I’ve been wracking my brains for weeks now, trying to ferret out what made my father do it. Was he a flawed man with some redeeming qualities who inexplicably got fixated on sexually abusing his daughter? Or was he a sociopath who merely pretended to be good sometimes, for appearances sake?
The first theory presents as evidence my ‘daddy’s’ behaviour: playing guitar and singing “how much is that doggy in the window” for the sheer pleasure of his 4 year old daughter, reading stories to her, and recording fairy tales on tape, so when he wasn’t home I’d hear his voice telling me stories.
The second theory presents as evidence my father’s extreme dissociation while he raped me, his obliviousness to my screams and the physical injuries on my little body. His mysogyny, his disrespect for the boundaries and feelings of people around us, his cruelty to our two dogs. As further evidence, the fact that anyone in my family or friends of my mothers who knew him, believed without question when informed he’d abused me. It seemed to fit with their experience of him.
Why do I need to know? Because my four year old self wants me to explain. She loved her daddy. She loved him right up till the pain started, and after that she thought a monster had taken him over. She was energetically open and innocent. She needs to know.
I’ve been thinking about this in adult terms.
Today, driving home from therapy, allowing myself to grieve from that 4 year old place, it came to me.
“He was Bad.”
That’s all she needed. Yes. He was bad. Somehow whether he meant it when he sang with me or read to me is suddenly irrelevant. ‘Bad’ is a concept that explains everything to a four year old, apparently. The explanation settles in, clicks somewhere and ties the monster and daddy together. It seems to provide a reason, and relieves her of the burden of needing to find out if the monster swallowed her daddy.
He was, simply, Bad.
Do I need to say goodbye to a ‘bad man’? Maybe not. Do I need a deathbed confrontation or to write ‘rapist’ in weed killer on his lawn? I won’t rule it out at this point, but at this moment, I feel peace.