, I do hold it against her. But she's not the total monster my dad is.
When I was pregnant my dad talked about the fetus like it was his and mine, like my partner didn't exist. I had horrible, horrible nightmares almost every night. I dreaded going to bed. I also resolved that I did not ever want my dad anywhere near my child. At first I agonized over how I could delay him holding her when she was born. The time I wanted to delay it grew...a day, a week, a month, could I get away with two months? Three? Six? Finally I decided I did not HAVE to let him do anything. I didn't have to let him even meet her.
She's five months old and he has never seen her in person, even once. Even though he physically tried to barge past me and my dog to get into our apartment once when she was a month old. Every day that passes, I get firmer in my resolve: never. He's never going to meet my daughter. Because I am taking my family in a completely different direction and he can't be part of that world.