Grief, when you least expect it

I went out to ‘Trouble with the curve’ tonight with my wife. This story of a relationship between a father and daughter and it’s impact on her life really touched me. Wierd eh? My father is a sociopath, Clint Eastwood’s character is crusty but quite beautiful actually.

There’s a scene where he beats a man into unconsciousness for pulling his daughter, then six years old, into a shed and touching her arm. It is obvious to us, and to him, that more would have happened if Eastwood’s character hadn’t found them. I just realized, that is what made me cry. To have a male relative that would defend me, who would beat the crap out of a child molester, is pretty potent stuff. Just seeing that, portrayed so compellingly by Eastwood’s character, must have opened up the grief. In my case, the molester was my father, so that kind of escape was impossible. My mom claimed once that if my grandfather, her father, had known, he’d have killed my father. I wish it were so.

I didn’t realize till now that that is what made me so sad. I walked out of the movie feeling sad and not knowing why. I felt a longing for the father figure in the movie, who in the end perfectly understood his daughter, who had finally gotten him to hear her about who she was and what she wanted.

My father may have groomed me, and I know my pre-rape self loved him, in such a pure, open hearted way that I don’t think I’ve experienced since, but I haven’t actually grieved the relationship with him on those terms for a long time.

Feeling that longing and sadness, I realize I have to listen to that part of myself who was manipulated into loving an evil person, but I don’t think that’s exactly who I’m grieving. It makes more sense to me, connects more emotionally, to miss the father I never had, the father who would have beaten my actual father to a bloody pulp for hurting a beautiful, pure-hearted kindergartener.

It’s wierd to have an emotional landscape that is so foreign, even to me, at times, so that I don’t even know why I am crying until the tears have run their course. I’m glad I’ve learned to let them flow anyhow, to trust that the truth will come after, perhaps much after. This is what it’s like to have experience in fragments, and to make those fragments whole.

6 thoughts on “Grief, when you least expect it”

  1. SDW,

    I can understand totally what you are saying, been there. I still grieve the parents I never had, in fits and starts, as I am able. You are so brave, it makes me feel as though I can be braver too.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  2. Monsoon Wedding is another film that presents a good father (in this case, a step father, learning about an abusive member of the family network twenty years on, with the abuser still preying within the family circle) and siding with the children. No beating the abuser to a bloody pulp in this film but still as heart rending for those of us who could not tell and were unsupported or left unprotected by the adults in our lives.

    1. I agree, Monsoon wedding is brilliant. Would have been nice if we all had someone stand up for us back then or even now.

  3. “It makes more sense to me, connects more emotionally, to miss the father I never had, the father who would have beaten my actual father to a bloody pulp for hurting a beautiful, pure-hearted kindergartener.”

    Oh, SDW, how many times I have wondered what I might have accomplished in life if I had had a father who was safe and loving. This sentence makes my heart ache for all of us hurt by our fathers.

  4. Sworddancewarrior, I have found in my healing journey too that it is important to grieve what should have been, it is good to let those tears flow. My Father was my abuser too, I can feel where you are coming from, I wish we all had a ‘Clint Eastwood” in our lives at that time so we wouldn’t have to pick up our own peices now. You are a courages woman, keep up sharing your journey it inspires us all.
    Margie xx

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