So I now have the sword I’m going to use to dance on my fathers grave, when he will do me and the world the favour of finally succumbing to cancer. It’s a tai chi sword, with a kind of feminine, watery feel to it, with a wooden handle and a red cord to hang it by.
It’s meant to represent my inner iron, my strength and will and intellect, all my power that I’ve used throughout my life to fight my smart, brutal, dominant, creative father. The fact I haven’t seen him in over 20 years, doesn’t mean I don’t fight him regularly. I fight him when I untangle his tentacles from my sexuality, when I walk up the stairs to the bathroom at night and feel his looming presence behind me, and force myself to dismiss paying attention to it. I fight him in my opposition to sexism and gratuitous violence. I fight him when I stand up against child abuse and the attitudes that promote it. I fight him when I live a good life, a happy life, that he didn’t think his daughter deserved.
My sword needs to be very sharp and strong for this final battle, a spiritual one as all my battles with him are. So I need to figure out how to sharpen the sword. I’m told it is the type of metal that will keep an edge if I sharpen it, something I felt was important. My partner has a whetstone, so I’m just going to have to figure out how to use it. I’m not sure what intention to put into the sharpening. Is it making the sword like I already am, or is it sharpening my will, sharpening my wits to finally cut the cords between us, to banish him forever from my space?
The symbolic is real, sometimes, and although I know I need to prepare, to learn the dances, sharpen my sword, talk to my family about my plans to publicly out him as a rapist of children (‘child abuser’ or ‘paedophile’ doesn’t go far enough). Apparently, his ‘heirs’ which I assume are my mother and brothers, could potentially sue me if I ‘defame’ my father in such a way that it affects the value of his estate. However, I’m protected by the fact that I’m telling the truth. All I really need is something in writing from them that acknowledges they believe he raped me, which they all say they do. I’ve learned with my family, however, that it is never that simple, and what seems like a straightforward and necessary loyalty can never be relied upon.
My partner asked if perhaps I want to stop giving this energy, that I might be giving my father more attention than is helpful. It’s a valid point. I have so many better things to do with my life than spend one more minute thinking about him. However, I know that once he dies, I’ll be terrified, and that his death will be a big deal for me emotionally and spiritually. I want to be prepared to lay him to rest in the best way for me, to honour that my arch enemy has died and that I can now move on in power. I earned this sword, I’ve earned it’s keenness, the amazon strength and will that I’ve developed in battling my enemy. I’ve earned it and I will celebrate my victory, once all this waiting is over.
I don’t know when I’ll sharpen my blade – perhaps once he dies, perhaps in stages over time. I don’t know when I’ll take dance lessons to re-learn the sword dance. However, I do know that I will complete this journey. Having chosen to do the sword dance, a lot has opened up for me. I feel clearer, more connected with my spirit and my roots. I feel more connected to people, both my Scottish ancestors and my friends, now that I have a real and truthful story I can tell about being an abuse survivor. I feel less invisible and less alone.