My parents both struggled with PTSD, alcoholism, and drug addiction for the majority of their lives. My dad passed away a few years ago of cirrhosis and cancer. My mom is in an assisted living facility somewhere in San Diego, at least that’s what she tells me.
My dad was in and out of my life throughout my childhood, and my mom spent her entire adult life blaming everyone else, including me, for just about everything that was wrong with her.
The thing is, I was a planned child. That still gets under my skin every time I think about it. Their relationship was awful, and according to her, abusive. I never really saw that side of my dad and it’s hard to take her word for it because she claimed everyone was abusive in one way or another. Who knows. They were both fucked up people, they were fucked up together, and they took that as a signal to reproduce. I am the outcome.
I am aware that my writing style tends to come off a bit overdramatic, like I’m laying it on thick. That bothers me because it reminds me of her. She used to take up conversations with strangers, like the checkout person at the grocery store, or really just about anyone who might give her the time of day, so she had the opportunity to share her misfortunes in life. What was so interesting to me is that she always described these sad situations in a way that sounded like bragging. Like “Look at me, look at all I’m going through! I’m winning at being miserable, it’s everyone else’s fault, and your problems don’t even compare.”
She never took responsibility for her choices. It was as if she felt that she had no control over herself or her environment. She felt victimized and as a result, entitled. Entitled to resources, money, and most of all, pity. If she thought she wasn’t getting “enough” out of the people around her, she wanted to get back at them for it, like by not receiving what she felt she was owed, she had the right to hit back.
Unfortunately, as of late, I understand her feelings more than I ever did. I always promised myself I would never be like her. I pushed back against everything about me that was similar to her, but it didn’t matter.
I’ve spent most of my life suppressing anger to make others feel more comfortable. What, you can’t do that forever? Haha.
So, when I found myself screaming at, pushing, and hitting my significant other, and subsequently being picked up and thrown on a tile floor, picked up again and literally thrown out the door over some stairs and onto cement, I had to decide. Am I a victim now, or is it my fault?
Both of those options are wrong for me in this specific situation. Now, this is when things might get a little controversial for some. If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is NEVER your fault. I am an advocate for women’s rights and consider myself a feminist. I understand that based on my status in society and the way I was socialized, I am not recognized as equal to my male counterparts. I’m also smaller physically and thus was able to be overpowered with ease by a 6 foot, 200-pound man. In that sense, yes, I am a victim, and none of that is my fault.
However, when I attacked him, I knew what I was doing. I don’t feel like a victim. As a person with autonomy in my choices, I do feel equal to him. I made the fight physical – I hit first.
He was wrong too, though. There were alternative actions he could have taken to defend himself. If I had been a man, relatively equivalent in size and stature, he wouldn’t have been able to pick me up and throw me around like that.
There was a part of me that did indeed feel victimized, but there was also a part of me that felt like I was a fucking warrior who lost a fight. I’m sure all of this sounds so fucked up, but I’m just being honest here.
So, during my time of contemplative introspection, I’ve decided my answer is both. I take responsibility for what I did. I’m not this sad little person who wants to run and tell everybody “Look what he did to me! Feel sorry for me! He’s a monster!” I’m a monster too. I’m not sad, I’m not even angry. I also acknowledge that, at the same time, what he did was not my fault. He chose to react in a way that would be labeled physically abusive and disturbing. I don’t have to take responsibility for that.
Like everyone always says, things aren’t usually black and white. Almost everything is a grey area. One might think that I’m misguided for coming to the conclusion that I’ve come to, and that’s okay. No one should ever assault you. I shouldn’t have assaulted him, and he shouldn’t have reciprocated that violence with increased severity. I am writing this to express all aspects of an unhealthy situation so that maybe, if you know someone who’s been where I have, you can recognize the complexity and have greater empathy and understanding for them.
I am accountable for my actions, but not for anyone’s reactions.
I hope if anyone reads this, it helps them through some bullshit like that.