Everywhere I look there’s something about Father’s Day (tomorrow). Emails from companies who have no idea who I am, but feel able to tell me what my father would like. Cards everywhere. Facebook statuses from people fretting they haven’t bought the right present, or indeed have forgotten full stop. On a deeper level I just saw an advert for fathers in the army – “support our fighting fathers.”
What about our fighting children?
Father’s day isn’t a day I enjoy. What if every father’s day as a child meant giving a special kind of “gift” to any male dominant role model in the family? “You must do this for me. I look after you and now it’s my day.” Hours of being a sex slave, or a punchbag, or someone to just hurl emotional abuse at – the game being “how long can I do this until she cries?” The hardest bit with that particular game being that I don’t want to cry and give them the satisfaction…but if I don’t cry, the game never ends. Whatever happens, at some point I must admit defeat.
At least that’s how I felt when younger. As I grew older I would lock my tears inside me and, besides, the whole concept of needing a “game” to make me conform had grown pointless. They only needed to threaten someone I cared for, and then I’d give right in. Although I guess that is some kind of game…a sick game.
I don’t believe I’m the only survivor of abuse who dreads father’s day, or spends the day feeling anxious and sick. For some the only abuser was their father, in the dead of the night…and then he gets an entire day dedicated to how amazing he is? How must it be for them, to see the world talking “dad dad dad” when all they want to do is stop thinking about “dad?” School, a possible escape=zone, even turns into “dad”ville for the days leading up to it.
Why is there not a “children’s day” so widely celebrated? A day which may possibly give children a chance to empower themselves? Why must we celebrate our fathers…when the world don’t know what our fathers may be? Children deserve celebration too. I remember at school being forced to make father’s day cards. I wonder what would have happened if I’d simply been asked “do you want to make your dad or grandad or uncle or WHOEVER a card?”
Honestly? No. It sicked me each time writing the words “thank you.” I remember gripping the pen so hard I could feel perspiration on the back of my neck. I was writing a lie. And it would only be used against me.
So where am I currently at? I’ve spent most of today withdrawn, and in tears. Jumpy, shaky, and with images flashing around. There’s a tight knot in my stomach, and my mouth feels dry. I’m scared, and hurt. To me it’s just a weekend of traumatic anniversaries. It scares me to think that children all over the UK may currently be trapped in abuse, and are watching the clock…waiting for midnight when they must spend 24 hours doting on the father who rapes/beats/bullies them… scares me also that there are survivors suffering from the same anniversary traumas as I at the moment.
I know not all abuse is from a child’s father, or even close. This is not what I’m suggesting. There are many father’s who are simply amazing and deserve a day dedicated to them. But there’s a lot of victims and survivors out there who may very well be struggling this weekend and feeling very lonely. I feel ashamed not to be writing a card, because that’s what society is doing…and in that shame I’m lonely.
So I think we all need to take a moment to think of our fighting children and survivors who may need some support this weekend. If it were possible to hold every fighters’ hand I would…but it’s not. For those in the perfect family, please watch in the morning how your husband, or you, hold your children etc… and cherish it. Cherish their smiles, and their little cards…cherish the silly random moments. It’s you in your normal beautiful family lives that gives the rest of us something to fight for…
For those who may struggle this weekend, please remember you are not on your own… if you’re being abused you can call for help. If your father is a great guy, then use his special day to empower him by asking for help… and if he’s hurting you, use it to make the truth known… be brave. If you’re a survivor…use the day to remember just how strong you are, and how much you fought… if you’re lucky enough to have never been abused, then please cherish the day in the beautiful way it’s supposed to be…
I genuinely hope everyone has a lovely father’s day…but here’s a virtual hug to those who will be struggling, as I am, this weekend…