As I’ve mentioned before I’m keeping these in their own category from my DBT posts.
Probably triggering. Family, fathers, being left out, bad fathers.
I recovered from the last session. It left me moody, but manageable and generally mouthy. On my way to my appointment I always walk through the hospital and this was the first time I felt something. My hands quickly became fists and I immediately felt unsafe in this section of the hospital. I knew why I was angry and defensive. On my way to therapy over the last months I’ve seen both of the doctors who have harmed me. But today, I don’t see either of them, but I am now aware of how much I hate this place. I’m not numbing it out.
We talked mostly about my father and made me sit with the feelings.
I hate movies with Dads. I always think they are lying. Dads aren’t like that. TV and movie dads are bullshit. Dads don’t offer words of wisdom. They make sure you feel like shit about yourself. And your siblings make sure you believe he was good to you. I use to believe it too.
At one point I was suppose to find my earliest memory of him, and focus on it. This was very difficult. My strongest memory was a question I use to ask myself as a child.
“Why are you here?”
“Who are you?”
“I don’t like you.”
To clarify, my Dad went to all of my school events, plays, art openings, etc. He was at dinner every night. But being the youngest girl of a big family, I got left out a bit. If we did spent time together, it was largely because he needed work done. Both regular chores and work for the family business.
The whole validating and spending time with your kids, or getting to know them. I never did with my father.
We focused on a memory of watching my brothers getting packed up for a trip loading everything in the truck for this big camping trip at a family friend’s cottage, the same one he took my sisters before I was born. I stood there watching, wanting to go, and wondering “Why not me?”
All of my siblings, both male and female have gone camping with my Dad, except me.
My Dad will often ask me about the cottage and ask me if I remember. He gets surprised that I have never been. He’ll tell me about jumping off the dock, and my mom will correct him that it was a different daughter. At times, he seems puzzled at the oversight.
I use to have these temper tantrums when I was kid.
“Kids do that because they want attention.”
“ya, but it only gets you ignored and labelled as bad.”
“No wonder you are so emotionally aware, you’ve had to understand so much when you were a child.”
My Dad was going away, and I hid one of my stuffed animals in his bag. I wanted him to feel loved and be protected. There’s a picture of him on a hunting trip with that stuffed animal. He didn’t think it was mine. He knew it was one of his kids, but not mine. I stopped playing with that animal shortly after that trip when I saw he didn’t know whose it was.
In school plays, I always sung the loudest or tried to get the most attention. It never worked. Probably why I still like theatre and public speaking. Everyone can see me, I’m not being ignored.
I got good grades, but was always told school was useless. I stopped trying for the top, and aimed for the middle because it was a waste of my time to try. Teachers told me I needed to apply myself, why would I? When school is useless.
I worked hard in the family business, but would only be told of all the bad things people do. How worthless the high school I went to was, how educated people are so stupid. That he didn’t need years of school to do his job. Everyone who has gone to school is a reject and if they need a Ph.D they are an expert in nothing. He tells my brother that I am best worker and we need more like me. He tells me how awful school is, and educated people are largely useless. I don’t believe my brother when he tells me Dad thinks I do good work.
He tells me I will only have value to him if I have children, because a woman needs to have children. A woman needs to be a mother. He doesn’t understand why this upsets me, and blames it on my misunderstanding of what he meant. He tells me this when I am getting most of my uterus removed and doesn’t care that I’ve never wanted kids.
Even when I got my MA, and gave him a copy of my masters thesis, I found it in the basement slowly growing mold on it and spiders living in it. The spiders can enjoy it. I left it there, because it made me realize that I’d never be anything to him. My work was largely meaningless. My sister tells me it was stupid of me to even think he’d read it. That it was my fault for giving a narcissistic present. He of course likes her best, because they are the same. They are cruel without understanding that they are cruel because they know best apparently. I am oversensitive and a savage, because I feel something I must be wrong. I try and try not to feel, because maybe I’ll be loved.
When I was 18, he told me I was a mystery to him. This made me hate him less, because he seemed to understand that there is nothing between us. Then he said it again in my late twenties, and now in my thirties he says : “Where did you lose me?” As though it was my fault. As though I am the parent and he is the kid that is lost. I’m not the parent. He never understands that adults and children are different. He thinks they are the same.
“I knew he stopped paying attention because he needed to work from dawn until midnight to feed the family, to take us places. I know all of these things. He was the most attentive to my sick sibling, because they needed the attention. When I got sick I thought, great! Now it’s my turn to be loved, of course it all went horribly wrong and I was completely alone. Everyone is too scared to love you when you are sick. It’s exhausting to pretend to be okay, so you try not to include them anymore because you have to take care of them and you. It’s too much work.”
He hopped on a plane and left when I had surgery. Both of my sisters told me I was selfish and stupid for wanting him to come. I was overreacting. That the birthday party he attended was far more important.
“That’s your adult mind. What does your child mind think?”
I burst into tears after much resisting.
“I tried so hard, and nothing. Rejection. Disappointment. Why not me? Why was I so hard to love?”