After Daddy’s funeral my sister and I discovered we had not been mentioned in Daddy’s Will. However, we were so lucky to have been allowed from the executor of Daddy’s estate to get things from our childhood and items that were important to us from Daddy’s home. I was able to get photo’s from when I was a little girl to be able to show our son. I didn’t have one picture because Daddy held them hostage. But, it was over. There was never going to be another phone call where he could call me names or threaten me. He could no longer hang up on me because he didn’t like what I said. The real question was how was I going to let go? I knew he couldn’t physically hurt me anymore but emotionally he could as long as I allowed it. After his death I had a difficult time sleeping because all I could think about was him. Even in death I was allowing Daddy to maintain his control over me. I knew I couldn’t give Daddy that power but also I knew I didn’t deserve it either. I needed to STOP carrying the pain and disappointment because it was only going to fester the same anger that fueled Daddy’d abuse. Like hell could I do that to my son. I had to figure out a way to let it all go and to give it all back to Daddy for him to carry on his own shoulders as his own bourdon. That’s when I realized that I could walk through that process by telling my story and by writing down my vivid memories of what I had lived through. It was time I came clean sort of speak and allowed myself to feel the pain of what happened. It was time to let those who were close to me in the past and present to know me. Daddy was gone. I needed to stop that madness of protecting him and finally put myself first. It was important for me to write about what Daddy did to me without making any excuses for why he did them. And it was crucial I admit in a somewhat public way that I had an abusive father (hence why I titled my writings as I did), so that I could begin to relinquish the piles of crap I have carried with me for years. Always easier said than done, it has been a tremendous obstacle for me to let go. Here’s the crazy part. I fought Daddy tooth and nail when he called me stupid or fed me some crazy rhetoric. However, I suppose still after so many years of being bombarded with such negative words I actually ended up internalizing them and believed them. I never wanted Daddy to win in that manner, but I have allowed him. Because Daddy felt self worth and value was determined by your wealth, I continue to see my life as a failure. It is such a battle for me. I can’t stop seeing what we don’t have and I find it hard to not use what I’m missing in life against me. When jealousy creeps into my head and I am pained because someone else has more than I do, I know that is Daddy’s evil way of maintaining control over me. But, the reality is, it is incredibly hard to shake. I continue to struggle with believing I have self worth and can be a productive person in society. I find I regress to the behavior that isolated Daddy and ultimately decided his fate to die alone. I know from where it comes but it was so ingrained for so many years, how do I change all that was familiar to me? I have a very hard time not believing I’m dumb and could ever do anything worth while with my life. Often I feel like the cowardly lion off of the Wizard of Oz. I walk around holding my tail and repeating over and over again, I am not afraid, I am not afraid. Well, that’s how I am on the inside but I attempt to be confident on the outside. I suppose I over compensate as I can create a hard exterior at times. In reality it is a daily struggle and challenge to keep myself from believing the many awful things my father said to me. The only time I don’t feel this way is when I am doing my art. The process more than the product puts me in a place where I am confident and at total peace. I am able to lose myself in it which allows all of those negatives to disappear. I am never reminded of my daily emotional fight when I am creating. It is my utopia and I love it. But, the reality is who can make a living off of it? This is where I struggle to fit into society’s cookie cutter expectations in order to make a living. I often feel as if I am that child’s toy where you place the correct shapes into the open holes. However, I am the square piece always trying to fit into the circle hole. As much as I try to “mainstream” I never seem to fit.
You know, I have been asked by many of my friends if because I was abused by my father was that why I chose to “marry” a woman. I do want to address this question. It is more complicated than the answer I’m giving but in essence, there is no proof in any study that suggests being abused by a parent determines your sexual preference. Here’s a statistic for you. One in every ten people are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. In those numbers there is no increased numbers of parental abuse compared to that of their straight counterparts. What does hold true for some who are abused is they do have a higher tendency to choose a partner who is abusive. They misinterpret abuse as love and aren’t able to break the cycle. But regardless of any study or statistic, I have come to realize some truths. For one, it matters to me not as to “why” I am in a lesbian relationship. All that matters to me is that I have someone I love deeply and she loves me. And out of that love we have an amazing son. I’d like to see that I received my family as my gift. I am proud of my family, love them dearly and I cannot imagine having any other. So, with that said, I will go so far to say I feel it was Bashert for me to walk through the doors of hell in order to enter into the gates of heaven known as my family. I have to believe my life experiences were never in vane and with out a purpose.
Listen, just as Kermit says about being a frog, “It ain’t easy being green.” It too ain’t easy being a product of abuse. It comes with a shit load of baggage. Because it didn’t take place over night, we forget about the many layers we created to protect ourselves to get through those abusive years. Only when we begin to shed them, we realize the depth of the amount of crap we created. As we are proud of ourselves when one layer sheds, we get pissed when lo and behold there is another layer underneath. What the hell? When will it end? The audacity of abuse! The audacity to force me to remember my past each time another layer has to be shed. The nerve of it!
Let me explain how I perceive the concept of “layering” for myself. Imagine there is a woman who whenever you see her is holding an open umbrella. You find her strange because she not only has an the umbrella open when she’s outside but she has it open all of the time when she’s inside. At first she used the umbrella just outside to protect herself from the occasional falling bird shit. But as the shit kept increasing and because it was so nasty, she started carrying that umbrella all of the time. Now, over time as the elements got worse, she’d have to produce another umbrella that was more durable than the last hence continuously having to had another layer of protection. And so that’s what I did. It was just that my umbrella was invincible. Here’s the thing though. Even though I hate what I lived through and I’d NEVER EVER want to do it again, my life as it was made me who I am today. My partner hates when I use the word, “journey” but for a lack of a better word, I had to take that journey for whatever reason. I was certainly damn lucky to have people who cared about me strategically placed along my journey to assure I took the right turns. And on the days I was alone I somehow found the drive to keep going. Looking back, I think that drive was fueled by my youth which contained a sprinkle of cockiness and a shit load of determination to prove Daddy wrong. I was once asked by a friend if I felt I would have had better opportunities or achieved more in my life if I had supportive parents? Possibly, but I would be dumb to focus on what could have been. It’s mute. Focusing on past events that can’t be changed doesn’t help me heal, live in the present and make my future better. I have to maintain motion and keep moving forward without stumbling back on the “what ifs” which only create more resentment and anger. I have to leave behind the anger and the questions of “Why?” Those things will only stifle me and prevent me from living today. Look at my own father as the perfect example. He never could let go of his anger and he spent a lifetime of asking “Why?” Let me ask you. Where did that lead him? What did it do to his quality of life? As you’ve read It led him down a path I never want to know for myself. Unfortunately, Daddy did drag me along for the ride for a while but watching him slowly self destruct was enough for me to say, “I NEVER want that for myself.” Daddy’s anger consumed him forcing him to throw away every friend he had and every family member who loved him. Over time there was no one left. And even as he stood alone, his anger took precedence. I can’t imagine choosing my anger over my family and friends. They are way too valuable and I need them in my life. It really was ashamed that Daddy was so engulfed by his anger that he never could see beyond it to a world where so much beauty did exist. Right there in front of him. There was the beauty of his two granddaughter’s. Their innocent smiles, their birthday parties, high school graduations and college graduations. He missed them all. There was the beauty of his grandson. His laughter, first days of school and birthday parties. He missed them all too.
The reality of it all as my months of writing about my abusive father comes to an end is that Daddy may be gone but his abuse will live with me for eternity. However, it’s really interesting what has come out of this experience for me. Now that I’ve written it all down, I no longer feel the need to remember what happened. I never wanted to forget the many details and how I felt at the time. It was important to me. But now, I can let go. I gladly pass the ownership of my pain and the details of my abuse to each of my chapters where they can now be housed. The comfort of knowing I can finally pass possession is cathartic and freeing. I’m sure my future will give me quite a ride. Let it be the best one yet because