I don’t think I want to talk on the phone any more today. I’ve already heard bad news today from two of my friends. The first told me that his father had passed away. This wasn’t surprising, because his father was old and had been ill, but lack of surprise doesn’t take the edge off the grief one feels when a parent is gone. Likewise, the fact that my friend had a solid relationship with his father, so he doesn’t have the “Why didn’t I?” blues also doesn’t change his loss.
I also got a call from a friend whose husband went into a rage and hit one of his children. This wasn’t corporal punishment, which is a commitment to a traditional way of child-rearing that sees parents use carefully controlled spanking with a young child who doesn’t respond to reason. I was raised that way. I knew what would set my mother off, and I didn’t do it. If I did, she spanked me. And that was the end of it. I cried, she kissed me, and the anger was gone.
Instead, this guy just whacked the kid. I will say in the guy’s defense that the kid is difficult cubed, but the hitting wasn’t part of a carefully thought out, predictably applied child-rearing plan. It was just an angry outburst taken out in a physical way on a boy.
My friend is trying to figure out her options, which boil down to “to stay or not to stay?” The problem with extremely angry people who resort to violence is that, if they are narcissists, there are no good options. If you stay, you’ve given that person tacit permission to continue abusing you. It is, after all, “your fault,” and it is the narcissist’s responsibility to correct you constantly. If you leave, you are striking a publicly humiliating blow to a person who is a black hole of low-self-esteem shielded by anger and defensiveness. These are the kind of people who show up at the ex’s house with a gun. If you want to understand how this works, think of the Muslim honor culture, which has institutionalized narcissism.
Both of my friends could use your prayers. The one who lost his father doesn’t actually need them, although it’s a nice thing to do. My other friend, though, needs them badly.