Remembering since I was just a tiny girl the words I heard from my father’s lips, “You’re Daddy’s Little Girl,” makes giving up trying to reach my Dad so painful. You see, he’s made so many choices to stay in his own world and reject his family that I cannot continue to have contact with him any longer.
As far back as I can recall, it’s been an emotional roller coaster with my father. He started out being my hero, and I was his princess.
I was the first born to my parents in 1960, and they were so excited. A colicky baby from the start, I needed to be held almost constantly. Dad was a welcomed sight to Mom, who was worn out from taking care of me all day and quickly handed off the miserable baby to him when he arrived home after work. She speaks of many nights that I slept on his chest.
My world was rocked quite a bit when my parents came home with a baby girl when I was 3 1/2, and suddenly there was competition for Dad’s affections. I think my charming skills were turned up a notch, so I felt pretty confident I remained the real “Daddy’s Little Girl.”
Convinced he loved me more than Mom did, which of course was not true, I remember trying to escape from my dreaded four-year-old vaccinations by running to my Daddy in the waiting room. Surely he wouldn’t allow any doctor to hurt me. I was devastated that he helped Mom hold me down back in the examination room to get my shots.
Things start to get spotty after that memory. Dad began working late and coming home drunk. Although I was pretty sheltered from what was really going on, I did notice we had to move from our large home to an apartment. I had to change schools in kindergarten and had to give away my beloved Barbie house my aunt made for me.
My baby brother born at the end of my kindergarten year, but I don’t remember anything about it. Things must have been really rough at that point, because I was 6 1/2 and should have been very excited. I have a brief memory of my first grade teacher and classroom. In November, my Dad brought my mother, sister, brother, and me to live with my grandmother in another city.
Abandoned by the one who claimed that I was “Daddy’s Little Girl,” I didn’t know what to make of what was happening in my world. One day, while he was visiting us, Dad asked me to fill out a questionnaire he wrote out. It asked who I thought was responsible for their divorce and other totally inappropriate questions for a young child who had lost her home and her father. What was his purpose for this manipulative activity?
As devastated as I was, my mother was completely overwhelmed with being dropped off at her mother’s house to raise three children on her own. It seemed to me that Dad was the only one who cared about me, though he rejected us, because Mom wasn’t able to talk to me about how I felt. So the deception began…
We were so poor that my precious mother, unbeknownst to me, washed one pair of frilly socks every night for me to wear to school. Dad only sent Mom $150 per month for us to live on, and she had been a stay-at-home mother since I was born. It was so hard for her, but I still thought he was the one who really cared.
While we were still living with my grandmother, I remember him driving up in his new Ford Thunderbird with electric windows. He had left Mom with an old, red Dodge Dart that bled it’s color on the rag when it was washed. Dad would take us out to eat at fancy restaurants when we visited him on weekends that we could never afford on Mom’s small salary and tiny child-support payments. We loved visiting with him and being spoiled.
It was nothing but a con. A ruse that lead to me thinking I was so special and “grown up” that I looked forward to being the “bartender” at Dad’s office parties on Friday nights and even making a drink for myself. Living a life on weekends that my mother would never allow set me up for years of sexual abuse at his hands.
I don’t even know how I coped with this double life during those years. I think I never allowed the two worlds to intersect and was close to having multiple personalities. The two worlds did collide, however, when my sister told me of Dad’s advances towards her one weekend. We told Mom as soon as we got home and never had to go visit our father again.
Although it sounds sickening, once I was safe a few years, I missed the “wining and dining” part of my life and hated never getting to see Dad except for holiday gatherings at his mother’s house. I began seeing Dad on a very limited basis as long as I had an escort. I didn’t feel threatened any longer and thought no harm could come by having a more normal relationship with him. Actually, I believe my memories of the abuse were suppressed to the point I had no recollection of them.
Through the years, it has been a very strange relationship. This is how alcoholic families are sometimes. No one really ever talks about what’s wrong. Everyone just pretends all is well. What’s in the past is over, so you just forget about it. You don’t tell anyone who may be hurt by the truth, even if the perpetrator gets by “scot free.”
The trouble is, eventually, the layers of pain and anger ignored all of those years begins boiling under the surface and erupts. That happened when I was all stressed out by my little girl who had a strong will. All the while protecting myself and my father from what would happen if anyone really knew the truth, I inflicted emotional pain on my own child who was probably only acting out the frustration she felt from my pressure to give my children a safe and loving home.
While dealing with my past to keep it from ruining my present, I allowed memories to resurface and be healed by God. During this time, I even spoke to my father, who told me he was sorry for what he had done to me. I worked through forgiveness, and felt peace for the first time in years. Would we ever be able to have a real relationship again? We did maintain a holiday relationship as long as my paternal grandmother was alive, because she held the fragile family together. He didn’t even attend her funeral. I haven’t seen him in many years.
What hasn’t changed is my father’s lifestyle. He has been addicted to alcohol, pornography, and sex all these years. When he brought us to my grandmother’s house in 1967, he had been married to his second wife while he was married to my mother. He had multiple affairs before his second marriage ended, with women the same age as his daughters. Even recently, he has pursued relationships with teens. And those are only the things I know about, so why would I continue to reach out to him?
Mom and Dad met at church. He sang in the choir and was a deacon at the church they attended when they were married. He even felt called to be a preacher at one time. Even now, with his immoral choices, he says he believes that “once saved, always saved.” Dad has left a trail of carnage of ruined lives, but he claims that he is a believer. I know he’s not. He’s as deceived as those he’s charmed.
I’ve been praying for Dad’s salvation for many years. Whenever I read an inspirational blogpost or email from my pastor, I forwarded it to him. Usually, he would reply in a positive manner and thank me for sending it to him. I liked having an opportunity to influence him somehow to stop living for himself and give his life to Jesus and still stay safe from his web of deceit.
Our communication was pretty sporadic. I would wish him a happy birthday, and he would do the same for me. I was his friend on Facebook but had to unfriend him to avoid seeing him pine away over losing the love of his life, who also happened to be in high school. We would text message on occasion, as well, but that all ended this past fall.
After the death of my step-grandfather, his step-father in August 2015, I had some brief contact with Dad by text message about the funeral. He was unable to attend the funeral because of some heart problems, as he also claimed when his mother died. My mother and I drove three hours to the funeral to be there for my uncle. Unfortunately, the lack of relationship with my father kept us from seeing my uncle during the years between the two funerals. My uncle was thrilled to see us and invited us to the family meal after the service and to my grandfather’s house to finish catching up with each other.
Keeping the truth hidden all these years from my Dad’s family about the sexual abuse came to an end that day. My mother and I finally felt free to tell my uncle and aunt about what happened so many years ago. He was so hurt that I didn’t feel comfortable telling him so he could have stopped it. I felt more free, since I was no longer protecting my father at my expense. Why did we feel the need to keep that secret?
For whatever reason, I have not heard from my father since the day of the funeral. I don’t know why. When I sent him a text on his birthday in November, it was ignored. His email address has changed, so I couldn’t reach him that way. He didn’t contact me on my birthday in December. Apparently, after all these years of trying to do what I felt was helpful to bring him to Jesus, God let me know it was time for me to stop.
God is mighty to save. I cannot save my father. God is able to reach him. I have been cut off from having any communication with him. God can change his heart. It’s pretty sad that Dad doesn’t love us enough to stop living for himself, but it’s not up to me to make him change.
Giving up on reaching my Dad means, as I am learning in Al-Anon, I must “Let go and let God.” I will keep praying for Dad and trust that when I say, “Thy will be done,” I can rest safely in the arms of my Heavenly Father, who will never leave or forsake me.