Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
I have a picture of a man, laid in bed with his baby son sleeping on his chest. He is reading the paper. I look at it, and I wonder what happened to make that man hurt that child.
My abuser – My father.
I hate to call him that. I hate to label him.
He is my dad. The person that helped to create me. The person whose genes I carry. Whose reflection stares out at me whenever I look in the mirror.
Yet he is the one who took from me. The one that beat me. Starved me. Committed countless assaults on me for over a decade. Sold me. The one who broke me. The one that made me a mess and left me with all these shattered pieces to pick up.
I should walk away but I can’t. I think maybe that is hard for people to understand. Perhaps those that are fortunate enough to have real parents. We see child abuse in the paper, on the television. Hear about it on the radio and each time often peoples thoughts and even my own sometimes. Is why didn’t someone take the child away and do something?
Why didn’t the child leave?
Why do I still keep my father in my life?
I was asked once by a teacher if everything was okay. She had put up with me for months coming into the classroom and sitting at my desk and just crying. Of course I tried to hide it, but I could never stop it. It would just happen. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because I was safe and I could.
I’d cry because I was hungry, because I had a new bruise or it hurt just to move. I’d cry because I was tired and hadn’t slept or I was sick because my mother had given me more medicine and still I wasn’t good enough. Sometimes I’d cry because I was alone in my world. I was ten.
My teacher saw me crying again one morning and took my hand. She walked me down to the library. Gave me a drink and a tissue and sat with me. She held me when I cried and then she asked me ‘is something bad happening at home?’
I froze. I stared. I stuttered. I had no idea what to say because I realised in that moment I had given it away. I had shown my secrets.
I lied to her. I said no. She asked me why I cried and I lied and told her that I was upset because my brother had more toys than me and didn’t share. It was partly true, but a lame ten year olds reason.
I lied because I didn’t want my mum and dad to get into trouble. I didn’t want them to go to prison. I didn’t want to be taken away. I didn’t want to live somewhere safe. I just wanted my mum and dad to stop what they did to me and love me like they did my brother. It was that simple for me.
After that day I never let what was going on at home show to the outside world. I had to protect my parents. People wouldn’t understand. People would think they were bad. They would think they were evil and they weren’t. People didn’t know my parents like I did.
I realise that I still hold that same hope. That’s what keeps me from walking away. Nothing has changed. He called me a week ago, and within twenty minutes had sunk me. Not with anything malicious, just the gentle hints of manipulation that remind me I am nothing to him. I am nothing more than the scrapings of a child he helped to make.
Yesterday he called me again. He was happy and excited. He talked to me about his grandchildren like a real father and grandfather. He gave me a glimpse of the dad I wish I had. I held onto that. I fed it to my guilt. I told myself I was wrong for being upset with him. I was wrong for even having Dear Teddy out. It was saying bad things about him and he doesn’t know of its existence. I felt so guilty for the way I have treated him. The no father’s day card. Everything bad that I had done towards him came crashing down in my mind, because for a few minutes he gave me hope.
A friend of mine whom I talked to. She told me to look at it. See it for what it is, because if he was the father I was wishing for. The one I was waiting for then he would show remorse too. He would apologise. He would feel bad for the things he did.
Maybe the wolf dressed as the sheep and I believed it.