How do you want to be remembered by your family?
I have put off writing this specific post for years. Mainly out of respect for my father, a respect that is rooted more in duty than in merit. My father succeeded in providing me with food, clothing, shelter and educational opportunities that most women from my background did not get to enjoy. Yes, my father has made an effort to build me, but unfortunately, he has done more to break me down. All of his efforts, both good and bad, have made me the person who I am today.
I am breaking my silence on my father due to recent events that reveal his behavior to have taken a renewed disturbing pattern that I have to protect myself and my family from.
Ask anyone I grew up with and whose parents know my family well: my father has always been hard on me. He insists that he was never as hard on me as he was on my brother, because I’m a girl and was the “fun-loving” one. I got yelled at and time outs because I was laughing too loud or running too fast at parties we were hosting in our two-bedroom apartment in Flushing with over fifty guests. To this day, one friend likes to make jokes about how it wasn’t a party unless Priya got in trouble for doing absolutely nothing.
When I was eight, my childhood came to an end when my dad gave me a study guide for the specialized high schools admissions test, an exam I was five years away from taking. For the next ten years, my life was all about test preps, study sessions with my dad that were more him berating me for not knowing a vocabulary word or deriding me for hours on end because I may not have understood that ½ and 0.5 are the same thing.
Maybe I didn’t understand how he phrased the question but Daddy never does anything wrong. He’s perfect. He said so with all seriousness when he and my brother were having it out one afternoon. The man genuinely believes he has no flaws. He never apologizes for anything because he’s done nothing to apologize for.
Dad’s anger is usually just verbal, but has been borderline physical. He once lost his temper so abominably with my mother that she ended up locking herself in the bathroom crying as he banged on the door calling her either a witch or a bitch. I couldn’t hear clearly because I subsequently had locked myself in my bedroom, fearful that I would be his next target.
The summer when I was eleven years-old, I shaved my legs for the first time. Most Westerners will read that and think nothing of it. A completely normal, coming-of-age rite for girls.
Not in my culture, or least that was my perception growing up with the warped parents that I have.
No, for my parents, the only women who shave their legs are prostitutes. So when my mother found out I had shaved my legs, she smacked me across the face with the palm of her hand. Very hard. Pretty sure she also called me a prostitute. The minute my dad walked through the front door from work she told him and he lost his shit.
I was eleven years-old. Have I mentioned that my father is a child psychiatrist?
I remember seeing my brother walk through the front gate as I stood there, taking his earbuds out with a confused look on his face until he got closer to the door and heard Dad’s yelling. He rolled his eyes and walked passed me into our home. He was 17 years-old, what was he going do to?
My mother didn’t seem to expect that overreaction from my father. She was kinder to me after the incident, I think she realized what he did was wrong. But ultimately, she did nothing to protect me and her kindness was always short-lived.
We’ve only talked about that incident once since. The night before my high school prom, I forget why my dad decided to pick a fight with me, but he did and I brought this incident up. He denied it ever happened. He told me that I was making it up. I remember looking at my mom’s face and she was smiling in disbelief. She was a witness, my brother was a witness, and my father was sitting there on the living room couch denying it ever happened.
To this day, no one in my family has apologized to me for what happened.
The very people who were supposed to protect me were the same people abusing me. I was eleven years-old and I had no one to protect me. That was when I promised myself that when I turned eighteen, I was going to leave home no matter what. I am an adult now but I still feel that eleven year-old exists somewhere and I need to protect her. I feel guilty because by maintaining a relationship with the same family that abused her, I continue to fail her.
The day after Christmas, I tried to tell my father about Bobby. I claimed he already knew who Bobby was and my father denied it. However, he chose to take his denial to a new level, accusing me of being delusional, mentally unstable and speaking like his sister who was allegedly mentally unwell and my grandmother who was legitimately unwell. It was very upsetting to me because I knew he was lying to my face and was being intentionally hurtful with his fabrication. I fled the house, blocked my family on my phone and have not seen any of them since.
My father chose trying to be clever over trying to be kind to his daughter. Instead of apologizing, he started sending me money every few weeks to help me get by.
About four weeks ago, I contacted my dad again to let him know that Bobby and I are married. Not officially, but for all intents and purposes we are husband and wife. Again, I claimed that he already knew who Bobby was and again my father accused me of being mentally unwell, this time in a text tirade and claiming, as he did at Christmas, that he is the only one who can help me.
So I blocked him on my phone again and ordered him to stop sending me money. I informed Bobby that I did not want to have any more contact with my family, they are not allowed at the wedding and if I am forced to have contact with my father again, then I will trash him on the internet.
Those were my exact words: trash him on the internet.
“Long Island Aunty”
Which brings us to the highlight of today’s post.
A couple of days ago, I received this odd comment here at ADNY:
I’ve blocked out the IP address and the name of the company I used to work for. It is immediately clear that whoever wrote this knows private details about my life because I have never publicly named the company I used to work for, I’m not allowed to.
Also, I had not publicly shared that my father was financially supporting me recently and this financial relationship came to an end within the last few weeks. Only a handful of people knew about that, all of them close to the immediate family.
Initially, I took the comment at face value and started wondering which “Long Island Aunty” would have written this? Not any that are close to me because:
- Almost all of them can’t write this well in English
- It’s incredibly odd that they would feel passionate enough about my father to go out of their way to discredit me and make him look like a saint
I wondered if my father had gossiped about me with friends and one of them wrote this. But as I thought about it some more, it slowly began to sink in that my father himself is the most likely culprit.
As an example of how nasty my father can be, here’s what I can confirm he wrote in April 2015 after I reiterated to him that I was getting divorced:
My father is clearly capable of writing such bitterness.
A textual analysis of the “Long Island Aunty” comment shows that it unfortunately is in line with my father’s anger and word choices:
- The violent email address provided by the author of the comment reminds me of the time my father told me I was a “wicked woman. And wicked children come from wicked women.”
- My father is known for using the word “fragile” all the time at the dinner table to describe patients or people we know.
- “Legal fees” is another one of his preferred word choices as opposed to “lawsuit”
- A big red flag was making the comment, “Even as a child.” Again, absolutely not something any real Long Island Aunty would have said about me but absolutely something my father would say: “Even as a child, Priya, you were stubborn.”
I can’t prove yet if my father is the person behind the curse-laden comment posted on my blog on Friday. It may not even be worth looking into. If it is, the comment marks a disturbing renewal in his abusive behavior. I have zero tolerance now for toxic relationships and I refuse to be exposed to his bad behavior and my family’s spineless complicity.
Even if my father did not write the comment, his renewed bad behavior has already escalated enough. Before Friday’s post, I had decided that I did not want to see my father again until his funeral. My sister-in-law is the only member of my family who is not blocked from contacting me and I expect to be informed by her of his passing.
Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Most likely, I will get a reaction to this post with more vitriol from my beloved family because that is all that can be expected from them. We learned that love is conditional in my father’s household. Either meet his limited expectations of how to please him or face his wrath.