Depression, Mental Health

Before I Go To Bed…

I feel that I must say something about today’s post.  It is important to me for you to understand the following:

  • Did my dad do terrible, cruel things to me as a child and as a teen-ager?  Yes, he did.
  • Did I hate my dad?  Yes, for many, many years I felt great amounts of hatred.  When those feelings began after the kitten incident, I don’t think that I was mature enough to feel, or to know that I had an option to feel, anything except hated.
  • Do I now understand why he did what he did?  I’m not sure.  I have finally come to understand that he was a sick, sick man.  I know he grew up during hard times and that he evidently never learned how to love. I know he suffered from alcoholism and I am sure that had a lot to do with what he did.  However, I don’t understand how or why, if I choose to blame his actions on the alcohol, he chose Mom and me as his punching bags.  Not that I ever wanted him to do anything to anyone else, but there were four of us girls in the family and it was ME that he chose to physically and emotionally abuse.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand why I was the chosen one.
  • Was everything about him mean and cruel?  No.  He was a hard worker and I guess he had always been.  I know that he worked his way through college, graduating from Syracuse University.  He had a successful business composed of three auto parts stores.  He was well liked and respected within the business community in the small town in which we lived.  He provided for his family.  In a time and place where working was what a husband did, he did just that.  His work seemed to be everything to him.  I guess even my dad had the “mask” thing down pat.
  • Was I ever open with him about how I felt?  Yes, especially during the years in which I thought my only feelings toward him were hatred.  In his later years, I was not nearly as open.  I tried throughout the years to show him that I loved him, but there was always a wall — a huge, huge wall — between us and as an adult I never sat down to really talk to him about the past.  I tried a couple of times and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about — that he’d always supported us and did what had to be done — so I’m not sure that he ever believed me when I said I loved him.  And I really don’t think that I believed those feelings either.  I spent my life trying to prove to my dad that I was good, that I was worth his love, and that I deserved better than what he had given to me.  In the end, I really just tried to keep the peace with him.
  • Was my objective to bash him in my post?  No.  Absolutely not.  I am trying to be honest about my life and how my childhood affected me.  I cannot tell my story without being honest about my experiences.  In reality, I am extremely embarrassed for anyone to know any of the cruel things that Dad did to me, but my childhood experiences have always been the driving factor in my depression and I have kept these experiences bottled up for over 60 years. They have eaten away at my life, my thoughts, and my personality.  My objective is to rid myself of the guilt and shame of those experiences and to become whole.
  • Do I still hate my dad?  No.  I don’t think that I do.  So, if I don’t hate him, does that mean that I love him?  No, I don’t think that I do.   I have tried for years to somehow feel love for him but the love never sticks.  I try to close my eyes and see him as “Daddy” but each time I do that, I am overwhelmed with the cruel actions and words that he so freely heaped upon me throughout my life.  I always wanted to love him but don’t think that he was interested in any way in having my love.  I will have to settle for acceptance that he was the man who raised me.  That’s about the best I can do.
  • Do I blame everything on my dad?  Good Lord, no.  As I stated in today’s post, I became very defiant.  During my teen years, when the abuse and beatings became just about an everyday thing, I was bound and determined to not let him rule me.  When he said “You can’t,” my usual response was, “Watch me.”  When he said “No,” I was determined to do whatever he was against.  When he hurt me, I made sure I did something in return to hurt him right back.  There were times when I did a good job of paying him back.  In the end, I embarrassed him greatly and I am sure that hurt him.  He finally felt some of the hurt he had given me.  The sad thing is that in that final action, he wasn’t the only one hurt.
  • Have I forgiven my father?  Phew, that’s a hard one.  I want to forgive him. I pray each day to be able to forgive him.  I know God says that I should. Sometimes I think I have but then I’ll have another nightmare and it all comes rushing back and I know that the forgiveness didn’t work. I do know I am not, and never have been, responsible for his actions, but part of my mental illness is that part of me still believes it was my fault.  Until I can forgive myself for everything that I blame myself for, I don’t think I will ever be able to honestly forgive him.  But, I will continue to try.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: I read many messages today about what a sorry father I had and what a sick man he was.  That had not been my intention when posting about the kitten.  I don’t need anyone else to hate my dad.  To many people, he was a good man.  My intention was not to diminish those feelings for others.  I was just trying to tell about where my depression began.  I feel badly that some people have joined me in my hatred.

TODAY’S FEELING BAROMETER: I feel guilty for telling about the kitten incident.

~~~ Betty