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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fear of My Father

This is an incredibly difficult topic to write about.  I have avoided it for a long time.  I avoided it in therapy as well.  It's amazing how powerful fear is.

I have faced fear before.  When something I need to process frightens me I know I need to deal with it, that's the only way to take away the unrelenting power it has over me.

And yet, I still don't want to write about this.

I am afraid to think about it.  I am afraid to remember.  And I am so terribly afraid that my father could find it and read it.  Imagining the fallout if that were to happen is almost enough to make me stop.  Almost.

But it hurts me.  It controls me.  It makes me sick.  It is a toxin I have to get out.

My father is a bully.  He is controlling and domineering.  I thought he had changed.  I guess it was only a matter of time.

He expects people to give in.  They always have.  He makes sure of that.

I wish I had the words to describe how he does this.  I don't fully understand it.  I think it's because I was programmed so young.  I think the control tactics are so deeply rooted that I can't see them anymore.  All he has to do now is look at me in a certain way and I know I have no option but to comply.

I do have options.  I understand that now, at least on some level.  It took several years of therapy but I believe I can choose for myself.  But knowing the wrath I will face if I choose differently from what he wants is enough to keep me in line way too often.

We had an incident recently.  He overstepped his bounds and verbally attacked my daughter when I wasn't there.  She was devastated.  I was so angry.  I thought of many different ways to confront him about it.  I stewed about it.  I vented about it at home.

And in the end, I did nothing.  I did nothing but prepare her for a future attack.  I gave her permission to walk away.  I told her if he did something like that again to come get me or text me.  I told her he was wrong and did what I could to support her.  But I did not confront him.

I am ashamed of this.  It breaks my heart that I was not strong enough to better protect my daughter.

I wonder if I will ever get there.  I wonder if I will ever be strong enough to look him in the eye and tell him how much he has hurt me.  I wonder if I will ever be able to stand in front of him and say no.  I wonder if I will ever be able to tell him he's a bully and unless he changes his behavior toward us he will no longer get to be with us.

But I'm not there yet.  Just thinking about it brings me to tears.  It makes me shake.

Since that incident I have avoided him as much as possible.  We took him something for Father's Day but didn't stay long and I kept others in between me and him.  I haven't taken his calls but I have responded to his texts (I get in trouble if I ignore him).  I avoided a family dinner that my husband and children went to on Memorial Day.

His birthday is in two weeks.  I don't know how I'm going to handle that.