Giovanna

I just want to say, this is my story and path to healing - I hope it offers up a perspective that some people may find helpful. I understand that every person and situation varies, I don't intend to tell anyone that this is the only way to face your healing process.


It's been nearly six years since the last time I've seen my dad. I was 19, on vacation, and had just learned, from the man himself, that I had been an object of his lust for three whole years. The shock of the information led me to dredging up every memory I had ever shared with this person. This meddling about unlocked some sort of secret, deeply buried memory of which I had felt too embarrassed to full recover since I was five years old. Since the recovery of this information I had been hiding away from myself, I have spoken up about it, brazenly saying, "I don't care, I'm fine." Here, today, I still get knots in my stomach when I utter the words, so I will finally honour myself by saying, I don't want to say or write it out exactly. But I think you know.


I could write pages upon pages about the subsequent years - or the ones leading up - and the toll that this new trauma took on my life, but maybe that's another story. I'm happy to say, though pain is still pain, I was able to carry on my life quite normally. My therapist would say I'm downplaying, and though I did suffer from plenty internal damage, I felt truly lucky to have been able to lead an objectively normal life compared to what others' traumas have put them through. Yet, still...on any given day, there is a reminder. A desperation. A mourning. I still wonder about him. I sometimes even miss him. My journal comes out and I spend hours trying to make sense of this longing and sadness.


See, I didn't even meet my father until I was four. And I had a very happy upbringing with my mother. So, when he entered my life, I didn't exactly even want him there. I even quite hated when he was around, cramping the perfect life mom and I had. Why am I so sad over someone I mostly despised all of my years growing up? Why am I missing what little relationship we did have, when I never once cherished it? I wonder if I pity the fact that I never had a "true" father growing up and now I'm left with...this. I wonder if I am jealous over my half-siblings that have always had a different relationship with him. I wonder if deep down, amidst the uncertainty, the superficial feelings, and the lack of trust, I have this cavewoman feeling of knowing, he is someone who should be there, present, in my life.


Mostly, I wonder how can I feel so much disgust, hate, and anger, yet still want to go back to being his little girl?


During my first draft of writing this, a wave of calm removed my pen from paper, and reminded me of something else I had buried: the happy memories. Because, when you're mad at someone, you tear it all down. You question the trust that had been built. All of a sudden, they go from human to monster, and you forget they still could have made you feel something. So, I tested my theory. I started to list them one by one.

When I think of my father, positive-associations only, what do I think?


* Delicious home cooked meals

* A passion for travel

* Cheekiness

* Risk-taking

* Turning a regular evening into an adventure

* Staying up late

* Hot European summers


After my scribbling, I had two revelations. The first being, there is no one way to cut people out of the fabric of your life. It's not the movies where you scream, "I hate you," and life moves on. It's not a horrible thing to remember that people are human, and the depth of human complexity goes deeper than most people can fathom. When I think of the complexity of my own emotions towards the man that gave me life, and the complexity of the fact that not all bad people are bad only. Good can be found within, and you can decide if that good can still be cherished.


The second revelation was that despite what I may have told myself most of my life, there are traits I have inherited, pleasant experiences I've had, and even life lessons learnt from this one deeply-flawed human. Perhaps when I projected malice and a lack of trust on him, my own inherited traits felt attacked too. Perhaps I felt like the things that still remained were also flawed and not even mine to keep, and who I was - am - has been in question ever since.


Well, now it is imperative that I tell myself everyday for however long it takes to seep in, I can keep the good. I can cherish the memories. I can every so often think of the what ifs and the what could have beens, and not feel ashamed. I realise that I don't have to tear him down nor apart to feel whole again. He's not my enemy. Not anymore. I can go on being me, and never have to question who that "me" is again.