Weighty Influence That My Big Bad Dad Had
June 18, 2006
The following is a reprint from the blog "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb":
Today is Father's Day and I suppose it should be a day when I look back fondly on my childhood days to reminisce about all the good times I spent with my dad as part of the big happy family that many Americans are celebrating today.
But, as I always do when I write at my blog, can I be brutally honest with you? My childhood royally sucked! Okay, perhaps that's a little sophomoric to say it that way, but let's just say it wasn't the best of circumstances for me.
I briefly talked about my family in my Mother's Day post, but my mom and dad got divorced at the age of 21 when I was two years old and my brother Kevin was six years old. Both of my parents then remarried and I went to live with my mother in Florida with her new husband while my father remarried and stayed in Tennessee.
Still with me? Okay, it gets a little more confusing here now.
Two years later, my mom had my half-sister Beverly while my dad birthed his third and final son Nathan (my half-brother) four years after that. Not long after these new children came into the world, they both divorced. AGAIN! They ended up remarrying (AGAIN!) to their third spouse and my mom even briefly divorced and then remarried her third husband.
UGH! Today I use all of this as a joke at parties. Have you played that game where you write on a sheet of paper something about you that people don't know about and then exchange the papers reading them aloud trying to figure out who wrote it? Well, nobody has ever figured out that Jimmy Moore is the one who has been through six marriages! LOL! People are so shocked and then I tell them my parents divorced a lot when I was a kid. :D
As for describing my siblings, I tell people I have one full-blooded brother named Kevin, a half-sister who is my mother's second husband's daughter named Beverly, and a half-brother who is my father's second wife's son named Nathan. Is your head spinning yet? Hee hee! Yeah, I've had some fun with my genealogy over the years.
I guess you might be wondering why I would bring all this up at a weight loss blog, huh? Patience, my dear, I'm getting to that in just a moment.
Needless to say, this is not exactly what people would describe as the "ideal" way to raise children in the United States although my experience is unfortunately not a unique one with divorce as normal as going to the bathroom these days. That's why I told Christine when I married her over ten years ago that we're cutting the word divorce out of the dictionary because it's not an option. She might have to kill me, but we're not getting a divorce no matter what. :)
Kevin and I both bounced between Florida and Tennessee every year growing up for six weeks in the summer, two weeks at Christmas, and one week during Spring break. However, it wasn't until I turned 14 when my mom and her third husband (the one she divorced and then remarried) decided they didn't want me in their house anymore. That's when they devised a plan to have me go visit him for the Christmas holidays and then he would drop the bombshell that I'd be living there with him permanently.
I was devastated and cried for hours after this transpired for several reasons.
First, I was enjoying my classes in high school and making lasting friendships with people I shared common interests with and now that was all gone. Second, life had somewhat normalized and enabled me to begin thinking clearly about what I wanted to do with my life but now that was being taken away from me, too. Finally, my father had shown himself to be a very dominating and angry figure that I was terrified to be in the house with. My distress about living there was quickly confirmed that I was walking into a living nightmare at an impressionable age.
Over the next few years of my life until I turned 17, graduated from high school, and began attending college, I endured months of physical, mental, and emotional abuse that has taken me years to overcome. There are times even now when I still have flashbacks of the horror I went through with my father that can literally make my body tremble.
I remember this man I called my dad once got so mad at me that he threw me against the wall so hard inside his brand new house that my head left a big dent the size of a basketball in the sheet rock.
Another time, when he was teaching me how to drive with a stick shift, I was driving down the road with him in the passenger seat and he started hitting me on the side of the head repeatedly because he didn't like something I said to him. I was terrified and just knew I was going to crash into an oncoming car or a building.
Sure I got a lot of spankings that left red "handprint" welts from where he made me pull down my pants to beat my butt, but sometimes he'd even resort to punching me in the face so hard with his closed fist I'd have a black eye (when my friends would ask me who beat me up, I'd tell 'em I tripped and fell).
As if the physical abuse wasn't bad enough, the mental and emotional abuse scarred me even more.
He'd say things to me like the following:
"You're not good enough."
"You'll never amount to anything."
"I'm gonna beat that a** just because I want to."
"You're nothing, you worthless piece of sh**."
"Why the He** were you even born."
Was this painful? Do you even have to ask? It was by far the worst period of my entire life having to live with my dad through that traumatic experience. Looking back on it now, I realize it has made me a stronger person than I would have ever been without going through it so that maybe I can help others who are having a difficult time with their past. But it also kept me from dealing with some issues that needed to be handled -- namely my weight problem (ah, you knew I'd get around to weight loss at some point, didn't you?!).
While you are probably thinking what an awful dad I had for doing this to me nearly two decades ago, I can't and don't blame him for it because that's exactly how his dad treated him and his siblings growing up. My grandfather, who I never knew because he died before I was born, was also an alcoholic drunk who would come home at night after work and start flying into fits of rage randomly beating the living daylights out of whoever was in his way, his wife (my grandmother, who is still alive today) included. Abuse was what my dad saw from his dad on a daily basis.
So my dad was merely mimicking what he had learned from his dad. This is a ruthless cycle that so many generations of families go through until one person in that chain is able to climb out of the deep, dark hole that was dug so long ago and finally says enough is enough. I am hoping to be that person in my family to buck the trend and overcome the pain of the past. There's no excuse for continuing the abuse.
So far, the plan is working quite well and I have not shown the same abusive character traits of my dad and granddad to my darling wife Christine. In fact, perhaps it has been God's perfect timing to hold off on granting us children for a time to help me mature even more into the man He would have me to be before giving me the privilege of becoming a father, too. It'll happen someday when it is finally meant to happen. I really want to be a daddy.
Looking back on all those years after high school that I wasted looking over my shoulder wondering if my dad was watching my every move with disappointed disdain, I can only shake my head now wondering how much sooner I could have truly beat my obesity. While I'm not saying I got to weigh over 400 pounds all because of my father, it would be foolish to say my experience with him in those few years I lived with him didn't serve as a residual causal factor in the fact that I got that big. Plus, look at my brother Kevin -- 600 pounds! Is it just too late for him to overcome the pain of his past now?
How about you? Do you feel like you've been plagued by your past because of abuse you endured from your father or another family member. Believe me, I know that constant fear can grip you like nothing else and paralyze you from moving on with your life. It took me about ten or so years to finally stop living in the past and to finally start living for me in the here and now as well as the many years to come. Once I did, I was able to control my weight for good thanks to livin' la vida low-carb. And now I'll never be the same again.
I suppose you must be wondering what my relationship with my dad is like today. I'm pleased to report that we are on a speaking basis and talk regularly by telephone. About a year and a half ago after my 180-pound weight loss in 2004, I noticed my dad say something to me that I'll never forget during one of our conversations that I had never heard him utter before.
Here's what he said:
"Son, I'm proud of you for what you have accomplished. I love you."
He may never even realize just how powerful those simple words were that he spoke to me that day. I literally choked up and couldn't respond back except to say, "Thank you." But you know what? Every time we have talked since then, my dad has made it a point to tell me "love ya, Son" at the end of our call. I now proudly and sincerely tell him back that I love him, too. He may even realize and feel guilty about what he did to me now that he is older and perhaps just getting over the pain that his dad inflicted on him. It's all a part of the healing process that had to take place when you go through hard times.
Despite what happened all those years ago, the weighty influence that my big bad dad had on me is one that made me into the man I am today. I have learned to appreciate what life brings me now and am passionate about the things that I believe are most important (like helping people deal with their weight issues, too!). Would I have those traits had I not gone through what I did? I don't know. But that's what I'm celebrating on this Father's Day.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a phone call to make to Tennessee...