He hit her during another drunken stupor. Her aunt beat her. An uncle raped her. Her husband regularly insulted her, berated her, called her the 'c' word. Her brother raped her. The father got the daughter pregnant, the daughter had the baby, the wife stayed and endured the embarrassment. The husband threatened to kill his wife, mother and children. The father regular made his daughter fondle him. The adult celebrity was beaten and abused by relatives in her youth. The husband went to the ex wife's house to argue about visitation with the son, leading to a shouting match during which the husband ran up the stairs, kicked in the door of the room where the 4-year-old son was hiding at the insistence of the mother who feared for his safety.
Each of incidents noted above happened, each sentence referring to a different
person or persons, some to people who I read about in the news and some to
people I know. I actually witnessed the last incident and kept my involvement
verbal rather than engaging in physical intervention that could have harmed the
son. No physical harm came to any of the parties that time, or any other time
that I know of, but the regular arguments did have a negative psychological
impact on the son, who is now around 30 and possibly a parent himself.
When I see or hear about abusive or dysfunctional family situations, I thank
God none of that happened in my family. The only negative in my immediate
family was a healthy disagreement between my dad and I on just about every
topic someone could disagree on. We had 'spirited arguments' about war, race,
hair length, music, sex, religion, where I could live. He meant well. At the
time I failed to appreciate the sacrifices he made to support our family and
send me and my sister to college.
I note two thoughts when I think back to how 'normal' my upbringing was: one,
it seemed boring, and two, it was stable and drama-free. Over the years I've
learned to appreciate my family and my youth. If my dad was still alive, we
would still disagree on many things, but I believe our conversations would be
framed by respect.
An observation about myself over the past several decades: I'm a magnet for the
dysfunctional. Several friends and ex girlfriends grew up in abusive or
dysfunctional situations and apparently I was the 'normal' person in their
lives. On some level I appreciated being viewed that way, but in many cases I
was taken advantage of. When I was no longer needed by them, they were gone.
Appreciation is probably the main thing I want in life. I mostly am the nice
guy people often say I am. I don't say that to brag; it's just part of who I am
and maybe my stable youth contributed to that personality trait. I don't expect
anything in return, other than maybe I'd like my actions to be appreciated.
I wonder sometimes if I express my appreciation for all the wonderful things
people do for me. Do those closest to me know how much I appreciate them? I
regret not thanking my parents more often for all they did for me.
I'm happy to say that most of the people in the first paragraph that I actually
know in real life turned out fine and currently live what I believe to be
normal, drama-free lives, even though some scars of their earlier lives might
remain. I hope I played a healing role in their lives and I hope they
appreciate me for that.