A Father's Love Is So Important--But I Didn't Have My Father's Love & Approval--I Had His Rod!!
by Melissa Fields on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 7:59pm
Today i had a bad nightmare about my strict, stern father. Well, let's put it this way, it wasn't a pleasant dream, but i think i had it for a reason, because my Higher Power, whom i refer to as God, wants me to make peace with my past, once and for all.
When i sleep deeply, i have lots and lots of really vivid dreams..most of them are really pleasant dreams where i am able to escape into them and be somewhere else where i am happy; i even get to travel in alot of these dreams, to places where i have never been, that, in real life, i absolutely dream about visiting.
But sometimes my dreams are not pleasant..like the dream i had today. Sometimes i dream about the very unpleasant things in my life that have happened to me, either in my past, or things that haunt me now.
As most of my friends know, i grew up in an era, the '60's, where not alot was known about high-functioning autism, or that autism is a spectrum of different levels of a very complex disorder.
Because i was highly intelligent from the get-go, my quirks and meltdowns always came as a total shock to all of my family, and i often got misinterpreted and misunderstood as being spoiled and selfish and lazy--and as just a brat.
I was always close to my mother..and my grandmother was very nice too, to a point, but she, also, could never seem to wrap herself around the fact that i was "differently-abled". Neither could my father..and this is why i am writing this note.
My father was a hard-working and very strait-laced Catholic, who came from a family who also had very high standards and ultra-strict morals. He was honest and loyal to his family and wife....in that he treated my mom like gold, provided all of us 7 children with all that we needed..and some of our wants too, and would take us for Sunday drives and picnics every Sunday afternoon/evening.
~~~~ <3<3<3 I always wanted to love my father. <3<3<3 ~~~~
But he was very harsh and had a quick temper and very little tolerance and patience for anything out of the norm. His children were always expected to behave and mind him, but there was little in the way of affection and warm and fuzzyness from this man..or tolerance for anything that he deemed nonesense.
He did have that nice side, but it was only sometimes seen.
We children could never talk or converse at the dinner table, because that seemed to really irritate him.
Too much horseplay, giggling, and running around also irritated him.
When he watched his baseball, football, basketball, auto races, and nightly boxing and wrestling matches...we children had to keep quiet for those too. He had Master Control over the family TV, and we could only watch things that my mom would talk him into letting us watch. He also never believed that we should ever have a color TV, so we never had one. I got to watch color Tv when i'd go to other people's houses, but at home, we were a black and white TV family, whose children also had to be black and white and subdued.
We were never allowed a voice with him..or to debate him, or disagree with him either.
We were all expected to attend 8:00 AM Sunday Mass, or sometimes we'd go on Saturday nights at 6 PM. No ifs ands or buts.
All oif the above behaviors would bring out that ferociously hot, loud, hair-trigger temper..and he would yell SO loudly and SO sharply that it felt like a sharp burning whip to my back..we were always being sent to our rooms as a punishment, and then, if he got pissed off enough, he would give us the awful lickings...."lickin's", is what he would call them...and i can remember LOTS of times where i would actually have huge red welts on my buttocks and thighs from these lickin's; i would always be made to go to my room after these, and i remember sitting there on my bed, sobbing, and trembling in pain and raw fear, with snot pouring out of my little nose, feeling like total worthless garbage. From early on, i knew my daddy hated my guts. And it used to hurt my littele-girl heart so badly, as i would sit on my bed, wondering why my daddy was like this, why he hated me? Mixed in with the smell and taste of my tears, woukld be the afterglow of his scent, which was a mix of tobacco smoke and aftershave, and Brillcream or Vitalis for his hair.
One day as a little tiny girl, i was watching a baseball game with him. We were playing, and laughing...but then all of a sudden he grew angry and pinched me on the arm and yelled at me to "Go away!!" At first i thought he was still palaying..but when he yelled harder and pinched me again, i KNEW he was NOT playing..and off i went down the hall to cry, my little heart and spirit broken again. It was a Sunday, so my mom was at church, so she didn't witness this incident.
One night, he had punished me for making noises he didn't like, so i thought i'd stick my tongue out at him..i did, and told him "I hate you, Daddy!!" He lost it and before i could ge away from him, he lunged at me, yanking me around by my ear, then threw me over his shoulder, and then threw me in my bedroom, where he pulled my pants down, and gave me one of his horrible lickin's.
On another afternoon, i was outside our ranch house in the carport, kneeled at the back of our family station wagon, fascinated with the license plate, so i was playing with it, pretending it was my imaginary friend. This "friend" got mad at me, so i yanked the plate off. My dad came out and saw what i did, and not even bothering to find out why i did that..he again lost it and yanked me by my ears and braids, then picked me up by my arm and threw me onto his green easy chair in the family room, and gave me another awful lickin', which left horrible red raised welts on my buttocks and thighs. my mom tried to stop him, but he wasn't about to stop. he kept hitting me...and it hurt!!!!
There were times that he would be kinda nice, too, like that brief period of time when we were watching that baseball game. When he got a little red Honda motorcycle, he would take me and my siblings for little rides to the end of our street and back. And around the mountain roads on the mountain property we had. And sometimes he would give me a little affectionate hug and kiss. Sometimes he would play the upright piano that was in the dining room of our ranch-style house, and i would be allowed to climb up on the top of the piano to listen to him play and sing his old songs. Sometimes he would take me to get a bunch of popsicle trearts for us kids at the grocery store. Sometimes he'd treat us kids to McDonalds hamburgers and soda pop.
As i grew older, those nice times grew less and less, and the walls between he and i grew taller and deeper.
In June of 1970, after school let out, we moved to our mountain property 22 miles East of town, where he had built a cabin and a Big two-story house two years after that. I had to now attend a country school where there were no more special ed classes for me, and i floundered on all levels there.
It was at this school that i discovered that hair shines in different colors, like almost a rainbow and prism, and boy, after that, i became totally enraptured with shiny hair!!! I just loved to play with the other girls' hair at school recess, and they all let me do so, too, but my sisters would always shoo me away and one of my sisters would actualy yell at me and hit me if i tried to touch her hair. I was teased mercilessly for this, by alot of the kids at school...but my father's reaction to this new quirk of mine, was to always yell at me for looking at my shines in my hair.... i wuld actually sit there on our country living room couch, and pull my hair in front of my eyes to look at the beautiful shines in it, and i'd do this, it seemed, like for hours on end. But because this was not normal to my daddy, he started threatening to take the cow clippers to my hair and give me a buzz-cut if i didn;t stop playing with my hair. And he was NOT joking!!
Neither was he joking when he kept after me for the arm-swinging (stimming) i was doing. He kept threatening that he would make me stay in my room ALL DAY LONG, if i kept this up..and because this was stimming that i was doing....i couldn't stop it..and he made good on his threat one Sunday after church when he caught me behind an old house trailer we had in our bacxkyard, swinging my arms in private, so as to not have HIM see me and punish me!! Well, that didn't matter to my dad, and i had to spend the whole rest of that day in my befroom..so, no playing Tonka trucks with my little brother that day..however, i was allowed to go with him and my mom to a nearby ranch several times that day as an outing, so that i wasn't having to be in my room all the time..and i was also allowed to go to the bathroom too.
My mom was able to talk my dad into relenting and letting me go on the little mini-trips to the ranch, where my dad was taking care of some livestock for the owners, who were away that weekend. Because she felt his punishment was too unreasonable and harsh.
From 6th through 9th grade, i withdrew into a quiet shell, so as to not upset anyone. Oh, i still talked and interracted with everyone but i moved heaven and earth to be as non-obtrusive as possible so as not to piss off my dad and make people call me different anymore. I also stopped liking country and western music in the 6th grade, which also irritated my strait-laced father, because he now hated rock music..even the lighter pop Top 40 tunes!! He and my brothers and one of my sisters all called it hippie music now....and i was now a litle mini-hippie-teenager in the 6th grade!!
I did discover, too, that i had allies in my mom and two of my older sisters, and they would allow me to sneak my music when the others weren't around. But my brothers were also alot like my father, very harsh and rigid, too.....and i never got along with them either. Nor the one sister who had the long silky shiny hair.
I felt so stifled and oppressed growing up. Never allowed to have a voice and never allowed to be me....
And as my older siblings became teenagers..guess what? My intolerant father began letting them have more privileges. They could now talk and joke with my father, even at the dinner table..and even my little brother began doing the same!!!!! He could get away with anything!!!
But i was still being squelched by my daddy!!!!
Needless to say, i grew to have an intense HATE for my father. Even as i still had to live at home with my parents through my twenties, i still had a very stilted, stiff relationship with my father.
When i was a sophomore in high school, my father was eatting a box of Sees candy in front of all of us, and wouldn't offer us any. Most of the time he would offer us a few pieces. But this night he wouldn't, and my mom pled with him to pass the box around. My older brother jokingly called him mean, and he laughed and shrugged and continued to eat his candy. I chimed in, agreeing with my brother..."Yeah, Daddy, you're mean!!" THAT did NOT fly with daddy..he immediately yelled "Hey, young lady, you nincompoop, GO TO YOUR ROOM!!!!"
My mom goes: "Dad, she was just joking!!"
His loud retort: "Well, I"M not joking!!! She needs to shut her smart mouth!!"
In My Sophomore year of high school i ran away three timnes toi try to get away from my hateful father and narrow-minded family.
Even after high school, when i got a small job cleaning house for a doctor and his wife and their boy..i wanted to wash my hair one Sunday afternoon, but he was eatting dinner, and would not allow it, said it would upset him to have me do that, to wait till the next day. I told him that i would have to get up earlier than normal to do it then, and he lost it, and started to lunge at me...i tried to run out the door, and he caught me by my hair and, literally screaming in my ear, yanked me inside the cabin, and to my room, where he roared at me that he wanted no more flack from me ever again..that he was fed up with me and would not tolrerate anything from me anymore..i felt that he was actually going to KILLL me that night. I manged to escape out my window and go to the Big House, where i called the doctor and his wife, and they let me come over and spend the night. After that, i moved my bedroom out to the Big House and got away from him that way. I didn;t speak to him for a long time after that incident with my hair.
Then, in the summer of 1983, when i was going to go on a trip to Indiana to visit friends, he came home one evening from work, my mom and i had been shopping in town that day, and we were unloading the family station wagon..and being i was so excited about my trip, i was in a friendly mood, so i asked him how his day at work went.
" I DON'T THINK THAT'S ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS!!", was his snotty reply, as he slammed shut the refrigerator door, my mouth popped open in utter shock, and i turned on my heel and ran out to my grandma's room which was downstairs in the Big House, running into her open arms, sobbing, my heart broken yet again by my daddy. My grandmother was shocked and upset too...she and my mother both felt he was out of line.
Many other simliar incidents followed, until one day in 1986, he and my mom saw a man with an oversized white cross walking down Broadway Street as they were stopped at a traffic light...and my father suddenly told my mother that he realized that he wasn't being kind to me. He told her that day that he was goi ng to make a concerted effort at being nicer to me. He did get alot nicer after that..but i still was afraid of his temper, because he would still get grumpy with me, so i still stayed my distance from him.
After all of our black and white TVs finally died and couldn't be fixed anymore, he finally went for a new 19-inch color set for him and my mom. Since i was now on SSI, i also had my own 17-inch color TV and a stereo now too..and i now had my bedroom out in the big house across the yard from my mom and dad's cabin, so i could stay seperated from him and have my music. But then, he started asking me to let him watch Monday Night Football on my TV, so my mom could watch The Bob Newhart Show..so i let him do that..with the provision that he not touch my rock posters that i had all over the walls of my sanctuary. Or my stereo. I had to have my mom tell him, because i was still not comfortable talking directly to him. He still would threaten to take his shotgun to my posters though, and kept accusing me of being a bad person just because i loved hard rock and heavy metal.
In 1987, i was finally able to move back into town next to two old ladies, a mother and her daughter, and they and their family and i became very close..and i began going to their Southern Baptist church and making more friends and blossoming out more. My dad and i would see each other on occasion, and he was always so nice to me now....but, still, i would never let my guard down, because..the damage had already been done...
My father had a stroke in 1989..and alot of his behavior reverted back to the old meaner version of Daddy again. But he also became less of a threat to me physically, so his and my blowouts were different now in that i could now tell him off and he'd shut his mouth. it still affected me, though, that he was always wanting to be harder on me than the others. I no longer hated my father..but i still wasn't close to him.
He died in February 2000.
Since then, he has periodically come to me in my dreams, sometimes they are peaceful dreams, where he is uber nice and accepts me and my music and ways of thinking..and other times he is the old mean daddy who would break my heart into little tiny pieces, time and tine again.
My father was a very good-looking teenager and still was good-looking in his twenties and thirties.
~~~~ <3<3<3 I wanted my father to love me...and he just couldn't do it.... <3<3<3 ~~~~
In the dream i had of him today, he was in his thirties and it was 1967 again...i had gone to the store to get the family groceries. Only i had gotten the wrong kind of milk, and my father didn't like that, and began lecturing me in his loud voicxe, and in this dream, i was fed up. I turned around and stood up for myself....and..THIS time, as i looked deep into his handsome blue eyes and spoke from my heart, telling him how hurtful he was being to me, that i am a human being...HE LISTENED.
If only he would have listened to me when i was a little child...back when it still mattered to me.