If It Feels Wrong, It Probably Is

There’s a few things that bug me as a parent of young children, and one of those is how quickly we (as adults) dismiss their concerns for the simple fact that they’re children.

As a child of primary school age I was uncomfortable with several adults over the years, one of which was my own biological father. I didn’t like the way he hugged me. Kissed me. Carried me up the stairs. I’m sure if any adults around took notice they would’ve put it down to the fact that I no longer lived in the family home (my mother left my biological father when I was 3) and therefore was a little shy with my father during visits. But it wasn’t that. There was something off. Something that made me anxious. When he was close it felt, well, predatory. I didn’t like the way he kissed my cousins goodbye (all girls), and could see their discomfort too.

When I was about 8 I walked in to the kitchen at my father’s house during a holiday visit to find our local babysitter sitting up on the sideboard in barely a skirt. The conversation was about how he wouldn’t pay her for sex, that she should just do it for the pleasure. She was barely 15. I knew then that my feelings were right. I wasn’t imagining it. He was a predator. I said nothing and left the room. This babysitter would visit often, even if my father wasn’t going out. She wasn’t, as it turned out, the only teen my father had bedded.

He drank heavily for years, and the more he drank, as with many alcoholics, the bolder he became. He would talk about local girls with sexual reference. I remember how uncomfortable I felt when reading his thoughts he’d jot down in a notepad by his chair when he referenced how someone had changed from a girl to a woman (woman would be underlined). This person he was referring to would have been barely 11 or 12 at the time.

Although I never suffered physical or sexual abuse from my own father, I knew what a predatory male was because of him. I could spot them a mile off. Charming. Friendly. Funny. Helpful. Non threatening. Everything you need to get close to a vulnerable person, or child.

I would listen to him, drunk, as he told me stories about how my mother would come home with her stockings torn and how she clearly cheated on their marriage then left him. But he never mentioned the fact that he regarded her as his property, and on more than one occasion, had raped her. Rape within the confines of a relationship, is still rape.

My instincts about him were right. He could be kind, charming, funny, hell when he was sober he could be a great parent, he’d make up bedtime stories on the spot, say kind things and spend time doing the stuff kids love. But that other side was still there, and I knew it. I felt it, although much less once I got past the teen years.

The truth of it is, I’ll never know every side to my father, as he died of an overdose nearly 20yrs ago after years of mental health, physical & addiction problems.

But something I’ve always taken away from him, is the invaluable lesson that if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Peace out.

The Trauma Butterfly.

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