Personal Column: Father’s verbal abuse severs relationship


Madison Wingo, Staff Writer

Madison WingoSeven years old, waiting up past my bed time for my father who would soon call to deliver the news he wasn’t coming. I remember staying up even longer because I was so upset. Air couldn’t reach my lungs. On more than one occasion my mom gave me one of her pep talks to get me to breathe steady again.

Although my father did not physically abuse me, the verbal abuse was just as bad. It felt like a slap to the face or a straight punch to the lungs when he would push his razor sharp opinions right through my vulnerable skin. I always told myself this time was the last time he would treat me this way.  The last time for him to make me wish I wasn’t even related to him.  But each time his apologies won me over time and time again. Although I was far past the point of being done with all his snappy comments, there was always the possibility that this time would be different.

Unfortunately, it was never different.

Getting in the car made me nervous. I would be in the car by myself with him, the perfect time for him to start an argument. One I couldn’t run away from. I couldn’t be too quiet, because this was the perfect topic to an argument I’ve heard numerous times ending in no resolution. But if the car ride wasn’t the right time to start an argument, it would just be a matter of time before I would do something wrong. Then the insults from my dad start coming again followed by another phone call to my mother would I would get one more pep talk.

I dreaded going over to his house or even seeing him in general, but what I hated more than being with him, was being without him. My dad just used me as a toy, calling me when he knew I was upset over a recent argument, apologizing. Promising that this time he wouldn’t use his vicious thoughts in his head against his own daughter.

I was supposed to be his little girl.

Because of him I will never have sweet memories of my dad taking me to the park or playing board games with me. I just wanted him to be loving and comforting, not using me as his personal diary when the weight on his shoulders got too heavy. He just didn’t understand that the wick on the candle was running low, soon giving up on the light, confiding to the darkness. Although the light on the candle burned the wick down to nothingness, the wick was always there, letting the light shine bright, disappearing into ash.

Whenever someone asked me about my dad, I instantly grew quiet, wishing I was home with my mom, away from the harsh reality of what was really going on. It was always awkward around him, I was never the outgoing, dorky kid that my mom’s side of my family knew me to always be. I was quiet, my tears pushing at my skin, crawling to get out.

My mom constantly apologized for the behavior of my father, but she was not at fault. It was him who needed to apologize, but the words “I’m sorry” sounded so shallow. Like he was forced to say it, not because it had any real meaning.

It was just words falling on deaf ears.

My parents’ divorce is what turned my father around in the wrong direction. They got divorced when I was almost four, and that’s when it all started. He got upset with me when I changed the channel on the T.V. or didn’t drink my orange juice. He was a great “dad” when I was younger, but that was only because I didn’t have my own opinions about life. I went along with everything he did, and when he got mad at me, I felt like crawling in the corner. I spent way too many nights crying myself to sleep, wanting my unwelcoming bed to crush me, so I wouldn’t have to wake up in the morning.

When I reached middle school, I started to seriously contemplate the idea of suicide. No one knew about the thoughts in my head, no one knew I was on the verge of breaking. I cried more than once a week, my grades started dropping and I lost most of my friends. My dad would scream at me and when I tried to scream back he came back with comments that made me crumble.

I was nothing to him.

I didn’t understand why he kept calling me if I was just a failure in his mind. Everyone told me he actually did love me. This seemed virtually impossible to me. They didn’t know everything he did to me or what he said to me. He made me feel like I had no meaning in life. I got help and threw the idea of suicide out the window. He wasn’t worth my life. I could be better without him.