‘My father died not knowing his daughters were sexually abused as children’.
I often wonder, had my dad known I/we were sexually violated, how different would my/our life’s be? Dad passed on April 2, 2017, and I’m unsure as to why I’ve been plagued with all these ‘I wonder’ questions since. It pains me to my core that I never had much of a relationship with my father and though it’s much too late for the blame game or to get needed answers, I believe with every fiber of my being that had he been a better father my wounds would have not cut so deep, the scars would have healed and I would not have been plagued with the damning unworthiness I feel.
My reality, I was never a daddy’s little girl and I still suffer the rancid residue of being judged and ostracized by him. Truth is, I have convinced myself that he did the best he could with what he was given BUT, I am upset that dad didn’t consider me worthy or special enough to change his mindset, his beliefs to ensure that his little girls were loved beyond his limited perception of the value of the opposite sex. Daddy could NOT have stopped the molestation, but I know the effects would not have been as long lasting or life altering had he been a better parent.
The past few days have been emotionally draining. I spent hours trying to figure out the source of my discomfort, in an attempt to lift my spirits I listened to music, kept myself busy, attended meetings, did my usual runs but nothing seemed to work. I knew this was serious when my go to, my children, my boys usual antics didn’t work. I realized only then that no amount of avoiding, suppressing, evading or side-stepping my emotions was going to make these feelings vanish, I gave in and decided to sit with it. The cause for my uneasiness was my dad, thoughts of him swirled in my head, I miss him terribly but this wasn’t the usual ‘think of dad, sulk for a moment, shed a tear or two type momentary deal, this was deeper.
I thought about the relationship my dad and I had over the years. Dad was very much present for the formative years, besides the fact he worked extremely hard I got to see him daily, he was home every night mostly before bedtime but our relationship strained and lacked all the key components of a great father-daughter relationship.
I am the first child (supposedly) born to my father. Dad did not hesitate to let everyone know how disappointed he was ‘because I was a girl’. Dad was from an era, a generation that viewed women as weak, worthless and disposable, he was born to an extremely sexist father that did not hesitate to verbalize his disdain towards the ‘weaker’ sex. How I wished and longed for my dad to see my worth and to consider me valuable, special and irreplaceable but unfortunately he was too broken and so damaged himself he was blind to the fact girls/women are worth far more that being barefoot, pregnant and totally dependent on men.
I often wonder, what would have been the result of my dad knowing we were taken advantage of? Knowing dads temperament, I do believe this saga would have had a very different ending. Since going public about my ordeal, one of the most frequently asked questions from folks that knew my father well is “was your dad ever told, did he know” and with each “No” the response “I figure” almost certainly follows. Folks that knew my father well (or so they thought) still believe had Mr. Rhone known about the abuse of his daughter, my sister and others after her would not have shared this horrid experience, chances are my grandmother would have been widowed some twenty something years ago.
Daddy was a licensed fire arm carrier and he was not afraid to pull his weapon, in fact, he was considered somewhat trigger happy. Dad was a responsible gun carrier but he was also known to have a short fuse, he was a no-nonsense, outspoken, no bars hold, prideful person that was also arrogant and thrived on the praise and recognition of others. Dad was well-known and highly respected within the parish of St. Thomas, his community and neighboring towns, chances are a murder would have been committed if only for the sake of saving face.
I loved my dad wholeheartedly and spent the greater part of my life seeking the approval and validation of this man. To the outside world he was a stand up guy, a man to emulate and adore. He was a hard working, determined, go-getter, family oriented (or believed to be) but the truth is, dad had his demons to contend with and was riddled with insecurities, so much so that sexism and classism oozed from his pours and slipped oh too easily from the folds of his lips. It took me a lifetime to understand my mothers reasoning for instructing me not to tell daddy what had happened to me, because she feared he would do to me/us what he did to her by using the abuse against me/us.
My father was from a generation plagued with the belief that a woman’s worth is secondary to that of a man, that we were only created for certain things including being servants to the ‘dominant sex’. It was that hard and fast belief that led to the constant reminders that I was secondary and could not be compared to my brothers. My self worth was tarnished and tainted by my dad, a realization I came to years ago but somehow weighed heavily this week.
I wonder; if only dad had the courage to break free from the thoughts that held him captive, freeing himself from the mental slavery that kept him bound; relinquishing the belief of a superior sex. If only MY dad had been open to experience love, being willing to accept love, to see love, to feel and to be love; if only he had possessed the ability to love unconditionally like a father should love, adore, protect and \shield his daughter, I do believe my life would have turned out different.
I would be foolish to think my dad being a better father would have somehow prevented the abuse from happening No! A pedeophile is a pedeophile and will remain a pedeophile if not helped! I do believe however, if daddy had been more of a loving, reassuring, accepting and affectionate father, had he possess the qualities of patience and understanding, had he been able to instill, reassure, nurture and cultivate a strong sense of being within me, if only he had the capacity to extend or open his heart to his daughter/s he would have been told and years of internalized anguish would have been minimized and my decimated self-esteem rebuilt.
I wonder; why dad, I can’t help but wonder why?! But, it’s too late now and though I am saddened at the fact you couldn’t see ME beyond your own hang ups and insecurities, I try to understand and will cling to the belief that you still loved ME with all that you had. Daddy, I just wish you were able to see ME…