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This is a question Family Feuds

Pooster tells us that a relative was once sent to the shops to buy an onion, while the rest of the family went on a daytrip while he was gone. Meanwhile, whole sections of our extended kin still haven't got over a wedding brawl fifteen years ago – tell us about families at war.

(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 12:24)
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In one of my earliest memories I’m yelling at my father to ‘stop it’ while hitting him with a yellow plastic spade from my seaside bucket and spade set. He had my mother by the throat on the bed and was screaming at her. She’d have been around 23; I was 3, maybe 4. It was probably around 3 in the morning, my mother was hysterical by the time we got home. About 15 hours earlier my father had taken me out to see the Loyalist flute bands strutting their hatred up and down on the ‘glorious’ 12 of July. They still have that sectarian bile in Glasgow to this day. It had been a long blazing hot summer’s day in the early 70’s. We had ended up at some Orange Lodge where my father had been drinking for about 13 hours straight. He'd fallen in with a band from Ulster, a bunch of drunk bigots he’d never met before that day, I though it was great – they let me bash away at their drums while they got battered. I can vividly remember men shouting and singing, stinging smoke in my eyes, overflowing ashtrays and the smell of drink.

There were no mobiles back then and we didn’t have a phone at home. My mother had been out of her mind with worry all day. When we finally rolled in, there were long mascara streaks down her cheeks and her eyes looked red and sore. I was half asleep riding on my utterly trashed father’s shoulders. Apparently he had taken me out for ‘a walk’ that afternoon, so she tore into him immediately, screaming and crying. I remember feeling confused.

We lived in a ‘room and kitchen’ in a tenement block in Glasgow, no central heating, no bathroom, no running hot water. My Mum came from a nice lower middle class family and had a job at the bank. She had been ‘caught out’ at 19 – pregnant the first time she was cajoled into sex with her first ‘proper’ boyfriend. He was older, 26 and assured her he knew what he was doing. Clearly he didn’t have a fucking clue. So like many from that era they got married. Her parents were devastated. They wanted her to ‘go away’ for a while and then for me to be adopted. She thought she was in love and maybe marriage would curb his drinking – things would be OK. My grandfather died in a hit and run accident before I was born. I was a Godsend to my grandmother at this time. I’ve been her favourite ever since.

Growing up I remember the nightly high wire act of my mothers nerves. The longer his dinner curled up in the oven, the clearer indication of the state he would be in when he got home - the more agitated my Mum got; a miserable nerve jangling circle. We could be chatting and laughing then we would hear his key turn in the lock and my stomach would flip over. If it got so late I had to go to bed, I would lie listening to the screaming and smashing and bawling, often into the early hours. The vile, disgusting names he called my mother never leave me. Lying in bed, my mother sobbing on the couch he would roar; ‘hingoot’ (a Glasgow term for some slut you would ‘hing oot’ the back of) ‘whore of fuck’ ‘slack arsed bitch’ ‘nagging cunt’ and bizarrely ‘get in this fucking bed before I start killing’ how could one resist? When morning came he would get up and go to work quiet as a mouse. Mum would often get us ready for school, still with red swollen eyes, but she'd still sing along to pop tunes on the radio. When my wife and I started seeing each other, she heard some of his foul tirade one evening - he was unaware she was in the house, she was shocked to the core. I was humiliated.

But mostly I saw the carnage first hand. My father is an inadequate, inconsequential insecure little man – about 5’4’’ wiry and bitter about it all, but drink turns him into a huge bug eyed roaring tyrant. He would come home drunk every night. Most nights were spent either under the fear of a huge bust up or in the midst of one. I was terrified of him. Weekends were worse. Smashed TV’s, coffee tables ornaments – whatever came to hand. Doors punched through, glass smashed, plates of shrivelled up food thrown at walls. I’ve seen my mother pinned to the wall with a flaming bunch of newspapers held up to her face. I've seen her threatened at point blank range with an air rifle and the place shot up, holes in doors and walls. In the midst of some of the worst raging battles, that often went on for hours at a stretch, I’ve seen my mother batter his skull open with a shoe and stab him in the ribs with a kitchen knife.

But mostly it was my mum that was terrorised and abused. My sister and I were often dragged blinking and crying out of our beds because we were ‘leaving’, we decamped to my gran's a few times but we would always, despite pleading otherwise, end up going back after a few days. My mum maintained he was a ‘good worker’ and 'never laid a finger on her'. Grabbing, pushing gripping and throttling didn't seem to count.

My father could not bring himself to show any affection to me as a child. Even on rare sober occasions he was still aggressive and volatile. I was told aged 7 or so I was ‘all the man I was ever going to be’. ‘Men don’t kiss’ he would snarl at be at bedtimes usually crushing my hand in a vice like grip; that was ‘goodnight’ on a good night.

I have no memories of him ever playing with me or hugging me. Christmas morning was invariably the aftermath of the night before; a nursed hangover then an engineered argument so he could fuck off before 11am to find some shithole boozer then stagger home and ruin Christmas dinner. The few family holidays we had involved on day one seeking out a shithole boozer full of drunken losers, then mum switching between finding ways to amuse us or pleading with him to come out, while my sister and I sat outside having cokes and crisps ferried out to us. We had a lot of coke and crisps. When I was around 13 he started taking me to the same shithole boozers to drink with sad alky losers then he would drive us home. My mum seemed glad to see him ‘taking an interest’, she never once complained about him giving me drink or driving home hammered.

I was artistic as a child. This made me a ‘fucking poof’. When I was about 12 I liked Adam and the Ants – this made me a ‘fucking poof’. Pretty much everything I did made me a 'fucking poof'. We were constantly reminded how he hard had to work to clothe and feed us regardless of the fact my Mum also worked full time, looked after us and kept house. My Mum is a good woman and did her best, she gave my sister and I lot of love and affection. Any happy childhood memories centre round my mum, sister and grandmother. But I can’t say I don’t feel some resentment that she didn’t pull us out of the situation, she never had the courage to leave, she often said she wanted to, and then would just bury her head in the sand. She deluded herself the neighbours were somehow unaware of our nightly three ring circus. By now we lived in a 4 story block of shit thin council flats with neighbours above below and beside. I could hear him roaring and swearing when I was out playing on summer evenings, everyone knew what was going on. Growing up we weren't even allowed to say the word 'alcoholic', like it was some blasphemy. It was quite late in life before I realised that I had nothing to be ashamed of, it wasn’t my fault. As kids we weren’t allowed friends round in case my father came home ‘in a state’ despite the fact it was common knowledge - he was always 'in a state'. Might be why I’m very poor at making and maintaining friendships - might have nothing to do with it. No idea.

Things got worse as I went into my teenage years. I had a worse ride than my sister, she was pretty much left alone, she’s also a good deal tougher than me. He saw me as a threat. But then he seemed to resent pretty much everything he encountered. Mum buried herself in work in various Glasgow high street shops. Her escape to a normal life. Her worst fear was he would turn up drunk at whatever shop she was working in and ‘the girls’ would see what she lived with. She pretended her home life was normal, whatever the fuck that is. My escape was school, I was untouchable there. I was bright, creative and mischievous. I ran rings round the teachers, knowing full well they couldn’t terrorise me like my father did. I cottoned on to that from a very early age. They had rules - rules I could subvert, bend, flout and play to my advantage. I got into a fair deal of trouble at school but nothing serious. I could probably have done a lot better though.

I moved out, went to college and met my wife. During my late twenties she encouraged me to ‘get to know my father’ hoping the damage could be repaired. He would come to our home, I’d cook a meal, and he would ruin it being drunk and aggressive. The final straw came one New Year. He got completely hammered, leered all over our next door neighbour and made a complete arse of himself. I asked him not to smoke in the bedroom, so he burned a hole in the new carpet then simply denied smoking. Then I walked into the kitchen to find him pissing out the back door into my garden.

I’d had enough. I wrote him a long heartfelt letter. Never got a reply. Not a word. That was 12 years ago. I see little of my mother as I won’t go to her house, it’s driving us all apart, she adores my little boy but he’s never set foot there either. My father missed my wedding, the birth of my son, his first steps. He’s missed my life.

My sister got married a year ago. She wanted to play happy families, have the perfect wedding and for me to be civil to my father. She didn't want to be embarrassed in front of her friends. But she was also afraid what might kick off – it would be the first time I clapped eyes on him in 11 years. The first time he would see his grandson - her wedding day. I could see she had a point. I agreed to a ‘family lunch’ in a restaurant, a few days before the wedding, a neutral location (I picked a nice one I knew but my sister was worried he would feel uncomfortable there). I resented my sister for insisting upon this whole thing for my father’s sake. I flew back from where I was working abroad and took extra holiday for this shit – he got hammered and failed to show, said he was 'unwell'. I got landed with the lunch bill.

In the run up to the wedding I had fantasies of kicking the shit out of him, I’ve never been a violent person but I wanted to punch and kick and stamp him to a pulp. But the sight of him; skinny, red faced and bug eyed mad just brought the sick feeling of fear back to my stomach. At the wedding I was civil for my sister’s sake. He saw this as a green light that all was forgotten. I was incensed at this. He has never made any attempt to apologise or even acknowledge the damage. My mum is still with him, her and my sister try their best to sweep it all under the carpet. I can’t do that, the pain and misery, the threats, the sick feeling of fear, the raging fights; they’re all still too vivid.

My sister now has a 5 month old child. But we have a strained relationship. I have seen her twice in the last 5 months yet we only live about 12 miles apart. I last saw her just after the birth. It caused friction that I didn’t attend the naming ceremony. I wouldn't go because my father would be there. My mum pulls her head out of the sand periodically to complain that I should let him see his grandchild claiming he would be a ‘good grandfather’. I stand by my assertion that if he can’t be a father he can’t be a grandfather. My wife supports me in this. But inevitably it’s caused a rift. As my mum has got older she has developed a rose tinted set of memories – like some sort of domestic holocaust denier.

I love my grandmother but at 86 she won't be here forever. No doubt my father will be at her funeral when she goes. I can’t bear that thought. When his liver eventually goes I know I won’t be at his funeral. I will get dog’s abuse from my sister for that and probably resentment from my mother.

I’m not without my own issues. I can have a foul temper and I too drink far too much. I love my wife and little boy dearly but my wife has said on occasions I can be abusive and have sometimes frightened her. This has caused me great pain and deep shame. I’ve tried hard to address this and keep on top of things - make sure I don’t turn into my father. My boy gets my love kisses hugs and encouragement every day. We lost everything this summer and had to flee home from abroad. I’ve been unable to get a job since, but on the upside I get to play with my boy every day.

He has a father who loves him dearly, a father who he is completely unafraid of, and a father who he loves dearly in return.
(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 20:33, 24 replies)
you keep on going spimf, just keep plugging away and it'll work out, you are an infinitely better man than your dad ever was.
(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 20:49, closed)
well done
for being brave enough to face this (let alone post it) and for growing up to be a better husband, father and man than your father.
(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 21:10, closed)
Wow, Spimf!
hugs xx
(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 22:05, closed)
Top Man!
Breaking the cycle of abuse is unbelievably hard. If medals were given to the people who deserve them, then you should be decorated! (They're not; I know, because I've got two of them!) I think of medals as being like haemorrhoids; sooner or later all arseholes get them.
I digress; heroism is found more often in the home than on some battlefield and you are a hero for admitting your failings and doing your best to deal with them.
I hope your wife realises that whilst there are times when things aren't great, she's incredibly lucky to have you.
(, Thu 12 Nov 2009, 22:53, closed)
I hate this
but I still clicked.

Hugs for Omnispimfy.
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 1:13, closed)
.... your message out and show it to your wife. Might help her understand...
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 7:42, closed)
I echo all these words of support...
..but from one of a similar background in many ways I offer this word of advice; quit drinking. Right now.

It's too easy for us to become our fathers.

Chin up, old bean.
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 9:19, closed)
Fuck me,
You have my deepest sympathies.
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 10:51, closed)
fuck me blind
Jesus christ on a bike what a heart ripping story!!! Mate you have my utmost sympathy for what you endured as a wee bairn, must of been tough to grow into the man you are without reverting to all thats been bred into you, i hope you can address your drinking with utmost haste because, as you allready know, its not doing you any favours!
Stay off the booze, tell your wife and child everyday how much you love them and good luck getting work!!

best wishes

(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 12:08, closed)
A horrible story mate, but I wouldn't worry about turning into your father, clearly you're a far better man.
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 12:23, closed)
I've got nothing worthwhile to say, apart from the fact that you ARE the big man of that family. My regards to you.
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 12:39, closed)
fucking hell
remember, you can be the father that he never was.

you can do it because you aren't and never will be him.

must've been hard to get that out.

(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 13:08, closed)
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 16:13, closed)
This made me cry
so I gave you a click
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 19:18, closed)
Your mother made you strong.
Call her.
(, Fri 13 Nov 2009, 22:10, closed)
man, that's tough
i can't claim to have been through anything like that circus of horrors, but I can sympathise at being the voice crying in the wilderness about a parent's behaviour when everyone else just wants to sweep it under the carpet. I'm really sorry you had to go through all that, and I'm sure that you will turn out to be a much, much better father than the one you were landed with. Don't back down or feel pressured to forgive for the sake of a quiet life - he doesn't deserve to have you anywhere near him.

-Also, slightly interesting - my mum also got pregnant her first time at nineteen. She decided to turn down her resentful, boozy boyf's proposal and instead gave my sister up for adoption, with deep regrets. Sister luckily adopted by fantastic people and to cut a long tale short it all turned out well in the end. Sliding doors, hey?
(, Sat 14 Nov 2009, 14:54, closed)
Still alive...
That means you can stop this going on for another generation.

"I can have a foul temper and I too drink far too much"

The first may well be related to the second.
Consider just giving up the booze, or even just changing what you drink.*

I have a chum who used to get drunk on red wine and have screaming violent arguments with anyone who came close. She changed to drinking white and now gets giggly or falls asleep with a smile on her face.

Sez I, and of course I know everything me...

*If you're drinking Stella, gods help you
(, Mon 16 Nov 2009, 13:15, closed)
wine drinker
there is a dutch lager though; Oranjeboom - banned from drinking that.

thanks to all above for the kind words, much appreciated
(, Mon 16 Nov 2009, 16:36, closed)

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