Daddy’s Little Girl

It is wrong for anyone to be abused…anyone. Women, men, children, animals, etc. I do not think I am in a position to analyze how being abused affects people in general, I can just think about how it has affected me. My father was VERY emotionally and psychologically abusive on a consistent basis- he did very weird things like following me, opening my mail, recording my phone conversations, things like that. Occasionally he was physically abusive. I was lucky that it was not that often and I know many other people who have been hurt way worse. But even one time is one time too many.

What I can say is that when you are hit by a parent, especially when you are a daughter being hurt by your father, it changes something deep inside you. Your father is supposed to be the person who biologically is conditioned to be protective of you, not to be the one to inflict harm on you. I have really tried to look at this from an outside perspective. I am not condoning it at all, but I really do believe (or maybe I just NEED to believe) that my dad never meant to hurt me. I have no doubt that he loves my mother, my sister and me very much. But the fact of the matter is that he has abused us all. I don’t have any intense trust issues towards men as a result of this- I am able to compartmentalize it to just my father and I don’t think I have made my partners pay for my childhood. When I was on the phone with my dad talking to him about getting divorced, he asked me if my husband had hurt me and started to cry. I find this very ironic, naturally, but I also understood that regardless of what he has done, my father would never allow another person to hurt me.

I know it sounds a little like I have Stockholm Syndrome. I assure you, I do not. I have a healthy amount of resentment towards my dad. A lot of that resentment stems from the sadness I feel when I watch a movie like “Father of the Bride” or when I hear a song at a wedding written about a father and daughter (it was no easy task to choose the song for the father/daughter dance at my wedding- I went with “Stand By Me”…”Butterfly Kisses” was not even a contender).

It’s even harder to find an appropriate father’s day card. Maybe I should start a line of cards for children who have strained relationships with their fathers. Like “Dear Dad, you really sucked as a parent and I’ve had to pay for lots of therapy because of you, but I love you anyway. Happy Father’s Day!

16 comments on “Daddy’s Little Girl

  1. It is very tough and difficult for anyone to understand unless they’ve been in the situation. Domestic violence is a very big problem, but people are still uncomfortable talking about it…so kudos to you for opening up.

    I’ve worked in the DV field for some time now…one thing I would like to say is that no, it doesn’t sound like you have “Stockholm syndrome”. When people say that about women and kids who have been abused it irritates me…that’s not the right application of it.

    Second, intentions matter less than behaviors and outcomes. When you love someone, you don’t hurt them. Period. Now, people have different definitions of love…my definition is based off of the idea of a healthy relationship–kindness, support, respect, partnership. Nowhere in there is there room for harm: no insults, name calling, manipulation, control, jealousy…none of it. If this was the definition of love we promote and endorsed in society, we’d have a lot less men abusing their partners and kids.

    I’ll stop now 🙂 but best wishes in your healing and your ongoing struggle with trying to maintain a positive relationship with your father.

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    • Hi- I just responded to your comment on the other post, but I wanted to respond to a couple things you wrote here. I guess the “Stockholm” reference was more of an attempt to lighten the post up a bit. I have tried to use humor throughout my life to cope and when things get a little uncomfortable, I usually make jokes (and usually am the only one who thinks they are funny lol). But you did really get me thinking. It is very ironic that I married a man who did not really drink, yet was emotionally abusive. He really broke me down (although I have to accept some responsiblity for letting him have that power over me). But, he knew my weaknesses and used them to get what he wanted. It took a while to realize that even though he may have genuinely loved me, that is not how marriage is supposed to be. I obviously didn’t have the greatest example of marriage from my parents (then again, my grandparents were happily married for 68 years!)

      Your definition of love is amazing- it is one of those feelings or concepts that is a little hard to define, but you are right that the relationship should be the focus. When people ask why I got divorced, I usually say that I loved my husband but that love just isn’t enough. You have to have all of those other qualities you mentioned.

      I am so grateful for your thoughtful responses and it means a lot to me that you took the time to respond to my posts. Thank you!

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      • I also use the same kind of humor! =) so I totally get that. It’s how I cope with life in general, but also working in this area.

        Thanks for liking my definition of love–I really like your response to others about how love isn’t enough! That’s a good one.

        I will add, though, that I don’t think you need to take responsibility for “letting” him have that power. (If I really wanna get all into it, I’ll talk about how our oppressive and sexist society is the one that gives men power to do this in general…haha)

        It’s just like you said–he knew the weaknesses and used them. And, I find that it may seem like women “let” things happen in one area, but find little ways of resistance in others, so I’d be willing to bet there were small ways you did resist–just maybe not so obvious? But in the end, you divorced him. To me, that doesn’t sound like letting him continue =)

        Anyway…again…keep blogging! And keep the sense of humor–it does make a difficult topic easier to cope with and makes it more accessible to readers!!

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  2. When I was growing up, I hated him more than I loved him. When I hit my 30s and 40s, the hate faded bit by bit (as did the abuse) and the love grew. When he was dying in hospice in October and it was just the two of us alone every night, all I felt was love.

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    • I hope that happens! As I have gotten older and learned more about alcoholism, I knew that in order for me to move on from my childhood, I had to let some things go. I can’t say I forgive things because he has never apologized (except the occasional “daddy drinks to much”) I have not been physcially hit by him since I moved out when I was 21 (except one small incident), so it is more the emotional stuff that continues. But I do love him and when he is no longer with us, I really hope that the love will be all I remember.

      I have only told my sister this…but I used to lie awake at night and imagine giving my dad’s eulogy (that sounds morbid, but it was more a way for me to reflect on the GOOD things about the man). Does that sound really creepy? I hope you kind of understand that a little!

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  3. […] then I read a blog post tonight: Daddy’s Little Girl, and I posted a response. As I wrote, the deep, gaping cavity in my chest that I’d been […]

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  4. rohan7things says:

    Wow, really touching post. I think it’s great how clearly you can speak about this. Abuse between close relatives is always extremely complex, and never simple. And I believe you when you say you don’t have Stockholm Syndrome, if you did you would not have written a post like this.

    I wish you all the best going forward, you take care 🙂

    Oh and I loved the Fathers Day card idea lol, you have a great dark sense of humor!

    All the best.

    Rohan.

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  5. A Dog With Fleas says:

    I appreciate your honesty in your post and how eloquently you spoke of it. Your ability to compartmentalize this to just your father and to trust other men speaks to your strength!

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  6. Thank you! I love the title of your blog- I laughed out loud when I saw it, but I have read through some of your blogs and they are very insightful and I definitely plan to keep following you 🙂

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  7. I like the greeting card venture idea – I’ll be happy to go in with you. I’ll be in charge of the cards given by/to spouses in bad relationships: “Happy Anniversary to the Husband who has done everything to make me not want to wish him ‘Happy Anniversary,'”

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  8. Ha ha! The hardest card to ever get was after I filed for divorce and was still living with my husband and it was his birthday…geez. I was in Target with my sister and was like I need a card that says, “Happy birthday- see you in court!” (I actually did get a pretty nice card and he threw it out without even opening it, so I should have written for him to F off inside of it lol).

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  9. Amy McCarthy says:

    love, love, love the card idea ! except i need it for my mom.

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