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February 24, 2016

Never ask Father for Help

My family moved to a new apartment, but I can't remember why we moved or when.  My childhood memories are like a slide show with a lot of slides missing.

I have no fond memories in this apartment, but I did learn never to ask my father for help, unless I forgot how to go the bathroom.

If my father had ever followed me to the bathroom before I don't remember, but I definitely remember it in this apartment.  When father was home I could not go to the bathroom without him following me in and closing the door.

He would stand in front of me with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth as he watched me.  Sometimes he would squat in front of me and watch as I wiped myself, telling me to wipe slowly.

The part I hated the most was when I had a bowel movement.  He would never let me flush the toilet until he looked at what had come out.  He always made the same remark about how amazing it was that something so large could come out of such a little hole and wondered if something large could go in too.

I had no idea what he was referring to.  I used to say that it was gross because I literally thought he was referring to putting my poop back where it came from.

He would laugh and tell me that it's not sick.  It would feel good and if I wanted he could show me.  Because I thought he wanted to put my poop back in me, I always asked him to please don't do it. 

I hated when he went to the bathroom with me.  I was old enough to go on my own, but no matter how many times I told him he didn't have to come with me, he said it was for the best.  Just in case I needed help.

Because my father had always watched me go to the bathroom, I became paranoid about going to the bathroom in public places.  I hated public bathrooms because the stalls had cracks where people could look in.  I was terrified that someone would stop and watch me.

I never felt comfortable asking my father for help with anything, maybe because he insisted on watching me go to the bathroom.  Maybe because I saw him once grab Grace by the ankles and drag her out of bed, hitting her head hard on the floor in order to wake her up in the morning.  Maybe because I saw how he beat Peter.  Maybe because I saw how he threatened to kill my mother.

Whatever the reasons were, the day I needed help taking my bike down two flights of stairs from our back porch, I decided it was better to yell for Peter to hurry up and help me instead of asking my father.

Peter was busy digging something up in the backyard with his friends and kept telling me he would be just a minute.  Unfortunately, it was one minute too long because father got tired of listening to me yelling for Peter to hurry up.

Father began drinking his favorite whiskey shortly after breakfast and was halfway to being seriously drunk when he came out to the back porch to ask what I was yelling about.  I felt a knot in my stomach. 

I didn't want to tell him because I didn't want his help.  When I told him it was nothing and that Peter would be up in a minute to help me, he asked me what I needed help with.  I immediately felt dread come over me but if I didn't tell him he would lose his temper and that would be bad for everyone.

When I told him I needed help taking down my bike he smiled and told me he would be happy to help.  At first I thought he must be a happy drunk today.  When he told me to sit down on my bike, I knew he was a cruel drunk.

When I hesitated sitting down on my bike he grabbed my wrist in his vice grip and told me to sit down or he would throw my bike in the garbage.  I thought throwing the bike away was a better option, but knowing father there would be far greater consequences for disobeying him.

With tears stinging my eyes I sat down on my bike.  With a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, he put one hand on the handlebar and one hand on the back of my seat and told me to get ready for a really fun ride.

As he pushed me to the edge of the stairs I looked down one final time to look for Peter.  I saw him looking up at me.  As father pushed my bike back to give me one good push down the stairs, I heard Peter screaming my name.  Peter came running up the stairs, grabbed me off the bike and ran back down.

I couldn't stop crying.  I looked up to see if father was still there.  He was looking down at us laughing.  Peter's friends were looking in disbelief.  Peter told everyone that our father had a strange sense of humor and that he wouldn't have hurt me.  When one of Peter's friends said our father seemed a little crazy, Peter simply nodded.

I didn't bother asking Peter to get my bike.  I decided the safest place that day was to stay glued to Peter's side as he and his friends looked for imaginary treasures buried in the back yard.

I don't know if my father would have pushed me down the stairs if Peter hadn't come up to get me or not.  It was always hard to tell what he was capable of when he was drunk.  Since that day, I developed an unusual fear of falling off bikes.  I also began developing deep trust issues.

The problem with having an abusive father is that later in life I always attracted men that were similar to him.  When normal men were attracted to me they scared me because they were so unfamiliar to me.

Because mother had always told me that I was worthless, stupid and no one would ever love or want me, I found myself in a horrible cycle.  I wanted to find a good man who would love me, but hearing mother's voice in my head saying no one would ever love me or want me, except for sex, I began to think that maybe she was right. 

I subconsciously attracted men similar to my father not only because it was familiar, but on a subconscious level to prove that mother was right.  I was not consciously capable or ready to accept that my mother and father had intentionally damaged me.

My damaged mind was continuing the cycle of abuse, whether it was physical, verbal or mental, because it was the only life I knew.  Even though it was a painful life, it was familiar and through familiarity, comfortable.  My damaged mind was in its own safe zone.

The best analogy I can give is smoking.  You know smoking is horrible for you, but it’s so difficult to break the habit because it feels and tastes good.

I subconsciously sought out situations that were either mentally or emotionally abusive, knowing it was bad for me, that it would hurt me, but I didn’t know how to break away from what I had been taught as a child.

There was also a part of me as a young adult that fed off of my own self pity.  I had never felt loved by my parents, they didn’t seem to care what happened to me, so if I stopped feeling sorry for myself, how would I feel sympathy again? 

I needed to feel sorry for myself because I equated it to caring.  If I didn’t care about myself, who would?  Besides, I saw how my mother and sister used sympathy to manipulate others, so I had to keep my self-pity intact just in case one day I needed to manipulate someone.

I had not yet come to understand that I was abusing myself with these learned dysfunctional thoughts.

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