Father’s Day has always been such a mixed bag for me. My birth father was gone by the time I was a year old. My mom met and married my step-father when I was three, and he adopted my older brother and me shortly after. She married him because she thought he would be a good father to us.
When I was seven, I can remember a day when we had plans to go to the county fair in the evening. We were told to do our homework at daycare, so we would be ready. On the drive home from daycare, my step-dad asked if we had done our homework. I replied, “Some of it”, which apparently he heard as “None of it” and backhanded me in the face. I remember spankings that happened like this: he would get enraged, I would try to run, he would grab my hand and literally hold me up by one arm beating me.
Those memories pale in comparison to “our little secret”. My earliest memories of being molested, I can pin down based on the house we lived in. I was around 8. I have no doubt that he planned to continue until he finally raped me, he pretty much promised me it would happen one day. But circumstances changed, and my mother was suddenly home during the day, and it all ended. Those 2 years forever changed me and my world.
When I was 12, my birth father showed up on our doorstep drunk, wanting to see “his kids”. I could smell the alcohol oozing out of his pores, and I thought he looked like a homeless man. But he brought me a book of poetry, later I found a long poem he wrote about my mother tucked away in it. It was never about giving me a gift, it was about him still wanting my mother to be his. After he left, my step-father made a call and had him arrested on his way out of town for DUI, then had him released with a promise to never return. He never did.
When I was 14, I told my cousin about the molestation. That started a shitstorm at home. My mother thought I was just being an angsty teen, and believed her husband over me. The therapist they took me to had to report, so we ended up in court where the judge decided I was in no danger living with my abuser. I tend to believe his occupation of police officer had something to do with that. So once again, my worst fears had come true. I spoke my truth and no one believed me. No one protected me. Then everyone pretended none of it ever happened. It was decades before I spoke my truth again.
In those decades, my mom and step-dad finally divorced when he cheated on her. As my legal father, he continued over the years to press a relationship with me. Never admitting, never apologizing, always pretending… I have a brother 9 years younger than me. I was supposed to pretend for his sake. He was too young…it was his father… always one reason after another. Never a thought to the damage done to me, continuing to be done by hiding and pretending. I went down some pretty predictable paths (in hindsight): teenage pregnancy, depression, dysfunctional relationships, more depression, suicide attempt, alcohol abuse, eventually drug addiction.
See, you can’t expect a child who experiences things like this to just carry on. They don’t have the tools to know how to deal with their feelings. When your entire little world around you is telling you that something didn’t happen and you know it did, where do you go from there? When you tell your truth and no one listens…you learn that your voice does not count. But that truth is still inside you, eating away at your soul, taking over the voice in your head, telling you you are nothing. All I ever wanted was an apology, and to feel like someone cared.
It took me traveling a long, hard road to understand that no one would ever apologize. If I was letting him stay in my life with the hopes of one day receiving that apology, it was NEVER going to happen. When my daughter was born, I’d had enough. I decided that the day that he offered to let my 2-year-old daughter spend a weekend with him and his new wife anytime. I pushed him to a safe distance, and when that wasn’t good enough for him he chose to tell people who had been my family all my life that I was a drug addict(left out the recovering part) and who knows what else. But that’s ok.
You see, my daughter has the most wonderful father. Through him, I learned what a father’s love really looks like. I am so grateful to know my daughter will NEVER have to deal with the things I did. Today when Father’s Day rolls around, I celebrate this.
I no longer need an apology. I no longer need to feel that someone cares. I care. That is all I ever need now, to know that I am worthy of caring about myself. I finally decided that I was worth cutting him off completely. I have my voice, and no one will ever take that from me again. This is my truth, and if someone can’t handle my truth then that is their problem. I don’t write this for pity, for attention, or even for revenge. This is me, caring for me.
another good post by Danielle Paradis: http://m.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/it-happened-to-me-i-took-the-advice-to-call-my-father-before-it-was-too-late-and-he-told-me-about-how-cocaine-makes-him-horny