You can’t spell families without “lies”

The other day I jokingly said something to my mom about writing an online blog about my dad and she completely freaked out. I explained that it was anonymous, but that didn’t make a difference. She said I should not tell people things about us. So, I told her I wouldn’t (see…lies come easily in our family!)

When things started getting really bad with my dad’s drinking, there was an unspoken rule that my sister and I were not supposed to tell anyone what was going on. I am still not sure of my mother’s reasons, whether she was ashamed or just in denial. The lies were not always about my dad, but were oftentimes to my dad. As many children of alcoholics know, the less ammo you give them, the better off you are. To this day, we still constantly tell him “white lies” about the stupidest and most trivial things (again proving that abnormal things become very normal in an alcoholic family).

What my mother could not prevent was the neighbors calling the police. This started to become a regular thing by the time I was graduating from high school. My mom is so amazing as a mother, but she is a classic “battered wife.” During the summer, when my father would start screaming, she would run around their huge house closing all the windows so the neighbors would not hear him. My mother is friendly to everyone she meets and many of the neighbors really liked her and were genuinely concerned for her safety. I don’t blame them for calling the police- my dad sounded like a freaking lunatic and the more she tried to calm him down, the louder he got.

A few times, the calls were coming from inside the house (duh). My younger sister would call 911 and wait long enough for a dispatcher to answer and then would hang up. I have to give the cops in my hometown credit…within minutes, two or three officers would pull into the driveway. One time, my dad was so drunk, he mocked my mother saying he was going to call the cops and pretended to call 911…but he actually did (I actually think that is hilarious) and sure enough three police officers were at our house minutes later.

Here’s the thing. If a woman is being abused, but lies and tells the police that everything is fine when they come to the house, there isn’t anything they can really do. They would check out the house and talk to my dad while my mom reassured them everything was fine. My sister and I would sit at the top of the stairs watching and wondering how my dad never got in trouble. We didn’t understand why my mom protected him. As much as I adore my mother (we talk every day and see each other most weekends), I do have some resentment towards her that she didn’t get herself and my sister and me out of that situation.

When I was 18, my father was threatening my sister in her bedroom. I was (and still am) very protective of my sister, who was 15 at the time. I stood in between them and told him to leave her alone. He promptly leaned back and headbutted me in the face. That may have been the only time my mother called 911, though I am still not sure if it was her or my sister. Ironically, the cops had already been to the house once that day on a noise complaint from an anonymous neighbor. This time, my dad was arrested for assault. I think I have blocked a lot of that day out of my mind because I hardly remember going to the police station to do the paperwork. The result was a list of charges against him that were automatically filed by the police. They probably had a big donut celebration afterwards that they finally had a reason to arrest him. I am sure it must have been frustrating for them to come to our house and know that a woman and two teenage girls were being abused by a drunk asshole and not being able to do anything about it.

I will save the rest of that fun story for another blog, but I will say that afterwards my mother begged my sister and me not to tell my grandparents or any other family members about what happened. Of course, secrets like that have a way of coming out and eventually everyone close to our family knew about it. I am happy to say that these days my mother is much more honest with other people about my father and his alcoholism, and more importantly, she is honest with herself. And if I still tell “white lies” here and there, I guess I can just blame it on the alcohol 😉

9 comments on “You can’t spell families without “lies”

  1. rohan7things says:

    Wow, powerful post! God, I know I shouldn’t laugh but the bit about him accidentally calling the cops on himself is pretty funny >.< It's horrible what secrets and lies can do in a family, when you're made to feel like the bad one even though you're the victim 😦

    I'm sorry that you had to experience all that. At least you are not in denial, and it sounds like you mum is doing better now.

    Take care, and good luck 🙂

    Rohan.

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  2. Thank you so much for your response. I think sometimes you just have to laugh. I try to use humor a lot to deal with things because they can become so overwhelming at times. Besides, alcoholics do some really ridiculous things. Like when my dad wants to emphasize a word and spells it out…incorrectly 🙂

    Denial is such a hard part of all of this- for both the alcoholic and their family.

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  3. figuringitout724 says:

    HA! I love the title to this post! So true!!

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  4. Hi again! Great post and I think it’s great you are sharing this.

    So I mentioned I’ve worked in the domestic violence field earlier…well I specialize in the area of when women share children with battered men. Mothers constantly report that their children’s safety and well being is NUMBER ONE. And every mother handles it differently, but the goal is always to protect the kids. It may seem like she is just defending him, but usually there is a reason for her actions that has to do with the kids. For example, she could have (legitnately) been worried that child protective services would have come and taken you and your sister away. CPS workers often REALLY hate moms who are with an abusive partner, so it’s actually likely you would have been taken. Or, if that wasn’t it, then she could have been trying to prevent the trauma of witnessing your dad being arrested. Also, you likely are unaware (unless she told you) of threats he may have said to her…such as: if I get arrested I will harm or kill you, your family, our kids.

    In other words, there are a ton of reasons for why she did what she did. But the term “battered wife” that people use to label such women as being weak, low self-esteem, or just otherwise protecting him…it’s incredibly inaccurate in describing women’s ACTUAL motivations.

    Phew…sorry for the long response!!

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    • WOW! Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I have thought about it so often over the years and I think you are very right. It is funny, I can talk to my mom about anything, we are so close, but if I bring this topic up or ask why she never left, all she says is “I don’t want to talk about it.” I guess I will never know the real reasons (and maybe she doesn’t even completely know).

      But your response really made me think and if I had to guess, I think that maybe she felt that she (and also us) would be safer WITH him than if she tried to leave him. For a couple of years, I actually believed that he was capable of killing her because of how crazy he got (I have never said that or written that down ever), so I think it is the idea of “sleeping with the enemy” and knowing what to expect vs. trying to leave and not knowing what he was capable of doing.

      Thank you for the work you do- I hope that you find it rewarding because you have no idea the impact that people like you have on those who need help. It is very important work. And I greatly appreciate your insight!!

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      • not a problem. I was worried you’d be really annoyed with me =)

        you are also right about the safety as well. The most dangerous time for women and their children is when they try to leave or after they leave–that’s when the risk of homicide increases. And, abusive men often fight for the children (sole custody, etc) and try to use them as pawns in a custody battle (contrary to what popular media says about women being the ones who do that…research shows it’s actually abusive men).

        Keep blogging!

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  5. Awww- no, I am glad you wrote!! Even if I disagreed with something you wrote (which I didn’t), I really an open-minded and the most rewarding part of having this blog so far is getting comments like yours!

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  6. Brenda says:

    Soooo….maybe your blog is a good blog for someone married to the child of an alcoholic. I guess I will read through all of them and see what I learn.

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    • Do Nothing Daughter says:

      Lol! Hopefully you can identify with some of my stories…I have noticed that even when my situation is different than someone else’s, I can still relate to a lot of how they feel (or felt). If you find any other good blogs that you find helpful, let me know 🙂

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