Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From Left to Write: Lost Edens

In Lost Edens, author Jamie Patterson struggles to save her marriage which may or may not be already over. Keeping her attempts a secret from her family, she attempts to mold herself into the wife her husband wants her to be. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by Lost Edens by Jamie Patterson on book club day, October 27 at From Left to Write.

After reading this book, I was really happy that Jamie was able to leave her husband and get a divorce. I don't think that sentence is a spoiler because she wouldn't have been able to write this true story if she were still with the abuser. After reading it, I wanted to find her husband and get revenge for her. Visions of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill were the first thoughts to pop up. But as the saying goes, the best revenge is living well, which Jamie seems to be doing. I am really happy for her.

Reading the book made me think of a close friend who needs help. She is an adult who has withstood years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father. Her father has called her stupid, dumb, all sorts of hurtful names. He's screamed at her for being overweight and once ripped a cookie out of her hand because she didn't stop eating it fast enough. During her childhood years he threw things at her, but now his abuse is mostly verbal and manipulation through guilt trips. I want to tell my friend to quit her father. A man who does that to a child is NOT a father, he's a sperm donor. Of course, it's not my place to tell her to do that, so all I can do is support her until she can come to the realization that she needs to be free of him.

A battered spouse without children can leave her spouse and break off all ties. But what does a battered child do--especially if the abuser also abuses the other parent and the other parent is unable to leave? My friend wants to maintain her relationship with her mother. If she doesn't answer the abuser's phone calls and doesn't comply with his wishes, he blames the mother and takes it out on her. So she feels like she's stuck. She also thinks that her father has a mental illness stemming from a long-diagnosed hormone disorder, which he won't seek treatment for because he doesn't he doesn't have medical insurance. So what can she do? When she tells me what is happening to her, I get so angry and want to call the police. But what would I tell them? That an old man is badgering his grown daughter? If she were under the age of majority, there would be help out there for her. But since she's an adult, the state no longer has the ability or desire to intervene.

A lot of what is going on is cultural. My friend is Asian. The Confucian society of her background places filial piety as one of the first virtues of their culture. The father-son relationship is one of the five human relationships that define all of life. To be a good son or daughter is a value that is instilled from the very beginning of life. There is a joke(?) that goes something like, if your mother and your wife are drowning, who would you save? The answer is obviously your mother because you can always get a new wife. People think that they lose stature if their neighbors think that their children are not treating them right. If a parent commits suicide, it is because the children did not do their duty. My friend is carrying the weight of all this cultural expectation on her shoulders as well as her love for her father in her heart. My friend, if you are reading this, know that I feel so sorry for what you are enduring. I hope things change for you soon. You are a good daughter. You are the BEST daughter.

10 comments:

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Sorry to hear your friend is going through this. Just curious if she has seeked help for herself? I highly recommend a support group. She will find people who are going through the same thing.

Eunice said...

I know she's been going to a therapist but I will suggest a support group to her. Thanks!

iwantabookdeal said...

what an unfortunate situation. I've struggled with my relationship with my dad - not to that extreme - and once I realized that I do not *need* him for anything and no longer had to follow his whims and his desires of what he wanted me to do, I felt liberated and he respected my independence and allegiance to my husband and kids before him.
I wish your friend good luck!

melanie said...

i think it is so hard to figure out how to "honor thy parents" yet still find enough distance from them to be your own person. i am definitely struggling with this myself. i hope your friend can get some help or at least some good support to help her through this experience.

MAMA BRANDI said...

It is terrible that your friend is going through this. I hope that she does find a support group. In the meantime, the blessing, at least, is that she has friends like you who love and care for her and will support her as she seeks to find help. Thank you for sharing her story and more about the culture.

Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

Quitting any family member is hard. I'm glad you are there for your friend.

Pamela Gold said...

I'm sorry for your friend. There are so many definitions of abuse it's sickening. I think we can all relate a little bit to some abstract point of it, one way or another. I'm so sorry for your friend. I wish her peace.

Lisa Hanneman said...

What a sad story. My mom has cut off ties with a lot of her siblings who are incredibly manipulative and dysfunctional, but it has been really difficult. But, she refuses to cut ties with her parents.

I feel like people who were treated badly by their parents when they were young never stop craving their acceptance. I hope your friend finds strength in herself and learns to stand up against him if she isn't able to cut him out.

Jamie said...

The mention in your post of wanting to go find Ben and get revenge made me laugh. It was so difficult for my friends and family to watch me go through this and then when they read the book and learned even more, many of them had the reaction you did.

I think it's just as hard in some ways for the people, like you with your friend, who are on the sidelines watching the difficult journey. She's lucky to have you, though!

Thanks for reading Lost Edens!

Jamie

Taylor U. said...

It must be awful to watch a grown friend suffer through this. I agree - a support group might help. Kudos to you for being so warm and caring. I'm sure she appreciates it more than you know!