One of the things T always says is that he condemns the behaviour but not the person. He usually says that they have an illness, their own demons that they had to deal with and that doesn’t always make them a bad person. At our next session I’m going to ask him what’s so bad about condemning the person.
My father was a mean selfish bastard. And I don’t see any reason why we can’t condemn him for all the things he’s done to us. Why do I need to look at the things he did as though he was someone who was ill? It feels like an excuse to be able to treat people however you want to treat them. I had a shitty upbringing. Does that mean I have the right to treat people however I want to treat them because of that fact? I don’t believe so. I think there comes a time where you get to make your own decisions–will you be an asshole because of the way you were brought up or won’t you? And if you do become an asshole should that be excused just because you had a terrible upbringing?
At our last session we talked about how sometimes our father would hit us with objects. T didn’t get into the details of those objects but his favourite was a wooden meter stick he used to hang in the garage. Come to think of it, if I was to go to the garage this very second, I’m certain there is still one hanging on the nail. He was fast and accurate and sometimes he would leave marks.
T asked whether anybody knew and why nobody said anything and I didn’t have an answer for him. I do remember one time a neighbour saw him taking a go at my brother and yelled over the fence that they were going to call the police if it didn’t stop but nothing else was ever done about it all. I guess that’s what happened in the early to mid 80’s. It was okay to beat the crap out of your children if they got out of line and nobody would say anything about it. I also think he was smart about it and would only hit us on the backside or somewhere else that wasn’t visible to everyday people. T then asked about my mother. What could I say? Yeah, she knew what was happening, especially with my brother, and no, she didn’t do anything to stop it. Nowadays, if we were to ask her about it all I’m sure she would remember it entirely different from us and we would be the ones in the wrong.
There are days I’d like to condemn my parents for the things they did and didn’t do. But I wonder if that’s just holding onto the anger of the whole thing. Perhaps it would be better to be like T and condemn the actions, but not the person. As we were talking about my father I just wanted to shout out how selfish he was and how much I hated him for the things that he did but another part of me didn’t want to say anything because perhaps it would be wrong to hate the person and the actions.
Do you think it’s okay to condemn both the action and the person? I feel a bit lost about it all and I am afraid so often of doing or feeling the wrong thing. Maybe T only says what he says because I’m not ready to say it out loud and he’d really rather punch someone in the face for what they’ve done but can’t show it. I don’t know.
Part of me feels bad for feeling the way that I do, but I don’t know how to feel any different. He was awful, I was scared and growing up was really hard. I don’t know how to put it any other way. And if I need to condemn my parents for exposing me to that awfulness, well, then maybe that’s what I need to do.
4 thoughts on “condemnation”
I’m inclined to think it’s a philosophical difference more than anything. Whether he had a bit of human goodness hidden away somewhere or not, that’s not what you were exposed to; you were exposed to the behaviour that’s very much deserving of condemnation. Whatever other parts there might have been really don’t seem relevant unless that’s somehow helpful for you.
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Although I understand what T is saying, I also think it’s kind of invalidating to victims of abuse. Although that’s obviously not T’s intention. Even if your dad did experience the same abuse as a child, it doesn’t justify doing it to his own children. You’re not responsible for what happened before you. You have every right to feel angry and hate the people who abused you. Anger is part of grief and is better than blaming yourself. x
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Of course its ok to condemn them! You have every right to do that, I don’t agree that if you’ve had a terrible upbringing, its ok to treat people however you like, its not. Just because someone had a shitty start in life, when we grow up we have choices, and we can choose to be good, and not bad or awful! Xxx
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thanks Carol Anne. Sometimes it’s so hard to see it from the outside when you’re so far stuck in the midst of it all. I definitely agree that we all have choices that we need to make…xx