As much as I would like to pretend otherwise, not a day goes by without my dad crossing my mind. It happens for different reasons: doing a “dad” thing like going to the DEQ for the first time, seeing a commercial, show or movie with a powerful father figure in it, remembering a moment of my past, picturing a moment of my future without him…. but more often than not, I think of him because of a negative, severe or detrimental reaction to what someone said, did, thought, motioned or expressed (consciously or otherwise). There hasn’t been a day in over 2 years that I don’t realize the damage he caused. As my relationships struggle, my friendships falter and my mind and body turn against me, I realize more and more that my father was undoubtably abusive.
I only wish that psychological and emotional abuse left a visible scar. I’d have a terribly scarred body but at least I’d have something to show from the 18 years with him. People can look at my life and say “Hey, you had two parents, a home, food. You had a dad who went to your volleyball games, took you to church, bought you what you needed and celebrated your successes at school. Shouldn’t you be thankful? Look at the people around you who have it worse!”
If at that point, I pulled out pictures showing them the bruises he’d left on my body, the blood dripping from my lip and the pain in my eyes from being beaten every day, they would say “Wow, he sure fooled us. It doesn’t matter what he did right because there is NO excuse for beating a helpless child.” But I don’t have those pictures to show. I don’t have bruises and scars and physical evidence to prove he was abusive. Instead I have a bruised and scarred and damaged mind, soul, and being. If you could see it physically, I assure you it would be shocking. You’d wonder how I’d ever made it out alive and you’d wonder why my dad wasn’t behind bars.
But that’s the sick nature of psychological abuse, there’s no x-ray to prove it happened. I’ve been seeing my counselor twice a week for about 9 months now and he’s only recently been able to fully grasp what was done to me as a child. It’s not something you can explain in a blog post or in an hour long conversation… it’s something that’s taken a trained professional almost a hundred hours to truly understand. And twice a week, we find something new in my can of worms. Except when I started seeing him, it wasn’t like opening a can of worms… it was like opening Mary Poppin’s magical bag of worms.
Even now, I wish I could explain what happened. I wish I could allow others to step into my mind for just a moment so they would understand. People look at me and see a confident, purposeful, intelligent girl… And I’m fine with that until I can’t hold up the facade any longer. I’ve had so many friendships dissolve because of a breakdown or time of depression but if I could only show them the pictures and the x-rays and the police reports! I’m so sick and I’m so scarred and I’m still covered in bruises but nobody else can see them.
I can imagine my dad reading this. He’d be angry and hurt and confused. He’d be thinking about how he was a great dad… and how he still is (no matter that we haven’t talked in over a year)! And that’s why my dad is sick and that’s why I’m not sure he’ll ever get better. Someone who doesn’t think they’re sick doesn’t seek the help they need to get healthy…
I wish I could be free
I wish I could be healthy
I wish I could be who I was meant to be.
I think about my dad every day.