As part of my recovery I’d gotten very spiritual. Not in a traditional sense, but in more of a new age-y kind of way. I’ve always believed in signs, but I’d gotten more in tune with my intuition. It was a great way to feel my way through life. As life has gotten more busy, it’s been harder and harder to meditate. I’ve lost touch with myself in a lot of ways, but I’m working my way back.
At this moment, I’m actually pretty glad I’m a little “out of touch,” because I’ve been having a lot of realities hit me smack in the face. Tonight was yet another.
When my father reached a certain level of drunk he’d call me. The conversations ran a few different lines. One was about all the things he accomplished in life and all he had hoped to do, but didn’t. One was about his marriage to my mother and how he still loved her, but included all he had done wrong. One was a random rant about politics – he and I were polar opposites, but I typically kept my mouth shut to avoid the verbal assault I’d get for disagreeing. The worst line of his drunken rants was when he’d talk about sex.
I knew about his sex life with my mother, his girlfriends, and his second wife. I knew more than anyone would ever want to know. The conversation would often turn to me. He had me so groomed to not say no to him that I would find myself answering horribly personal questions about my sex life with my husband or boyfriend. It was a nightmare.
I felt frozen in place even though I knew I could just hang up the phone.
Hanging up on him sent him into rage and I’d spend the next hour cowering while my house phone would ring, then my cell, then my house, then my cell over and over and over again. I felt trapped, stalked, threatened, scared, sad, and helpless. Every. Single. Time.
This is where I always need to stop my recollections – when the tears start to flow – so on to the epiphany for tonight.
I HATED, absolutely HATED when my ex-husband would grope me. I would always feel completely violated. I absolutely understand that part. But, what I’ve learned during the several relationships since my divorce is this —
I can talk sex with anyone. I can talk fetishes, kink, extremes. As long as I am online, on the phone or having some other “safe” conversation, I’m okay. The other part of feeling safe is if I am not in a relationship with the person I’m speaking with.
HOWEVER — when a man with whom I’m involved starts talking dirty or rough or about fantasies, I feel myself shrink away. I’m feeling it with the man I’m currently dating – with whom I feel the “safest” I’ve ever felt. When he starts joking about sex or saying very sexy, suggestive things, my walls go up faster than a heartbeat. It makes me pull away.
Finally tonight I understood. The person who was supposed to keep me safe from the world exposed me to some of the worst life has to offer. My walls are the only thing that protected me – it certainly wasn’t my father. It’s that entire fear I’ve lived with my entire life – that the closer people get, the more they will hurt me. And it’s not just the criticism or physical abuse I’ve endured – it’s the feeling of being out of control and subjected to another person’s fantasies.
While I know I am safe with my boyfriend, my reaction after 44 years of living through my father’s sexual talk is the one I’ve developed for my own protection — I simply shut down. It has absolutely nothing to do with this man, but everything to do with what I grew up with – for as long as I can remember.
I need to continually remind myself that my father was a very sick man who would say things to me – as one therapist explained – to get off. And that very statement still makes me sick to my stomach more than a year after I first heard it.
He has been gone for more than 1-1/2 years and while I feel myself finally growing into the person I had been meant to be, I still am trying to work through the nightmare of a relationship I had with him. Tonight I will be honest with my boyfriend and tell him how I feel about the comments, of course including a reminder of why I feel that way. And I will remind myself that this man is not my father. My boyfriend has shown me in so many different ways how big his heart is and how much he is willing to do to make me feel loved, safe, and protected. It’s my issue to deal with; it’s his choice to stand by or walk away. But, I think he’ll stay.
My father is gone and for that reason alone, my world is a much safer place.