The Slap That Changed My Life.

The Slap That Changed My Life.

I don’t generally go into the personal details of my life in this blog, but this is one of those moments. Apologies if you are here for tech/WordPress-related stuff, and real-world stuff bums you out.

I turn 45 this year, and that moment in my 16-year-old life is still as vivid to me today as it was then.

The argument itself was stupid, the spelling of a word is hardly something to get into a fight about. But as always, when my father was challenged, he got angry, and his anger led to violence.

It was a slap, across my stepmother’s face, but at that moment, all the stories I had heard about him from my mother and grandmother became real. My father was an abuser, he physically abused women.

My parents divorced when I was less than a year old, so I never really had the best relationship with him in the first place. But if their fathers are present, young boys will always look up to them, no matter how bad the relationship is.

That day my entire perception of what is right, wrong, truth, and lies solidified. It was made worse a few weeks/months later when, after I’d told him through a proxy that I didn’t want to see him again, I ran into him, and was offered the opportunity to confront him. And I did. And as he stood there in front of me, denying what had happened, trying to convince me that what I had seen and experienced was not real, I learned what gaslighting was, before I’d even heard the word. I ran away screaming and I’ve probably not stopped running since.

The worst part? When those around me who I trusted to be my elders, leaders, and people who I looked up to, instantly believed him before even asking me for my story.

It’s the reason I have a largely unhealthy trust in people, especially other males. It’s the reason I tend to stick to myself, and only come out of my shell in spaces where I feel safe. It’s the reason I spent much of my adult life learning martial arts for self-defense to build my confidence and then trying to teach those same lessons to other children. It’s the reason that whenever I see or hear of similar stories, I want to find the people responsible, and beat the ever-loving crap out of them, even though I know this is the wrong solution to the problem.

It is the reason that I will always believe women, people of color, different races, beliefs, gender orientation, whatever I hear their stories. It is because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of toxic masculinity.

If you hear a story about abuse, and your gut response is to believe the abuser, because he is “well known” or “well respected”, then I challenge you to rethink how you see the world. Not because you feel sorry for me, but because the next person who suffers abuse could be someone you care for, and you could have stood against it instead of allowing it.

One response to “The Slap That Changed My Life.”

  1. Good read Johnathan. Inter-family disputes are way more common than we want to believe; and of course as a child you “want” to think positive about anyone you are close to. Seeing violence on any channel in life; especially when you are a child, affects your life in so many ways that your mind plays tricks with you and yes, you can gaslight which, is a way your mind chooses to protect itself from the horrible truth of things.

    These “hidden” past events may effect your current life when you are an adult, without you even knowing it. It can cause all kinds of issues with the way you think about yourself and the world around you. If you know for a fact that you have been around abusive behavior then you should talk to others about it. Most people shun the therapy word as a a label but, it is a solution to having the pain rule your life that stems from your memories—hidden or known.

    If you don’t know if your past is haunted by demons then you may live your life ‘gaslighting’ the truth away and the quirks you end up could be anger issues or OCD or any number of hyper antidotes. If you even think you have problems in life and have not looked at your family history; it may be a good thing to ask around to siblings and see how they view the past. You may be surprised how many people had to make adjustments-from-the-truth to make order out of their life.

    Thanks for touching on something outside of IoT. The brain is a powerful tool. tools need to work well and keep maintained.

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