Cake
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    • Chris, that is really a tragic growing up episode. I am sorry to hear this. After I asked my question, I was reviewing your writings and saw that had it not been from Julie you would have run away from your father. All these memories and feelings about events in your life centered around your mother's schizophrenia and your dad's temper fit together perfectly to add up to big time trouble for you to deal with. Your reaction to all this is very normal given everything. Your fleeing your dad in the sailboat incident brought up all those past violent memories compounded by having to deal with your mother's situation and what you were going to have to do to survive all this, not only figuratively but literally!

      You have mentioned the supportive people in your life who made all the difference in your life. Imagine, had your dad's temper been one of more compassion, how much a difference that would have made for everyone dealing with your family situation. It is very common for victims of abuse to want to please those that inflict the pain.

      I am guessing your father grew up in an era "when men were men", "spare the rod spoil the child" and "men don't cry" era. In the mid 1950s, Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners portrayed man's potential for violence toward family members. "One of these days! One of these days! To the moon, Alice!" was Ralph Kramden's (Gleason) humorous threat for physical violence. Humorous because it never happened because he believed "Alice, you're the greatest"! The dark reality is men sometimes do inflict physical violence on family members.

      Your photo of your mother and dad reminds me of what a promotional photo of two movie stars of that era looks like . Your mom reminds me of the actress Claudette Colbert and your dad, a dashing military hero who apparently could paint! They do look happy!

    • It seems to me that schizophrenics withdraw from their families, and most everyone else, because no one can enter their internal, frightening world. The words "You don't understand" or "You'll never understand" were frequently heard in our house. My older sister was in constant conflict with mom and left home as soon as she was able. They never reconcilled.

      My father, on the other hand, was the most patient and steadfast person I've ever known. The wife of one his university faculty colleagues experienced a breakdown about the time that mom did. He eventually had her committed to the state hospital, got a divorce, and went on with life, urging dad to do the same. But he refused to even consider it.

      Both my parents beleved in corporal punishment, and I earned the occasional 'spanking' while growing up. I discovered that one of mom's whippings could be shortened by yelling and hollering, while dad expected me to silently "take it like a man." Mom would most often grab a switch in the heat of the moment and let fly at my legs. Dad would wait until tempers had cooled, sit me down to explain exactly why my behavior merited punishment, and after I agreed, apply his belt to my legs. Welts, "the marks of disobedience", were expected but were never severe.

      My last whipping occurred when I was around 6 years old. I had so egregiously disobeyed that mom did not punish me immediately but waited for dad to get home from work. He took me into the bedroom for our "talk", then had me drop my trousers as he removed his belt. Then he said, "You know, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." Being a smartass, even then, I blurted out "Well, if that is really true, shouldn't I be whipping you?"

      The raised belt stopped in mid air, and there was a long moment of silence. Then dad said "I never thought of it that way, but you're right! Pull up your pants and take this belt." By now I was crying, said I was only kidding, that I had done wrong and deserved punishment. How could I do this? It was unthinkable. It was my fault. But dad lowered his trousers, handed me his belt, and instructed me to whip his legs. We were both in tears, and I half-heartedly struck a blow or two, but he stopped me and insisted it must be hard enough to "count", to raise welts. So that I did. But resolved to never again earn a whipping from my dad.