First I feared him, then I loathed him, then I forgave him and now I take care of him: the story of my Father and me

germany

My father was born in 1938 during WWII in a small town outside a large city in Germany.  He was the only son in a family of ten children.  He was six years old when the war ended in 1944, and his earliest memories are of houses burning, being painfully hungry and soldiers marching.

Dad and his sisters suffered through extreme food deprivation, as did countless others.  Indeed, he experienced such severe malnutrition that his growth was permanently stunted and he reached an adult height of only 5’4, despite the fact that his father and grandfather and uncles were all well over 6’.  He has huge hands and incredible upper body strength, a testament to the physical man he might have been.

He witnessed horrors we can barely comprehend, including the deaths of four of his sisters.  They did not just die, they died in front of him.  Dad is not forthcoming with war stories, and I have never heard the exact circumstances under which he lost his sisters.  It is simply too painful, all these years later, to recount.  One story he will tell is watching a Russian tank burn, and seeing desperate soldiers escape through the hatch, only to be beaten to death at the roadside by old women with shovels and hammers.

tank

Those experiences made him a profoundly religious man, and sadly, his views of pain and suffering were always ones of comparison.  Dad was offered a place at the gymnasium in Stuggart (a university preparatory), but his father, a former SS officer, forbade it.  He would learn a useful skill, and he was sent to agricultural college.  His father didn’t see the Green Revolution coming, and by the time Dad graduated, industrial farming was well under way.

Dad married in Germany, and had two sons.  Like many others, he turned his face towards the New World, seeking opportunity and greener pastures.  When his children were ten and eight, he set forth for North America, leaving his sons and his wife in the care of his mother and sisters, promising to return for them when he had secured a job and a home for them.

He never went back.  He abandoned them.

He met my mother when she was just nineteen years old and he was considerably older.  He never told her about his family back in Germany, and they married and had four children by the time my mother was 25 years old. My three brothers, and me.

And they were fucking horrible parents.  There is no nice way to spin it.  They embraced a religion that encouraged extreme violence against children.  Their philosophy was that a child’s will must be completely broken so that the child will then accept the will of God.  My mother was ecstatically violent, and my father less so, but they were both culpable. Their particular brand of religious violence continues in America to this day.

http://www.examiner.com/article/another-child-s-death-linked-to-pearls-and-to-train-up-a-child

To compound our suffering, my parents also believed that any demonstration of physical affection would “spoil” a child, and I have not one single memory of my mother or father kissing or hugging us, or showing any sign whatsoever that they loved us.

When my father came towards me, as a child, all I felt was … fear. I wondered what pain was in store.  And no matter what it was, I knew it would pale in comparison to the pain he had suffered.  I was supposed to feel grateful for that.

I didn’t.

farm

We lived on a farm, growing our own food, making our own bread, with chickens and cows and bees (for honey) and pigs and endless fields of potatoes. Whatever money my parents managed to earn, they turned over to the crazy church.  It was an interesting childhood, to say the least.

And then….my mother discovered feminism. She exchanged one violent, irrational, dehumanizing ideology for another, and she soon decided that she needed a man like a fish needed a bicycle. After countless physically violent arguments with my father, including one episode where she hit him in the head with a cast iron frying pan and left him for dead on the front porch, he turned his back and walked away from us, just like his first family.

One day we woke up and he was gone. My mother was quick to inform us that he simply walked away, and left us to starve in the streets, and that she alone would be the sole reason we survived and prospered. She never missed an opportunity to curse him.  She told us about his first family, and how she did not need to divorce him, because they were never married in the first place.  She hated him and hated all men and our daily lives were filled with her anger and vitriol and violence.  She never gave a moment’s thought to what her hatred of men and our father was doing to her sons. She gave us daily rations of rage and blame and every bad thing that happened was always his fault.

Being a child, I believed it.  So did my brothers.

And we loathed him for it.  How could he leave us with such an evil woman? My mother once held a knife to my throat and made me beg for my life.  When I was eleven. And I remember going to bed, thinking not how much I hated her, but how much I hated HIM for leaving us to her devices.

Needless to say, coming in to my own as a person was a difficult and very fraught process.  When I finally made it to university, I had literally no idea what a loving, affectionate, decent relationship looked like.  I was lucky enough to meet Pixie almost immediately, and although her material circumstances were much more comfortable than mine, she too had experienced a horrifically traumatic and abusive childhood.  I will leave it to Pixie to reveal any details. Suffice to say, at our posh university, we were definitely outsiders.

Interestingly enough, I was never attracted to men who behaved badly.  I never sought to enmesh myself in relationships that replicated the worst of my father.  Quite the opposite.  I didn’t seek out pain in an effort to work through what I had suffered.  I had a lovely boyfriend who was all kindness and sympathy.  He was the gentlest man I have ever known.  And I cannot adequately articulate how his gentleness and caring healed me.

He proposed marriage, but ultimately, he was far too compliant and mild, and I was disconcerted by his willingness to acquiesce to what I wanted, even though I never wanted anything bad.  I could trust him to treat me with the utmost kindness and care, but I could not lean on him.  That was impossible. I declined his proposal and moved on.

I eventually landed at graduate school, in an MBA program, where I met my husband. From the time my father left and all throughout my twenties, I never saw him.  I knew he was working overseas and only landed stateside a couple of times a year, but I never sought him out and he never looked for me.  I married and went overseas myself, and after a year in Australia and another year in China came back to North America with a young daughter and my son only months away from being born.

http://judgybitch.com/2012/11/03/i-went-to-mba-school-to-get-my-mrs-degree-and-it-worked/

And then I received a phone call.  It was my father, calling to tell me that my mother’s mother had passed away, and that I should let her know.  So much of the pain had seeped away that I felt confident confronting my father, and I asked him why he had done it.

Why did you just turn your back and walk away?

And then the truth came to light.  He hadn’t walked away.  He certainly had not left us to starve.  My mother had filed for an annulment and requested a restraining order, which she was granted. When I finally saw my father again, he had two boxes with him.  One was filled with income tax returns showing that he had never missed a child support payment, and court orders preventing him from seeing us based on his violence towards my mother, along with supervised visitations that were all scheduled for when he was overseas, working to meet his child support payments.

mail

The other box contained cards and letters.  Birthday cards and so many letters.  All returned.  By my mother.  He never stopped sending them, hoping one of us would one day get the key and fetch the mail, but my mother was always adamant that the mail was her business.  It was one of those community mailboxes, where you had to go and fetch your mail, and since I never got any mail, it never occurred to me that there was anything untoward about my mother’s insistence that only she would have access to it.

mailboxes

As an adult, it makes so much sense.  How did we continue to live in our house?  How was my mother able to afford food and clothing and YMCA memberships for four children without my father’s support? Of course she had his support.  But she hid it from us, and poisoned our minds against our father.  It’s called parental alienation, and she is not the first, nor the last woman to destroy her children in this way.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation

It’s a special kind of evil.

It has been many years since I have had any contact with my mother.  She hated Mr. JB with a passion, and saw that she could not control him.  She forbid me to marry him.  I told her to go fuck herself. With the birth of my own children, I have truly come to grasp the depths of her depravity.  It is unthinkable for me to hurt my children.  I would die before I ever whipped them unconscious with a wet leather belt.  I would kill anyone who tried to do such a thing.

It was not just my mother who was violent during my childhood, though, and a huge part of the reason I have a relationship with my father is owing to the heart-felt, tear-soaked apology he offered me.  My father does not cry.  It was an intensely emotional experience, to listen to him express his regrets for what he had done.

“If I could do my life again, I would have showered you with love, and never lifted a hand against you”.

He gave no excuses, no justifications, no defenses.  My father looked at me and apologized for being wrong.  So very wrong.

And I forgave him.  I cannot turn back the hands of time and restore his children to him, but I have three beautiful children of my own, and he is a wonderful grandfather to them.  He gives them all the love and attention he denied his own children.  And I understand profoundly how important that is.  In being the mother to my children that I wished I had, I have erased so much of the damage she inflicted.  In being a loving, perfect  grandfather, my father is able to forgive himself for being a terrible father.

grandfather

The most amazing relationship has blossomed between my Dad and my husband, too.  Mr. JB is the son my Dad wishes he had.  They go fishing and do home improvement projects together and sit in the sun and have cold beer and talk about football.  My Dad holds forth on his crackpot conspiracy theories and my husband laughs at him and tells Dad he’s nuts and they laugh and watch the kids race up and down the street.

adult

Today is Father’s Day.  Millions of fathers will wake up to pancakes and glitter covered construction paper cards and new socks and ties.  Millions more will wake up to a quiet house, their children only ghosts that haunt the corners of the room.  This post is for those fathers.  I am a living testament to the fact that children grow up, and they look back and see truth that they could not see when they were only children.  Estrangement from your children is the most unbearable pain, and to see your children twisted against you is pure agony.

But there is hope.  Children are not children forever.  The brutal reality is that the women who injure their children in this way will never face any punishment from the law.  Their own children may not be so forgiving.

My mother stole my father from me and blighted my childhood in so many ways. My revenge has been to refuse to allow her to influence my life, to refuse to carry out a cycle of abuse and to be a good mother to my own children.  My revenge has been to marry a good man, and be a good wife.  My revenge has been to find my father, forgive him, and be a good daughter.  I cannot give him back the days past, but I can give him this day, and all the days to come.

walk

Never lose hope.  The future could be so different.

Happy Father’s Day.

Lots of love,

JB

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  • http://tempesttcup.wordpress.com TempestTcup

    Wow, beautifully written.

    • Shane

      I sat in my car and read this post with tears welling up. I composed myself and drove home thinking about how close to home this hit.

      She’s 22 now. Her mother and I split when she was pregnant. We tried after her birth, but we couldn’t get along. Mom ended up with sole custody and I ended up with child support payments. Back in the 90`s, this is how things rolled. However, mom decided that I wasn’t really good enough to be in our daughters life and started moving around to hide her from me. I went to court to enforce visitation over and over again, but nothing changed. I got to see my daughter on her terms with her conditions or not at all.

      I got married (still am) and this threw my ex for a loop. My wife wanted my daughter in our lives, so we tried everything we could to knock some sense into her. We offered to take her for weekends, even driving 5 hours to stay in a hotel only to find my ex had buggered off for the weekend casually forgetting we were coming. We offered train tickets and hotel rooms for them to come see us, only to be denied. Remember, my wife and I were young and broke, but we still wanted to put in the effort. My wife and I started our own family and expressed the wish for my daughter and our son to grow up together in some way.

      I still remember the day the whole dream came crashing down in a lawyers office. My wife and I wanted to have the custody order amended for some sort of defined shared parenting. The lawyer was very blunt with us and what we heard that day framed the next 15 years. She (yes, she) told us that if we pursued this custody issue, half of my wages would be garnished. And then she looked at my wife and told her that they would garnish based on combined income, so if we were happy to live on half our wages in perpetuity, we could go ahead and pursue this. She even pointed at my infant son sleeping in his car carrier and said (i will NEVER forget this) “if you want him and your future children to do without, then go to court.” The implication being that we would be starving one kid to feed another part time kid.

      We were crushed.

      Now that I think back, I know this lawyer gave us shitty advice, but what did we know?

      Fast forward a few years and a judge in Alberta used a custody case to make a point. He not only raised the father’s monthly support payments, he also charged the father with thousands of dollars in back support to coincide with every raise he had gotten retroactively. Ouch. My wife and I talked about it at the time and hoped that would never happen to us and our now 3 children. We didn’t know where my daughter was because they kept moving, even out of province. We would hear things through the grapevine once in a while, but we weren’t allowed to know where she was. Even the child support people made it clear they could not tell me where my daughter and her mother was.

      On her 18th birthday, the support order against me was done. Soon after, I found her on Facebook and reached out nervously.

      It took her a while, but she responded with only one request. That she should be allowed to call me “Dad”. Oh my.

      We chatted here and there over the next couple of years, I let her set the pace. She moved out west, within a 12 hour drive from us and we continued to casually chat. We exchanged phone numbers and were getting to know each other.

      I never disparaged her mother. She asked me why I left and I told her that I never left, just that some decisions were made for me that prevented us from being together. I was kind and respectful.

      Last summer my wife, our daughter and I planned a road trip to her city. She agreed to meet us with her boyfriend at a coffee shop. I saw her for the first time since she was 3. My wife and her hit it off and they talked and talked and talked, while I sat there grinning and practically shitting my pants in nervousness. At one point my wife went to the bathroom and my daughter asked me why I was so quiet. I told her I was in awe of her maturity and intelligence and beauty (she looks like me) and I was just soaking the moment in. She liked that. Afterwards, she texted me and said she couldn’t wait to meet the rest of her siblings, my sons.

      My wife got in the car after that and started to cry. “she was stolen from you and that’s not fair.” My wife went on to say she regretted that the boys weren’t there so that my daughter could plainly see I’m a good dad and not some deadbeat. Having the whole family in front of her would have made the lies she grew up being told very obvious.

      A while later we were texting back and forth and I said something I shouldn’t have. I asked if she had told her mother that we were talking and had even met. She said no. And I told her that she should because keeping secrets was a bad thing and her mother should know what’s going on.

      Soon after, the texts dried up. I get no response from her at all. Not when I send her a message for holidays and birthdays. Phone calls go unanswered. I think we can all guess what happened.

      So, it’s not all hopeless. She did want me, us, in her life before and she’s still quite young. Someday, I hope she decides I’m worth pissing off her mother for.

      Sorry for the extremely long post, but your story struck such a nerve with me, I had to say something.

      • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

        Thank you for sharing this. I know how torn your daughter is. I really do. It’s such a horrible feeling to understand how badly someone you thought cared at least a bit about you actually abused and hurt you.

        I hope it works out.

        Give it time.

        And never give up.

        So glad you got to go on and have your three boys. Your wife sounds amazing. Give her a hug from me.

        • Shane

          Doh!

          I just realized this post is a year old.

          *facepalm*

      • http://www.judgybitch.com princesspixiepointless

        Oh wow, you’ve got me all teary now. Thank you for sharing your experiences. hugs. PPP

      • http://tempesttcup.wordpress.com TempestTcup

        Shane

        That is utterly heartbreaking. I have a friend whose children were taken from her – literally, her ex-husband came and took the kids and disappeared. She is just now getting to see one of them again but says it is very difficult because of all of the things her ex said about her. He told them that she didn’t want them, when of course, the opposite was true.

        I wish you all the luck in the world, and I hope your daughter comes around soon.

  • http://transmillenium.wordpress.com Transmillenium

    Things Women do Better than Men – How Women are better than men: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/tips/women-better-than-men-things#slide-1
    You know how to destroy it

    • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

      Looks like I have tomorrow’s post!

      Thank you!

  • http://transmillenium.wordpress.com Transmillenium

    Father’s day related: “‘Fathers are treated as mere sperm donors': Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author hits out at family courts” Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2342575/Fathers-treated-mere-sperm-donors-Captain-Corellis-Mandolin-author-hits-family-courts.html#ixzz2WOaeDBkw

  • http://j4mb.wordpress.com mikebuchanan1957

    JB, a remarkable piece, to which (of course) I’ve put links on my blogs. Thank you, on so many levels, for it. I’d like to send it to all the damnable feminists who’ve posted misandrous pieces on their blogs today, in an effort to demonise men on the one day which should be special for them. They truly are toxic – evil in the extreme. For countless fathers, deprived of the human right to see their children, this must be a bitterly painful day.

    Mike Buchanan

    JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS
    (and the women who love them)

    http://j4mb.wordpress.com

  • http://radicalsuburbanite.wordpress.com/ Radical Suburbanite

    Beautifully written JB.

  • feeriker

    WOW, JB. Just…WOW. Rarely ever does a read bring tears to my eyes, but this one of those rare ones that has. That you overcame the childhood you had to become who are is testament to what a truly special woman you are. Your father snd Mr. JB are two incredibly lucky men.

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  • Steven Bennett

    Sincere thanks.

  • http://gravatar.com/andromedagalaxym31 Astrokid MHRA

    Done with a lot more compassion than is visible in the world today.
    And you are supposed to be one of the bad ones

    • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

      Yes. I’m a hate site.

      Pretty hateful stuff, no?

      • Bobbo

        Beautifully written piece. Yet I find it particularly sad at what seems to be gleeful way you remind us of how you punish you mother. That toxicity will find it’s way to seep out into the rest of your healed spaces like mold growing behind your home’s walls. Please make every attempt possible to come to a place of complete forgiveness of her – for everyone’s sake, lest it become a foothold for the enemy of your soul.
        Peace to you.

        • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

          You know what’s funny, Bobbo? It was not my decision to cut off all contact with my mother. She told me if I married Mr. JB, I would be dead to her. She would disown me and never speak to me again. She tried to force my brothers to disown me, too. They refused, although it is my understanding that my name is never to be uttered in her presence. My sister-in-law, bless her, refuses to abide by that kind of nonsense.

          If my mother were to come to me with the same apology my father gave me, I would forgive her. I’m not sure I would allow her unsupervised access to my children, because quite frankly, she scares me. I believe her to be capable of hurting my children as a way to hurt me.

          Sad, but true.

  • http://lostsailor32.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/lost-sailor/ LostSailor

    A very powerful piece, JB. The sound you hear is me doing the slow-clap for you.

    My dad fought in Europe during the war from the Battle of the Bulge through to meeting up with Russian forces on the Elbe. And, he, too, rarely spoke about it.

    As I’ve written in a comment on another thread, my dad was the quintessential beta-provider, and I honor him for it. Nothing was more important to him than providing for his family. Sometimes he had to face swallowing his pride to do so, but he did it, usually, uncomplainingly. But he could show flashes of alpha in protecting his family, too.

    My brother is the child of my mother’s first marriage. His father was an Annapolis grad and lieutenant on a sub in the Pacific theater in the last year of the war, leaving a new wife and infant son back in New London. His sub went missing in May 1945, five days prior to VE day. It wasn’t found until 2005, sunk in the Gulf of Thailand.

    When Dad married Mom, he accepted another man’s son just as he would have one of his own. Being the sole surviving son of a WWII KIA/MIA, and coming of age during the Vietnam war, my brother was legally ineligible for the draft. Not that stopped the local draft board from trying to do so on at least two occasions. In a story I only heard from someone else after Dad died, on the second attempt to draft my brother or jail him if he didn’t respond (he had left school to get married; a different story), Dad barged into a meeting of the draft board, tore up the draft notice, and told them bluntly that if they tried again, he would take legal action against each of them individually, and if that didn’t work, they’d answer to him personally. He was nearly arrested. And he never said a word to my brother or the rest of the family.

    He was a man of integrity. I miss him.

    Thanks for writing this, JB

  • Pirran

    Great piece, JB. It makes me reflect on my father’s insane work ethic when we were kids. He was a doctor who tried to save the world but was simply never around his own family. Luckily I got to know him better much later when the stress caused a stroke and forced him into early retirement (ironically, probably saving his life).

    On a related note, just to add to Transmilleniums’s dose of insanity, here’s HuffPuff’s latest blog loon, Melanie Curtin. Of course, it goes without saying she’s a 30 something sex and dating coach who can’t find the right guy.

    I think we need a hamster of the month award soon. There’s just too much of this going around not to be commented on. When every other piece on Jezebel, Slate or HuffPuff looks like a Poe, I fear a South Park apocalypse might be just around the corner.

    Anyway, getting back to (self described) “super empathic” all round OSSUMNESS herself, I felt it had to be one last great Onion hoax. It’s hard to believe that anyone so clueless, so narcissistic (who derides narcissism in men); so solipsistic, so breathtakingly conceited and vain could be real. It’s all the hamsters come home to spin in the (still reasonably attractive) body of a 30 something vacuity so full of crazy she’d have the bats flying to the hills. Get this, even some of the HuffPuff posters thinks she’s a self-obsessed Princess. I never thought I’d live to see the day.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-curtin/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-curtin/ten-things-to-avoid-when-_b_3447210.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-curtin/why-im-not-married_b_1266872.html

    http://www.vixenontheloose.com/almost-maybe/

  • froxxy

    This is beautiful.
    I have a… complicated relationship with my father. He took off when I was six, and while it was my mother’s doing, he had more of a choice than it sounds like your father did. I think he just felt powerless. I talked to him this morning for the first time in a year and a half. It sounds like he has had a really rough year. He sounded really excited to hear from me, though.

    • Shane

      Please don’t stop trying froxxy. He’s more afraid of you than you are of him. I’ll bet he carries around a lot of self imposed guilt and shame and he’s afraid you’re going to beat him with that guilt.

      Clearly I don’t know a thing about your father from two sentences, but I’m pretty sure I can guess his state of mind based on personal experience.

  • Spaniard

    Just back from former German Konigsberg (today is Russian Kaliningrad) Soviet Tanks T-34 decorate the squares. Some German quarters remains. A lot of German tourists visiting their roots. But totally Russian territory today.

    I wonder which kind of protestantism is that one you describe.

  • http://seanhuze.com Sean Huze

    I expected something so different. Something funny. I love your snarky sense of humor and didn’t expect to feel a lump in my throat and the sting of tears in my eyes reading a post from you but it was deeply personal and moving. It provides so much insight into why you are such an advocate for men. I’ve had custody of my 11 year old son since he was 14 months old. I would have had custody sooner but was in Iraq so child services placed him with her mother until I returned. His “egg donor” owes over a decade’s worth of back child support yet likes to spend a couple hundred bucks every couple of years challenging our custody order to either gain custody or require me to pay for my son’s air travel to see her (which was dismissed because she is not allowed to be with him unsupervised. Each filing costs her next to nothing. It costs me $5,000 to lawyer up though. I’ve had trouble in the past with attorneys who refuse because they are like most of society and default to the mindset that a child needs their mother no matter what. That my insistence on ONLY supervised visits after ten years is unreasonable. I should just shrug off the filthy, unsafe, and unhealthy environment child services rescued him from at a time when I could do nothing to help him (Marine, infantry, 2003, had a country to invade). I had only seen my son 5 times prior to that because she refused to let me and while earning $1100 per month and voluntarily (no court order) paying $350 each month in child support, I couldn’t afford an attorney. But while my finances may not ever recover, I have the most amazing child who has enriched my life beyond measure. I am so glad you found joy and have a relationship with your father today.

  • petersocal

    this is a great read…

  • http://www.practical-parsimony.blogspot.com Practical Parsimony

    I am a cousin to Michael P. I could tell you stories! I lost my children 30 years ago to a man who turned them against me and kept them from me and told them lies until they hated me and still do. I am a feminist who went to court to testify on behalf of a crazy feminist woman who accused her husband of battering her. She lied. I am for right, not just for women. Women who stick up for women no matter what are no better than men who always stick up for men no matter what happened. Having a mother is a human right, too.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/girlwriteswhat/videos Astrokid MHRA

      If you have suffered from Parental Alienation, and are for right & not just for women, what are you doing about NOW that denounces PAS & is anti-male? Fall 2012 Newslatter
      On Page 1, Intro:

      This Special Report of the NOW Family Law Ad Hoc Advisory Committee focuses on the destructive ability of abusive parents (usually the father) – aided by fathers’ advocacy groups or fathers’ rights groups – to deny the protective parent (usually the mother) custody of minor children. Discussed in this issue is how abusers deny custody, and the damage it causes to a half million or more children exposed to continuing physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

      There you go.. the abusive parent is usually the father and the protective parent is usually the mother. This is mainstream feminism, for last 50 years.
      Anti-Science and Anti-common sense as well.

      NOW TO DENOUNCE SO-CALLED PARENTAL ALIENATION (SYNDROME) 2006
      WHEREAS, the term Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was created by the psychiatrist, Richard Gardner. It is used as a tactic in courts by litigating attorneys as a defense strategy for batterers and sexual predators that purports to explain a child’s estrangement from one parent, or explains away allegations against the estranged parent of abuse/sex abuse of child, by blaming the protective parent;

      THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) denounces Parental Alienation Syndrome and recommends that any professional whose mission involves the protection of the rights of women and children denounce its use as
      unethical, unconstitutional, and dangerous.

      • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

        Wow!

        I’m …. speechless

  • akxxakrkr

    You forgot that the war did not start in 1938 & did not end in 1944.

    • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

      There really isn’t one date the war started and ended on. General consensus is September 1st, 1939 (Hitler’s attack on Poland) until September 2nd, 1945 (Japan’s surrender after being nuked), but those dates are somewhat arbitrary.

      Food security was not restored in Germany for quite some time, which is the pertinent fact. The suffering did not begin and end on one particular date.

      • http://harleyscars.com Shouting Thomas

        Good story, Judgy.

        I could tell a similar story about my late wife’s father. When I discovered how brutally he had abused her, I wanted to boot him to the moon.

        “Who the fuck are you to judge my father?” Myrna asked me.

        Myrna was a child prostitute in the Philippines. Her father, a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

        Myrna slowly and deliberately taught me that I had been a fool to judge her father.

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  • http://twitter.com/rnikoley Richard Nikoley (@rnikoley)

    Wow, what a story. My dad was also born in WWII German, also in 1938. I recently blogged about his new starvation.

    http://freetheanimal.com/2012/12/my-german-wwii-survivor-dad-lothar-lute-nikoley-on-food-in-a-war-zone.html

    He was separated from the rest of his siblings and had a rougher time getting adequate food. As such, he’s the shortest of all six of them.

    Fortunately, the whole family got out in ’52, when he was 14. Another weird parallel is that my, and most of my dad’s side of the family succumbed to the Born Again evangelical crappola in the 70s. It was physically or emotionally abusive really at all—both very loving and still are, but it was just a total 24/7 focus on church for years. Fortunately, my parents left it behind though some of my dad’s brothers are still seeped heavily in it.

    Glad you worked it out with your dad.

  • manfredkintop

    I am moved. A very heartfelt story JB. I had a similar childhood, where my dad left and returned to Stuttgart. My mom told my sister and I that he was an abusive alcoholic, which was why she “Kicked him out”. After 17 years of no contact, I found myself sitting at his kitchen table recounting to me how he would arrive home from work and my mom would be half-cut, throwing things at him. She kicked him out because she found a drunk loser who didn’t have a problem with her getting smashed on a daily basis.

    I love your blog. And hope you and your dad have many happy days together.

  • Robert

    How poignant.

  • Feminism Is A Lie

    I read this post yesterday and I did not expect to be so emotionally affected, so that when it came to replying, I honestly had no idea how to put it into words. In the end, I think I’ll just say a simple thank you. Thank you for sharing your story with us and showing that there is hope.

  • MaMu1977

    Back in 2010 I received a call from my troop (at the time, I was an E-5 in the USAF), asking me to drive out to the base. When asked for a reason, she told me that an abnormal act of violence had occured and that it was best for the perpetrator to receive non-judicial punishment/arbitration. Confused, I contacted the dorm manager (an E-6 who was known for being the go-to guy for solving personal issues) and received a dialtone. So, despite being hungover, I drove 15 minutes out to the base to put on my “reasonable authority figure” hat and prevent an (according to all involved parties) decent Airman from getting punished for a lapse in judgment.

    When I arrived, my troop escorted me to his room. She knocked on his door and he yelled “Go away!”. I called out to him and slid my ID card under the door. A minute later, he opened the door and told my troop to (again) “Go away”. She told him that they couldn’t reach TSgt {name here}, but that I was more than willing to vouch for him if I thought that his reason for his actions was sensible. He looked at me again, said that I was “that SSgt MaMu1977, and invited me inside. For the next 20 minutes, he told me his story of parental alienation.

    When he was about 5 years old, he came home to an empty house (no Mommy, then no Daddy). He knocked on a neighbor’s door to spend the night. A week later, his mother showed up and told him that his father was a “worthless POS”, then told him that they were going to have to move because she “couldn’t find Daddy”. For the next 15 years of his life, the young airman and his mother lived in increasingly impoverished circumstances, to the point that his Basic Training experience was in his words,”a breath of fresh air”. “Three great meals a day, a clean bed and almost 8 hours of sleep a night, it was so cool…”. And then, a yearafter arriving at his first base, he logged onto Facebook and saw a message from his father. He blocked his father, but he received a message from a friend of his father a few days later. He blocked that profile, then received another message a week later. One month and almost a dozen messages later, the aforementioned TSgt convinced him to unblock the first message and open a dialogue. At that point, I remembered having a few “Fathers are worthless”, with my fellow NCO, and I told the airman that I’d encouraged the TSgt to tell him to meet his father. When I said that, the young man began to cry (quick note: he was over 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds of solid muscle. It was like watching a football player or professional wrestler burst into tears. You literally have no idea where to look or what to do.)

    So, the father convinced his son to go to the closest international airport for a meet. The airman travelled for six hours, convinced that his father was scamming him, that he wasn’t going to show up. But, his father was there. He paid for his son’s lodging, his meals, his drinks, new clothes, etc., on the first day. The next day, over breakfast, his father showed up for breakfast with a carry-on bag. In the bag? As in our esteemed blog mistress’s dxample, over a dozen years of legal notices, cancelled checks (child support, birthday money, school promotion money, “just because” money…), returned birthday and holiday cards (all of which had time-dated “damaged in transit” stamps). Then, his father told him the exact days in which he took his ex-wife to court for custody hearings, dates that matched up with various “Mommy has to go out of town for a few days”, blips in the airman’s childhood. His father told him about travelling to various states to get to the briefings (at one point, taking off a week of work to drive from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma to avoid using lawyer money for plane tickets), because his ex-wife would regularly move to the most single mother/generous welfare benefits states in the U.S. to be given extra drug money and free housing. His father apologised for not being there, for not being allowed to be there, for doing things by the book (instead of being afraid of becoming a kidnapper and getting arrested). And as the young airman began to cry again, he was able to choke out, “And right there, in the hotel dining room, surrounded by all of these strangers, he begged me for forgiveness. A grown man, it wasn’t even his fault, begging me…”.

    I broke my rule of not touching people and gave him a hug. He sat there, in my arms, this statue of a man who looked like he could take a bullet in the chest or a punch to the throat without flinching, and cried and cried and cried like a lost toddler in a busy mall. When he had recovered, he admitted that his reason for assaulfing his fellow airman was inappropriate mocking. I called for the victim, he crossed the hall and we had a pow-wow. We created a cover story (drunk townie blacked the victim’s eye at the stroke of midnight), the young men shook hands, I gave my troop the “official” story (luckily, the dorm was almost empty due to the holiday, therefore allowing for a distinct lack of witnesses), and I went home. A few days later, I received n E-mail of gratitude from the dorm manager (for stepping up when needed). AFAIK, the airman and his father are still in contact.

    This isn’t even the saddest parental alienation story in my repertoire. I’ve got one that was all but designed to piss off anyone who isn’t a radfem or the type of man who fervently believes in justifiable homicide (as in, the men who commit suicide/homicide in response to family court abuse, who would and did kill their obstructive exes.) Long story short: militant feminist mother, son raised to believe that Daddy was a deadbeat, met his father through Facebook, showed up on base with a brand new and fully paid off pickup truck. The truck was paid for using the almost 600 never-cashed child support/birthday/holiday checks that were written and mailed by the non-custodial parent. Of course, this case also involved an airman who was raised in poverty, albeit poverty due to unstable employability on the part of the mother (not drugs, as in the first case.)

    • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

      Wow.

      Well, doesn’t really surprise me.

      And NOW wants parental alienation declared invalid.

      Unbelievable. NOW has no shame.

  • MaMu1977

    For that last case, I should add a couple of pieces of info.

    1. The “deadbeat dad” put the unused money in a separate savings account. He never used the cash, even in situations in which he could have used the extra $100 in his pocket for utilities or beer. This is important, because…

    2. His father was a fucking janitor! Not an accountant or a police officer or even a bus driver, but a janitor! For a decade of the father’s life, that $100 (to, eventually $350/month) in unused money could have gone towards car repairs or medicine or (again) beers with the guys. If he so chose, he could have easily justified the use of the money by producing the dozens of “Return to Sender”-stamped envelopes for any claimant. The child support laws on the books only apply to money that has been sent to the proper recipient. Once the money has been received by the claimant, anything that the claimant does with it is kosher. If the claimant decides that she is a “strong, independent woman”, and she gives it back to the sender, he’s done his job. The money is free and clear for the recipient’s use. Yet, he lived in bad neighbourhoods (instead of taking the $100 extra to put towards rent), used public transportation (instead of using the $100 extra to pay for gas or car repairs), ate canned foods (instead of using the $100 extra for fresh veggies or non-preserved meats), because he wanted to give his son something of value for their eventual reunion. That unused CS money (by itself) was over $30,000 at the final tally; the extra monies (starting at little $20 birthday checks during his childhood and ending at amounts in the $200-500 range as the father moved up the ranks of his job and was able to afford the loss), by themselves, were enough to pay for a brand new pickup truck . I need to make this abundantly clear: a janitor was able to buy a $20,000+ off of a lot, using birthday and Christmas money. With little notes in the envelopes…

    “This will get you a few ice cream cones this summer.”
    “All of the kids around here are talking about Jordans. I’m a Converse man miself (sic), but this $50 will give you a good start.”
    “You’re old enough to go to the prom. This $500 can go towards a limo.”
    “Your auntie said that you’re looking at college. Use this $200 for one of those expensive ass books.”

    All of this money, marked RTS, because his ex wanted to be self-sufficient (read as: not beholden to another person). So that when her son did something great, no one but her would receive the credit.

    P.S.-the first case was white, the second case was black. Not vice versa, as the allegations of drug use (first case) and inability to comprehend spending $200 on trainers/buying a Ford pickup truck (second case) tends to make the average American think in stereotypes.

  • Matthew House

    You don’t know me from a hole in the ground, but I’d like to take a moment, and say one thing.

    Thank you very much.

    I have three daughters I will most likely never see, nor build a relationship with. two different women. Both of which decided they could ‘do better’, and proceeded to give me my walking papers. One went so far as to use Child Services as a bludgeon to force me to sign away my parental rights, so her new husband could adopt my daughter. Several years later, I hear through the grape vine that she filed for divorce on grounds of physical abuse.

    The other… simply hid my children from me. Moving around, renting property under her mother’s name, it got so bad that even Child Services couldn’t find her, and finally stopped dunning me for everything I had, because they couldn’t find anyone to give it to!

    There will be an accounting, some day.

    • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      And especially sorry for your daughter’s losses.

      • Matthew House

        Honestly, I can’t even really think about it. I repress it heavily. It’s in the locked room in the back of my mind, labelled ‘DO NOT THINK ABOUT THIS’. Bringing it up today means I’ll spend the rest of the day upset, and off-center, with tears on my face. I suppose that’s an improvement from the days when I couldn’t think about it at all, without wanting to stick my handgun in my mouth, and pull the trigger.

        It’s a level of pain most people don’t believe, or, if they do believe, cannot understand. The most precious things I could have ever had in my entire life, taken from me. Gone forever. Because some…-person- decided to ‘trade up’. And in the process of ‘trading up’ decided that I was nothing more than a finite resource. Something to be used up, and then thrown away.

        That I spent the best parts of my finite lifespan being hammered into the ground financially, (22-38) leaving me woefully behind in building a life… that barely registers as ‘annoyance’ in comparison to what I feel, when I look back at the three daughter shaped holes in my life.

        And the beating I took financially pretty much ensured I have nothing to offer to them as they transition into adulthood. I’ve barely survived as it is.

        I settle for trying not to think about it much.Thinking about it too much puts me off my game. I keep slogging away, struggling to build myself out of debt, aquire land, a house, a shop to work out of. Eventually, I’ll have something to offer them. I hope. Even if it’s nothing more than “being of sound mind, I hearby beqeath all my worldly possession to be divided equally between my three daughters..”.

        huh. not sure how I got on my life’s story, but… anyhow, I just wanted to say thank you, and that your story gives me hope. Hope that someday, even for me, there might just be a reunion.

        • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch

          Oh Matthew. I’m so sorry. But know that you won’t have to give them anything, other than your story and all the love they’ve missed out on for so long.

          I hope they find you. I hope they want the truth enough to seek it. It took me many years to understand how I was abused.

          Never lose hope.

          *hug*

          • Matthew House

            Oh, I don’t give up. I’ve learned, you see. To give up, means just that. You give up. You -lose-. Game over. The bad people win, and the people you care about suffer. So long as there’s the slightest chance of survival, or dare I say it, -victory-, I’ll keep struggling.

        • http://j4mb.wordpress.com mikebuchanan1957

          Matthew, my thoughts are with you. I wish you luck, and every success in reconnecting with your girls. I lead a British political party fighting for the human rights of men and boys (and the women who love them), and my dearest wish is for there to be similar political parties across the developed world, including the US and Canada. I should do all in my power to support them. All it will take is for a few men to take on that challenge. Might you be one of those men? Time to step up to the plate?

          Mike Buchanan

          JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS
          (and the women who love them)

          http://j4mb.org.uk

        • http://jackheald.com JackAz

          Matthew (and JB):

          I have four children, 3 of whom are alienated from me. That alienation is of course the work of their mother. I know your pain, Matthew. You put it away in a place that you don’t trip over it all the time. I can barely write about it. Most days I am able to not think about it at all. And then I read stuff like this. And my heart is ripped apart all over again.

          All I ever really wanted in life was to be a good husband and a good father. I gave her 25 years. She gave me a shiv to the ribs. Of course it is more complicated than that, but she KNEW that the only thing I cared to take from the marriage was the relationship I had with my children, so that is what she intentionally destroyed.

          What kind of person intentionally destroys a child’s image of their father?

          She taught me that evil truly exists, and it masquerades in a black dress and red lipstick. The devil incarnate.

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  • Troy

    What is it about a person’s constitution or personality that is able to break the cycle of violence? Many people don’t and justify (or maybe it is rationalize) their violence towards their kids because of the violence they suffered from their parents.

    What is even more amazing about Mrs. Bitchy is that hasn’t seemed to let this violence poison her relationships and views towards men in general.

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  • http://www.fighting4fair.com Crusty

    Extremely well written and moving post, thank you for sharing

  • Drea

    JB,

    I’m glad I came across this article. My father was also a WWII survivor from Germany. He would be 81 in two days.

    We also grew up on a farm, and had a hectic upbringing. I’ve carried a lot of baggage around for hears. I’m still Childress and unmarried at 38. I often think I’m too damaged or unable to have healthy relationships. I haven’t had contact with my two elder sisters for 5-6 years. I care for my 73 year old mother, and she’s been through a lot as well with my Dad.

    Not many people understand the trials first generation American kids go through with parents who’ve gone through War. We were raised differently, often without affection and in fear. Parents were just not emotionally available and it carries into your adult life. I need to let a lot of things go and move forward but so much haunts me and I have so much deep rooted anger.

    Thanks for sharing. It made me feel much better knowing others have been though similar.

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  • https://twitter.com/ElateWithKate Kate Minter

    You know, there had been a tweet by a “prominent” game writer questioning why women are involved in the men’s rights movement, and I was a bit flabbergasted. I mean, how hard is it to see that men and women are interrelated in every way. Are we not wives, mothers, sisters, daughters to men?

    I appreciate the bravery it takes to share such personal stories. Yours in this particular matter gives a lot of hope that circumstances will not always be as they are and that reconciliation between fathers and children may be coming down the line: that regardless of what happened during the marriage, the villainy that happens after the divorce is often far worse.

    I especially appreciate how you take responsibility for yourself. At a certain point, children are adults and should be able to face the facts and draw their own conclusions. The only reason to hide information from the children is because the mother doesn’t want them finding out she lied.

    Note to women: There is nothing more priceless than a clear conscience, loving bonds, and happy children. There is nothing more bleak than guilt-corroded hearts, desperate bonds, and angry children. Everyone has the same choice between the former and the latter. Choose wisely.