I used to pretend or even believe that I didn’t have any issues with my father, or issues with the men that were in my life that were supposed to act as fathers. The father role model isn’t somewhere I thought any of my issues would lie, because the fact that I was sexually abused was so prominent and overwhelming in my life.But I am beginning to learn that there is so much more than just being sexually abused, theres a whole bunch of other stuff underneath that blanketed statement “I am a Sexual Abuse Survivor”.
Until one particular counselling session which my therapist asked me so matter of factly;
“SO what about your father?” I explained that my father was around, not as often as I and maybe as often as he might have liked. That I met with him recently for the first time in years and he has spoken of his regrets. My dad and my mum split up when I was 2, he traveled around the world as any young man wanted to. He checked in occasionally, sent gifts, made phone calls and had us over when he wanted although occasionally when he would come to get us good ole step dad would refuse to let us/me go or would take us all out when he knew my dad might be coming so dad wasn’t able to get to us. He regrets that if he had been around more, my brother and I might have been safe (or just safer more often?). I told him how we had had our ups and downs, most of them in the last few years, that he was once my safe place. My Therapist asked me “Did you love your father?” I said I assumed I did, but that I didn’t really remember? That I know that I do now despite the chaos that engulfed my life when he wasn’t around. I didn’t blame him. I didn’t blame anyone. But maybe I was angry. Maybe I am still angry.
“What about the kind of father Robin was to you?”….
I had never considered him to actually be a father role model before, he had earnt the title of step dad only by sleeping with my mum for an extended period of time, not because he was actually any real kind of father. But I as a child didn’t know that.
Although my memory of who and what he was is skewed by some kind of repressed emotion, a child will attach themselves to a fatherly or even motherly figure because they need that figure in their lives, they depend on such figures to keep them safe. So despite the fact I don’t know if I loved him like a daughter should love a father, I must have, I didn’t know any better. To me, he was a second father, one that was there every day.
I trusted him when I thought I could even when that trust was abused, I trusted him when I shouldn’t have.
I didn’t know I had a right to my own body because I thought my father figure should know what is okay to do or not, and I trusted that too. And he seemed to think what he was doing was quite okay.
But he; a father figure had spent time with me and watched me blossom for 6 long years, people could only assume that he watched on with what seemed like adoration in his eyes; not to be mistaken for the eyes of a proud father but the eyes of a hungry predator.
I assumed what he did to me was because he loved me, because he was this man like a father, when my own father was absent. Because I thought that all dads did this because my real father wasn’t around enough to teach me that it wasn’t something fathers really did.
One time when I was around six years old I was sleeping at my dads house (which I think was actually my Grans), in my dads bed with my brother cuddled in beside me, the morning sun shone through the window. I was wearing a nighty(sleeping dress) and was sleeping high up on the pillow when my dad started to move as he stirred in his sleep and his arm slid up between my legs without him realising what he was doing, he then rolled over and went back to sleep, but I didn’t. I lay there petrified because I though he was about to do what my other daily dad does. But he didn’t because it actually wasn’t what good dads did.
I didn’t know any better.
Respect of self had not yet been learned not even when it came to my own body, not many things by that age had even been taught. Body safety wasn’t widely spoken of. It really still isn’t. I didn’t know that I was allowed to say no, that I was allowed to speak up, that I was allowed to run, because children were taught to respect their elders. Out of all the things I should have been taught, that should have been high on the list.
The whole thing is pretty heart breaking from my side, I broke down in my therapy session and left his room feeling this whole new kind of heart break because it was then that I realised I had two fathers, fathers that I loved and trusted to have my best interests at heart.
I had one who didn’t know how to protect me and one who wanted to hurt me, and did.
I don’t know how this realisation changes things for me, its just a whole new level of messed up that I didn’t know was there, but this isn’t necessarily bad, it just opens up new worlds of healing for me to explore, even if an element of pain follows.
New discoveries, more tears, more awakening.
‘Can only be a good thing. Right?