Like many potential victims, he knew his would-be assassin. He had, after all, met her before she was born when she kicked at his hands as he touched his wife’s pregnant belly. Moments after her birth, he had taken her in his arms and cuddled and comforted her, as he had done so many times in the years since.
They shared a love of languages. They shared a love of literature: Fact, fiction, and fantasy. They shared a love of what was right and what was just. Somewhere along the way, however, she had drifted further and further into her fantasy world.
Desperate to avoid being “left on the shelf,” she had set her sights on a number of boys. But they could all see through her tenuous grip on reality, and they had all made sure to keep their distance in future.
Then, one day, she met a boy, a relative child as desperate to get married as she was. Against her parents’ wishes, they had announced their forthcoming marriage. In the interests of maintaining an open door of communication, when they saw that the couple was resolved to wed, her parents had supported and paid for the wedding. It was just as well that they did.
When the telephone call came, it was her parents who came to the rescue. It was her parents who took the steps to hold on to reality in the midst of their terrible crisis. It was her parents who opened their home to help them.
Yet, immediately, she launched her attack; a vicious onslaught; a tirade of lies and innuendo. She told her friends about how her father had failed her, over the years, in favor of her siblings. Except she forgot that her friends had known her parents long before she was born. They had watched her growing up. They had shared parenting stories with her father and mother. They were frequent visitors to each others’ houses. And they were her father’s friends; friends who would not allow her to speak ill of him.
So she turned to her online associates. She liked to call them friends, even though she had never met most of them. She spread her web of lies as far and wide as her online social networks would allow her.
Her father’s response was to ask other family members to protect the family’s reputation by refraining from entering into public debate; he respected his son-in-law’s headship by encouraging him to deal with her foolishness. He had tried his best to save her the public humiliation she seemed to crave so much.
And still she attacked; still she spread her misinformation, reveling in the support provided by those who only ever listen to one side of a story. She did her best to discredit him. She did her best to destroy his character, even though it was his character that was saving her from herself.
She craved her father’s attention. She wanted him to drop everything and run to her side at a moment’s notice. She wanted to alienate the entire family so that her father would have eyes only for her.
She was baffled. She couldn’t understand her father’s resilience. She couldn’t understand why his reputation had not been totally destroyed.
She couldn’t understand that her father was protected by a force invisible to her. Her father had something that she had refused to develop. He had a quality that could not be harmed by sticks and stones and name calling, despite his disappointment that she refused to respond to his efforts to protect her.
She didn’t know that her vicious words could never penetrate his integrity.
First, let me get the disclaimer out of the way. As in most works of fiction, any resemblance to the experiences of persons living or dead is unintentional. The above story uses a fair amount of “artistic license.” The people described are not real, even if they do remind you of someone. After all, I guess all writers put a little of themselves into their work. (In some cases, that can be a little worrying!) But in this case, it is pure fiction.
Over the years I have been struck by how children can turn on their parents when they feel that their parents are not giving them enough attention or support. Sometimes the complaint is justified. It is probably true that most of us think our parents could be more supportive. But most of us do not respond as in the story, above. And yet, over the years, I have seen this sort of scenario played out so many times, even if not to the extent described in the story.
What I will say is that if you recognize any of the themes in your own life, maybe you need to think about where your life is headed!