Until last week, I had never heard the term "emotional incest" but that is exactly what my therapist said I had experienced during my childhood. He and I had already determined that my dad had issues with women thanks to his mother (but that's a whole other post). He always used inappropriate language and told inappropriate jokes. For as long as I can remember, even after I had moved out and gotten married, I had to hug and kiss my dad, on the lips, every time I saw him and he always wanted me to sit on his lap.
I believe that I started refusing to sit on his lap after an incident that happened when I was in 8th grade (I think it was 8th grade). I had just gotten my first bra. I was doing dishes with my mom when my dad came up behind me and tried to put his hand down my shirt. I pulled away and looked at my mom to do something. She continued to wash the dishes, staring hard out the kitchen window. Why didn't she do something? Why didn't she protect me?
I want to think that I remember talking about this with her years later and that she has regretted not doing anything for all these years, but I don't know if that's a real memory or wishful thinking. All I know for sure is that last week I told my therapist and husband about it. It was the one of the hardest, most shameful things I've ever had to say out loud. I figured my man would be so disgusted with me, that I had allowed my dad to do that to me. The shame is still so devastating, even over 30 years later.
The adult part of me knows that it was not my fault, that I did nothing wrong to make my dad do the things he did, but the child in me still feels ashamed and dirty and guilty. Even now, with my dad in a nursing home, suffering from dementia, I still feel like he's checking me out every time I walk into his room. And yet that expectation, a kiss and a hug, is still there - not only from dad but from his mother as well. And as hard as I try to get by the nausea, as hard as I still try to be the "good girl," I can't do it. I can't hug my dad, I can't get past the thought of being pressed up against him. I will kiss him on the cheek to placate grammie, but then I immediately have to go wash my mouth and lips.
Okay...I've gotta stop here, take a breather. I need to brush my teeth, wash my mouth, and call my sister cause I feel like she may have had to sit on his lap at lot more often once I started refusing to.
Thanks for listenin'