The rage within my father was tangible and made him larger than life, the potential for violence ever-present.
My mother’s attempts at peace-making were fueled by trepidation – always on the lookout, hoping against hope to maintain calm.
Both adopted the facade that ‘all was well’ and deeply denied the reality.
The result – an unnameable terror that gripped us children. No logic explained the tension that surrounded us, however; we understood without doubt that a threat hovered over us in every living moment.
Mother’s attempts at peace were merely misguided acts of enablement; empowering, not disarming my Father.
Uncontested he reigned tyrannically; yet, what he really longed for was peace.
Peace, not peace-making.
Father longed for a sense of acceptance and acknowledgement that was beyond his grasp. He was society’s outcast: unwittingly born into an era where gender definitions were polarized – male or female. He did not know – we did not know – about genetics and the sliding scale that defines gender identification and sexual orientation. He was forced to conform and, therefore; denied basic human rights.
My mother, whose understanding of all things sexual came from watching the animals rut on the farm where she grew up, and pushing away unwanted advances from her father and siblings, was not equipped to understand the enigma presented to her by her husband. She only knew that this tortured soul of a man was the provider for herself and her role was to be submissive and nurturing. She found herself trapped between his ‘awful’ secret and trying to maintain an outer appearance of normalcy.
It was dysfunction at its finest. Unable to resolve their own issues they looked outward, finding causes within their children’s lives to replace their compulsive need to fix. There was never any shortage of broken, needy, helpless occurrences to satisfy their lust.
The answer to violence, and the threat of violence, at least in our home, was not peace-making. In hindsight, it was a need for individualized peace – an understanding of differences, motivations, desires, and a stated acceptance that allowed us to come together in respect and honour for our diversity.
An atmosphere of open-mindedness would have allowed father to reveal his truth.
Assertiveness, on the part of my mother, would have allowed her to set healthy boundaries and limits defining her participation (or not) in my father’s reveal.
Trust in the basic nature of our love for one another might have prevented the constant need for self-preservation, which only turned us away, one from the other.
Inner peace offers a strength that fortifies against fear and outrageousness. It believes in a wisdom that transcends time and space; offering the possibility of order and compassion in the midst of chaos.
The concept of peace – real peace- was not part of my growing up.
Without peace, violence – physical, mental, psychological, emotional or spiritual – reigns.