WikiHow to get rid of a toxic parent.

Did you know… that you can lift a leg for 30 seconds to divert the blood flow from your erection?

A drawing of a person's lower half seated on a chair, with the right leg elevated. On the bottom right corner, 30 seconds appears in a red-bordered white circle.

WikiNow you know!

I had a friend confess to me earlier this week that she’d never been on WikiHow. If this is also you, you’re missing out. It’s one of my life goals to create a how-to guide for WikiHow.

If you see me seated with one leg up, though, it isn’t because I’m trying to de-erect. The second toe on my left foot sprouted a corn last week. It’s not a recurring issue, and I haven’t changed footwear. I haven’t squished my toes into tight climbing shoes since March. Ah, the joys of slumping towards middle age. So, why now?

WikiHow suggests getting rid of corns with an application of baking soda paste.

Or vinegar.

Or by soaking it in chamomile tea.

Or with crushed aspirin.

Mashed papaya, even.

Still there? Fig juice and mustard oil.

No? Just brew up a potion of turmeric, aloe, and bromelian.

I’m reminded of the episode where Lisa gets gum in her hair.

A screen cap from The Simpsons. Lisa Simpson is seated on the kitchen table with pink, white and brown gunk in her hair. She is surrounded by Springfield Townsfolk. Uter is in front, pointing at her.

I bought some medicated discs earlier in the week to aid with its removal. On Thursday, I was in so much discomfort by the end of my shift at work, that I got Yann to collect me with the car. I live two kilometres from work. Pathetic.

CW: Abuse. This post is about to take a dark turn:

In other distressing news, I’ve blocked Dad’s number. Ever since Mom passed away in 2013, there’s been mounting evidence of him being an asshole. He’s done some shitty things to me as a kid, all of which were eclipsed by the shitty things Mom did to me. Whenever his past misdeeds have come up in a conversation, he’s made zero attempts to apologize or even acknowledge what he did. When Yann and I stayed at his place last month, he started talking about the time he spanked my sister (who is 10 years older than me) when she refused to go to sleep.

“You spanked me too.” I reminded him.

“No, I didn’t. Oh, maybe once…”

Spanking was a commonplace punishment in the 80s and rates low on the scale of physical abuse he’s inflicted on me. Many of my friends also experienced buttcheek trauma from their parents, yet Dad couldn’t even admit to that. You bet he’s never acknowledged the time he kicked me down the stairs when I was 14. I went to stay with a friend for a week after that incident but had to come home after that to listen to Mom explain that what I experienced wasn’t abuse, because abusive parents do things like put out lit cigarettes on their kid’s body.

Dad’s done much worse to my siblings, but it’s not my place to talk about the abuse they endured.

My parents also had moments of kindness and generosity, which made it difficult for me to purge them from my life, even though I’ve been financially independent of them for years. But, this isn’t unusual: this is how abusive people operate.

When an abusive person is nice, he persuades himself that the other person is the one with a problem because after all, “Look how kind and generous I am.”

Sharie Stines, Psy.D

As a child/teen, my parents made a point to regularly remind me how lucky I was to have two parents who signed. Many deaf kids, they said, don’t have parents who sign, which is true but doesn’t give the full picture. Most deaf kids who grew up without signing parents are from remote towns where there is no support for families with deaf children. They’re often from poor families, and many deaf kids have residual hearing, which makes oral education a somewhat viable choice.

My family grew up 10km away from the BC Family Hearing Resource Society. We had a wealth of support and resources at our disposal. We weren’t poor, and I had zero residual hearing. My parents often boast about how they made the right choice in learning how to sign rather than getting me the cochlear implant and then raising me orally.

Here’s the thing: they did take me to be assessed for the cochlear implant a few weeks after I recovered from Meningitis. The doctors determined that I was not a candidate for the implant as there was complete ossification of my cochleas; therefore, raising me orally simply was not feasible. The only other option they had was to deprive me of a language. Fortunately, my parents did learn how to sign, but I also have had co-workers and non-relatives learn sign language. By learning to sign, my parents did the bare minimum. What did they want? A medal?

They didn’t tell my hearing siblings that they were lucky to have two parents who communicated with them. My parents believed that I should lower my standards and be grateful for any crumbs that get thrown my way. For years, I also believed this.

As hearing parents of a deaf child, they were thrilled to be put on a pedestal. I was under their care as a deaf child for only fourteen years. I have been deaf for thirty-three years. Oh, raising a deaf child as a hearing parent is difficult? Try navigating life as a deaf person. Do you think society generally treats me with respect? Or am I viewed as an inferior?

(It’s the latter.)

Oh, there are more expenses associated with raising a deaf child? Guess who has shouldered these expenses for the past seventeen years? Me.

My parents abandoned me when I was seventeen. My final year of high school was difficult to say the least: I was bullied by two deaf girls two years my junior. As the school’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department received funding based on the number of students enrolled in the program, it was in the teachers’ best interest to spare the bullies from expulsion. I ended up finishing the school year at home.

Even though I no longer had to face my bullies at school, they had turned me into an outcast by circulating rumours in the deaf community. I lost my friends. 2001 shaped up to be the worst year of my life.

My parents’ solution was to take me to the doctor, who then medicated me with anti-depressants that made me suicidal. But, they weren’t about to let their sullen daughter hold them back from their Empty Nester fantasy of selling the house in Langley to relocate to the Sunshine Coast.

Dad still had a business to run in Vancouver, so they rented a tiny one-bedroom in the West End neighbourhood. For a year and a bit, I slept on a futon in the living room. At this place, I was on my own seven days a week as Dad worked during the day and would only be there two nights a week. Before heading back to the Sunshine Coast for the week, Dad would put $20-40 in a can in the kitchen so that I could feed myself. I ate like a king that year.

Just kidding, I lived off microwave dinners and rice.

This is why I say I’ve been on my own since I was seventeen, but it wasn’t until I was nineteen when I became financially independent. Dad takes credit for how independent I’ve become, but it wasn’t something I learned from him or Mom, but out of necessity.

The most independent thing Mom’s ever done was fly solo to visit a friend in Toronto when she was in her early thirties. At nineteen, I took a plane alone to start a new life in a new province. I took a trip to France and Switzerland and navigated the Eurail network unaccompanied at twenty-four. I travelled around Beijing alone in 2010–and this was my pre-smartphone days. I’ve hitched a lift in a Colectivo on my own in Mexico. I’ve worked and lived in three different provinces, including one in which I was a linguistic minority.

Whereas, when Mom bought a new VCR, she insisted on waiting til Dad got home to plug it in because she couldn’t be troubled to figure out where to put the colour-coded cable jacks, which doesn’t lend to the idea that she was an independent woman.

The ugly thing is: Mom had no reservations about portraying me as a helpless special needs child to promote herself, especially when it came to finding a job as a Special Education Assistant. She went as far as to demand that I type out her resume/do her cover letter because I was “better at computer stuff” than her. So, I had to type out tripe such as, “I am a mother to a severely handicapped daughter.”

Ok, that’s great, keep pushing the widely believed notion that deaf people are invalids. I protested, and she threatened to revoke my computer privileges.

I could go on and on about the bullshit my parents subjected me to, but the point is: for years, I clung onto the idea that deep down inside, my dad was a good guy. Yet, year after year, he continues to dismiss my trauma. Even if I were to remove that from the equation, he:

  • Talks about money a lot. He just doesn’t shut up about how much money he has. He likes to preface his statements with, “I’m not bragging but…” I never ask him for money, as I know he’d use it as leverage in the future. So, whenever he does something nice for me that involves money, such as treat me to a sushi dinner, he goes, “I’m not complaining but…. do you know how much all that sushi cost me? It was *insert amount*” Whenever I treat Yann or my friends to a meal, I don’t ever go, “FYI, this cost me a lot of money.” It’s tacky. If he can spend thousands on dirt for his backyard, he can handle a modest bill from a Japanese restaurant.
  • When Mom passed away, it was in her last will and testament to divide her jewelry (Dad’s a goldsmith, so this was 40 years’ worth of anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Days and Christmasses) among her kids. My sister and I chose a few pieces from Mom’s collection. Months later, when I asked Dad what he did with the rest of the jewelry, as I was wondering whether my brother got anything, he said he sold the remainder. Neither my sister nor I saw a penny from that sale. When my sister was tight on money, she asked Dad to help her sell one of the rings. When her ring sold, Dad pretty much told her, “You know what, I’ve helped you a lot financially in the past. So, I think we’re now even.” Yeah, no. That wasn’t the deal. He stole from my sister.
  • Last year he had a conversation with me and my sister about how he’s hoping to die penniless. After all, he deserves to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Most people think about what will happen to their kids when they pass. Not him.
  • He claims to be a feminist, yet spews sexist comments. He’s admitted to asking a woman in a job interview whether she was married, claiming that it was a valid question to ask because it would give him an idea of her level of commitment.
  • He claims to not be superficial, yet he won’t shut up about how obese my brother (who I haven’t seen in years) has become at every mention. When I told him I’d visited a childhood friend for the first time in years, his first question was, “Did she get fat?” He can’t talk about his friends’ kids without saying something vile about them eg. “She has huge boobs, but no brain!”
  • He shares sexual jokes and stories with me, which I’ve never welcomed. During my last visit, pulled out some old photo albums. He pointed to a girl in his grade 5 class photo and told Yann and me about how he bumped into her at an outdoor pool years later. *insert gesture about how big her chest was* “I won’t go into detail about what happened that day,” *wiggles eyebrows and sticks tongue out* I’ve told him, more than once, that I don’t like those stories, to which he’d respond, “Well, I am a man…”
  • He lives for schadenfreude. He likes to bring up how one of my old friend’s father cheated on his wife as if it were an attestation to how good of a father this man was to my friend. Sure, Dad and Mom were married for nearly 40 years, but their relationship was toxic and rooted in co-dependency. Also, I wouldn’t have given a shit if the worst thing he did to me as a kid was cheating on Mom. He punted me down the stairs for fuck’s sake.
  • He’s declared himself to be someone who kind of understands what it’s like to be deaf, yet he lectures me about accepting people’s ignorance, rather than use his privilege to educate the ignorant. He’d sooner go on a spiel about how “handicapped” used to be an acceptable term than introduce the correct term–which is disabled–into his vocabulary.
  • According to him, I don’t have privilege despite being white, because I’m “handicapped”. This shows his utter inability to listen and learn.
  • He says racist shit. Not explicit racism, of course, but he does have subtle, unconscious, implicit racial biases. He thinks reverse racism is a thing. He whined about having to use the term indigenous, because, according to him, “they keep changing the word!” Good god, his life is so hard.
  • He told me he agreed with Québec’s niqab ban. “I’m thinking about deaf people who rely on lipreading.” Strange how he’d be concerned about this being a barrier to communication, while he sees no harm in his wife refusing to adapt her method of communication with me.
  • He treats retail workers like shit. He once told me a story about how he yelled at a woman at the customer service desk of Best Buy for not accepting a return, but before doing so, he warned her, “I’m not mad at you. It’s not personal.” I told him that it wasn’t cool, but he’d already justified in his mind that his disclaimer absolved him of any assholery.

None of my friends do or say these things because there’s no way I’d be friends with anybody like that. I am no longer interested in listening to Dad gaslight me in exchange for a sushi meal, which he’d preface with, “Not to complain, but all this cost me $$.” I don’t need to listen to him drag people he calls friends. I don’t want to sit through more awkward tales about the sexual adventures he had as a teenager.

And I definitely don’t want him to use his proximity to me to shut down BIPOC when it comes to conversations about white privilege.

Now, I’ll need to type out a scathing letter outlining the reasons for ending our relationship. Otherwise, he’s going to paint me as an ungrateful brat to elicit sympathy from his friends and the family. He probably still will, but he’s not going to want to share that letter with them.

He’ll never get my sister on his side though: she knows what he’s capable of doing.

5 thoughts on “WikiHow to get rid of a toxic parent.

  1. Welcome to the dark side. You did a good thing. It’s tough, but prioritizing your well-being is the right choice. Keep sharing your truth. Rooting for & thinking of you.

    Like

    1. Thanks. I remember you asking me after I told you about his shittiness why I was still in contact with him, and I was like, “That’s a very good question.” Yet, it took me a year to figure out that there was no good answer to that question.

      Like

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