Friday, February 10, 2017

Dear Daddy: You Should Have Behaved Better

I don't do an awful lot of public talking about my dad, but recent events have cause me to cut ties with him, possibly for good. I need to do some serious healing.

This is a letter I will never send and it's unlikely he'll ever see, I know sometimes when we share our struggles it helps others, this is my hope and intention with this post.

On the off chance someone from the family or he sees this I can sum up with a quote:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Anne Lamott

Trigger warning: Mention of teasing, emotional abuse, drug and alcohol abuse of a family member
You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them,
 they should have behaved better.


When I was leaving in the wee morning hours on Feb 5th after only being at your house for less than 12 hours and after driving 6 hours with 1 toddler, 1 preschooler and one teenager you cried over and over again "What did I do?"

Daddy, I think you know exactly what you did. I think the tears, the questions and playing the victim was your way of controlling everything when you figured out you could no longer control my sister and me. I don't think that question was sincere at all. I think it was merely another one of your abusive tactics,

But, since you did ask and wouldn't allow me to tell you exactly what you did wrong while we were there because you kept interrupting me, purposely trying to make me slip up my words and make me emotional... I'll bite.

For starters, you made no effort to be clean and sober when you knew we were coming to visit grandmother with 2 small children and my teenage daughter. I wasn't out of the car 2 minutes and I KNEW you had been using something. I also knew you were using by the amount of excuses mom made for your poor behavior. You haven't seen me since June of last year, it's been much longer for my sister, you couldn't even muster up even a little bit of excitement about our trip with the 2 grand children you BARELY know, instead YOU had to go get blitzed out of your mind.

You teased an 18 month old baby by mocking his cries. Mom tried to say you didn't mean anything by it, that doesn't matter Daddy, those are the exact behaviors that have me and my sister nervous wrecks as adults. I shouldn't have to tell you that that type of behavior is wrong. He's an 18 month old baby, who was in a strange place, with strange people and had just traveled for 6 hours, his behavior was absolutely appropriate for the situation. But yours? No.

Not to mention the nodding out, classic sign of too many narcotics. 

Now, let's talk about the scary behavior that happened when everyone tried to go to sleep. Mom said you had been having some type of night terror/sleepwalking behavior sporadically, but I'm not even sure that is what I witnessed that night. All I do know is I had a flashback to when I lived with you guys as a teenager and you would pass out/ black out from drinking.

After about 30 minutes of sleep I was awakened at 12:45 am by you making all kinds of grunts, groans and your signature "WoooooW" that I have heard too many times when you were completely fucked up. I raised my head to see you were hovering at the end of the bed my daughter was sleeping on. With your history of violence when you are in these states, do you know how scared I was? Probably not and you probably don't care. I'm just overreacting right?

When she got up and moved closer to me, you stumbled towards us. I was prepared to take you out with the first thing I could grab, because at that point you had us cornered, I clapped my hands real loud and you "came to", stumbled to the bathroom and stayed in there a long time... apparently you've been "falling asleep" a lot in there too. That's called nodding out, not sleeping, by the way. Again, I'm no fool. I finally got you out of the bathroom and you stumbled to the kitchen and just stood there making all your noises again.

At this point it's about 1:30 am, I wake up my sister, because she was the only other adult in the house that would not normalize your behavior. We thought we had gotten you to sleep about 2:15, but you popped back up about 15 minutes later  and when you did you were obnoxious. This is the time when my 3 yr old niece woke up because of all the ruckus. She came over to me and sat in my lap, and then you put your face right  up to hers. She turned towards me, grabbed a hold tightly and I pulled her close BECAUSE SHE WAS SCARED! You then had the gall to ask me "Why do you have to coddle her?" I know you are not that obtuse, that question was intended to start a fight.

I tried to answer " You got into her face and...".You interrupted "Whoa whoa whoa I did what now?" and every time after that that I opened my mouth you stopped me before I could get 4 words out. Eventually you said you didn't do what I said you did.

 My voice was cracking because my anxiety level was rising and you took advantage of the little crack in my voice. You got your reaction, you gained control... or so you thought, See, I know what you were doing. You've done it to me so many times. Your dad use to do it to me and I watched him do it to others. You wanted to see me get frustrated and upset. You enjoy picking people's words a part and gaslighting them. This isn't a tactic that is unique to you or your dad, it's something many abusive people do to break others down. It doesn't make you sound smart or make you superior like you think it does, it makes you a bully.

What you didn't count on was my sister and me taking control of the situation by removing ourselves and our kids at 3:30 in the morning, This is when you started to cry. You said over and over you had no idea what you did. Please. That may work on those that you have beaten down, broken and made codependent, but it does not work on me.

After we left your mother, my grandmother, was convinced it was all my fault. Congratulations, you managed to take the one person in our family that I thought was my safe person and manipulate the way they see me too. Apparently leaving at 3:30 am with 2 babies and a teenager after traveling for 6 hrs and getting no sleep is seen as me having a chip on my shoulder and being erratic, not a sign that something might have gone seriously wrong. Because I totally drove all that way to start a fight with you. How much sense does that make? I'm not erratic, I'm responsible,  I removed myself from a situation that was not safe for me or for the family I brought with me. I knew it would not get better, I knew I was not going to get any sleep. I knew my daughter shouldn't have to see all that mess or help me babysit a 60 something year old man while walking on egg shells with no sleep. We didn't travel all that way to be treated like shit.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I am not a liar, as much as you would love to make me out to be. Apparently, you were "blacked out" (your mom's excuse for you).  Just because you can’t remember the things that you did doesn’t mean you did not do them, it merely means you were in a blacked out (or similar) state. It does not erase or excuse anything you’ve done. These types of blackouts don’t happen when you take muscle relaxers as prescribed (which was another justification made), they happen when you over take narcotics and/or drink too much. This means you made bad choices that led up to your behavior towards us that evening/night. You are accountable. You have never really and truly been held accountable for your actions towards me and/or others in our family. But, I am absolutely holding you accountable now. I've had all I am going to take.

I’ve held off telling you exactly how you’ve made me feel and the things you’ve done because I was more concerned about your feelings than my own. This is the way I was conditioned. I was always told to not tell you when you hurt me or when you did do something I was told that was just the way you are. I have been told your feelings matter more than mine for over 35 years. If things would have improved and you had actually changed, I would have probably continued to hold off. But, things haven’t changed. They never will. I don't expect them to.

There have been a few times you have apologized, but a true apology, Daddy, is not just words it is also an action. You're not truly sorry if you keep repeating the same thing over and over. You're just buying more time to be abusive to people. I guess this is where that chip on my shoulder comes from (that is sarcasm).

Before we left I told you that I did love you but needed to love you from a distance... And you popped off with "No you don't! Love isn't a feeling, it's an action" .

Okay... So I guess if that is true, then I should be the one screaming you don't love me. Let me make you a list of just some of your actions...

As a child you instilled fear in me, made me anxious and laughed at it.

When I was sick you'd make fun of my stuffy nose sounds and make up songs about me that upset me. I'd ask you to stop, but you wouldn't.

You didn't treat me with any respect as a child. I was automatically devious and wrong just because I existed. I still have to remind you I am a grown woman to humanize myself to you.

You'd ask me questions only to pick my words apart, twist them around and make me upset. To this day I can't answer a question without having a defensive response.

You controlled my body...told me what I could do with it because in your fucked up mind I would turn into some Jezebel if I wore mascara, had pierced ears or shaved my legs. Having girls scared the shit out of you didn't it?

You told me when I was 15 you could have a doctor tell you if I had sex, instead of talking to me about sex and giving me the information I would need to make an informed decision. That's okay, just FYI I was almost 17 before I made any decisions about sex and not because of you.

You also screamed at me you wouldn't raise my kids. This was when I was 15 and simply because I had a boyfriend. You didn't have to Daddy, because I am responsible. I have raised my own children, the children I didn't start having until I had been out of your house for almost 2 yrs. My kids have never had to move away from me and be cared for by someone else because me or my husband couldn't get our shit together, you're thinking of yourself.

When I was 15 you tried to kill my mom and I called the police because no one else wanted to intervene. (and they took you to jail and I'm glad they did!)

Not to mention all the other times I had to call for help because you were completely out of control and IRRESPONSIBLE. I should have NEVER EVER had that responsibility. This was something that went on for YEARS, either it was you or it was mom, neither of you could get your shit together. I was still taking care of things you guys should have been responsible for long after I had had my own 3 children. (and you were afraid I would be irresponsible, that shit is hilarious)

You used to sing the chorus of that Spin Doctors' song to me "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong". Did you even realize the song was about someone that people didn't want around? Maybe you did, maybe you didn't... doesn't matter, I knew what the song was about. It was not funny.

After I had kids you did all you could to keep me away.

When I was at some very vulnerable moments in my life, you turned your back on me when you should have supported me. It's because you're selfish, Daddy.

So, I ask you... honestly, since (in your words) love is an action... Did you ever love me? I mean you're an asshole to me, you don't want me around, you or mom never call me (I have to initiate the calls), you tell lies on me, make me the scapegoat, act as if I owe you something, don't respect me, etc...

It's not like I have just a few bad memories, it's a lifelong pattern of abuse from you.

Your favorite line when you'd tease me and I'd get upset was "You choose how you react"...

So, that's what I did in those wee morning hours that Sunday.
I chose to leave.
I chose not to participate in your games.
I chose to protect my kid.
I chose to protect my sister.
I chose to protect my niece and nephew.
I chose to protect myself.

Do you have some redeeming qualities? Sure you do, just like everyone else on the planet. But, that doesn't change anything. I think you are unhappy with yourself and you want to make everyone around you miserable too. That's really sad. But, as sad as it is, the reasons behind all you've done that has hurt me and others falls under the category of : Not my fucking problem. You're still accountable.

I won't allow you to continue to try to pull me under with you.