With my Father's Day lurking Brian Gresko brings some tough dad love with "Wrestling With My Father." Do check it out in its entirety at LONGREADS, though do excerpt below.
"My therapist tells me that in more than 20 years of practice he’s heard the same thing from many survivors of abuse — it’s just his way. That’s how those who’ve been abused normalize mistreatment. Because otherwise, what does a person do with that pain? Someone who loves them has also hurt them deeply, to the bone. Rationally, emotionally, this doesn’t compute.
"In my experience, this dysfunction defines how dads relate to their sons, not just as children, but as adults too. Through small jabs and takedowns, my dad has ensured the scars from his abuse have stayed open, oozing and infected, making healing impossible. He remains the dominant one; it’s essential, it seems, to how he views family. Even when it comes to my relating to my own child, he believes he knows best, or better than me anyway.
"I have pretended to be someone else with a different experience, but looking at my life, I realize my therapist is right. As I’m sitting on his couch, something unclenches in me when I call my dad’s behavior by its proper name. My father was abused as a child, terrorized by authoritarian parents who gave him no words for his emotions or safety to experience them, instead teaching him that to be a parent means to cause pain. My dad then communicated that to me."