Learned behavior: Unlearned behavior

Tomorrow a bullying will happen.  My father and his girlfriend are driving 1,000 frozen miles to bully my aunt.  We’re both scared.  Angry.  His MO is to get you in a situation where it’s difficult to leave – a restaurant where the food has just been served, or a car miles from home, and start in.  You leave bloody and bereft of any feelings of self-worth.  He’s proven his case against you theologically: He’s against you, God’s against you, you are a piece of shit.  His draconian actions against you are totally warranted.

When I was very little, my mother would make us confess all of our sins to her every night in the dark, and ask for forgiveness.  I remember white baby-print sheets bunched in my hand, tears, and “you have to tell everything or you won’t be forgiven and will go to hell”. Every secret sin, mean feeling, childish jealousy, and plea for privacy was harboring sin.  I felt worthless, naked and ashamed. All information garnered could be used against you later.  Scientology without the hardware store components. Thus began my nightly reviews of all the evil I have done, which continue to this day.

But back to my aunt who will be bullied tomorrow.  We are scared, trying to think of how to minimize the damage, cowering, making plans for getting away.  A wall of anger in me wants to stand up and threaten my dad with something he so dreads that he will keep his maw shut.  It’s still bullying when you protect someone else by bullying, isn’t it? But not protecting is complicity and falling into learned behaviors of helplessness.  You can’t win.  Just a little something to beat myself up about later.

It’s beginning to make sense why he didn’t defend me from bullies when I was in school.  He thinks victims are weak and deserve what they get if they don’t stand up for themselves.  Well.  I think it’s time.

 

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