My grandfather died, and I've never felt so lost... or so free, or so lost

My grandfather beat me. He beat me as a child. He beat me as a teenager. And through all that time, and to this day, I was his biggest defender. My family went from outrage, to numb shock, to finally pretending as though it didn't happen, but I think that they were always simply waiting for him to die--to die, and finally stop the cycle of abuse he had laid on me ever since I was a little girl. 

I don't really know. It seems that way, but that hardly makes any sense at all, does it?

To my knowledge, he didn't beat my brothers, or my sister, or my cousins. He said I was his favorite, a sentiment that others echoed. Even as a baby, I'd always been his favorite. I should clarify, and say that the beatings were always the result of a situation--my grandfather didn't beat me while he was drunk, which was often enough. He called it discipline--he said I needed discipline, that my parents didn't discipline me enough. That he wouldn't have me grow up without understanding that there were consequences for every action. He would never, ever try to stop me from doing anything--once, he caught me smoking, and he simply waited for me to finish my cigarette before pulling me into my bedroom (nothing, I stress nothing sexual ever happened; that's not how you discipline a child in any measure, and I would not forgive that). 

It wasn't exactly open-handed spanking, either. Even as a teenager, I had my clothes pulled off of me, and I would be whipped with a belt, or with a switch. He was careful to do it so that it wouldn't leave marks in places that would be readily visible with how I dressed--I tried to take advantage of that, once.

I started wearing the shortest shorts you'll ever see on anyone. When he finally found out, needless to say... nothing has ever hurt so badly as my ass did that day. I was bawling. I think I screamed during the beating, but I honestly don't quite remember--except that I think that that was when it stopped, like he realized it had gone too far. Sometimes, I think the only reason why I'm conflicted about it today is that he obviously was; I understand the why of why he did it. I know his reason, and to some extent I can appreciate it. I'm a strong, driven person today, and while I'm more forgiving of failure than he was, I don't permit myself to indulge in it. But... he hesitated, and I have to ask myself:

If I'm not a bad person, did I really deserve that?

A part of me thinks that my grandfather had appointed himself an agent of God. If I make a mistake, and there are consequences to that mistake, they will come my way as they are deserved, and family and friends should be there to support each other through the hard times--not to see to it that they're brought about. Phrases like personal gratification and control freak come to mind when I think about my grandfather... but for all that, there were the good times. The ice cream, the public parks, the days when I was allowed to sleep in and watch cartoons because he felt there was nothing wrong with a child enjoying their weekends off from school.

"Get it while the gettin's good," he would say. And I learned what he meant by that, when later, more intense schooling came my way, and my weekends were filled with work. I learned it when I started working, and the weekends for all intents and purposes ceased to exist. I didn't need his beatings to teach me that--the lesson came plenty hard. At the same time, though... am I truly not a stronger, wiser person than I would have been, had it not been for all of Grampa's hard lessons?

I don't know. I never figured that out, and now he's dead.

I turned 29, not too long ago. I had my rebellious period--it came and went. I've been homeless, and I've been an itinerant worker, and I've been a college student, a college graduate, a restaurant manager, a drifter, a bum. I've been an addict, I've also been clean from my addiction (not drugs, but I won't get into what in this piece) for years. I had the strength to look at myself and take something that other people wouldn't even recognize as being a problem, and say "this is not healthy," and leave it behind. I can't help but feel like I have Grampa to thank for that, in part. It came from inside me, but he helped me to realize that I was worth something for who I am--inside. 

Friends and family are being very supportive--too supportive, in some ways. On the one hand I'm being treated with kid gloves. Nobody has brought up the abuse with me, but I've heard them whispering about it--using that word--in dark corners where they think I can't hear them. People are funny that way; the lights go down, and they think it becomes harder to hear someone speaking (if anything, it becomes easier, but that's beside the point). To my face, they simply keep offering a shoulder to lean on (nobody would ever dare tell me that it's okay to cry; I think they know that if I need to I will) over and over. They're trying to be almost oozingly supportive without actually discussing the elephant in the room, and it's driving me nuts! I can't tell you how many fierce arguments I had with my parents or my siblings over the years about what my grandfather did to me. One of my brothers refuses to believe, to this day, that I wasn't raped; he insists it was sexual, and he got several people to break off contact with my grandfather over it. It hurt gramps, but he never said word number one in his own defense.

Let the results speak for themselves. That was him. He just kept hoping people would listen. And now... I'm free; free to make my own mistakes and let the world deliver its punishment in accordance with what is due. And I've never been more scared, or confused. I don't know what I think about what happened, anymore. I'm split right down the middle between the part of me that feels that what he did was unforgivable, and the part that feels like it benefited me as a person in the end. Nobody can see all ends, but gramps saw a lot more than any child or teenager ever will. 

I love you, gramps. I know that much. I miss you. 

I hope I find some answers soon.

 

User Comments
Anon-1

This was very hard for me to read. I recently lost my grandmother, and we were once very close. Additionally, as a child, I suffered through terrible abuse at the hands of someone who wasn't related to me. I'm very strongly opinionated that this kind of punishment doesn't help a person, but I'm very biased there. 

I'd like to think that the same effect could have been achieved another way, but that's just me thinking. Whatever the truth, I applaud your strength, perserverance, and dedication. You sound like a strong and fascinating person, someone I'd be proud to call a friend. 

I hope that you find peace, and that the answers you're after come to you soon.

Anon-2

There is no excuse for child abuse. You were given abuse instead of reasons as a child, and now you're seeking the reasons you were never given. I sincerely hope that you find them. You seem like a good, level-headed person, in spite of everything you went through.