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This blog could potentially contain triggers. Please make sure you are emotionally safe before continuing.

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.

21 comments:

Linda said...

Robin, I admire you so much for writing when it is so difficult and in essence saying it all out loud. I admire you for staying close to your parents regardless. Some of us ran away to avoid this stuff and lost out on working through it.
You're strong and hopefully the more you are open about it the more opportunity there will be for change.
You are a good daughter and that can be good enough for now.

Running Circles said...

Thank you for writing this. It hits home in a lot of ways. You'll find the courage.

Stephi said...

It hurt to read this because our fathers sound so much alike. My dad has a huge amount of control over me that he has instilled through fear and shame. It must have been heartbreaking to have him attack your daughter- I'm so sorry. I hope that one day you will be free of this.

Pixie said...

"I gave her permission to walk away. I told her if he did something like that again to come get me or text me." In my eyes that is the best thing you could have said to your daughter. Walk away. Because to me you have taught her an amazing and powerful skill - to not get tied up in conflict but to walk away. An amazing post and I admire you greatly.

Dawnelle said...

Robin, we talked about this a little, and I recently blogged about it. You told me it's taken you years to allow your children to see who their father is and not always protect them. They need to build a relationship of truth between them. The truth is your dad is a bully, and your kids need to know the truth of it. That doesn't make the situation any easier, but please don't feel guilty for not confronting your father over it. What you did was prepare your daughter to defend herself. This is the part that I blogged about. Your daughter is not really yours. She's a child of God. She'll have to go out in the world and fight for herself. Teaching her how to do that is invaluable!

I think your anguish is more about standing up for yourself which is a whole different issue and SO not easy! Maybe something we both need to work on. :/

Survivor said...

You are such a good writer. Have you considered writing what you feel and giving it to him? Maybe included in a birthday card.

Lisa said...

I love your writing. And it embarasses me to admit that my mom is a lot like this but in a different way. And I think maybe this post helped me to realize that I didn't realize this. whoa! Time to process. Thank you.

Urban Gypsy said...

I feel your pain, literally, when I read this. I hurt for you. I so understand how you feel. There really isn't much I can say - but please don't be ashamed. You did what you could - that's all we can hope for. The time will come when you are ready to comfront. Until that time...take care of you. <3

EH said...

Sometimes, you just have to have the good old fashioned "come to Jesus" confrontation with a parent. No one wants to, I didn't want to, but I did...I had to in order to save myself, get it all out on the table and set clear boundary lines that were NEVER to be crossed again. The thing I have learned is - parents control their children, some parents cannot give that control up when we become adults. But as adults the decision is ours to make. It doesn't take away from the parent, it doesn't make anyone right or wrong - it is what it is, the right to make a decision. The decision that belongs to me may make the parent angry - that is their problem not mine. The anger belongs to them. They may own it and keep it for as long as they want to, but it will never take away my right to make a decision, make a statement or do anything else that is "good" for "me." Thank you for all you have written, you are brave, and I commend you for that. You are also strong - a lot stronger than I suspect you realize.

Anonymous said...

I needed to read this. Im currently in therapy for the same issue. Im paralyzed with fear in dealing with how sensitive i am to my communication with my father. He just talks so hard and powerful, that its not loving or comforting ever. Hes so tough to learn and get comfortable around, and i see myself becoming like him as i get older...i have o break that ugly cycle...its emotional abuse.period.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm going through the same thing with my family at the moment. I honestly felt for you so much while reading this. By the way, I am an English major and an aspiring writer and motivational speaker. May God bless you and your beloved daughter. I hope all turns around for both of us. Continue to trust in God, and He will give you the supernatural strength! Honey, don't lose hope, okay? I'm with you! :)

Anonymous said...

It brings me comfort to read this because I know exactly what you went through when you were younger because I am going through it now. I love my father and I understand he wants the best for me, but he goes about it in all the wrong ways which can possibly apply to your father. Thanks for putting up this post and hope you have faced him by now!! Be strong, with all the crap my father has made my siblings, mother, and I go through, it has made me broken but stronger.

Katrina Looze said...

I have a dad that is like this although he isn't a controlling kind of person. He was more of a `I don't care` person.

Sheyenne Merritt said...

My name is Sheyenne Merritt. My birthfather is the same way, and I cried when I read what you said, because it is so true. I'm 21 with Asperger's disorder, and am so terrified of my father it literally makes me shake. Tomorrow I have no choice but to spend the day at a nursing home, holding the pain and hurt and fear in as I sit with the woman who adopted us--saved us from him, yet cannot tell her own son to leave my little brother and I alone. I am lost. He says he wants no part of us because I had no choice to call the police two-three months ago after he threatened to take a bucket of water and drown me if I didn't finish shoveling the driveway before he returned (and it was 6 in the morning and I'd been up for a half hour after maybe 2 hours of sleep.) Afterwards I slept from 1:30 that afternoon till 7 the next morning. You know what the worst part of it was? All I did was laugh because his 4X4 truck got stuck in the snow.

Sheyenne Merritt said...

I forgot to say, if you have any advice, contact me at sheyennemerritt@yahoo.com

Peter said...

I know it very well. Thank you very very much for your article (-:
It's useless to discuss with such people. In fact they terribly need their feel of domination. I took courage and told what I wanted without any discussions. My father told me not to go home again, but in fact I'm happier.

Anonymous said...

This is just painful for me to read. It reminds me so much of my own life. People not in our situations don't seem to understand. They don't know how impossible it is for us to get over this fear. It's like we're born with it--like it's a part of who we are. The only difference between us? I'm still stuck with my father. I have 3 more years before I can leave and try to pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together. I'm trying my best. I hope things work out for the both of us.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to do anymore. You don't know my age , but I can assure you it's too young for something like this to be happening to me . I have a phobia of my father. At night I cry myself to sleep praying of a better life. I always think about committing suicide, as if that were better. I quake in the presence of when he is here, and I do exactly what you do. He is smart, so I have to study with him, but I don't want to. I don't want to sit next to him and let him say bad things to me. I like it when he goes away on business trips because I am free. I have nightmares about him. I am crying right now, because I don't know what to do. Please, I just want freedom. Nobody understands.

Anonymous said...

I count the days when I leave my father .. If your upset, trying thinking of your future, how happy you will be. That's what I do , it seems to work some days

Anonymous said...

The right word is "Patriarchy"!!
I feel your pain, literally! I have been there and still am! I'm trying to get rid of my evil dad!
Your dad sounds exaclty the same as mine! Although, i have to say my dad used to beat me over many reason (all of them nonsense and absolutely stupid) until the age of 16th! I'm 27 and i'm still being yelled at and scolded by him! I can't make my own decision and he's put a sheer fear me that will always make me back out of things just because i fear if my dad finds out he'll yell at me again! I don't remember one day passing by and not hearing him yell at me or someone for the most stupid reasons! I have never felr freedom during my life not even one second ... The wors thing is that he's religious and i'm not and i can ot tell him that because he will beat me again ... He thinks he's always right, he thinks his religion is right!!
I'm going to start a website soon to share about what has happened to me and I can promise once you read it you'll know that you're not alone ...

Jo said...

Hi Miss Robin, I could really use help im expierncing this also and I have been diagnosed with depression and it has all rooted from my father controlling my every move and could really use some advice.