A year ago today, my former spiritual mentor and best friend, Richard, was convicted of battering his own child. And until he worked out that plea bargain, I thought for sure he’d be a convicted felon, going to jail for many years.
The anniversary of the plea/conviction has suddenly hit me, causing a momentary melancholy.
He still reads my blog once or twice a week, but hasn’t been bothering me. Just reads. Sometimes it surprises me what he reads. Or the time of night/morning.
And it no longer bothers me that he reads; I gather up the IP addresses and could block them, could make my blog private, could remove certain posts knowing they’ll read them–but I don’t. I’ll allow this limited contact.
I wonder what day he gets off probation….I’m not mad at him like I was a year ago, just–sad. Hoping he learned something from the conviction. Hoping he’ll forgive me some day. Hoping one day he’ll understand me and why I did all that I did. That I worry about and desperately love the children.
(How could you do it, man? I thought you loved those children and were a good father. How could you do any of it? When I first found out, that’s all I could ask: How could you? How could you do this to her??!! Such things are not done in a vacuum–What else have you done? I thought you weren’t the kind of person to do such a thing! I still love you and it hurts to think of you as that kind of person.)
The past several weeks, I began to pull out of my funk over Richard as I worked on adding the full story of Shawn to my college memoirs, not just a few allusions here and there. I never went fully into it before, because it was painful–and very sensual. I wasn’t yet ready to reveal all those details in my public memoir, until now.
If you skip to the Index and read ahead, you’ll find that it wasn’t all fun and games. As time passed, I fell deeper into love with Shawn, while he began pushing me into more things, I followed along like a lovesick puppy, and he began psychologically abusing me. Sometimes he acted like he cared for me; other times he scolded and criticized me.
Now I realize that his behavior toward me could very well have been affected by his mental health history and the congenital condition of his brother, who at that time was sick and getting worse.
But because of the fun we had, teasing each other and confiding in each other, I kept trying to keep the friendship alive.
Then at the end of the year, he told me that because of the things we had done, intimate knowledge about me which he had wanted, our “impure” relationship that separated him from God, he could no longer be my friend.
My heart was broken…and going through my old diaries and letters, all very detailed, to write about this, took me back through that heartbreak. The sadness of the present was replaced with the sadness of 20 years ago. There were even tears as it all came back.
But that was not the end. Months later, he called and our friendship was restored, though at a distance because he no longer went to my college, and was going through severe mental health issues after the death of his brother.
But I was surprised to find some parallels in the story of Shawn, and the story of Richard, even though the circumstances were quite different: best friend, constant criticism and trying to change me into something I’m not and accusing me of motivations I don’t have, devastation, a hard time getting over it, needing to review a previous heartbreak because it didn’t seem nearly as painful as the present one.
Years later, I still care, still remember Shawn. Every once in a while over the years, he’s called or we’ve exchanged e-mails. I wonder what he still remembers. I was surprised at how much I’d forgotten.
And 20 years later, it still brought tears to my eyes that for several months, we were estranged and he said he wanted nothing to do with me. Once again, I rejoiced as I read about the phone calls that brought us back together as friends.
But for today, a more recent sadness has returned. Maybe it’ll go away again tomorrow, and memories of Shawn will fill my head again. Anniversaries are like that.
But for today, I mourn the loss two years ago of what I thought was a special friendship with Richard, and the proof, one year ago today, that his character is not what I had always thought it was, that not just Tracy, but also Richard, do not deserve to be in our lives.
And I hope that one day, things will be different.
UPDATE 10/4/12: According to the Inmate Locator, I see he’s off probation now (or at least not in the system anymore).
UPDATE 10/11/12: Sure enough, according to Vinelink: “Richard–Out of Custody, Date: 10/11/2012, Reason: Discharged – Supervision Terminated”
So he served the full time, even though he was allowed to apply to get off halfway through.
Shaming and humiliating children is emotionally abusive. It is not ok to smack children physically or with words. Young people deserve and are entitled to reach out, attach and bond with their caretakers.
It is an expectation that the parent will provide safety, protection, acceptance, understanding and empathy. When this does happen, children grow up knowing their worth and demanding respect from others and themselves.
When children are emotionally or psychologically abused, they grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and fearful. Normal development is interrupted and it sends the wounded child into exile. This is when negative internal messages are developed and why we have so many adults today feeling “not good enough.”…
When we talk about disrespectful children, we must look at parenting. Solid parenting shows children respect and empathy. When a parent truly gives respect to a child, they receive it back.
When this becomes the norm for the household, we see young people grow up with a loving value system that makes a difference in the world.
However, when children are shamed, humiliated and then silenced, it represses the harm that may re-surface later in life. If this happens, it can be in the form of self-destruction or cruelty to others.
Make the commitment to never shame a child. Treat children like you want to be treated. If you were raised by narcissistic parents, your own recovery work truly makes the difference. I salute you for the earnest efforts to stop the legacy of distorted love. The children of the world need YOU! –Karyl McBride, Shaming Children is Emotionally Abusive
To Deadra and Melodie and all other adult children working recovery, there are reasons you have the feelings you have.
Feelings don’t have brains. Call it whining, call it embracing, call it grief…what ever works, but don’t ignore those feelings or your ability to gain authenticity will be lost.
You could sell your soul to fit the mold. It takes courage to stand up for truth and in the process; you get to whine a bit. In the end, the optimism wins, and recovery works.
Make your diagnosis of whining worth it. Engage good sturdy whining with a purpose of healing and those “nay sayers” will see that you are ahead of the game and on the way to inner freedom to not only take charge of your life, but also get a charge from it!
William Arthur Ward quotes, “The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails.”
Adjusting the sails to allow for authentic feelings to surface so that reality is faced requires depth and understanding and is a significant aspect of sound mental health. It does silence the whining grunting piglets in the end. –Karyl McBride, A Differential Diagnosis for Whining