I have a feeling today’s post is going to really light some people’s fires. Especially if the person I’m talking about has friends reading this blog. But I have to get it off my chest…and I feel like this is the only way to get it out there. And I want to say this before anything else…I am not defending my father in any way through this post. He is fully responsible for his actions and I’m fully aware of that.
As anyone who’s been keeping up with this blog (or me in general) knows…my father was arrested for arson (among other things) back in January of this year. He had set fire to his girlfriend’s (ex girlfriend’s, I can’t keep track) house. Now of course, when it went to court…this girl made it all the court’s fault. There were endless articles in the newspapers in Florida about how she blamed the court for not protecting her. And every time I read another one of those articles…I wanted to scream.
Let’s backtrack a little bit. I forget how I’d gotten her number…but in the summer of 2010 I’d gotten a hold of the woman’s number. I had heard stories of how he was treating her, and I was terrified history was going to repeat itself. I was just waiting for her to get pregnant, and then leave my father. And then I’d have yet another sibling out there in this world somewhere. There’d be another child without a decent father…and with a lifetime of problems to deal with. The idea broke my heart, as did her getting herself into a situation she didn’t fully understand. I mean as humans…how many times do we do the “if only I’d known then what I know now…” I wanted her to be able to avoid that realization years/months down the road.
Anyways. One night I texted/called her (I’m sorry it’s been a year and a half…my specific details may be off). I told her who I was…and why I was contacting her. At the time I guess things hadn’t been going well for her and my father…so I told her everything. I didn’t want to scare her, but at the same time I did. I was hoping if she realized what he was capable of…she’d get herself out of the situation. We had a pretty long conversation and I thought she might actually understand. It seemed like she was ready to get herself out.
Shortly after she was back with him. Shocker. Now again, specifics are escaping me at the moment…but I do know she filed a protection order with the court against him at one point. I was relieved…I knew it might not keep him away, but it would give her some kind of legal backup if he did come around. Shortly after filing…she dropped the order, and went back to him.
Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about abusive relationships and feeling trapped…do me a favor and don’t. I get that this is a HIGHLY sensitive subject and I’m prepared to make people angry, but I’ve got a lot to say about it. I’ve been there, and I’ve done that. Keep in mind I was this man’s CHILD. I was in that SAME abusive relationship for 14 YEARS. Hell, in a way, I was in a verbally abusive one with him for years after that. If anything, that bond is stronger (even in an unhealthy way)…and I still GOT OUT. I broke that cycle, and walked away. That’s why I’m here writing about this stuff…I do have an idea of what I’m talking about. I didn’t study it…but I lived it.
Now…some time passed and something else happened between them. I don’t really know what…I’d kind of given up. I’d occasionally text or call her to check up on her…but I had to kind of keep my distance. I didn’t want to get myself in a situation where he came after me because of what I was saying to her. After whatever happened…she filed another order. This time, the court denied it. Not because there wasn’t sufficient evidence (there was)…but because SHE hadn’t followed the order the previous time. Keep in mind…when you file a protection order…they warn you over and over that if you break it, or you drop it…your claims will no longer be taken seriously…and you’ll be on your own. So the court did what they would do to anyone…and they denied it. According to the newspapers, after that he continuously threatened her. By phone, by leaving notes at her house…none of which shocks me. It was after this that her house was set on fire.
I had tried to help and it didn’t work. The courts had tried to help and it didn’t work. You can’t be helped if you’re not willing to help yourself. And she wasn’t. If anything, it seemed like she blamed everyone else for what had happened. Her family and friends actually blamed ME for awhile (but that’s another post for another day). Again...let me repeat to make it clear I am NOT blaming her for the fire or what happened. I am just a big believer in taking responsibility for your own life. And blaming other people for things that happen to you…isn’t going to get you anywhere.
You might be wondering if I have a point other than to piss people off with this post. And I do. This blog is about recovery…and taking CONTROL of your own life and destiny. I could have easily blamed everything in my life on my father, and for a long time I did. Every time I did something wrong…I would find some way to relate it to him. And to be honest, my family doesn’t really help with that. Me getting married young, or wanting children was/is because “I feel a void where my father should be”. And that’s not the case. Now are certain things I do because of him? Absolutely. There is no question that the way I think sometimes is directly related to growing up around him or without him. However there’s a big BUT coming. I am still responsible for my actions. I might think one way…but the following decision is made by me, and only me. And just like me, my father’s girlfriend had choices. Walking back into an abusive relationship is only going to lead to things escalating…and this is a perfect example.
So there are 3 main points here. One…if you honestly want to move on from something. Stop blaming other people. Hell, even if you’re not trying to move on…stop blaming people. My dad’s ex didn’t have legal protection because SHE made the choice to not take it seriously. NOT because the court didn’t want to help her. (And again do NOT take that as I’m blaming her for the fire, because that is absolutely not the case). I wasn’t harassed by my father because HE’S mean…it happened because I didn’t get help for myself faster. Two…don’t play the victim when you had something to do with it. If you get in a fight with someone, antagonize them, and then they punch you in the face…don’t blame them. You had a choice to engage…as did they. You both chose to do so. Therefore responsibility rests on you both. And three…if you are in a bad situation…get OUT. Don’t sit around and wait for it to get worse…because all the studies in the world point to it will. Don’t be left unprepared and oblivious. If your family and friends are telling you the situation makes them uncomfortable…chances are it’s for good reason. Trust those you should…and get away from those you shouldn’t.