I rarely think of you. You see once I’d forgiven you there was nothing left to think about. Occasionally though your presence from the past surfaces. And when it does I wish I could look you in the eye and say ‘Have you any idea what you did to me?’
I’ll tell you. You stole my childhood. You destroyed my self-esteem. You crushed my spirit.
There’s more. You made me feel insignificant and worthless. You made me feel unloved. You made me believe I would never deserve anything because I was never good enough.
Even when I grew up and moved from country to country, you pursued me. Not out of love but out of a need to control. You didn’t have to be with me in person, because you always found a way to make sure that I knew you were still there.
You needn’t have bothered to hire that stalker, send the hate mail, make the threatening phone calls to my work colleagues, terrify my friends. Because your voice of abuse never left me anyway. It was there day and night.
For a long time, you won Dad. You won your crazy game.
You kept on winning even after you died. I didn’t expect that. Somehow I thought that your death would terminate my living hell and I would be free to get on with my life. But I was so used to living in fear that it had become my normality. The damage had been done. With or without you I was a complete mess physically and emotionally.
“I stopped loving my father a long time ago. What remained was the slavery to a pattern.” ~ Anais Nin
Actually I felt quite cheated that you died suddenly. You see I remember how much you hated alcohol, and I remember you telling me as a teenager that you would prefer I get pregnant rather than drunk. So you never knew that alcohol became my ‘hurt healer.’ It numbed me from the pain and helped me to manage your manipulation.
For a while it felt like I was winning. I was getting my own back and you didn’t even know it. But the self-medication slowly grew into addiction. So while other fathers leave their daughters a legacy of inspiration and love, I was left with alcoholism and depression.
But that was many years ago and this is now. Without you to sabotage my every move I have been able to reclaim my life and rediscover my identity. I fought my way back into the game and this time I am winning.
It’s true that sometimes when I face an emotional challenge, especially where there is a man involved, I think of you. It’s the moment when the insecurities and the self-doubt return and I sense your spirit whisper ‘Told you so.’
Today though, I am able to recognise your words the lies that they are and can send them back to where they belong. Out of my mind. Out of my life.
I wish you had been kinder Dad. I wish you had been there to protect me. I wish you had been there to encourage me. Imagine how different my life could have been if I’d had a hero for a Dad instead of an abuser.
Too late now. For you. Not for me. Because I’m still here.
And if you could see me now I think even you would be proud of me. But if you weren’t that would be okay. Because I’m of proud myself.
I found out that I was good enough. I always was.
From your daughter ~ The Hurt Healer
Image thanks to Nicholas_Gent