Monday, September 23, 2013

You Disgust Me. - Verbal Abuse

"You disgust me!"

Words from my father.

He said these words during an argument. It started out with me being late getting home from church of all places. Wednesdays were my one guaranteed escape from home each week. I was a member of the youth group worship team. I sang in the band and loved being with my youth group.
It's strange looking back. I was so odd and goofy. I was the home schooled, plain looking, awkward acting girl. I thought everyone there was my friend and I was completely clueless when one of the "cool girls" would ignore me or attempt to make fun of me.
I didn't know any better. Maybe this was a mercy from God for my already ridiculously low self esteem.

Growing up I always dressed very plain. My clothes were all hand me downs, worn out, outdated and sometimes just downright sad looking.  I dressed in rockies jeans, cowgirl boots and wore my hair  down to my waist. I usually pulled it up in a pony tail or wrapped it around in a bun that grew lager and larger each year. In the summer I wore t-shirts with the same jeans and boots and in the winter I wore frumpy sweaters and a jacket on top of it all.
I had big thin rimmed glasses. I was a poster child for sad looking nerd girls everywhere.
When I joined my youth group I learned how to dress more like a girl. I learned how to wear jewelry, sneakers, high heels, make up (which mostly consisted of lip gloss and blush). I was transforming in every way.
My father hated this. He hated my exposure to "worldly" vanities that "poisoned" even the youth group.  He hated my longing to be around my peers.  He hated that I was a social butterfly even for the awkward ignorant mess I was. He was proud of the fact I could sing but, he hated that it was not under his direction and tutelage.
 It was a constant battle between us about my involvement at church and neglecting home chores and family loyalty. He enjoyed finding ways to stop me from going on youth trips and outings. I was allowed my Wednesdays out of the house but, I was to be home by 9:30 and call if I was to be even a minute late. I believe this was the only the reason I was allowed out. It presented a golden opportunity to ground me or deal any punishment he felt.

I had signed up to go on a trip with the youth group and go ski for spring break.
An adult in the church had volunteered to sponsor my way and I had even saved money to have for meals and extra things. I did have to pay part of the fee for the trip and it was already done. My father had paid it and I was going. I was going, until this night anyway.
I was late getting home. I was just over 10 minutes late and this had been my 3rd week in a row being late at all. Upon opening the front door I saw both of my parents sitting in the living room, waiting for me. There was no escaping past them. It was Wednesday and I was just a week from the ski-trip.
My mother started with something about how I was acting irresponsible and this was my 3rd strike.
My father sat in the corner with this hands together and his index fingers sticking up resting on his mustache. He was glaring at me just waiting for the perfect moment to strike with harsh words to cut me to the core.
I explained to my mother that worship lasted late after service and that the buses to take kids home had barely left before me. I told her to call my youth pastor and ask. She continued to tell me it did not matter because nothing I was saying made any sense. They both argued with me and accused me of staying late and talking to boys in the parking lot in the dark.
They said I was causing the church a lot of trouble by doing this and if someone got hurt for any reason it was my fault. The church would have a liability issue (my father was an insurance man... everything was a liability issue) because of me and my being irresponsible and disobedient.
 Things escalated, there was yelling, accusations, tears (from me, while my father laughed) and then finally these words from my father "You just always have to be so belligerent and stupid! You disgust me!"
I was speechless... I knew I made him mad all the time and being called stupid was not new... "belligerent" was just his fancy Christian was of saying I was a pain in the ass. Truth be told I always felt he thought I was disgusting but, something about hearing him actually say it pained me deeply.
With that, I left the room.
I put on my pajamas, cried and then I was called back into the living room.
At first I just stayed in my room with my sister who was ignoring what was going on.
Then a knock on my bedroom came and one of my brother's yelled "Mom and Dad want you back in the living room NOW!" I got up and slowly made my way back to the living room with my head down.
I stood in the threshold that separated the living room from the kitchen. I crossed my arms and leaned up against the frame and asked "What?" (with all the charm of a teenager in full on angst and shut down mode.) "Sit down on the couch." My father directed with authority and sarcasm.
He took at deep breath and said "You just keep breaking the rules, you're always the one who has to break the rules and make everything harder for everybody. You're too stubborn." I didn't bother to stand up for myself and try to plead innocent anymore... their minds were made up. I was guilty and disgusting. He continued "I have decided as your father that you are not going on any trips and you're grounded for a month, you will not be going anywhere. Especially on some youth trip escapade. You can't be trusted." Naturally this sparked a rage within me and I glared at him with a fire in my eyes. He knew he had me and just to let me know he could manipulate me any way he wanted he said "Pepper, I love you."  with sarcasm, and evil pouring from his mouth, the words made me sick. To this day I do not know how I did not fly up off that couch and snap.
I just broke down and cried more. I had no words, no fight, no will. He found me disgusting and telling me he loved me was just a power play. Who could love disgusting? He never said he loved unless there was a fight. He had no apology for telling me I was disgusting, because it was true.
 This time of my father telling me he loved me, was one of less than five times in my life he ever said these words to me. 
It was silent and after what seemed an hour of silence I mustered up the words "Can I go now?"
I was dismissed and went to my room.  I spent the night in tears and kept trying to think of ways I could possibly win back my freedom. "You're so stupid Pepper, you don't think, you just act like a foolish idiot and that's how you end up like this because you're stupid!" I told myself.
I hated myself and my anger shifted from my father on to me.
I managed to work extra hard at chores and win back my previous privilege of going to youth but,  there was no chance of me ever getting to go on a youth trip. I was stupid, irresponsible and untrustworthy.

I will never forget my youth pastor coming up to me the following week in youth group and hugging me and telling me he was "so sorry". I was shocked and didn't know how to respond to this gesture. Why was he sorry? I was the stupid screw up. He was the first person (besides my grandma nanny) to cultivate my singing abilities and took me under his wing. I had let him down in my mind.

This was just one of the MANY episodes with my father tearing me apart verbally.

Abuse disgusts me.

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