I went for a counseling session yesterday. Good timing since it took place just hours after I learned Husband was laid off. We talked about that quite a bit. Also about my dealing with thoughts of my father and his death. With Dad's death came an inundation of facts which quickly overwhelmed me. I wrote them down, lest I forget them and then have pulled them out little by little to absorb.
Therapist gave me a pamphlet to read on grief. She also talked about having to deal with finding out some not so good things about Dad after his death. Having to process being mad at a dead person and then moving to forgiving a dead person (forgiving meaning giving up vengeance). I've also learned that death doesn't bring the immediate closure I thought. Another thing that really hit home was when she mentioned her own experience in saying about someone "well at least they weren't…….only to find out post-death that they were." That hit me over the head. All along I've been saying "well dad was a such and such but at least he wasn't a so and so" only to find out he really is a so and so.
My father always wanted a son. He got two girls. When he re-married and adopted his new wife's three boys and a girl, everyone gushed, "oh now he has his son." That really didn't bother me as much as maybe it should. Being a girl wasn't something I could change. I just accepted it. After Sister and I got the boot, I heard that he was being a good father to these four children. I tried to be content with that information. At least these four kids were getting the benefit of a good father. At least he was protecting them.
My father would have blamed the issues in our relationship on two things – (1) he said I was a smart-alec and mouthy. This was because I disagreed with him. I also have some of his stubbornness and temper. (2) the fact that he sees me as choosing Toilet over him. He said as much when I last saw him – that he couldn't understand why I chose Toilet to participate in my wedding over Dad (forget about the fact that Dad was sent a note in the "save the date" wedding announcement telling him that if he wanted to be involved, to speak then or hold his peace. Then I heard nothing). What I took from this was a feeling that if only I had confided in my dad, he would have rescued me. He would have been the one person to stand up for me and kept me safe.
I thought another issue between my dad and I was the fact that he saw me as taking my mom's side in the divorce. My mom was the adulterous women (forgetting that my dad was an alcoholic and abusive). Despite his faults, I saw Dad as a good father and a righteous man. At least he wasn't a liar and cheat.
All I heard through the grapevine was that Dad was the only stable figure the other kids had (side note – still feel odd saying step-siblings, but "other kids" seems harsh too – it works for now though). I heard that Dad kept the peace and kept things calm.
Then people got over the "speaking ill of the dead" concept and true feelings began to be displayed. I talked to the other kids. I spoke with relatives.
The other kids think Dad was this saint. But then talk about the fights they got into. Physical fights. This side of counseling I can see how skewed their views are. These are not normal discipline events. This is not a normal event at all. These are fist fights. These are knock down, drag out fist fights.
My father always put down my mother for choosing Toilet over us girls. He continued to tell Sister and I that he would never do that – that us children always came first. When he chose his new wife and kicked us out, I placated myself by thinking, "he's still choosing children, just hers instead of us." But that's not true. Each and every one of those kids were shown the door on the day after they turned 18. The oldest had the police called when he refused to leave. The middle boy was kicked out at age 14 actually. Dad stood by and let it happen.
My father stood by and let his wife abuse these children – physically and emotionally. Let her starve them. If rumors are true (and I suspect they are) let the daughter be sexually abused as well.
So perhaps Dad was the lesser of two evils to these other children, but still evil nonetheless. And I have to change my thinking. He probably wouldn't have saved me even if I had confided in him. I'm not sure what that does to me or my thoughts. Not sure what impact it has. Right now it leaves me reeling and I need to process it some more.
I guess this is a blog post in progress……stay tuned for another update.