Daddy Issues Revisited (hopefully, for the last time)

Hey there folks. So. This is gonna be a rough one.

It happened three, maybe even four years ago; was about eleven or twelve, I think. I was at my dad’s place. I’m pretty sure that it was winter, because I remember being under a lot of blankets. It must’ve been about four in the morning. My dad was feeling around in the blankets and, I think, feeling around on me. He told me that he was just looking for his phone and to go back to sleep, so I did. I think it happened once or twice more. I didn’t think about it for a long time.

As some of you may know, I went through a serious rough patch with my dad recently. I cut all ties and didn’t talk to him for over a month. I can’t remember if I mentioned it on here or not, but around August the two of us talked some stuff through and things were okay for a few weeks. I didn’t start staying over again, at least not right away, but I came over once or twice a week with my brother. The three of us had game night and went out for ice cream and watched movies. Things were by no means perfect, but everything felt okay.

Then, a couple weeks ago (school started for me on the first Thursday in September, and I’m pretty sure that it was the Saturday of that week)  I stayed over at my dad’s for the first time in months. Things were alright. He cleaned up his apartment for me and we watched movies. I was starting to really feel okay, like maybe things could go back to some semblance of normal.

That night, when I was laying awake unable to sleep, the memories started flooding back. Stuff that I’d repressed for three or four years. The memories were murky—still are, and may always be, but I want to believe that I remember him touching me.

I was torn between knowing in my heart that he never would and knowing in my gut that he did. My memories of the event, if there even was one, are so hazy. But at the same time, something must have happened. The human brain doesn’t just formulate memories like that.

I was an anxious wreck for the next few days (a.k.a. the first few days of school, when I definitely didn’t need any extra stress) and could barely handle myself. I snapped rubber bands against my wrists and tugged at my hair endlessly. I couldn’t get my legs to stop tapping. I didn’t want to eat, I barely slept. I was a disaster.

The only person I told was my cousin Cassie. She offered to go to the school counselor with me as moral support. Even as I told her, I kept denying what I was saying: “There’s no way he could’ve done it. He wouldn’t do it. Even if he did, there’s no way to prove it. I don’t even know what I remember.” She told me to take my time, but that I did need to do something about it. We had a tentatively scheduled session with the counselor on that Tuesday, and when I bailed out Cassie wasn’t upset with me. But I was upset with myself.

I felt like I just couldn’t go to the counselor. They’re mandated reporters, and if they suspect abuse they have to call Child Services. They’d probably arrest my dad and investigate my whole family. I didn’t want to accidentally change my entire life. And on top of it all, I wasn’t even entirely sure that my memories could be trusted. It’s a pretty outrageous accusation to make, and if nothing happened then I could, potentially, be ruining my dad’s life.

The anxiety became too much, and on Wednesday night I finally sat down and told my mother. I cried, and I couldn’t help but keep repeating that I just didn’t know if it even happened. She was shocked, and angry, and was speechless for a long time. She said we were going to see about talking to some sort of a professional, and figure out some way to sort the whole thing out. We didn’t really look at each other. Neither of us knew what to say. I went upstairs and watched Netflix by myself.

Several days later, my mom told me that she and my stepdad had reached a decison. They were going to call Child Services, but ended up deciding against it. My brother loves my dad more than anyone in the entire world, and anything preventing them from seeing each other would absolutely tear my brother apart. On Saturday (so, a week after the beginning of the whole thing) my mom took my brother and me to see a movie while my stepdad went to talk to my dad.

When we got back from the movie, my dad was gone and my stepdad was alone in the house. I didn’t want to ask what had happened. I went up to my room. I don’t even remember what I did, but I was alone for a few hours. Later that night, I finally asked my stepdad what exactly happened between the two of them.

My dad got indignant, got angry. I’m not sure whom he was angry with and I didn’t want to ask. He denied everything. My stepdad said that even though he didn’t admit to a thing, he now knows the reason that I’m not coming over anymore. We just explained it away as tiredness before. But now he knows.

Everything is different now, but it’s on such a subtle level that I’m really the only person who notices. Of course, I’m not going to my dad’s anymore, but my brother still is, and it’s not like I went over there that often anyways. The world continues to turn and the lives of everyone else continue to go on. I haven’t told anyone else besides Cassie and one other friend, and I don’t plan on it. I don’t need people looking at me differently, because I’m not different.

But at the same time, I am different. It’s been almost two weeks and I still haven’t taken down the pictures of him in my room or the birthday cards from half a decade ago that I’ve got taped to the walls. My dad and I had this list of movies we were going to rent and watch, and I keep thinking of how he’s probably not going to watch them on his own even though he was really excited. He was planning on taking me and Cassie to see the Phantom of the Opera when the tour comes to my city. He was the person who introduced Phantom (Cassie’s and my favorite movie of all time) to me in the first place, now that I think of it. I know that the father’s day cards I’ve given him and my grade school pictures are still up at his house. Every time I listen to The Wall I think of how he was planning on taking me to the concert if Roger Waters ever decided to come back. He’d been so excited for me to start taking Music Theory this year so I could finally explain all of it to him.

He wanted to send me a birthday card, but said he wouldn’t without my mom’s permission. And, of course, she wouldn’t give him permission without my permission. I still haven’t made a decision. There was too much ambiguity, too many questions: Would it be a card with strings attached? Would he try to defend himself? (and there’s always the question in the back of my mind that he may not actually have anything to defend himself for)

I feel so guilty. He loved (loves) me so much. And I’ve gone and ruined everything.

In some way I know I did the right thing. I couldn’t possibly have gone on seeing him for another second without ripping off my own skin. But he refuses to admit that anything happened. I might’ve upended our lives for nothing at all.

I remember that, when I admitted to my mom how guilty I felt, she said something to the effect of “Even if he didn’t do anything to you, and I think that he did, he’s done so many awful things to so many people that his karma has built up. He had this coming.”

I have no idea what to make of what she said. It’s too much pressure, and the more I think about it the less it makes any actual sense. If he didn’t do something to me, then why should I be punishing him? Is me not seeing him even really some sort of punishment, some cosmic justice enacted on him for all he’s done? It’s not like I’m the deciding force of karma or something.

It would be one thing if he’d actually admit to doing anything to me. But he hasn’t, and he won’t, and I’ll probably go on feeling guilty until the end of time.

In a way, I’m glad to actually be free of him. I’m so sick of all this stupid bullshit and manipulation and lying. I’m sick of him having such a lack of understanding when it comes to me, no matter how hard I try. I’m so sick of hearing him say cruel things to me that he obviously would’ve rather been saying to my mother. So maybe, in a way, this was for the better.

But even more than all of that, I’m fucking sick of feeling guilty, and sometimes I just wish things could go back to how they were.

Hopefully, this is the last post I write about my dad. Obviously, it’s not going to be the last time I think about him, but I’m hoping that I’ll eventually reach some level of acceptance, or at least become distanced enough that I’m numb to the situation.

I did the right thing. I just have to keep telling myself that I did the right thing.

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6 comments

  1. You and your mom and stepdad made the right decision.

    If your feelings are true (to me, the most likely explanation) you need to be protected from him. If they are false he needs to be protected from you.

    The one remaining problem…your brother. The assumption is that if your father is guilty he will not be targeting him for sexual abuse on account of him being the wrong gender. But at the very least your brother Ned’s to be aware of the risk and forewarned. But how to do that without risking destroying your relationship with your brother.

    This is a lot to be going through as school starts. Please take care.

    1. Oh, hey you. Long time no see. I seem to remember you being part of the wave of people who came here during the fundamentalist extravaganza (the one who called me out on being a classist bitchface if I recall correctly). Cool to see that you’ve been hanging around.

      I don’t really know how to respond to the part about my dad needing to be protected from me. Thanks for wishing me well, I suppose. You take care too.

  2. So brave of you to trust yourself and your experience/perceptions. And then to tell someone what happened, tell us, more courageous acts. It’s a very complicated situation to be in, Sophia. It sounds like you have a solid support group with your mom and stepdad. Sending you a big virtual hug.

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