Vigaland Book Podcast 7: No Tears for my Father:
Sometimes you’ll hear a parent telling a child to toughen up. Often it’s a father saying, “Come on son. Man up! Get tough!”
It’s not bad advice. Sometimes I find myself agreeing when children burst into tears because mommy or daddy didn’t buy them what they wanted at the shop, that kids need to toughen up if they are ever to handle life’s let-downs. And what of what seems to border on paranoia when it comes to opening doors with paper towels in case you pick up germs left on handles? Back when I was a child, heaven only knows what we were exposed to as we dug into dirt and shovelled Gobfuls into our mouths or ate sandwiches our classmates had already bitten into and didn’t want! How did we ever survive?
Today, many kids are indeed coddled and protected to the extreme in some cases. How different from how my father handled me, even long before the sexual abuse started. If I fell over riding my bike in the street and tore the skin off my knees, I was more scared of what my father might do to me if my bike were damaged, than I was aware of the pain. One look from him would stop my tears from even starting. I wasn’t allowed to cry. I wasn’t allowed to wallow in pain. I was told that kind of severity was needed so I could get tough, that this was to help me prepare for life’s struggles, and that feeling sorry for myself achieved nothing.
His was a hard school and he was one tough principal. What you will hear in this podcast will make you like him even less than you do already. But in a strange way, it begs the question: did he perhaps do me a favour by making me tough? Would I have survived what he did to me once he began sexually abusing me if I haven’t been “tough”? Interesting question isn’t it? I’ve yet to find a definitive answer.
©Viga Boland, author, Don’t Write Your MEmoir without ME!