sixteen kinds of hurt

When my Dad was mad he’d threaten me with sixteen kinds of hurt.

There was the clip over the ear; the smack on the chops; the belt across my buttocks; the gut punch; the double fisted shirt grab; the single handed throat grip; the thrown object; the arse over tit shove; the chair knock over; the millimetre-close door slam; the bookcase pulldown; the plate slid across the table to smash and send food into my lap. There were probably others. Who was counting? The whole show was all about his abandonment to ferocity, the strength of his feeling and the feeling was entirely of the moment. Wherever he was  and whatever he had to hand, right there and right then.

Thinking back, the hurt never changed much. To me it was always the same goulash of surprise, fear, humiliation, shame and bewilderment. Even today, in moments of stress, these same churning peppery sensations are instantly present when I see hurt coming. It doesn’t have to be a physical blow. The hurt can be emotional, financial, professional  or anything really, they all produce roughly the same effect. My face flushes, my eyes look to the floor, my scalp itches, my hands shake, and my gut goes in all directions at once. I go mute and rag doll: can’t speak, can’t move. I’m thinking “just hit me already.” If I see it coming I am a duplicate of my frightened eight year old self, paralysed, not even able to brace for impact.

As a child this rag doll passivity served a dual purpose.  Firstly, it got the impact over with and I could retreat to wherever might be safe, usually my room or outside with the dog. Secondly, it made the injustice I felt and suffered concrete, and from that materiality I could righteously absolve myself of whatever role I may played in producing the circumstances, in causing him to hurt me. My consoling righteousness enabled fantasies of revenge: hitting back, withdrawing love, stealing hope, sabotaging comfort, crushing dreams, undermining confidence, trivialising joy. I imagined inflicting all of these and, perhaps, with the shaky hands of the afraid, tried to do it once in a while.

But he was my Dad and he wasn’t like that all the time.

He didn’t say sorry, ever that I recall, and he didn’t do remorse, but he was loving. He wasn’t very good at it. He really sucked at it. I didn’t know why this was for a long time, and during that long period of not knowing I was not inclined to be forgiving. I didn’t want to know why he was so terrible at love, or how hard he tried. I was too busy trying not to be terrible at love myself and forgiving him might have required me to directly address the limits of my own capacities for love, as well as acknowledging that my own deliveries of hurt to others were similarly unforgivable, modelled as they were upon his. I didn’t care what broke his heart. I only cared that he broke mine and that my broken heart had led me astray, making hurt a big landmark in my topography of love.

I thought he should pay for this. I thought that whenever I came into view the hurt he did should block every path in his future. I can’t remember when I realised that revenge was an unreliable compass, when I understood that my hurt could be duplicated in my loved ones and it could block all our paths. Later, I knew that my hurt was a duplication of his and that the course laid out by my revenge for this could take us all back to square one. Whenever it was that this became known to me it was already too late for Dad and me. His journey, his hurts and his burdens, demanded a heavy price in health and then he was gone.

I’d like to think that the cycle has been interrupted, that there is no more duplication of his hurts, that violence need not be a gift the men of our family keep on giving. I hope that the hurt and violence he gifted me is quarantined in my dreams of him, and not in the architecture of my children’s lives. I’ve worked hard to this end, to untether violence from a father’s love, from a man’s love. This is a worthy project that can only expand the prospects for loving well, and for being justly loved. It’s not without cost. There’s a weight to carry and not put down: a sadness that the past cannot be reconfigured in a similar light, that hurt cannot be undone, that we can’t go back and find a way for our fathers to forget all sixteen kinds of hurt.

About rustichello

A rather too quiet fellow of little reknown.
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124 Responses to sixteen kinds of hurt

  1. becalbury says:

    Nor can we go back an unfeel that hurt. What we can do is say, ‘it stops with me’. This was the story of my mother’s father. Her father decided it stopped with him, leaving home at sixteen and telling his wife (my grandmother) that none of his children would be struck. There was shouting and door slamming by dad and flouncing by angry daughters, but no hitting or shoving and no humiliating. Hard as it is, it seems to work and has been passed generation after generation. Anger has taken its place as an emotion rather than a threat. We need more stories of change.

  2. It is important that we show affection and love instead of anger and punishment.

  3. Oh my god. This. All of this.

    It is so hard to reconcile the ‘like this’ a person isn’t always to those other things they are. It is so difficult to separate the violence from a loved one’s – especially a parent’s – affection and relatable desires. And it can be nearly impossible to talk about – as if giving voice to the experience somehow shames all involved, opens one up for more hurt…. I’m sorry for your hurt. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Reblogged this on smaugiesmaugie and commented:
    That’s my problem… But my kinds of hurt are more mental than physical

  5. Jaye Street says:

    Very raw. Been there. It stopped with me, too.

  6. Good post!
    Please check out mine too 😉

  7. varshachopra says:

    Its good that you shared something like this. What has happened has happened. I hope your future life brings the best for you. Have faith. 🙂

  8. Mandy says:

    Félicitations pour ce post 🙂

  9. Don Charisma says:

    Props for posting. My father was mirror opposite of the way you describe yours, a more loving guy would be hard to find, so lucky I guess 🙂

    Good luck with your kids, it sounds like you know what you’re doing, and that violence is rarely necessary in any circumstances.



  10. Beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your story is also my father’s story, and it’s really difficult for him to share it. He endured abuse and decided to end the cycle, he decided to raise us with love instead of unhealthy fear. I am eternally grateful to him and other men like you who stand with such strength, not only for yourself but the generations to come. Thank you so much.
    ❤ Smitha

  11. Brilliantly written! I love your transparency and the way you are owning your own responses to your father. I could really relate to this post as it mirrors much of my own upbringing in my family of origin. My children are 9 & 13 now and we are writing a new normal for our family – I’m so glad that they will grow up without the burden of abuse that I suffered.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  12. Bindu Bhatia says:

    I really admire the stand u took. Its not easy.. but i m glad u didnt replicate wat you experienced. Thats a sign of a strong man. Now, its more about how can you quarantine those hurtful memories for yourself.Let me kust assure you that Its possible! Do you want to give it a chance n try.. thats upto you. 🙂 you hv proven that u hv strength.. all the best!

  13. ee says:

    My father had the courage to stop it with him. His young years had abuse by a backward mother and an alcoholic father with a temper. He never hit us, however there was the “stand against the wall with your nose pressed til I say you can move” or the “you will obey me because you love me or fear me.” He was a large booming man, I feared him. Thank you for your story.

  14. Pingback: sixteen kinds of hurt | KENYONA R. COPELAND

  15. (( HEY everyone Reading here I’m new on have started a new blog and would like some tips on becomming better. Thanks anyhow

  16. I carried the same albatross around my neck for a good many years. Reading your account brought back those horrible feelings and emotions I experienced as a frightened child. My message to you is to look back on that child, that little scared ragdoll-person and give it love and comfort from where you are now. Take care and thank you for sharing.

  17. twisker says:

    Reblogged this on twisker.

  18. I feel so sorry for you

  19. Chenge Hagz says:

    That moment you realise it’s not just you who went through/is going through this.. I live in fear of becoming a “feared” dad. Thanks for stops with me.

  20. mariam8183 says:

    Wow deep! Check my blogs when you can I think maybe we can relate well more mentally than anything

  21. skrylcomputers says:

    Good job

  22. Pura Ilusión says:

    It’s so beautiful to see that you have the strength to publish this and you understand that that was not ok. I also had this type of dad, but remembering moments like this ones make me feel a lot of anger and cry….so I prefer to have it there parked and inside myself! Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry you had to pass through that! Hope everything goes a lot better now and in the future for you

  23. i love your post..have faith..
    please visit my blog..thanks..

  24. prophetessphelan says:

    Forgiving the past is an important step to moving forward. Give it to the Lord in prayer and watch him move in your life. God bless you!

  25. ayodeji12 says:

    Good jobTake a look at my blog

  26. W.I.L.L. says:

    Heart breaking. I understand not wanting to carry on a culture of fear and hurt to the next generation. Well done.

  27. lyart says:

    thank you for this post.

  28. writegill says:

    An exemplary approach to handling hurt from a loved one

  29. hassyb113 says:

    Love this blog👌
    Please take a look at my blog😄

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  31. Some great stuff you’ve got here! ☺

  32. 1lknur says:

    Hi, I’m a criminology student in Germany and at this moment I’m just finishing my thesis about maltreatment on children and now I read your text, it’s just resuming my whole thesis. Is it ok for you if I link your text on my thesis? I would be honoured.

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  34. butineedyou says:

    It’s amazing that you realized that the way he treated you is not the way you should treat your children. I know so many men who do what they saw their fathers doing, not only to their children but to their loved ones as well. Stay blessed. P.s please check out my blog.

  35. I literally stumbled upon this blog post, simply by pressing “freshly pressed”. “16 ways to hurt.. ,” caught my attention.
    While I initially read this with empathy, I realized that it’s because you are mimicking precisely my sentiments of my childhood and how it’s related to my parents. I have endured much of what you speak of, and in some other ways worse, well I too have spent many years in therapy to understand how to piece together the puzzle pieces that is my life. Thank you for sharing the intimate details of your emotions and your earliest memories of the young man. It really truly have a critical impact on what is to become of a person in their adult years. Now becoming a parent myself, I realize that it is very possible to make mistakes, even the ones you say you’don’t never make! I appreciate your candor, you are positive approach, and truthfully your transparency. It’s not easy to scratch the surface of the old ones, unfortunately it is necessary to break the cycle and start anew.

  36. Pingback: sixteen kinds of hurt | TheDayandNight's Blog

  37. Pingback: The Week’s End // A Round-up of All Sorts of Interesting Stuff | ZEN AND Π

  38. I am totally intrigued by this post, it is impeccable!
    The way words fell in place, is just an art I felt shouldnt hide in oblivion ! So a compliment for you to take!

    It has left me almost in a trance say for about 2 minutes.
    I really loved this blog post!

    Looking forward to more blog updates soon! ( ardent reader now that I have become )

  39. ronaldcheef says:

    Wow I agree with many of the previous comments you are a good writer never stop

  40. Pingback: sixteen kinds of hurt | dksroyal

  41. It’s not easy to be so open and honest with so many. Thank you for sharing your hurt. I believe that by sharing our vulnerabilities, our humanity, with others that it helps them to heal. Hurt people hurt others, so we could all use a good dose or more of healing.
    Great work, as a writer and as a human!

  42. herlix says:

    Reblogged this on herlix and commented:
    Sixteen kind of hurt

  43. fufunalphabetsoup says:

    Wow. Haven’t been through violence that intense… I can relate in a way, though. It’s hard to replicate love when you’ve been served severity, domineering control and unjustified frustration. But I’m just glad that at present, I’m a better man than he is.

  44. fufunalphabetsoup says:

    But he has tried real hard and he is improving…

  45. lorieb says:

    wow, your pain radiates through your post. Good for you for breaking the cycle and not passing that abusive behaviour onto your children! You should be very proud of yourself!

  46. There are also the stepmothers … 😫.. I too suffered same with her..

  47. Seyimore says:

    This is so nice… Kindly check my work too iamseyimore.wordpress

  48. Sneha says:

    I really like how you have articulated the importance of forgiveness over revenge, of love over hate and of letting go over holding a grudge. Struggling to not become the person we feared, and not to follow the path we once despised is a real struggle. At times we end up becoming the very thing we loathed. Thank you for sharing this!

  49. asozial says:

    I cry… very intense

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  51. colourmeclueless says:


  52. saltsweet2 says:

    Thanks for sharing. I pray that you stay strong everyday in your decision to be different from your dad. The temptation is always there, especially in stressful situations. You have the option to consult with a professional in this regard. It helps to speak to someone and they can help you to let go of the hurt.

  53. Jan Wilberg says:

    “…quarantined in my dreams of him” – just one of many beautifully crafted phrases. Such a piercing essay.

  54. Your story is sadly very relatable. Thank you for sharing. I hope that you know you are strong for trying to stop the cycle, and that there is no loss is being a loving dad. Respect is earned, and as I’m sure you know, fear is not the same as respect. I’m sure you are a wonderful father 🙂 you may not be able to show your father, but your children will learn from you. Thanks again for sharing.

  55. Matthew says:

    Beautifully and intensely written ❤

  56. Pingback: sixteen kinds of hurt |

  57. bettydejene says:

    Honest and beautifully written. I have been in that place, I hope writing is as therapeutic for you as it is for me. Please check out blog if you get a chance, I’m new to this

  58. Most of us write with laptops, pen, or pencil. You write with your heart.

  59. precari0us says:

    I am speechless for no words can soothe those wounds. But you are one strong person to not let the hurt percolate to your future. May your dad find the peace he did not even while inflicting all the hurts. And I hope you get all the happiness you deserve.

  60. Stars of Life says:

    Very well articulated! Yeah I always believed that we should rather forgive and show our affection than giving punishments and hurting them because there’s no immortal power than love!

  61. Stars of Life says:

    You are truly a strong person!

  62. ramzan66 says:

    Reblogged this on ramzan66's Blog .

  63. I loved how u wrote this piece…Would anyone care to look at my post?

  64. koutuholic says:

    I guess physical hurt is easier to overcome than a prolonged period of mental torture through violence and insult..i can relate to your does have a lasting impact..appreciate you for not reproducing it.That requires a lot of strength.

  65. Lauren says:

    I was just thinking about how my father did those things to me today. And how proud I was that my children never knew those experiences. Great post.

  66. Stunning, raw and beautiful piece of writing and life.

  67. Ajay says:

    So much like reading my own story..

  68. benazirkhan says:

    Oh wow what a pos my dad even though she is dead now I meant my main abuser who was this bitch that broke my parents up he was her puppet but karma has caught up with him and he is getting abused

  69. Karl Drobnic says:

    That you are trying to break the cycle of abuse speaks volumes about your character. You at least learned how NOT to parent, and were prescient enough to know that what you experienced was a path to be avoided when your turn came.

  70. Bala says:

    This is abuse, than hurt. Wish we all become better parents than what our parents were…

  71. shasha says:

    I pray for your healing. Forgive but be strong and remember that it is not your fault. Help others like you and that will help you.

  72. iamchiiechay says:

    Be strong 👍

  73. anggik says:

    Thanks for sharing yours

  74. Chinelo says:

    I relieved my childhood struggles as I read your piece the unfortunate part is that he is still here and has not changed one bit. I am 25 and yet he still threatens with all manner of instruments. From belts to wires to matchets or hammers. If oly i could see beyond the wickedness at least u saw d love a little.

  75. Reblogged this on Dancing with Fireflies and commented:
    How well I understand.

  76. jrpeskle says:

    It shows that you can control who you are. Our circumstances do not entirely predict the kind of person we become. It is part of the story but not the whole story.

  77. stannd says:

    Same here. The verbal and emotional aspects are still used to this day when it suits him, and I just turned 40. But it stopped with me too. Funny how I lived an entire childhood of it, grew up, had my own child and got my s— together all within the time my Dad is still playing the same games he did 35 years ago. I guess our ability to rise above and parent our own children better is the real example of strength. We yield so much more through respect than intimidation.

  78. heyimjames says:

    i remember my my mum how she hit me with a frying pan when idecided to talk back then she yelled at me for denting it hahaha i love that crazy woman #growing-up-in-africa

  79. hiro812 says:

    I was just thinking about how my father did those things to me today

  80. lakshikabawa says:

    Beautifully written

    For stories that will touch your heart chck it out

  81. Beautifully worded. There is always more than just the violence in an abusive situation. Our children cling with tenacity to both the good and he bad memories of their bios. As they should. Love is real. Pain like this doesn’t have to be. I wish healing for you.

  82. lteston says:

    You learned there are other spaces of Love and could translate and transmit the violence. Amen

  83. Pingback: sixteen kinds of hurt | Ebullient23

  84. Mari says:

    Such a beautifully written post. Congratulations on being freshly pressed, by the way! 😉

  85. Very sad to hear the hurt stories. I was brought up in a very secure, loving and protective family atmosphere. Abuse I dont know at all…

    I am really sorry for you but yes the chain of being abusive is broken by you which is commendable.

    Thanks for sharing the story.

  86. babesbliss007 says:

    Reblogged this on WeAreJ&F and commented:
    I found this so deep

  87. sakshishukla1491 says:

    Beautifully written! And you done a great work…

  88. melodyfathi says:

    I agree with Karl. Very well said!

    This is incredibly articulate and deep. See you have two options – 1. Continue the cycle 2. Break the cycle and go the opposite route that your parent did. I know a lot of people would find it easier to take option 1. Because “at least they have an excuse to victimize” or you can learn from your parents mistakes (severe mistakes) and do a complete 180. The complete 180 would be that you become the father you always yearned for and it will end there. People who have chosen option 2 have done some amazing things to help others in similar situations.

    When you face situations were you see hurt and relive the sensations that you underwent when you were a child, your body will automatically go into fight or flight mode. One thing about body memory is that it doesn’t forget.

    I have a mentor who lived an incredibly tough life of violence from his father, trauma and addiction (21 years sober) and if he were to read this (which I will forward to him) he would respond with “pray for your father” in order to rid of any resentments you may have. Forgiving him isn’t necessarily saying he’s in the clear, it just makes it easier for you to move on.
    I sometimes look to see who their role models were and they generally weren’t the best. It’s not an excuse but it sometimes helps to know that he didn’t know any better. (Once again this is no excuse for what he did).

    I never experienced what you experienced but I have watched my father (when I was a child) beat my mother to a pole and continue to live him till today and I continue to endure his verbal/emotional/ and mental abuse. However, I don’t know if you have ever tried EMDR therapy but it really does help with the symptoms that you experience and helps you resolve the trauma. Good luck and thank you for sharing this. It’s sad to say but we know that we aren’t alone in this world.

  89. It’s hard for me to understand that someone’s father could do things like those. Sadly, my husband has a history like yours: violence since the very begining of his childhood. He struggles every day with the memories of his past, and the scars remaining are part of out life. Thank you for sharing, now I know there could be hope for those who are brave enough to face their feelings.

  90. Ali Perry says:

    This was bitter sweet to read. Beautifully written.

  91. swamy96 says:

    Funny how sorrow put into words is beautiful, more than happiness ever can be! I respect you for this post and thank you for letting so many people know they aren’t alone.

  92. missondmoon says:

    just one word-beautiful.

  93. hazellife says:

    this was beautiful. my dad had an abusive father and struggled with anger that would simmer just below the surface. He was able to break the cycle in our family, and now, as a parent, I look back with so much respect for his ability to change. His ability to battle with those demons is something I will never totally comprehend, but I’m so glad he did. Thank you for your vulnerability.

  94. Beautifully written. You are a much better person than me. I will not be at peace until my manipulative, narcissistic father acknowledges what he has done, what he is responsible for. I am consumed by it. S

    • i thought that love was science fiction says:

      don’t wait for a narcissist to take responsibility, that would be folly. forget your dad, forgive yourself.

  95. Angel says:

    I agree with all of those that say it is beautifully written. You show great strength. It is that great strength that will get you through this. I applaud your for having the bravery to publish this and let the world see the struggle that so many people share.

  96. pennsivity says:

    We live to learn, and learning to avoid the circle of pain is the hardest lesson, methinks, … We are the stronger for living through it, but God in heaven, why did we have too?

  97. It was brave of you to write this. Braveries are the best kinds of writings.

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