Brokenness is generational but, doesn't always need to be. By Bambi Lynn
The seed of my existence came about more than fifty-three years ago this year, with two broken parents trying to learn how to survive the dysfunction, not understanding how they got together and even why they were forced, yet again, to be bringing into the world another child soon after their first child was born. The story of my parents was a difficult one. My dad came from a very broken home, with alcohol the choice used for hiding from life. He saw so much abuse: no wonder he had no idea of how to treat someone with respect. Respect wasn’t modeled for him at home. I heard many stories growing up of the pain that my father would endure at the hands of a drunken father. He saw much abuse between his mom and dad. I can't imagine being a little boy and not being able to help your mom get away from a fist that was coming at her by a drunken husband. I couldn't imagine the torment that he experienced until years later when I and my siblings experienced it at the hands of our own father. I vaguely remember my grandparents. I remember my grandma cooking at the stove, with this big pot, and my grandfather sitting in the corner in the kitchen smoking cigarettes I remember the black eye my grandmother had as she looked down at the pot of soup she was making. I remember an old swing set outside their house that we played on, because we weren’t allowed in the house around the adults. I remember one time having to spend the night there and my father getting mad and grabbing me and throwing me across the room. We were in sleeping bags on the floor in the living room. I am not sure why we were even there I would have bad headaches even into my adult years from that throw across the room. The memories of my grandparent’s house are very few, because my parents went back and forth together in their relationship over the ten years that they were together. My father was taught that women had no value and that hitting them was the way to keep them in line. My father was taught that drinking till you couldn’t stand up was a way of life, and that is just what you did. He may of never was told to keep drinking. but the actions of my grandfather showed otherwise, all my uncles drank and most destroyed their relationships with the life of alcoholism. It was a sad way to lay a foundation for the next generation. There were not very many happy memories with my dad. The memories I do have are all meshed together with the trauma of the abuse that took place in my home. I knew from a very young age that I wasn’t wanted. I was told that every time my dad got drunk. It seemed to me every time I was around him, I could feel the disgust he had towards me. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand as a young girl why I had to cover my ears when he would say I didn’t belong to him. I didn’t understand why my brother and sister could go with him to places, but if I asked, it was a no. Either that or he was mad that he had to take me with him. Still, fifty years later, that sting of not belonging lingers in places of my life that I thought were buried to be left unspoken. I remember a memory when my dad had “changed” and wasn’t drinking anymore. My mother packed all of us up from our apartment on North Street, across the street from my grandma’s house, in order to move to Virginia to make a go of it one more time with my dad. I remember being so upset and not understanding why we needed to go. I would understand years later when I had to make some of those same choices in my own life. As an eight-year-old, it didn’t make sense for us to leave my grandma's chocolate chip cookies or the overnight stays or my cousins who lived next door and who were my childhood's fondest memories. Why did we have to leave for another chance? Maybe, just maybe, this time would be different. For a short while it was different. Booze wasn’t taking my father away and wasn’t taking the money, so we could survive. My dad had found a church. He had found some hope. But I still wasn’t liked by him. My dad would sing the “Old Rugged Cross” in church. One Sunday night service, the pastor asked him to come up to sing. My dad nudged my brother and sister to come up with him. When I began to move to come too, he told me to sit back down. It took me years to hear that song and not cry from such rejection. It took me years to listen to the words of that song and not feel the pain and the feeling that I couldn’t even make him proud in church. The sting of his hatred would be part of my life for years, as I would marry men that I thought loved me only to be betrayed yet again and again. I became my mom in many ways believing this time would be different. I thought If I could just be a better wife I wouldn't have been cheated on and left for another woman. I thought if I could find a way to make my husband happy, I would be hit again or called filthy names. I am not sure why I ever thought I could change a heart? Even now so many years later I still ask the questions what if. I have never gotten past the thought that these things aren't my fault. I carry such guilt of my abuse and I pray it through and ask God all the time to heal me of that pain of blaming myself. Abuse at a young age trains your brain in ways that you are at fault. Maybe just maybe I could have done something for my dad to love me, when his hatred for me had nothing to do with me. My exes cheating on me or putting their hands on me were their issues not mine. The trauma of abuse lingers on but, we can stop the cycle by not making it us but, them. The cycle ends when we choose it to end. When we choose to not carry other people's baggage. The consequences of decision will carry on but, the choice of them must stop with me.I am a victim of abuse, I was the innocent party of the abuse. But the buck must stop somewhere. So, it might as well be with me.