Happy Fathers Day, Dadzilla

June 19, 2016

 

          Father’s Day I read through posts on Facebook and view endearing photos of dads with their kids. I don’t think I have one photograph of me with my father.  There are group photographs, but nothing of the two of us.  I wouldn’t want one. I do have his paintings hanging in my bedroom.  I wondered yesterday why.  We had a troubled relationship. He would have been jailed for things he did. We didn’t know to tell.  Those things aren’t the story.  The legacy is. So why, Karen, I asked myself, would you have paintings on your bedroom wall painted by a man who inflicted so much damage on you?  Why?  It’s because they are evidence that somewhere within this man I was terrified of was something that made him want to put paint on a canvas.  There was a soft part of him that wanted to create.  That is why.

         When he was alive, I didn’t visit.  I visited when he was on his deathbed, about five times.  His wife always thought the worst, so more than once I made that very difficult journey just down the road to say goodbye.  We had never said hello.  Goodbye was easy.

          I was born into mayhem.  There was no reason, no order.  He was a man afflicted by disorders that caused him to think that abusing a female child in every possible way was somehow acceptable. I have worked hard on my healing, and advocate for any child who I believe needs it.  The legacy is that at sixty I still get triggered, I still need treatment to deal with the fallout of being raised by an abuser. 

          Still, when he died, I felt as though the ground had been removed from under my feet.  It is an odd thing, the tie between an abuser and their child.  I know there is this phenomenon known as ‘traumatic bonding’.  It wasn’t just that.  He was my father.  The only one I ever had.  So I was supposed to respect him, love him.  It was never easy. And it still isn’t.

          My father wreaked a lot of damage.  But he also gave me my sense of humour, and some gifts of dreams and knowing. I focus on those.

          So happy father’s day, Dadzilla, wherever you are.  Thanks for making me who I am.  Because though I struggle with what happened, and wish terribly much it didn’t, I thank you for any good thing you did. For making sure I had food and clothes.  For buying boats and forcing me to go sailing on early winter mornings.  For teaching me how to survive in the bush. And I love you.  Don’t ask me why, because honestly, I could not dig deep enough into my blood and bones to explain it.  It just is.

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