*child abuse triggers.
11 years ago I drove my daughter to my dad’s house for his birthday. It was a day on the lake with my daughter in the boat with my father’s wife’s family. That day I walked up the hill to his house, then up the steps to his house, many times. Too many times. That was the day my legs gave out and my body succumbed to the muscle disease I was fighting so hard against.
I had not been to my father’s house many times. He rarely invited me there. He rarely saw me, twice a year typically. We were there for a few Christmases. This was the first time I had been invited in years. My legs were starting to bother me as the afternoon went on and I went into the house to prop them up. My daughter was coming up front the lake but I never heard her come in the house. I asked my father’s wife where she was shortly after and she said that my dad had taken her up to the secret room to show her. I asked where this secret room was and she said, up the stairs, in the room on the left, in the closet, through a hidden door. I freaking lost my mind! I ran up the stairs as fast as I could. Which I think was the straw that broke the camels back for my poor legs. I Ran to the closet, opened the door, saw the small little door in the back of the closet and flung it open and crawled through. There was my daughter and my dad sitting there laughing looking at pictures. Apparently he kept all of his “treasures” in there and he just wanted to show my daughter. I don’t like secret rooms. I don’t like secret anything. I especially did not like my daughter being taken to a secret room without my knowledge.
I recently asked her if she remembered that time. She said absolutely she did. She thought it was the coolest thing in the world. She remembers him showing her pictures and jewelry. She was only in there a few minutes she said before I barreled through. She seemed puzzled when I asked her, that I was so upset about this secret room.
I made it a few minutes in his secret room before I became extremely claustrophobic and needed to come out. I left the door open and sat outside the closet where I could see her. An uneasiness had settled upon me and I had no idea why. I don’t know why I panicked. I don’t know why I ran up the stairs. Something in me just knew he was doing something to my daughter. But he wasn’t. He didn’t. But I had never distrusted my father before.
We had cupcakes, sang my dad happy birthday, and then had to leave because my legs were feeling odd. I thought I would not be able to drive home if I waited any longer. Halfway home I could barely feel my legs. I could barely push the brake in the car. When we got home I stayed in the car for an hour. I made it inside and thought a hot bath would help. Once I lay in the tub I could not get out. A week later I was at the Mayo clinic seeing a neurologist who would diagnose me with a muscle disease.
I didn’t ever go back to my dad’s house after that. In the 11 years that followed he came to my home for my daughter’s birthdays and we saw him out for dinner a few times. He was not a present father. He was a, fit me in when he could, father. I have to say in the last 2 years since I last spoke to him I haven’t missed him very much. There wasn’t much to miss. I miss the idea of him but that is hugely different than missing him. He never listened to me. He never valued me or respected me as a person. He often made me feel like I did not matter the older I got. He gave no support after I was abused and was mostly indifferent. In my earlier childhood years, before the abuse, things were different. He was the father every girl dreams of, the dance on his shoes father, the ride on his shoulders father, the spin me around a million times father. That all ended and he became the obligatory father.
My entire childhood was a secret. No one was to talk about it. No one wanted to hear about it. Everyone just went on living like nothing ever happened to me. A friend of mine was even in a restaurant in my hometown, a number of years ago, and saw him with the man who molested me, shaking his hand. She immediately called me and I immediately called my father. I asked my father why he chose to shake a man’s hand that molested his daughter as that clearly sent a message to the molester that my own father did not believe me. My dad said he didn’t want to be rude. That sums up my father. That interaction with the childmolester sums him up perfectly. I have no idea who my father even is. Everything was happy go lucky, buddy buddy with everyone, even a child molester.
Maybe that is why I suddenly stopped trusting my father and doubted my daughter’s safety in the secret room. Anyone who knowingly shakes a childmolester’ hand, cannot be trusted. And what an absolute shame. I deserved so much more.
A few nights ago I looked up my father on facebook. I wanted to see what feelings it would evoke to see his face. I hoped that I would feel nothing, no sadness, etc. and I didn’t. I was not sad at all. But I did feel a pit in my stomach. The kind you get when you know someone has broken your heart too many times to count. I spent some time looking through his list of friends. Seeing he is friends with the people who persecuted me for speaking out about the abuse I endured as a child. I see he is friends with my old friends that are nolonger in my life. I saw his facebook posts on his wife’s kids’ pages of compliments and love. I saw other family members who nolonger speak to me after I decided 2 years ago to break the silence of abuse, buddies with my dad. I realized looking at this that the secrets and lies that started with my abuse as a child continue to this day. People chose sides. I saw those sides on facebook and am pretty convinced that Facebook is the straight up devil’s work. I will leave it at that. Nothing positive came from me looking up my dad. The only feelings evoked were ones of betrayal. Nothing healthy happened for me choosing to look him up. It was a bad choice. One I won’t make again.
Ending my relationship with my father was one of the best things I have done for myself. The aftermath of that choice was that over half of my family chose him and not me. Which was a repeated theme from my childhood. Most people in my life chose the man who abused me. They defended him. They stood by him. He was happy go lucky too, buddy buddy with everyone. And older rich white man who could not possibly be a child molester, but he was. He made me keep his secret for years. Secrets of child abuse. So I’m not a big fan of secret rooms or secrets in general. That is why I write my blog. To be real. To be raw. To be transparent.
I will finish this with a picture my daughter took of me right before I drove to meet my friend(since I have begun driving again in complete and total rebellion against this muscle disease). The child molester did not win. My father did not win. None of their secrets won. They are still living in their little facades with their little groupies. It is harder for me, living in the real world. But my life is not my secrets. And my life is definitely not their secrets.