(Trigger alert – this post details emotional abuse)
Growing up with a psychopath for a father has affected every part of my childhood and so far every part of my adult life. He’s never been diagnosed as a psychopath, but I have no other explanation for his cruelty. He still to this day thinks he was/is a good father and that I am wrong and hurtful for excluding him from my current life.
Here is a definition of a Pyschopath. Pedophilia is a branch of this. The link to the article is below the excerpt.
Some of my earliest memories, about age 3, already include what I now know is emotional abuse – on top of the other things he did to me. He would tell me that my mom hated me, and never wanted a girl. He has told me the story of my birth many times. His version went something like this:
“Your mom was so excited to have another baby, and had picked out the name Randy. When you were born, she was so disgusted to have a girl, that when the nurse handed you to her, she handed you right back to me and said, “Here’s your daughter. I guess we can call her Sandy.” (I’m using fake names – but the rhyming thing is true) And then she turned away from you. I held you and fed you, you wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for me. ”
At the same time that he was telling a 3 year old me that my mom hated me, he was also telling my mom that I hated her. Which it appeared that I did, because when you tell a child someone hates them, they stay away from that person. I always pushed her away, feeling her hugs must not be real, so I didn’t want them.
So it was set up that when I was hurt or needed anything, I went to my dad. My mom was hurt by my lack of love for her, and I sensed her hurt feelings and her reluctance to keep being hurt by me as proof she did not want me. Whenever my mom tried to pick me up, I would scream and kick – I was angry at her for not loving me. Especially when she so obviously loved my brothers.
My father took it one step further and also said that one brother was her favorite, the one closest to my age, and that made sure we weren’t that close either. I loved my dad more than anything, because I thought he was the only one who loved me. Missing all the cuddling and attention from my mom, I enjoyed the inappropriate attention from my father when I was very little.
If my father was home, I was on his lap. He would read to me, (my favorite poem was Poe’s “The Raven” I didn’t know what most of the words meant, but the intricate rhyming was musical to me), watch TV shows with him (not kid shows – I loved Remington Steele) and let me help him type on the computer. Back then it was a TRS-80 and we were the only people I knew that even had a computer. But he was a programmer and would often work at home on his projects.
I actually learned to type before I could write. And I taught myself to read at age 3. All the time watching sesame street and being alone in my room, I figured it out I guess. I don’t remember too much, just that words always made sense to me. I would spend most of my time in my room or out in our yard, trying to not bother my mom. I just avoided her and stayed out of her way. When she asked me to do something, I did it instantly and quietly. So I was determined to be so perfect, that she could not find a reason to hate me.
I was already reading adult poetry books by the time I entered kindergarten at age 4. I did not know that was special until I became a teacher, and even now when I watch my own kids learn to read. I remember in preschool when my mom discovered I could read. I was in the back seat of her chevette, she was driving her friend some where and looking for a street sign. I called out to her that it was right there – and it was. She had no idea I could read the sign, but just laughed to her friend like of course she knew, wasn’t I smart?
But once she dropped off her friend, I got my first library card. And a pile of books almost as tall as me. Mom took me to the children’s librarian to get books for my level. I remember her asking me to read pages from Each Peach Pear Plum, Little Bear, and even Charlotte’s Web. I was about a 4th grade reading level, she said. But then she gave me Dr. Seuss – and I fell in love! The rhyming and the colorful pictures, and happy silly stories, I loved every bit of them. (we were not a bedtime story kind of family, so I had some catching up to do) I know now that my mom was amazed and delighted by me, and always there trying to encourage me, but I could never let her into my heart, and she didn’t know why. She didn’t know she married a monster – a psychopath feeding me lies instead of love.
My dad said my books were stupid – and he laughed, a terrible grinchy laugh that I still shudder to think about. Fiction books were for stupid people who couldn’t do anything else. But it was ok if I wanted to be a silly girl, since I was just a girl and wouldn’t amount to anything anyway. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a silly girl, but I knew I wanted to read those books. And that’s how it started that everything I loved was frivolous and silly and a guilty pleasure. Later it would be music and drawing.
I’m a very creative type of person and need to nourish and express my creativity or I don’t feel alive. I still battle the feeling that I am wasting my time when I read a good book, write a poem/story, or paint a picture. It is a quick battle now, but that fleeting glimpse of “ugh – daddy wouldn’t like me doing this” is always there. Even though I have completely discounted him, I’m afraid those early lessons will always be a part of me.
And my mom is now my cheerleader. She encourages me daily to be me, and I am so grateful to finally have my mom. It took 30 years for us to trust each other. I love who I am now, but I always wonder, where would I be if I had my mom’s love and encouragement the whole time? No way to know for sure, but sometimes I dream about the me I could have been – a famous author or artist. Well, there’s still time for that. Watch out world, here I come!