A Letter To My Father
This is a major landmark in my life. The day that I have written the letter to my father about what happened. I guess I waited so long to do this, because I wanted to work thru the anger before I wrote the letter. I wanted it to be one explaining, calmly, everything that has gone wrong in my life, how what he did affected all that, and what I expect now. I think this does the job and I am proud of what I wrote. I would like to share this with my friends here at Daily strength, so here it is: Dad, I think it's best to start with a letter to you. I don't think I can bring up an initial conversation about the past without crying or completely breaking down and that wouldn't do either one of us any good. The counseling I'm going through is bringing up a lot of memories and feelings that I'm working through. I'm finding out so many things about myself, the reasons why I've made the choices that I have in my life, and how my childhood has affected the way I feel about myself. I don't know if you ever considered the long term damage your actions had on me. I guess I'll never understand how you could do what you did. How you could see me so sad, or crying, or even how scared I was while you sexually abused me, and still continue on. Over and over. When I was young, the only reason you ever gave me, for doing what you did, was that you were teaching me not to be afraid of a man's naked body. What you actually taught me was that my body was something to be ashamed of. Something to be used without my consent. Without considerations for my feelings, or my needs. I had a need to feel safe in my own home, and I never really had that security. I even learned not to trust my own judgment or trust me to protect myself because I couldn't when all this was going on. That's something very basic. To trust myself. This all affected the way I viewed all future men, and how I would choose the ones I dated. I never believed that any man had any other use for me but sex. I had a very warped view of sex, what was healthy or not, and what to expect of myself or the men in my life. Since I felt no self worth, why would I chose a man who would value and respect me, in or out of bed. I also remembered you as being extremely impatient with me when I was young, and I was scared of you a lot of times. I don't think you realize how often you went off on us as kids. I also remember a lot of little things that just kind of showed us, as kids, that what we wanted was not important if it conflicted with what you wanted. I'm only going to give you one example because the purpose of this letter is not to harp on every little thing, but just to give you an idea of how what you did affected how I thought about myself. The TV is one of the most frequent things I remember from childhood. If we were watching a program and you came home, it was ok for you to sit down in the living room and change the TV to your show. It didn't matter what we were watching, or how much time was left of our show. To this day, I hate MASH, Sanford & Son and all those old shows you liked to watch back then. They make me feel frustrated and angry, and I'll leave the room when someone turns those programs on. I was always mad at you for turning my show off, so I hated all your shows. I remember a lot of times, when I was an adult, you would come into the room and change shows on me. I guess it never occurred to you that, with these actions, you were still showing me that what I wanted didn't matter, even the little things. Right now, I'm learning about all the pitfalls that most sex abuse victims fall into, and what I need to do to get past them. I guess the biggest thing of all is that I don't have to do anything that I don't want to. Sounds simple, right? Most people know this, but I was still doing what I thought was expected of me whether I liked it or not. I'm still working on this. I imagine I'll make some mistakes along the way to finding a balance here that works for me. This is one of the reasons why I didn't come over very much for several months. Talking with my counselor one day, I couldn't say for sure if I maintained a relationship with you because I wanted to, or because I felt forced to. It was during this time that I was also feeling a great deal of anger toward you. So I decided to stop coming over, and figure out if I would want to have a relationship with you or if I thought I would need to cut our ties. I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted, and what I would feel comfortable with. I had several things that I worked through as far as my anger, and I'm going to include that here so you can understand what I was facing. I guess one of my biggest resentments was after everything was out in the open with the sexual abuse you and Jeffrey put me through. Neither one of you got in trouble. Neither one of you were required to pay any price. And both of you were allowed to stay in the family as if nothing happened. You never changed how you treated me. You still lost your temper with me often and made me feel like I was retarded and I was the problem. I actually believed that I was retarded for many years. This was the start of my rebellious stage. I was very angry that I was the one that had to be quiet to keep you out of trouble. Did you ever stop and really consider that time in my life? I was not given any help to cope with what had happened to me. I couldn't talk to anyone about what happened and have that person tell me that what happened wasn't my fault, that I wasn't worthless, that my feelings did matter. Once again, you came first. I needed a counselor to help me avoid all the things that I wound up doing.... choosing destructive men and unhealthy relationships that went nowhere because there was no substance to them. No consideration for me at all. Think about some of the guys I dated. Dennis, an immature boy who was out for the good times and would never stand by a girl in the bad times. Tim, a foul tempered guy who was so jealous and insecure with himself, that he was emotionally abusive to both Courtney and me. That one kid named John who's parents lived on our street. It turned out that he had sexually abused his own sisters. I stopped dating for four or five years after him because it terrified me to think Courtney could suffer through what I did. Then came Jeff, someone I suspect was sexually abusing his own daughter, Kim. There was something unnatural between the two of them. This guy was a gambling con artist who could lie about anything and make you believe him. I've told Mom, but I don't think I ever told you that I got some bad vibes about Jeff, early on, when we first started dating, but I pushed them aside. At that point in my life, I didn't even trust my own judgment because I had failed myself before. You know, from the time when I first stopped dating for the four or so years, I went through such serious depression. There would be nights that I would completely break down. I felt I didn't even deserve to live. I was better off dead than alive. I really felt overwhelmed with the feelings of worthlessness. I never thought anyone could really love me and treat me like I was someone special. I became extremely introverted over all these years that I didn’t date. I went to work, then came home to read my books and watch movies to escape the fact that I wasn’t really doing anything. So another 8 years of my life passed. Then came John Kendall, what a doozy. A man who started out acting like he wanted a relationship, then would ignore me for a week or so at a time. No calls or dates. Then he would call, and I would think, 'finally, he's coming back and he won't ignore me like that again'. I don't know if I can say any boyfriend ever made me feel as worthless as he did. I felt discarded and I didn't even know what I had done wrong. I always felt it was my fault, that I was doing something wrong. I would put myself down so much that I didn't need anyone else to do it. After John though, I refused to go back into my shell and forced myself to go out. I met Jesse and he really knew how to work me. Since I had such a recent bad relationship, he knew exactly what to say and do to worm his way into my life. I don't think I have to tell you how bad I was feeling about myself, to allow someone in my life that was so obviously not good for me. He was only out to use me and live off me. Fortunately, he didn't last long, and he was the last straw. I finally got the counseling I needed, with a woman who pointed out to me exactly what I was doing wrong. Why I was putting myself in these destructive relationships with all these worthless guys. I was choosing someone abusive on purpose. Partly because I didn't think I deserved anything better, and partly because I wanted to see if I could take someone abusive, and change them and make them love me. I never believed that you loved me. You know, one time, when Kate and I were discussing all this, I told her I even thought I might have been choosing unlovable types because I knew the relationships would have to end eventually, and I didn’t want to love a guy that I would eventually have to leave. Pretty weird way of choosing a guy, right? Anyway, I don't want you to think that I don't accept my share of the blame. I knew I was not well and needed counseling. I didn't pursue it as hard as I should have. I got a hold of two counselors who didn't help me at all. Instead of putting my foot down and changing counselors until I found one I could work with, I just gave up. I also knew that I was not choosing well, in the people I allowed into my life. Best friends too, because Gail and Kim turned out to be horrible friends who didn't care about me at all. I found out that Kim was talking bad about me behind my back. Even with James, as I recently found out. I was simply not making anyone prove that they were worthy of my love and friendship. Now, I want to do all the work I need to in order to heal. To become a stronger person. To have healthy relationships with James, my daughter, my parents, and the friends and co-workers I have. I just want to focus on the people in my daily life and become someone who finally takes responsibility for making her own life a good one. Finally trusting myself to do right by me. I hope that you can come to terms with what I've said here. I want you to know that I don't want to see you go to jail now. I'm not out for revenge, and I do want to have a relationship with you. I just want to know that we can work on having the kind of relationship we should have had from the start. One of mutual love, trust, and respect. I hope we can reach that together.