Denial and the NT parent
I have a brother who is violent, often beating me when we were growing up, right up until I was 18/19 years old, he is two years older than me. Mum was too busy putting on a “front” and dad was oblivious.
I am still recovering from the pain and sense of isolation that having a parent like that brings – made worse by my mother’s insistence until later years that he was wonderful: handsome, intelligent, brilliant, special. He was all of that, but he was also anxious, depressed,intolerant, controlling, insensitive to the point of cruelty.
She was from a middle class background and he was working class. Her savant skills in languages got her a university degree, even though she couldn’t put 2 and 2 together in real life, and was I now realise intellectually disabled in parts!, (problem solving, sequencing, prioritising. no inductive or deductive logic). Yet she was one of the few women of her generation who actually went to University. He was so impressed with her, and guilty too about never being able to give her a better life. Well, he was simply too tired from labouring all day, then coming home to do all the cooking, cleaning, sewing, under a constant rain of recriminations and accusations. He was a battered husband and couldn’t leave.
And she was beautiful. They were a handsome couple.
Before we went out anywhere, my parents would make me rehearse the elaborate lies we would tell to others about our domestic misery. Keeping up the front was all important. We were pretty much social pariahs anyway, because my father’s self-esteem was gutted and he couldnt keep up with successful men of his generation who had wives to nurture their careers. And people couldnt get away from my mother’s monologues fast enough.
I begged him to save himself from her constant screaming and blaming but people in his circle didn’t do that kind of thing, divorce was unheard of, so he endured. He was a wonderful man and highly responsible, and afraid she couldn’t survive without him. I guess the odds were high that she might have ended up a bag lady, or permanently drugged and institutionalised and misdiagnosed perhaps as a schizophrenic, if he hadn’t. He simply couldnt leave her to that fate. It was easier for him to convince himself that nobody was perfect. His mantra was: “People fight because they care for each other. People who don’t fight in their marriages are more of a problem. Your mother is just highly strung.”