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View Diary: Daughter of a Southern 'Gentleman' (88 comments)

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  •  It's not just in the South... (37+ / 0-)

    Your experience resonates with me on an extremely deep level, and my family was entirely from the North.  

    In my case, my father was an ethnic (Polish) Catholic blue collar guy who loved his family and worked very hard to provide for them.  But growing up, his opinions, shaped by spending most of his adult life in or working for the military during the Cold War era, were just shy of full-on Klu Klux Klan racism and Aryan militia-style paranoia.  

    He refused to watch major league sports because he was offended by the number of black athletes.  He scared us as children with predictions of the huge "race war" that was coming.  He only half-jokingly referred to our mother as "his property" and taught his sons that "women can't be trusted and are nothing but trouble." "Hitler's only mistake," he would say was that "he didn't get ALL the Jews."

    Oh, and he was a rage-aholic who would violently lash out at the drop of a hat. One his better days would confine his aggression to vicious "teasing" emotional abuse, calling his sons by female names to humiliate them, or tell them that they were so pitifully deficient that they'd "never make it in the Army."  When he would beat us, our scared, enabling mother told us that it was "because he loved us" and "because he worked so hard." But she never once stopped him.

    Karma ended up biting him in the ass.  All three of his sons are now successful out and proud gay men.  One of those sons is legally "gay married," with two beautiful adopted multi-racial children.  And I, the oldest, have AIDS and was all but given up for dead in 2009.

    To this day, my father does not know that I have AIDS.  He thinks the reason I almost died a few years ago was because I had "pneumonia."  My family is more concerned about what my father will think and how "upset" he would be to know my true diagnosis than they are about my life living with a debilitating, fatal disease that requires obscenely expensive medication just so that I can survive from day to day.

    Men like our fathers can only persist in their delusional beliefs because they are enabled by their environments.  Your father's Gentlemen's Club was my father's church and veterans groups, where completely unsupported opinions were more important than libraries full of facts.  These people are bullies in the truest sense of the word, and use their self-righteous and completely uninformed worldview as a weapon against anyone who, out of fear or respect or just being too tired, allow the ignorance to go unchallenged.

    Ultimately, there comes a time when you need to cut yourself off from the abuse and the craziness, and just "hang up" on it like you did.  It's sad because you know underneath it all that you do both really love and appreciate each other.  But as an adult, when you realize the abuse is never going to stop coming, that distance is the only way to keep yourself safe, and every attempt at reconciliation and compromise has been spurned, you need to put the blame where it belongs.

    "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

    by wonkydonkey on Fri May 18, 2012 at 12:52:34 PM PDT

    •  I wish I could recommend this comment more than (19+ / 0-)

      once. Thank you so much for sharing it, and I wish you all the best in dealing with your illness.

    •  I'm sure I don't need to say it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonkydonkey

      But this is better time to be positive than not long ago. Praying for you. Medicine is advancing algorithmically from my POV. Things impossible 10 years ago are realizable today, with lives and fates in the balance.

      My response to the original daughter, is that it sounds like a declaration of selfhood, I assume in your twenties. You aren't wrong, because you are like Copernicus explaining that your self/solar system revolves around you. So tally ho.

      For those of us older than you, perhaps only a few of us, there may be not only respect for your position of selfhood, but also an awareness that life is shorter than any seem to wish. Your Father's dialogue, despite its attested abuse, could probably also be regarded with envy by those kossacks living who have lost parents, long ago. Even if Father/Paterfamilias in Magnolia is wrong, you may--on a personal level--may feel a greater peace between you if y'all also give voice to the mutual gratitudes that are, I will presume and assume, at the roots of your bond.

      Nobody has a right to demand mental compliance, in fact independence and Individuation is your right and citizenship-welcome to America, 1976 thru 2012 and counting-- but you may feel good about Getting the frustration and pique out as much as possible. DKos can be interesting that way: people speaking into an ether.

      So that in flesh space there is an opportunity to mend the fissures as much as possible. Don't mean to be patronizing or obtuse. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But fathers and daughters are something good much of the time too. Just sayin.

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