Blogging in between visits with my therapist gives me a platform to organize my thoughts and see multiple options.
I still struggle with my role in extended family situations and feel that my past holds me back from doing things I otherwise naturally would, and I am honestly not sure the best route to take yet.
Specifically, My abuser, my dad, is still alive. I have barely any contact with him, only the extended family get-togethers where most people do not know about the abuse. I was unable to (personally) tell my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins what my dad had done. And now that 20 years has passed, it seems pointless to blurt it out now. The fact that I was sexually abused by my dad is just a fact, like my name, like my dazzling green-blue eyes, just a part of me. But that is not how others react to this fact, and I don’t know who to tell or how to tell, so I tend to remain quiet. But if someone were to ask me why I don’t talk to my dad, well I’m not sure what I would say.
I have avoided many family reunions with my dad’s side for many years now, knowing he will of course be there, and I don’t feel close to anyone else there either. I know he has put his magic spin on things to them, that I am selfish, ungrateful, and think I am too good to see them. I know he tells them he chooses not to associate with me, not vice versa. I know they think what a shame to have such a dishonorable daughter. (OK I don’t know any of these things – I assume them)
My dad’s sister has been battling cancer. I was never exactly close to this Aunt, but I do love her. My only memories of her when I was little she is cursing and blowing smoke in my face as she tells me to go play outside or tells dirty jokes to my dad. That’s how I remember all of my dad’s siblings, beer-guzzling, overbearing, chain-smoking, crass. She is currently in the hospital in a different state, and my heart is torn. I’d like to go see her, out of respect, and out of love, out of some sense of obligation, but mainly just to show her she is loved.
But the questions have already started from the cousins in facebook chat.
“When is your dad coming out?”
“I don’t know”
“Can you ask him and let me know? We’re trying to plan how many visitors are here, ICU rules”
“No, I don’t talk to him”
(big long pause) “Oh.” “Well my dad said your dad is coming out tomorrow, are you guys coming with him?”
“I don’t know what my dad is doing, but my brother was thinking of going on Friday”
So what happens when they ask *why* I don’t talk to my dad? I don’t want to start any drama and take away from the supportive environment around my Aunt. My Aunt’s husband works in a prison for sex offenders, and I have heard him talk about those evil prisoners, and I’m pretty sure he would kill my dad right then and there. He is one I think that believed the rumors, used to dealing with psychopaths on a daily basis he saw through it a bit. But only a bit. I do think he would scream and possibly hit him. The old man in a motorized scooter, so weak from end-stage emphysema that he can no longer stand. Right, he looks dangerous. No, it would be ugly, and no one needs that.
And why did I write that chat that way? Looking at it now I wonder if I was trying to get her to ask that question? Do I want to *accidentally* share this news? Do I really want to tell but not have it be my fault? Hmmm. Impromptu chats have a way of showing true feelings perhaps, since we have less filter when we speak spontaneously, and without the voice to convey meaning, it can easily be misinterpreted.
It seems to me the more loving choice to my Aunt right now is to offer my love from afar. I have not seen her since my wedding 13 years ago, and have not spoken to any of them other than occasional facebook updates from the cousins. And yet I feel torn, and of course guilty, because it wouldn’t be a day on this world without me feeling some guilt.
Am I protecting my Aunt and cousins by not going, not telling them. Or am I protecting myself from further drama and trauma? And if so, is that actually a good thing?
I know I would go to the funeral, (which barring a miracle, seems likely at this point) but I also know people don’t tend to talk at funerals like they do sitting helplessly in hospital rooms. My Aunt currently can not speak, and can barely move. She communicates through hand squeezes, my cousin said. So other than my guilt, I am not sure what going to the hospital would help.
Is it helpful or hurtful to disclose past abuse to the extended family of the abuser? I don’t want to make choices based on fear, so I need to examine this choice carefully, as I have many fears. Am I afraid they will not believe me? Yes. Am I afraid they will believe me? Yes. Am I afraid they will be angry at me for not telling them? Yes. Am I afraid they will cause a scene? Yes. Am I afraid it will cause stress to my sick Aunt? Yes.
Closing sentiment is directed to my dad- Screw you abusing A-hole that has made every decision in my life so difficult and putting this choice to disrupt or to not disrupt, to shatter or not shatter the worlds of people I care about onto me through your own cowardice, denial and psyhopathic ways. I should not have to think twice about visiting family or expressing love. My whole life you have been in the background, limiting my ability to feel love or show love. Everything I loved when I was little was hurt or taken from me – my mom, my brothers, my pets, my friends. So if I love my Aunt from afar, you can’t steal it from me.
**UPDATE – Based on some comments, I need to be clear that I already told the people immediately around me about what my dad had done – 20 years ago. I did not call everyone I knew or that knew my dad and tell them. Word got out when the police and child services came to question him at work. Believe me, I knew his anger all too well at that incident of how I *embarrassed him and ruined his good name*. Word got out. My dad used his powers of persuasion to convince everyone I was insane and just asking for attention. I am not holding in deep dark secrets. I can see how it appears that way after reading this 1 post. This is so hard to explain in a few words. His family lives in a different state, and even when I was little I saw them maybe once a year. After I got away from my dad and got married, I have lost touch with most of those people, choosing not to visit when my dad would invite me each year to various family events. I have no idea what they think they know or don’t. It was not my responsibility as a hurting teenager to broadcast his wrongdoings to the world. It was my responsibility to heal. Why is the man not in jail? Because no one thought I would survive a trial process. But it wasn’t my choice, I was a kid. So I hear my Aunt is suffering, and start having awkward conversations with cousins that may or may not recall something they heard so many years ago. I really don’t know these people, and my fear is more that I will be unable to hold my tongue and cause pain and drama and draw attention away from my Aunt. I assume my dad uses my absence of proof I am cold and uncaring. I have no idea who thinks what and I guess I just don’t feel the need to know. If they choose not to heed my warnings, there is nothing more I can do.
Ugh, this is too hard to explain. Unless you were abused from birth to age 16 by a psychopathic pedophile.
- Stopping the cycle of Child abuse by Talking about it (roots2blossom.wordpress.com)
- Survivor Dynamics (survivordynamics.wordpress.com)
- Finding a good psychotherapist (kayehargreaves1.wordpress.com)