sometime last year i watched a video entitled “stop checking up on people who hurt you” – and that’s all the description you need. it hit home for me, because i’ve ended a lot of relationships with people who have caused me harm. friends, mostly, but the main relationship was the one i had with my father.
my dad abused me. point blank, period. i have memories of him chasing me outside of the house when i, five years old and fucking terrified, had my fight or flight response kick in to avoid another one of his rages. he caught me and beat me in the backyard. there’s another one of him coming home late from work, and i was excited to see him (also five years old here) and probably got on his nerves. instead of telling me to calm down, he hit me so hard across the face it knocked the wind out of me and i vividly remember standing there in the living room gasping because i was so shocked that i’d forgotten how to breathe.
my dad has a hard time remembering instances like these.
when i was fifteen, i was taking a bath and my mom came into the bathroom to tell me that she’d just asked for a divorce. i was elated. i had been craving this moment for as long as i could remember, and here it was, happening. my dad moved out of the house and into a shed in the back of his dental office. he offered my mom a 600k divorce settlement and told her that if she contested it she’d get nothing. you can imagine what happened next.
she sought legal advice and two years later our house sold, the settlement was finalized, and we moved to america with about 75 thousand dollars to our name. dad kept his business, his home, his lifestyle, and we started over from scratch.
i had a lot of pain over this when i was fifteen. a lot of questions like: why did my dad not even try to get custody of me? not that i wanted to spend another moment with him, but it’s bound to sting a little when your own father seems content to never see you again. why was he so happy to see me with no money put back for college? why did he enjoy the idea of me being broke and having nothing? i know he resented my mother, but i was a child. i was fifteen. i couldn’t have intentionally hurt him if i tried; i was barely capable of anything at that age.
our relationship was nonexistent for several years, until i decided one day to add him on facebook. i think i was eighteen. we messaged each other briefly, and usually talked about music, the one thing we had in common. i began to notice, however, how often he would write public entries about how badly he had been treated and how he claimed to have gone through terrible emotional pain at the hands of his family. it made me terribly upset, and i remember my half-sisters urging me to keep talking to him lest i regret missing my chance later. part of me felt guilty for wanting to cut him off, the other part felt valid in my anger and realization that he hadn’t changed, and that he was never going to.
some backstory here. my mom and dad met in california in the early 90s and i was born before they were married. at the time, he had two middle school aged daughters from a previous marriage. he abused them as he did me. i don’t know much else about this time; all i know is that in their 20s, my sisters chose to rebuild their relationship with him.
i felt betrayed when i saw them forming a new relationship. to be honest, i still do. he doesn’t deserve forgiveness. all the times he hit us? called us fat, ugly, stupid and worthless? all the times he spewed vitriol about our mothers, and abandoned us as children for one reason or another…. why should i be treated as wrong for not wanting to deal with the source of my pain, my trauma? why am i being guilted for wanting to live without such a negative presence in my life?
it’s tricky to put into words, but i’ll try. from the ages of around seven to ten, my sisters didn’t know their dad. i spent the entirety of my formative years with him. it’s not a race or a competition, but i think i had more experience with his behavior and therefore am a better judge of his character. they don’t know what he was like in the years i was raised as an only child. when they were growing up, they yearned for the dad they didn’t get to know. i yearned for an escape.
so it hurts like a bitch when i see him publicly lauding how he’s reformed a relationship with his two eldest daughters. the message between the lines is that i’ve been corrupted and fed lies by my mom to the point where he’s become a victim and lost his precious youngest daughter because of it all. he’s a self-proclaimed martyr for losing his kids and then winning them back again. but me? i’m the one who he’s patiently waiting for to come around.
i don’t have that mental block my sisters had. i have years of chronological, daily mental and physical abuse at the hands of my father. i have a shrink and a list of mental disorders, and my sisters have a dad who attends their weddings and invites them to australia for road trips.
it makes me livid. i pretend that it doesn’t, but it absolutely does. and the subtle judgment i get from them, when they even bother to act like i exist, is like salt in the wound. you two weren’t there, i want to scream. you have the luxury of deciding whether or not he’s worthy of redemption. i understand that they were victims too, and that it’s their choice… but my entire life i have been excluded and hated for… fuck, i don’t even know. for being my mother’s daughter? for being a mistake?
ultimately, i think i’m so angry for two reasons. one, because his attitude online reeks of favoring my two sisters. they’re all he ever talks about. i can’t tell if it’s because his experience with them as kids was the traumatic moment for him that “ruined” his life, and now that he has them back it’s like his life has purpose again. or maybe it’s just him being thrilled about fucking up and ultimately not having to pay the price.
in which case, fuck that! if losing me was the third tooth pulled; been there twice so this one’s inconsequential, then fuck him. i have gone through years of pain while he still thinks of me as nothing more than his fat daughter whose mother ruined his life. i will be battling these scars for the rest of my life, and he gets to live out his last fifteen-odd years joyful that he has the only kids he ever cared about back.
the second reason is because i still hurt from this, whenever i allow myself to think about it as i am doing today. i am furious at myself for caring, after endless therapy sessions and attempts to continue with my life. i am safer and happier than i’ve ever been in my life, but it still stings. i still am writing this entry with my jaw clenched, livid as i’ve ever been.
i eventually did stop talking to him. that was a couple of years ago now, and i have no real regrets. only one: that i ever looked him up after that. that i ever felt some semblance of concern for him, enough to put myself through the pain of seeing how much resentment he still has for my mother and i and how well he’s doing compared to my own life.
today i thought it’d be a good idea to read his quora page. for those who don’t know, this is kind of like a yahoo answers website for really pretentious people. my dad is an avid user and posts there on a daily basis; mainly in response to questions about dentistry and immigration politics, but every now and then a question about divorce or kids will show up.
i see that he’s answered one of these questions and my throat will sting. my heart will race. despite all of my better judgment, i’ll expand the answer and read it. and afterwards, my skin will feel cold and my chest will be tight.
there’s no use reciting the things he says. i don’t want to read this entry again later and be reminded of the specific details. the details don’t matter anyway. what matters is how little he’s changed, how much of victim he believes himself to be and how little he thinks he did wrong.
he hit me. he verbally abused me. he made me choose between my parents when i was barely old enough to say my own name. he made me feel guilty for loving my mother. he made me cry almost every day of my life. when the divorce became unavoidable, he looked me straight in the eyes and told me it was my fault.
he terrified me so much that i still tense up in fear whenever i hear the sound of a car like his out on the street, even though we live in separate fucking countries. i cannot talk to dominant people because i’m afraid i will be beaten if i anger them. i have clinical complex ptsd because of what he did to me and sometimes struggle to even leave the house.
and he’s never going to get it. he’s never going to own up to what he did. it’s always going to be, in his eyes, my fault. so why do i still look for him? why do i still expose myself to the horrible lies he tells the world?
stop checking up on people who hurt you. just don’t fucking do it. it’s never worth it, all it does is make you ruin your day reflecting on the things you went through, and how vulnerable you still are, deep down.