Father’s Day doesn’t usually trigger me as much as Mother’s Day does, but it does a little. Not so much because he was abusive like she was – it was because he didn’t stand up for me.
Six years ago, when I confessed to everyone the details of my mother’s abuse, my father called me and asked if he could come talk to me. I agreed. I thought that when he came that he was going to be my advocate. I thought he understood when I shared with him little bits and pieces over the years as to why I cut my mother (his ex-wife) out of my life ten years prior. I was wrong. I don’t think he understood anything and he certainly didn’t come with the intention of being my advocate. It didn’t surprise me either – he had never been a protector. I remember when in relationship with a guy for over three years in my early twenties (before I was a Christian) and when my mother informed him of our breakup the first thing he asked was, “Did he hit her?” … What father would watch his daughter be in relationship with a guy that he saw as a potential danger?? What loving father would do that?! That incident and this one proved that he didn’t love me. He didn’t love me enough to take a stand for me, to defend me, to protect me. He failed me.
He showed up at my house where I got him a coffee and we got into discussion without much pleasantry. He was basically asking me to suck it up. He told me that he can get along with my mother now and why couldn’t I for the sake of the family. (It had been a very ugly divorce). I told him, “You have no idea what that woman has put me through (I started crying) – you cannot ask me to do that. I won’t do that.” He didn’t know what to say to that.
Other things were said, of which are vague now, but then he said to me, “Well, we don’t want to hear about it and we don’t want to talk about it?” … hmmm … ‘we’? Who is ‘we’ I thought to myself?? A day or two later, a sister would utter those very same words to me verbatim – did they have a family meeting? My guess is they did. They discussed me behind my back and I am pretty sure this wasn’t the first time. About two years ago is when my father and his wife started having family gatherings/occasions together with my mother present and that is when my siblings seemed to start pulling away. This is when I would find out about lunches my father would take my siblings and their kids out for and we were never invited. I knew I was being excluded. This was triangulation at work – this is what triangulation looks like and my mother was/is the controller.
When my father left my house that day, I watched him walk down my sidewalk and get into his car, and I knew it would be the last time I would ever see him. And it was.
Via email shortly after that, I was told to get over it and seek therapy – among other things. And then it hit me. I emailed them all saying, “IF you think I’m lying I don’t want relationships with any of you.” After all, you can’t have relationships with people who think you are a liar – who think you are lying about a parent’s abuse. I never heard from them again. I guess I just wasn’t worth it. This was no shocker for me – it was a confirmation of what I already knew to be true in my gut. I had always been the black sheep. I had always been the sin rag. This just confirmed my hunches about not really ever being a part of this family. I was tolerated. I was put up with. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in – even as a small child.
My heart was broken – again. He chose to not take a stand which in itself is taking a stand and it’s a cowardly one. When someone chooses to not take a stand, they choose the side of the abuser – and that is what my father did. That is what my siblings and their families did. No one wanted to deal with the big fat elephant in the room – I knew I couldn’t be the only one who saw it. They just chose to not see it. Choosing not to see something does not make it go away. I wonder now how they are enjoying their delusion.
Then a few years after that (which was two to three years ago now), I hear that my father runs into one of my husband’s sisters and pours out this sob story about how he can’t see his grandchildren (my kids.) Apparently, he even produced a tear. I never said he couldn’t. He was ‘friends’ with them on Facebook, and did he reach out to have contact with them? NO!! And yet, here he was, lying just like my mother does to get sympathy from people (husband’s sisters in this case) who have no idea about our family dynamic. Because of him and my mother poisoning other’s opinions of me by way of lying … my sisters-in-law showed up at my house a few years ago and proceeded to give me the same hate filled looks of disdain my mother always gave me and they didn’t relent. Then they start giving my children affection as though they were neglected – which they are not!!! I have done everything in my power to not parent in any way the way I was raised. I even took a Christian parenting course! My sisters-in-law blindly believed them – as they’d run into both parents on occasion. My family would smear me to these people and then I got to experience being abused by proxy. While they gave me the hate stares from hell and not talking to me – in MY HOUSE … my anxiety soared – I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. When they left, I told my husband that if they ever do that again, they are OUT! I would have said something at the time, but I had no idea if my husband would support me. Now that I know he will stand up for me – I won’t hesitate if there is a next time.
So, yeah … is Father’s Day hard for me? Yes it is. A daughter doesn’t forget about a father who didn’t defend her, stand up for her, protect her. He did none of that. Ever.
Tomorrow as I celebrate Father’s Day – I will be basking in my love for my heavenly Father who did come to my rescue – who is my Defender and my Advocate (among many other things). And I will celebrate my husband who is the father that my own birth father never was – who is our family’s defender, advocate, supporter, provider.
Father’s have no idea how important their roles are when it comes to defending and protecting their children and teaching their children how to be good citizens. When a father doesn’t do this – it puts his kids at risk at being screw-ups making terrible life choices. When a father doesn’t protect and defend, it puts his kids at risk at being abused – be it sexually, emotionally, verbally or mentally. When a father doesn’t step up, he is setting his children up for failure. A father cannot be a coward – there has to be a warrior inside of him. My husband is that guy with a warrior inside … and so is the Lord my God, my Adonai!
So … to the fathers who are warriors, who are protectors, defenders and advocates for their children and their children’s mother … I salute you! God bless you – and may you have a great Father’s Day knowing that you are valued more than you know.
~ Saoirse Quill