Like so many millions of others, I didn’t have the best of starts in life. I suppose I was more fortunate than most because my abuse was never physical, it was always mental or emotional. My tormentor was my father, who resented me being around.
My mother told me one incident when I was two years old. My father screamed at me for being stupid because I had picked up a piece of litter (trash) and didn’t know to put it in what he called the “waste disposal receptacle” instead of just pointing at the trash can.
Also, he refused to acknowledge me by name until I was around eight years old. Until then, he would only whistle for me as if I were the pet dog. His interest in me was underwhelming; he never attended any school function, and when my English teacher wrote to my father that I should be tutored for
I write this not to garner sympathy – I feel none for my eight-year-old self because I have not known any different – but to raise two important questions: why do some of us behave the way we do, as my father did with me, and what are the longterm effects for the victim?
I don’t think my father ever stopped being the hurt child who struck out at a world he didn’t like. It stayed with him to the very end, as my Introduction in my book, Time-Light, explains. Ultimately, he died because he didn’t want to live anymore; he became time-heavy.
Most of us carry around hurts from years ago, and they become the filters through which we see our world. For me, his abuse was so extreme that I became utterly alienated from the world, which I saw as a hostile place. I was not worthy of anything – not even a pair of trousers. My hands would sweat in a clothing store because I feared I would be ‘found out’ and asked to leave.
Eventually, I plummeted into chronic depression, and a negativity bordering on nihilism. It was a crisis moment. How could my father’s influence reach out across the years? What made up this ‘I’ that I called myself that could be continually affected? I felt these questions acutely, and they were intensely personal – but now I realise they are universal. Everyone must ask them, and answer them, too.
When I found the answers, I became time-light, and the hatred of my father dissolved. I didn’t carry around my father a moment longer. I hope I have been a good father to our two daughters, and a good husband to Lynne.