He is right because he yells the loudest. The truth isn’t what you heard him say and saw him do, it’s what he says he said and did. Everyone in the room is a weirdo but him. Everyone a suspect. Greeting strangers with a dirty look. Always wronged, never wrong. Always shifting blame. You are not entitled to an opinion other than his. Just who the hell do you think you are?
This man raised me and this man broke me.
I spent my childhood confused and afraid, my teen years raging, my young adult years reeling, and my late twenties healing and finding health, struggling to this day against self-inflicting harm, I suspect was born of being treated as though I was worthless. I've rid myself of all toxic persons, all except for the men related to me by blood.
To keep peace, hold the family together, because I felt bad for them.
I've called upon my senses of tolerance and compassion to the point of self-detriment. I've established and maintained our strained relationships with negligible effort on their part. I've allowed myself to be belittled, bullied, and insulted by my father and the son he brought up to treat me the same way. I've invited their outrageous bigotry and misogyny into the happy home I made in spite of them. I've exposed my children to it.
“I don’t what you’re talking about.”
“I think you need to calm down.”
“You’re being awfully dramatic.”
As if emotionality equates crazy, causes confusion, erases truth.
In each defense of myself I have been gaslit and turned out spinning on my head too dizzy to fight.
I’m fighting again now. No. I’m giving up.
I am done shoving details of my life down their throats while my father or brother tinker with something in the background of the phone call because it isn’t their turn to talk.
I am done being yelled at for suggesting they spend time with my children or remember their birthdays.
I am done being tortured through the hell of the holidays, when one mutters something nasty about how glad he is he doesn’t have children in the same breath as, “Come give your uncle a hug,” while the other plies us with loads of cheap, impersonal gifts so we can see what a great guy he is.
I am done defending the gay neighbor boy, and my daughter's hijab wearing classmate, against their comments, while they look only my husband in the eye when they speak.
I am done cowering as they raise their voices and posture their bodies in anger at the hint of a substantive conversation because they feel threatened and don’t know how to communicate any other way.
I am done amassing violations against me without complaint.
I am done pretending to buy that they care. I don’t feel cared for.
I am done holding together abuse-tolerant relationships.
How many times do you think they have cried because of how I've treated them?
For whose benefit has all of my effort been?
I’ve been silent to protect them, complicit in the lessening of their consequences, and I am done.
These men have lost.