BlackRaven, I'm glad you appreciated it! I find the only way to accurately portray some of the feelings/experiences are through metaphor. And animals seem to be able to evoke the exact correct message I'm trying to get across, like Dee so aptly did with her beaten-by-a-butterfly metaphor.
The following is a pretty long summary of some crap with my dad. Feel free not to read it. I thought this was going to be a quick response to Superesse's questions about my relationship with my Dad, but this just spilled out of me. I've had it written out for hours, and hesitated posting for fear of taking over this thread with my own stuff. Thought about starting my own thread in General about daddy issues and such. Truth of the matter is that I'm kind of scared to share this stuff with people who aren't spouses of SAs. I may still post over there, just with some caveats for response. I just don't know if I'm ready for feedback from people who don't get it on the level that we all do. Not yet, anyway. So, skip to the TL;DR down below if this is too overwhelming. Thanks for letting me word vomit a bit. Hopefully something I wrote helps someone else connect some dots for themselves.
HeHadADoubleLife, how very interesting that you heard the same sort of thing from your father as I did, and that you, too, were told you were "intimidating," etc. I was the oldest child in my family and took after my father's side, too. And I was just a tom-boy all the way through high school. Were you like that?
Yup. Oldest of four, only girl. Not a complete tom boy, I liked some "girly" things, but I was very active. Played soccer from kindergarten on, captain of my high school lacrosse team. I never fit in with the "popular" girls, but never wanted to.
I have been resistant to labels and gender roles since I was a little kid. Always felt like a weirdo because I didn't like the same stuff all the girls liked, but also didn't really fit in with the boys. When other girls were into Lisa Frank stickers, lots of neon colors and zebra prints, I wanted nothing to do with any of that. But I also liked to wear dresses and matching outfits, so I wasn't really a "tomboy". I was obsessed with playing dress up, especially in my mom and grandma's old dresses and jumpsuits from the 70s. But I also liked nerf guns, Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. I rode 4-wheelers out in the desert, but I also loved Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew and Babysitter's Club. I wanted to be able to play 4-square and hand-ball at recess, but the boys would always gang up on me to get me out. Girls had a complex social structure involving gossip and other bullshit, which I didn't really understand, so I became a totally shy nerd. I found a little hiding spot between one of those storage containers used for sports equipment and a wall and would read there during recess instead of playing with other kids.
I really feel like my parents didn't know what to do with me. There are pictures of me when I was too young to dress myself, and I was dressed to the nines like the picture perfect girly girl. But that's just not who I turned out to be. If I'm being honest, I don't feel like many people knew how to deal with me because I didn't fit into stereotypical gender roles, and still don't.
Pretty much every guy I've ever been with has told me I'm intimidating. It was so ubiquitous that at one point I just started believing that this was some strange sort of pick up line they had all learned somewhere. I now think it's just a common theme among people I meet. I'm very introverted, and have been told I have a bad case of RBF (resting bitch face). Even my DD's BF has told her that I'm intimidating.
Most of the time when I hear the intimidation line from men, I feel that this is just them not knowing how to handle a woman who is direct, speaks her mind, knows what she wants and doesn't hesitate to communicate it. Like skeeter wrote
it's just a covert way of saying we're not feminine enough.
and honestly I like that I play "against type." I don't view being direct vs. passive aggressive as inherently masculine vs. feminine, I view it as healthy vs. unhealthy, and both genders can fall in each category. But every once in a while a little bug will get in my brain thinking that maybe they're intimidated because I put up strong defenses due to my conditioning surrounding men. I wonder if all of us "intimidating" women are really just women who have Dads who taught us that men were out to get us? Like I said, most of the time I think it's just them not used to me not bending over backwards for them. And most of the time I view this as a positive trait. But I'm aware that it can be a defense mechanism if taken too far.
I'm sorry to hear that you learned your Dad had a porn addiction, especially so late in life. Talk about rewriting of history - at least I would reconsider a lot about my Dad at that point. To be honest, I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with similar issues with my Dad. Not because I've ever found anything, but just because in the aftermath of DDay I've come to figure out his patterns and how much my XH's patterns of lying mimic his. Pretty much anything he vehemently denied turned out to be true, and anything he steadfastly defended turned out to be false.
The man who preached to me his whole life about the importance of "owning your shit"? Turns out, he never truly owns up to a damn thing, that rule only applies to everyone else, not to him. He racked up $300k in back taxes and didn't tell my mom until the IRS came knocking, so while there may not be any sexual/emotional infidelity that I can prove, he committed financial infidelity against her years ago. Still to this day blames the IRS. During the financial crash of 2008 we lost our house. He refuses to admit that part of the problem is that we were already completely over extended, and he had no savings to help keep them afloat. He was trying to keep up with the Joneses and never let my mom know how strapped they really were. They've only just now been able to buy another house, so have been renting for the past 12 years. But of course, none of that is his fault. Insisted on going on a hiking trip for his bday one year with my middle bro, didn't pack enough supplies or any kind of survival gear and they got lost in the woods overnight after he injured himself, had to get helivac-ed out in the morning once they were finally found. Won't own up to the fact that he was pushing himself way too far, completely over estimated his competence, and in the process nearly killed himself. Won't even admit that my brother saved his life. Laughs it off every time it's brought up like it's a big joke and not some hugely traumatic event.
The man who preached my entire childhood about how bad drugs are, and how people who use drugs are bad people? Well, when post DDay I found emptied out pen shafts and some lovely members here pointed out that this indicated my XH's meth use, I talked about how shocked I was, how I had been finding them for years and would have never known it was drug related. My Dad's response was "Oh yeah, I used to use those to snort meth!" Totally nonchalant. To hear this man say it when I was young, he had never touched a drug in his life, and never would, because he is a good person and only bad people do drugs. Literally told me at like age 5 that people who smoke cigarettes do it because they don't know how to read, because if they could read, they would see the surgeon general's warning telling them it would kill them and they wouldn't smoke them. How since I could read, that meant I couldn't smoke cigarettes. Then all of a sudden at 31 he's telling me how he had a hard core meth habit for 6 months before he met my mom. Talk about a mind fuck. He also claims he just up and quit once he started dating my mom... I find that incredibly hard to believe. I now question my entire life of his insomnia/early wake ups because of the "stock market". I can't imagine he could get away with that for 30+ years and never get caught, but who the fuck knows now.
My entire history with my father has been blown to bits in the last 2 years. Found out he's really not the man he presented himself to be. And the person he is, is not someone I would choose to be around. I love him, but I don't like him as a person. The only reason I spend time with him now is when I have to. And of course I feel guilty about that because he's sick and has new health issues seemingly every month. But I basically only see him because I go down to visit my mom, and since he's pretty much an invalid he can't do much without her, so spending time with mom = spending time with dad.
Oh, and he wasn't overtly sexual with me or anything, but he was definitely weird about clothes and such. This was throughout middle and high school. Tight jeans were what was in fashion at the time. He would make the same comment over and over about how my pants were so tight that you could see the year of the dime in my pocket. He thought that was so witty and hilarious I was a twig, all legs, and they were so long that I had to start buying women's jeans in a size 00 just to get a long enough inseam. I wasn't wearing tight pants to hug my curves, I was wearing them because it's what would fit me without falling off or having flood waters. But literally every time I wore fitted jeans, that was the comment made. He's not a very original man, he picks one over the top statement/"joke" and just sticks with it.
Like with the whole "dumb blonde" thing that was popular in the late 90s/early 2000s. I was born blonde. He used to make "dumb blonde" comments a lot. He never actually thought I was dumb, of course, because he was obsessed with talking about how smart I was - my grades, my intellect, my wit etc. But still, he thought it was hilarious to keep making those dumb blonde jokes. Funny how none of those jokes applied to my equally blonde younger brother, only to me, the only girl in the family. I started dying my hair red to match my Mom's when I was 21, so 12 years ago now. He still calls me a "dumb blonde," even though I point out to him every time that I've been a redhead for over a decade. If you ignore the comment, or don't laugh, he just repeats it louder. Doesn't seem to grasp that we're not laughing because it's not funny, not because we didn't hear him.
I would not be at all surprised if I found out he had a porn habit. He just harps so much on how everything my XH does/did is terrible and disgusting, that I can now almost guarantee it. When I am compassionate towards the XH in any way, he tells me "he's a sick creep." Come to think of it, Superesse, now that you mention your Dad pulling away, mine has done that too. He has told me he doesn't want to hear anything about him anymore. If I say anything about how much I uncovered after DDay, how much I didn't know, he says "Well, you knew enough." That's his way of calling me stupid for marrying him. But if his patterns prove correct as they have been recently, anything he denies, he has done. When he pulls that "You knew enough" crap, I really want to turn to him and say, "How much stuff does mom know that she could/should have divorced you over by now? Did you tell her about your little meth habit before you started dating her, or did you keep that hidden until she had already quit her job and popped out all of us kids and was stuck with you because she had 4 children under the age of 6?"
I only have snippets of weird/inappropriate memories from childhood, so it's hard to piece things together, but I can see how they add up. He used to grab my mom's butt a lot in front of us kids. She would be at the stove cooking, or at the sink doing dishes and he would come up behind her and grab her/rub her while kissing her neck. Sometimes she would laugh, other times she would say his name in an annoyed voice and try to get him to stop and he would be charming/cute and say things like "oh come on," in a sweet voice. I didn't use to think twice about any of that, thought it was just a thing my parents/dad did. Writing that out makes me see how creepy it was. And now that I've experienced the unwanted advances from my XH - especially when he thought he was being "sneaky" around my DstepDs - I can't imagine how uncomfortable my mom was in some of those scenarios.
I don't have a lot of full-narrative memories from when I was young. They are more vague feelings, and snippets of fun stuff with my brothers. But I have one very distinct memory of my Dad. He was talking to one of my brothers, I can't remember which one, but I'm inclined to think it is the oldest, so just 2 years younger than me. This is before we moved to the big house, and I believe I was still in elementary school. I know I was in the same room when this convo happened, but I don't believe I was being talked to, it was directed at my brother, so I was just listening. I don't remember the exact context of the convo, but I believe it had something to do with my brother not liking girls and thinking they had cooties or something like that. Anyway, my dad told him that he would feel differently when he got older, and made a reference to my mom's body being "daddy's playground." He said it with a sly smile on his face, like it was just a totally normal thing to impart on your elementary aged son. Damn that is so fucking creepy to even write out.
I'm glad he has to use a walker and is basically a cripple now. He sleeps in a separate hospital bed because he can't get onto their bed anymore. I hope that at least means that my mom has some peace at night. She now ends up waiting on him hand and foot though, and that's not a life.
TL;DR After growing up with a father whose actions didn't match his words, it's no surprise that I ended up with an SA. I feel like I was set up for this. It actually does surprise me that I'm a raging feminist and believe in complete bodily autonomy at all times, considering my conditioning. It makes me sad that SAs seem to be attracted to those of us that think that way - they feel more powerful when they can break us down, because it's hard to break us. Fuck.
Edited to add: After a particularly heavy session with my therapist about my dad, she asked, "Do you think you want your Dad's approval?" I thought about it for a second and then replied, "Honestly? No. If anything, I feel like I actively make choices to do the opposite of whatever my dad thinks would be good. I've come to view my dad's outlook on the world as so fucked up, that I figure if I'm doing the opposite of whatever he would do, I'm probably not doing so bad."
Anyway, my therapist wants me to write a letter to my Dad. Not to send, just as a way of venting. Says I have a lot of pent up anger towards him. Yeah, no shit.
[This message edited by HeHadADoubleLife at 1:56 AM, September 1st (Tuesday)]