I was 18 and living in a perfect town, one where just by opening my front door the sprit of the day greeted me. It was an escape route unplanned, a time when I learned with each passing day that my father was not the kind of person I saw on those childhood visits while growing up in Tennessee. He had been my idol, my perfection, my first love just as many girls experience. He would fly into town and take me and my friends to dinner, shopping in the best stores with no limitations, tell exciting stories to my cousins and I and although I sensed some animosity toward him from my Aunt, his only sibling, I never once heard my mother say anything unkind about him but I would learn plenty later. I mention this as for her this must have taken great strength for she had every reason to keep me from him and sometimes I wish she had. In time I would have enough stories to fill wells of dark, undrinkable water, pitless and forever repenishing wells with new watered down tales. The reasons I left my mother to live with him were many and at the time he seemed the most viable option. This part of my life I shall weave in and out of as we go along, yet now I am not wanting to remember the why’s and how’s of my beautiful Mother. I have spun the reel a bit forward to my father’s third marriage; he had married one of the most kind persons I would ever know to this day. They had met when I was about nine and I will call her Elle. Elle had a love of art, fashion and a quieted worldliness giving way to a warm earthiness in our daily life; she was a charm with a brilliant smile, showing sensitivity toward everyone. She made my visits fun and in some way, exhibited to my father how to behave toward me. She would become pivotal in the forever change of how I saw myself and my father. I don’t doubt he cared for her and that they had good times, however she also came with perks as she was a flight attendant, meaning he could fly anywhere he wanted for next to nothing. We traveIed around the Caribbean, out to the California sunshine and down to Florida often. She treated me as her own, blessed me with a little sister and it was a huge surprise for her. My father had told her, as he did many women that he was sterile. Why he did this could be as simple as he didn’t want to wear a condom or that impregnating women was a psychological complexity leading him to feel they would need him and not leave him. I think it is the later. My sister was often hiding when my friends came over and quite shy; she would become my main reason to continue a very unhealthy relationship with my father after his world built on straw, fell to the ground. Mind you, not once did his world fall, but repeatedly as he would continue to break the rules of decency and the moral codes that most of us try to follow. I would catch him in the midst of the most heinous of crimes in my eyes, that being disloyalty to our family, over and over again. I was fully aware that he had treated others so wretchedly when he no longer needed them and as aforementioned he was often too drunk to behave around me, leading to my eventual realization he was using me to have access to other women. I was the perfect alibi. As shared earlier I had studied his character changes from early childhood and knew when he was scamming and or love bombing others for some deeper purpose. It took years to see I was also just as used as the California woman, the New York banker, the teenage bride, my mother and all the in between’s. He became quite an embarrassment in town as he often skipped payments to carpenters and hire on’s, some friends of mine he’d met through my boyfriend. While he tried to earn fast money with televised sporting events to creating production companies with no education or experience, it was Elle who paid the bills and believed in his whimsical ideas, it was Elle who figured out finances and how to save our lovely historical home. I knew he shafted others but I would never believe he was shafting me, or that he could or ever would. I truly believed I was granted immunity and still I find it impossible to comprehend. Kids are just that, kids. We need parents, we want security and we hold on to what we have because we don’t now what else to do. My paternal grandmother said, just months before she died, “he’s nothing but a con man, always has been and always will be”. Learning that being his daughter or the abandoned baby with the teen mom made no difference to him whatsoever would eventually wake me up, crush me and leave me on the stairwell in the dark for years. The details of daily life with BaD DaD are so many and deter from this one special door I reopened recently. I now will share something that he did which in retrospect was typical, the kind of regularity about this soon shared truth is still a wound unhealed. He hurt Elle often and because I knew her tears were frequent and that he barked at her with a cold disdain, I feared telling my stepmother the things he did. I didn’t want her to hurt more. I was a scared, deeply troubled and confused teenager.
BaD DaD had a favorite type physically in women, I could scan a crowd and always find the one or two women he would go for. Dark hair, preferably cut very short and thin. He also liked women who had anything he could benefit from and always kept a few possibilities to fall back on if things weren’t well at home. This would never be about Elle, my mother, the French enabler, or the number of turnstyle clickers of others he always needed to feel safe. Narcissists are always looking out for number one, themselves. This is not about just me either. It’s about women and what we have seen, lived with and through in either shame, emabrrassement, fear of not being heard or believed and taking care of each other. This is very much about how to be a “woman’s woman”, a friend, a truth seeker and protectress of our tribe.