So. I obeyed Mr. Therapist. I found the existing photos of my dad and my sister. (My mom, it turns out, burned most that weren't in albums in the back of a closet, when she had her brain tumor 2014-16, b/c apparently they "scared her". OK.)
I e-mailed the pics of the pics, returned the pics themselves to frames and then back into the trunk at the back of a closet.
Hey, he wants pix of my dead abusers, there they are. And thanks for the memories on the sister one... (UGH)
But that's separate. I told him flat out my sis's pic was taken about 18 hours before she died and maybe 10 minutes after she told me I was only in her wedding to make even numbers. Yep. Five years older by calendar, and twenty yearrs wiser in how to say what hurt, b/c dumb me thought MAYBE... adult us would get better. (No. And she died. ARgh.)
So my dad's pic is the ONLY one we have of him in a suit. Shoulder-head shot. White beard, back hair, blah blah blah. Fifty years old. One year from losing a daughter (my sister) and a couple years after I gave up hoping he'd ... well, whatever we hope, right? ...
My therapist said, "He looks like a regular guy. He was what, five-eight or so?"
OK, I did not expect my dad's photo to show devil horns or something.
And then I became furious.
No, my dad was not a regular guy. NOBODY is a regular guy (in a healthy way) who locks his kid sister in a closet with a snake and gives her a lifelong phobia of the dark, closets, and snakes (and that's the sister he got along with, folks). NOBODY is a regular guy who tells his kids that straight As (or high marks as your nation prefers --- I can't recall how all Anglo nations do this) IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. A regular guy is proud of his kids for their achievements. A regular guy doesn't throw a wrench so hard that it chips his kid's leg bone (throw on purpose, that is). A regular guy ---- and I've met many since I left home long long ago --- does *not* take a 2-by-4 lumber length to a dog when it pisses him off. I was attacked by a pit bull and didn't even kick the dog, for pity's sake.
So... My therapist wants me to see how "regular guy" my dad was.
No, he wasn't a monster or the devil. He still wasn't "just a regular guy". A regular guy has issues, but he doesn't cause PAIN TO OTHERS to deal with it.
I already KNOW my dad was a charming bastard when he wanted to be. If you were his buddy, his pal, his drinking pal at the bar or his golf buddy or his work buddy, sure. An dthen, if you pissed him off? His yell could be heard, no joke, 1'/4 miles away. I was there once when it happened. It was a baritone roar and the rage in it was audible, too. How many guys do THAT at work to their subordinates? How many stick their own kid in danger b/c hey, toughen up time is here? OK, that last one may be common, but it's not okay anyway.
"Regular guy" is not "so scary that we'd hide" or "we were happeist when he wasn't home" or "verbally mean to physically cruel".
He also didn't keep regular employment (imagine why...) or treat my mom decent (the only box of candy he gave her was EMPTY!)... He taught us to bartend by age 10 for his poker games at our house. (I make a mean screwdriver, all.) He took toddler kids of his into bars and left them under the watchful eye of a bartender while he had a few beers and took a few hours to laugh it up with his buddies. (I have fond memories of one bartender. She gave me a coloring book and crayons when she was the one watching me, so I wouldn't be bored. She was nice. She gave me free fizzy pop drinks, too. I liked her.)
Yeah, responsible loving fathers always take toddler children into a bar, right? And even let them walk home alone!
(No, I have no idea why I am still alive, but apparently as a kid, rabbiting around the woods a lot was a great survival skill for more reasons than I realized...)
"REGULAR" guys do not teach a kid to drive by shoving her behind the wheel on a busy interstate, on a stick shift with a configuration she never saw before, and no it was NOT just like our honking huge AllisChalmers farm tractor circa 1950. Then he yelled at her for not knowing how to drive.
A regular guy might yell and cuss, but he doesn't strangle a kid and reward the other kid (my late sis) for smirking at my disgrace. No, I was no angel...
But don't tell me that his photograph looking "like a regular guy" takes all the devil outta his actions.
It. Does. Not.
I wish we still had the pic where my dad was laughing. It was at a mean thing, and his eyes were like glittery black blobs. Mom burned that one. My sis took that picture. I don't remember what was so funny that they were in on, b/c Mom and I weren't there. Probably I was at some learning camp and Mom was working. It's how that worked. Mom worked 350 days a year, kept us fed and housed, gave us hugs, had a bout of active alcoholism, didn't ditch my dad (Catholic thing), and made sure if I had a chance to do more learning outside school, she'd find a way to make it work. She did that for my sister, too, btw. Mom sacrificed tons to send us to Catholic schools (tuition, ouch) when we couldn't afford clothes from anywhere but Salvation Army, but by God and golly, we'd get a good education.
And my dad looks like a regular guy.
Not in person.
My one BFF's dad did 2 tours in Vietnam and my dad scared HIM just by existing.
A picture is NOT worth a thousand words sometimes...
OK, rant over, I just... WTF? Did my therapist think someone snapped a pic while Dad had a belt in his hand on a five-year-old's behind? Really? WTF?
Peace, love, hugs, and Thank You All for reading/listening.
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