How bizarre!

I told my dad how triggered I’ve been lately because of how physically abusive he was to me as a kid, and he swore that it never happened, that I’ve created it all in my head. [Eyeroll.]

As much as I’d love to believe that…

  • I never forgot it after it happened. I didn’t just wake up one day remembering–it was in my mind forever forward.
  • How could you be traumatized by something that you invented yourself, and/or why would you invent something so horrific?

I tried to explain to him that he used to be meaner, but he flat-out insisted that he’d never have done that. Huh.

It’s tempting to want to believe him. But I don’t… not fully. I was there, for crying out loud. I tried to explain to him that he was married to a bitch (my narcissistic mother) at the time, which was stressful, and he must’ve been in over his head; and he still said he’d never have done it.

I said, “What if you die and go to Heaven, and they tell you, ‘Hey, guess what? You did it, and here’s the film reel’?”

He said that would never happen.

“I understand,” I said. “Guilt can be powerful.”

“I don’t feel any! It never happened! I have no reason to feel guilty.”

It got me to wondering about how I used to imagine things the wrong way as a younger child. Now, when my dad abused me, I believe I was nine or ten. And by that age, I’d reached the concrete reasoning phase wherein I no longer saw things that weren’t there. Prior to that age, I saw a lot of things that were wrong. A kid in my preschool class tipped back in his chair, hit the floor, and his brains spilled out and his skull separated into all these different chunks of skull that the teachers quickly tried to put back together. In reality, I suspect he bumped his head.

Another time, I saw a girl peeling off her skin. She was really taking off her tights, maybe for ballet class.

A third time, our spaniel, Allister, got hit by a truck. I saw his tummy flattened in the middle where the wheel had driven over him and squished him. But in reality, he was hit, yes, but not run over. And he wouldn’t have still been walking around if his tummy had been flattened.

And oh my God, there were gremlins.

My brain saw things in a literal way that I believed to be true. My God, I am schizophrenic. There was no abuse during that younger phase of childhood, and even my narcissistic mother was happy then. No, my brain was hallucinatory all of its own accord.

But how or why would I have invented my dad doing that? I want to believe I made it up, but that doesn’t make sense. What he did caused me to dissociate to the ceiling, feel humiliated, and lose all respect for him until I was much older. An argument could be made that I exaggerated the incident in my head, but I remember the details with such clarity that there was no room for exaggeration.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve never had a grip on what’s real and what isn’t. As an adult, I’ve dissociated a few times and “lost” time, and something would’ve gone wrong and I couldn’t fill in all the gaps. Like the time I noticed my hair had been chopped off (this might have been seven years ago, I don’t know), and I searched my memory and the house for clues, and I never figured out what happened. Maybe my default view of reality is shaky.

I want to believe my dad, but I don’t. I was there. I know what he did, and I could name the details: my pink robe, my sister’s bed, the fact that I was using the bed next to her crib because my room was being repainted from brown to yellow, how I was positioned on the bed, exactly what he was doing, how I played the piano rather distractedly later that day, what the scene looked like from the ceiling, his hand, the windowsill, and so forth.

“You have these dreams you tell me about,” my dad said, just now, while I was talking to him. “They seem so realistic, like they have full worlds and people. You must’ve dreamt what you think I did. With you, there’s no difference between a dream and reality.”

I don’t know what’s real. I tried to convince him that he used to be different, more violent, and he said he was never that violent, nor very violent at all. I think he’s wrong. Guilt can be powerful. It can block out a lot of sins. He doesn’t want to remember the way things were.

He did say I didn’t deserve it (even though he didn’t do it). That was nice to hear. He said I didn’t deserve it at all, and that I need some therapy to get the wrong memories out of my head. I’m just not a believer, though. I’m too nice to push against his guilt and convince him he did it. In my heart, I think he did it. I’ve never doubted it until today, and the only reason I’m doubting it now is because he swears he’d never do that. But, come on. Who can answer for who they were over thirty years ago? No one!! He doesn’t want to face what he did to me and how it destroyed me. I can understand that. I sensed he blocked it out that same day, telling himself, “I never should’ve done that. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen. I’m separating myself from what I did.” That’s what I sensed, and I still sense it.

But what if he’s right? How could I be traumatized by pretend? It makes no sense. I was traumatized at the time and every day after. There were some delayed reactions, but there were also immediate reactions of humiliation, dissociation, and feelings of worthlessness, like I was a disposable whore–used in a dark alley and thrown away by someone who was supposed to protect me.

I’d love to believe it didn’t happen. But it can be scary to stare into the gaping maw of my surreality. Like, really scary. How could I invent something that was that traumatic? It’s not possible. Is it?

I don’t know. It sounded like my dad just wanted to pretend he was never a monster. That’s what I think. He’s not the same person he used to be. I’m the person who raised his energetic level to who he’s become. I urged him to quit being violent. He was threatening to spank my sister one day when I was in college (or thereabouts) (my sister is eight years younger), so I spanked him, and we all had a good laugh. The truth, I’m afraid, is that he’s shit-deep in denial. I’m just not sure where that leaves me.

11 thoughts on “How bizarre!

  1. Huh, isn’t this what people call gaslighting? If so, I guess it’s abuse as well. I have no idea if our brains can just make up very traumatic stuff, but I think if I had schizophrenia or something similar like this I’d feel quite confused if someone would accuse me that my memories were made up.
    But to me it seems pretty unlikely that you’d just imagine it, for example because of stuff like that you’re triggered by people spanking their children and you react to it quite intensely, I don’t think something completely internal, or even a misinterpretation of something that happened to you could cause such things. Not that I have an actual idea about it, these are mostly just my beliefs and assumptions, brains can do all sorts of strange things that we don’t realise.
    Also I believe your dad’s reaction isn’t what I think woould be a natural reaction of a caring parent to such accusations, especially when he knows about your schizophrenia. He only firmly (and I think also slightly aggressively, though I may just be biased here) denies what you’re saying. What I believe a loving and innocent parent who knows that his child is schizophrenic and may struggle with figuring out reality would do is actually talk to you about it. Ask you some questions, try to rationalise things, give you his account of the situation, be very reassuring, and he’d be more concerned about your wellbeing, about how you feel with this memory and how much discomfort it has given you throughout your life, rather than try to convince you he is innocent, because if he really is, chances are you’ll figure it out by yourself, sooner or later, if you’ll talk about it. Or an innocent parent could have feelings of guilt and think he must have done something to you that he didn’t really mean to affect you as badly as they did, so he’ll be apologetic. I had a slightly similar situation with my Dad, I didn’t really accuse him of abusing me but a psychologist I worked with interpreted some of my words in a way that suggested I did, and there was a court process and all such pleasant things, and my Dad (although he was entirely innocent) became sort of resentful towards me, because he just couldn’t get it how I could accuse him of such things, but he wasn’t trying to convince me that I was in the wrong, I guess because it was enough for him that he knew he didn’t abuse me and he didn’t feel the need to convert me to his line of thinking, because if I, in his view, couldn’t see the truth for what it was by myself, his talking probably wouldn’t do much. Now that he knows my actual view on this, and that I don’t think he has ever abused me sexually, all that stuff is gone and we never talk about it anymore, I know he feels easier about it and only sees it as a bad memory and I don’t think he feels guilty anymore. I do, still, because of the whole situation, but that’s another thing entirely.
    So as I said I might be wrong, but your dad’s reaction just doesn’t seem right to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about this issue with your dad, and I hope I haven’t been triggering it for you! You say your dad’s completely innocent, and if so, God bless and what a relief! Yeah, I hate to agree with you, because it would be so wonderful if my memory was false? but you’re probably right. But don’t forget that my mom was also physically abusive, and that alone could have caused my trauma response…? You know, I think I ought to get more EMDR therapy. My “innocent” dad has agreed to pay for it. Thank you so much for your comment!! You’re a great friend!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries, the whole thing is definitely tricky and guilt-inducing for me but I guess wasn’t overly traumatising so I don’t think I have any triggers relating to it. My Dad can be difficult to live with but he’s certainly never abused anyone sexually.
        Ah, hmmm, okay, somehow I always thought your mother was more emotionally abusive and only your dad was physically, that changes things a bit… Still, your dad’s response just wouldn’t convince me if it were my dad.
        EMDR therapy, I think that’s a good idea for dealing with memories, though somehow the thought of digging so deep in all that old stuff has always scared the shit out of me so I think personally I’d never go for it, even though it certainly must be helpful for people.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, my mom did something to me once that could best be described as torture. 😦 You’re right about how hard it can be to dig into it, but when you’re living in flashbacks all the time anyway, it becomes the better option, I guess!! I’m so relieved for you that whatever occurred wasn’t too dreadful!! It’s weird how we both get along with our dads despite having secret issues!! God bless us both!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t stay too long in this Meg. The past is meant to be looked at but not dwelled in. We all have a way of remembering things over time that’s influenced by past experiences. I too am noticing my Mom conveniently doesn’t recall certain events that traumatized me as a child. They are living in guilt and you definitely have a point there.
    I always stand by the idea that my childhood and recollection of it is my experience and I own that. Don’t let anyone allow you to doubt yourself or feel different about stuff you’ve already processed. Hugs Meg🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s constantly on my mind like a curse I can’t outrun. I’m thinking I need to get more EMDR to make it go away more, ya know? I think it’s good to make it come up, so that I can get the push I need to find an EMDR practitioner. It’s never been properly processed, because there’s no way to process it that makes sense. It was senseless violence, ya know? But I hear you!! Keep your fingers crossed that I can find an EMDR therapist today!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes my dear, great plan of action!! I love EMDR healing and gave had many successful sessions of it. I’ll be thinking of you and praying you find a good therapist🙏😊

        Liked by 1 person

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