Healing the Wounds of Incest: Part Two

My story about the nightmares, the rage and ultimately, the acceptance.
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Fuck Father’s Day. As a survivor of incest, to say this holiday is complicated is an understatement.

I’ve been feeling out of sorts, and I realized it is because this week is the 11th anniversary of my Dad’s death. He died on a Wednesday; we buried him on Friday, and that Sunday was Father’s Day.

My father was a charming and charismatic man. In the 1970s, he was the mayor of my hometown. The Optimist Club even awarded him the lauded as “Man of the Year.” He was so loved, in fact, that we had to schedule visitation with his body on two consecutive nights at the funeral home so our friends and neighbors would have enough time to come and say goodbye.

My mother fell completely apart when he died. When she went to pieces, the life that I had known began to break away as well.

A Picture-Perfect Family

Every Christmas, we sent out a family card with our picture on it: The Famous Lumpkins. Five smiling faces. No one knew the deep river of sorrow that my pretty smile covered up. No one knew about the incest that went on behind closed doors.

When I was growing up, I felt a horrible, almost unbearable need to make my parents understand how much I loved them. Along with that pressure was a feeling of guilt — a sense that I would have to equally ration my love between my mother and father so that neither of them felt cheated. The thought that either of them might think for a moment that I didn’t love them would cause a stabbing panic in my heart. I did not realize back then that my overwhelming desire to show them my love was actually a desperate attempt to feel loved by them.

A Complicated Father/Daughter Relationship

Every year I am dealt a double-whammy: I’m sad because my father is dead and therefore cannot celebrate Father’s Day. Far worse than that is the thought that I shouldn’t be celebrating my father at all because he sexually abused me, and I am a survivor of incest.

I still struggle with the concept of my two fathers. Daytime Daddy was a really great guy, funny and kind. After Midnight, Daddy was a looming, sinister shadow figure. It is impossible math to make two become one. Therefore, I have become proficient in Olympic-quality mental gymnastics, which allows me to love Daytime Daddy and despise the “stranger” in my bed.

If you need help, please contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) via their toll-free hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE or online at rainn.org.

Originally published on Amanda de Cadenet’s The Conversation on June 15, 2012

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