I think most of us from abused homes have a touchy spot for loved ones calling our parents negative names. It used to infuriate me when my friends called my dad a jerk, or mean, or made threats against him. People never try to reason out what he’s done to me, they just abhor his actions and make that clearly known. This does me, someone who has spent her entire life questioning her father’s motives, and his hatred both of life in general and of me particularly, absolutely no good. I know he is bad. I can’t explain it, I just don’t want the pity. I don’t want the negativity. To most people in my life, my dad is a villain. I deal with this the best I can.
Years ago, I went to Tennessee and visited my lifelong neighbor, Phyllis. Phyllis had two sons, both older than me, who both died–one in a car accident, one from drug usage. She and I spent time catching up on her front porch in the humid Appalachian summer, and she asked me–had I tried talking to them? (at the time, my mother was still alive.) I could look through the treeline and see my old house, I knew my dad was standing outside listening to our conversation, but he’d made it clear that he didn’t want to see me. I told her I had tried, to no avail.
So after my recent conversation about my dad, I asked myself, “Do I believe him? Is he right? Is my dad guilty at all?” And I realized it was one of those rare, shining circumstances where even I, as a very cynical atheist, could choose to believe something. And I do believe it–I do believe my dad is sorry for what he’s done to me. I doubt I will ever get any vindication or proof of that and I’m okay with it. Just the belief brings me so much peace, it has changed a lot of my thinking process just in the last day.