"Because of you, I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt. Because of you I find it hard to trust not only me but everyone around me."- Kelly Clarkson
I interrupt my scheduled month of blog posts about wedding songs to address something that has been on my heart since yesterday afternoon and this just may be my most personal blog to date.
Unless, you were hiding under a rock, you heard about Creflo Dollar being arrested for choking his daughter after she reportedly wanted to attend a party at 1 a.m. in the morning. She fought him. He fought back. She called the police. He got arrested.
For most people, the event was just an opportunity to offer up their views on physical punishment. For the most part, most of the people that I follow on various social networks condoned what the pastor did.
However, for me, it was a strange case of deja vu of an event in my life that I would love to never have to remember again. On a Sunday morning in October 1998, I was a teenager doing my homework as my father, the deacon, was getting prepared to go to church. For some reason, on this particular morning, out of nowhere, he declared that I needed to clean my damn room. Mind you, my room was always a mess so this was out of the ordinary for him. So I said something about having to do my homework which on most days he would consider my top priority. But on this day, he decided that if I didn't clean my room that day that I was not going to the homecoming dance that following Friday with my boyfriend whom he refused to even meet or have a conversation with. So he storms downstairs in my house and when I "think" he is out of hearing distance, I muttered under my breath "son of a bitch." Next thing, I knew he flew up the stairs, knocked me down to the floor, choked me and banged my head up. All the while, I was thinking that was going to damn near kill me. He eventually stopped but by the time he was finished, my mother had called the cops. My dad had finished putting on his church clothes when the cops came to the door, handcuffed him and hauled him off to the local police department. My dad's words when the cops arrested him: "I was disciplining my child." I went with my mother to the police department where the sergeant on staff pretty much told me I was a terrible child. My mother and I went home and moved everything from my bedroom to my grandmother's house while nursing a gigantic bump on my head and that is where I lived until I went off to Howard. As for my dad, my mom picked him up from the police department later that day and he never hit me or her again.
Noticed I put the word again. See, I knew what my father was capable of from growing up and watching him hit my mother. My father pretty much used the same maneuvers that he had used on her. However, my mother chose to live with it until he beat the crap out of me. At that moment, she remembered what a doctor said when she told him of the abuse that she was receiving. The doctor asked her if maybe he didn't know he was doing something wrong because he didn't suffer any consequences. As you can see, I was the one he was intending to punish that day, but he learned a lesson.
However, my father learning the lesson did not by any means alleviate any of the effects that the event had on me and quite possibly Dollar's daughter is dealing with similar feelings or consequences as she gets older. I will put forth the main three relationships that may change when your father also happens to be a man of the church.
1) Your relationship with religion/God: On the day that it happened, it really struck me that my father was a man heading to church, was a pillar in the community, and the man everyone found charming and reliable. He was the ultimate churchgoer and in church at least three days a week. At that time, I was already questioning religion as a result of attending churches of various denominations and witnessing the politics. However, after that, the idea that a man of God could hurt me in such a way pretty much ruined my desire to know any higher deity in a Christian church because if that was the Christians acted, they could have it.
2) Your relationship with men: If the first man who is supposed to protect you and support you above else harms you in that manner, it pretty much sets a low threshold for the men to follow in your life. It can also make you form strong opinions about domestic violence and once you've been a victim, you never want to be a victim again. Even if that means hitting your ex-boyfriend. Yep, I did it. And I'm not proud of it.
3) Your relationship with your father: This is pretty obvious. Before and after the incident, I managed to be a daddy's girl. However, I am what you would call a guarded daddy's girl. My father is proud of the Tasha that he knows and yet, I can honestly say he really doesn't know all that much about the woman that I've become since then. Furthermore, any argument or negative conversation that we have always takes me back to that day. In the end, I knew it was more about the boyfriend than anything else and therefore, I fear the next time I will ever get a significant man in my life because I see the way he acts with his other children. So pretty much, I know I can never have open and honest conversations with my dad about my love life. Our discussions revolve around work, my car, and very random areas of common interest.
But in the end, he still loves me and I still love him.