I make an extra special effort on Father’s Day to show my husband that he is loved, cherished and important. I rejoice in the beautiful bond that he shares with his four biological children, two step children and the fur baby and it brings a warm, dewy glow to my soul.
Father figures and men who are good humans for many women, are vitally important when seeking out a mate. It is often said that women are drawn towards a father figure in relationships. My sense of self worth as a young woman saw me invest in a relationship which had few boundaries and bucket loads of coercive control. The name calling from my abuser re-enforced how I felt towards myself and the control exerted played on the control displayed by my abusive father. It was every kind of messed up. Thankfully the relationship ended and my journey towards healing began. Within my healing I questioned the dynamics surrounding my family unit. I revisited my childhood abuse and learned that emotions were good things. I had kept silent for so long about any wants or desires pertaining to me that I revelled in displaying any emotion. I removed toxic people from my life and spoke out against my abusers. Speaking out against my father for the incest that I suffered saw my family relationship’s blown to smithereens. Many could not see why I left it until my late thirty’s to disclose and to this day fail to believe. I cannot hold it against anyone whether they believe me or not. I know my truth and stand by it.
For me and so many other survivor’s of abuse perpetrated by the very man who should have kept them safe from harm, we hope to find the antithesis of these men, yet are often not sure if they exist. The abuse perpetrated towards me, and many other survivors can lead us to believe that ‘all men are abusive’. With 1.6 million women, aged 16-74 experiencing domestic abuse in one year alone (ONS 2019), one can see how it may be easy, with an experience of childhood abuse too, to feel that all men are abusers.
My own father, who was aged nineteen when he had me was abusive, controlling and violent. He abused me from an early aged and sought out other vulnerable people to abuse too. The traits of violence, paedophilia and incest are not those which I wished to find emulated in the father of my children. Thus I made sure that the man whom I choose to marry later in life and share the joy of children with was gentle, kind and nurturing.
As my kids jumped into our huge bed on Sunday morning I felt a familiar sadness envelope me for a moment. The sadness for what should have been. The sadness of a little girl who longed for a dad like her friend’s dads. a man who played in the garden, cheered at sports matches and was kind. A man whose smile reached his eyes and laugh melted hearts. A man who was safe, reliable and whose last words before he died should have told me how much he loved me, rather than how much he despised me. And, this sadness is always countered heavily when I see the beautiful Father’s around me. From my own husband, to his now deceased father and to friend’s who have become wonderful dad’s to their children. I am blessed to know so many marvellous dad’s.
And, so, on Father’s Day I use it as a celebration to acknowledge how far I have come with my healing. I know that I am deserving of the love shown to me by a good man. I know that I can show my vulnerability, ask for help, cry and show emotion without being portrayed as weak. I allow him to hug me and readily accept the compliments given to men daily by him. I allow him to parent our children and watch in awe at his patience, generosity and calm as he deals with the pre-teens and young adults alike. We co-parent with ease and I know that every decision he makes as a man, benefits his family.
For me, Father’s Day is a show of strength and beauty. It is a realisation that I can choose to be more free of my past than ever I believed. I had got to my late thirties feeling defined by my abuse. And now……. well, now I know that I do have control and freedom to make choices which honour me and have a positive impact upon my life. My past does not define who I am at all. Sometimes, I acknowledge that it can be how I am when I am scared or anxious, and I am OK with that. Father’s Day is an excuse to lavish copious amounts of love on a human being whom I respect and who reminds me that all men are not abusers. For this, I am indebted and thankful.