Today is Father’s Day. I hate the word, Father. I need to explain, and I apologize if my writing takes a turn towards the Dark Side as I explain why I hate the word Father so much. Here we go.
First of all, my Dad was an amazing person. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss the man. I will never be half the man my Dad was to me. I pale in comparison to him. He was strong, silent, funny, and had done so much in his life. He had lived through unimaginable horrors during the Second World War. I loved him and respected him as my Dad.
Secondly, I feel a day like this should be something more like “Positive Mentors Day”. Not everyone I know has a fond memory of their Dad. And for me, the word “Father” makes me shudder. Now I will explain. And yes, it goes back to my time at the Catholic School. Strap in, it’s going to get offensive pretty quick.
I make it no secret that I was abused and raped as a child at the hands of the Priests and the other officials at the school I attended in Hopeless. As a result of the abuse I have ongoing issues with accepting compliments, being hugged, or even going to the dentist. The ordeal of having to lay down with my mouth open frightens me, and if I brush my teeth for too long my gag reflex kicks in as part of my emotional recall to what happened to me behind closed doors and in the rectory of the Church. Month after month I receive calls and texts from the dentist office asking me to come back, but I have to build up the courage to do it on my own accord. It’s part of me needing to be in control.
During the sessions where I was raped, face-fucked, beaten, humiliated, shamed, I was forced to keep my silence and, to add more humiliation and shame upon me, I was forced to say, “Thank you father” when my abuser finished. Sometimes I was made to clean up the mess they made before I left, other times I was shouted at to get out after they had been satisfied.
Thank you Father.
Even in my servitude I was forced to thank my abusers for what they were doing to me. I have the same reaction to movies where they show a hazing ritual and after each strike of a paddle the initiate cries out “Thank you sir may I have another?” It’s funny how powerful emotion recall can be. Recently I went to see the new Aladdin film starring Will Smith. In the musical number One Jump there is a shot of Aladdin evading his pursuers by charging through a room full of young women. They rise up, happy to see him, but are interrupted by an older woman brandishing her bamboo rod. She chases after Aladdin, attempting to hit him with her weapon as the song plays on and as the audience has a fun time watching. I loved watching the movie, and though I was smiling through the scene, that moment brought tears instantly flowing down my cheeks. I was enjoying the movie, and that one three second moment immediately brought me back to being whipped at the Catholic school. I continued to sit through the film, the tears being only momentary, but it really made me realize how much survivors carry the shame and the humiliation of abuse with them every minute of every day. It may not be consciously there, but it rests just below the surface, with any sound, visual, or smell instantly able to trigger the release of emotion.
I have observed a pattern of behavior within myself that presents ongoing awkwardness with others. I yearn to be hugged, but the wall of protection prevents me from openly accepting hugs from others. We live in a culture where people hug each other as a greeting, or as a farewell amongst friends. I can hug, and have engaged in hugs. Sometimes I am reluctant to hug, or not wanting to initiate a hug with someone. I know this can be sensed by others. The knee-jerk reaction is the person whose hug I avoided thinks I don’t like them. The reality is, I am scared to hug. I had to do it in my time working for the mouse, but it’s different in costume. I can do anything behind the mask. It’s those social situations that involve the slightest trust and intimacy that I become weird. I stand there, watching my peers hug. When the time comes for me to initiate the hug I still just stand there. There is an awkward moment where the person I am looking at waits for me to step in for a hug, but I stand there. The hug moment becomes the awkward handshake moment. I pull away from letting people around me get to know me any more than I am willing to let them. It is a choice I know, and I am tired of people telling me it is a “choice”. I know it is. I try to break through. I will, at times, initiate a funny hug to take the pressure off of being seen for what I am – a coward. Afraid to fully step out into the light for fear that people will see me as a dirty boy, undeserving of being loved and forced to thank people when they hurt me. I know that is not the case, and that I have much to offer. I thrive when I feel needed. That’s why I have to keep busy.
As a survivor my empathy level is high. I need to occupy myself with simple mundane tasks in order to keep the emotions from flooding in. Not just mine, but emotions from those around me. I have a weird ability to look into people when I look into their eyes. I can sense other’s pain, at times I can see the same suffering that at times continues to engulf me. Please know, I am fine, and during the times I am quiet or feeling something powerful within, all I need from others during those times is to just let me be. Just “be with”. I do not need cheering up. I just need to continue to process and untangle the bad thoughts from the positive.
My Mom continues to blame herself for what happened to me. I wish she could understand that nothing that happened to me was her fault. My MOM is another empath. She sees all. She knows when I am hurting. She feels powerless when I don’t let her in. She suffers by proxy for what happened to me as a child. I wish I could let her know how much I love her, and how much she means to me. Both her and my Dad. My Mom and My Dad. They love/d me. I love them both beyond expression. The same is felt for my family. I am thankful for all I have achieved, and all that I will achieve. But I will not thank my Father for what I have been able to do and what I have. For that, I thank my Mom and my Dad. For that I thank my wife and my children.
Thank you Dad. Happy Dad’s Day. Happy Posititve Mentor Day.
May we all continue to live as one with the Force.