I woke up yesterday and discovered my father had received the message I sent him via his work website. He responded with the following:
His response is exactly what it was when I first confronted him 29 years ago. I had a LOT of feelings in response to his denial. I spent a couple hours on the phone with my best friend who is also a trauma survivor and is in therapy with a very skilled psychologist. The whole day was devoted to processing my feelings, taking care of my littles and trying to find the words to respond to him. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the day without my best friend and the unexpected response to my last post from another trauma survivor I trust and love. I had so many conflicting feelings and some doubts about my memories and contact with these friends gave me the gift of feeling seen and validated.
My friend gave me the amazing advice of taking all my rage and making a list of things I can do to express it that will also allow me to seek some justice and/or revenge. And she was careful to remind me to only engage in these activities for as long as it serves my healing and growth. She’s so incredibly wise and strong. We discussed several ideas and I decided to speak to a lawyer in the state where the abuse happened, find ways of destabilizing my dad’s well being, and, because I practice magick, create a spell that will invite justice to happen. I have several things I’m now pursuing, including getting my dad’s name and photo added to the Jewish Community Watch’s: Wall of Shame. This is a website where the names and photos of known and suspected child molesters and abusers are posted. It’s pretty fucking badass.
I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the end of the day and I slept really soundly and without any night terrors or memories. I’d like to think that’s because I worked so hard to feel all the feelings that came up and to take care of myself. This morning I woke up again feeling doubt about my memories. It’s been a long time since I felt that doubt but I’ve also spent the last fifteen years without any contact with my dad. My pragmatic alter, Max, suggested we try and find out more about False Memory Syndrome and we discovered that it’s been debunked and found to be incredibly harmful to victims of child sexual abuse. The man who pushed this nonsense for so many years was himself accused of sexually abusing his daughter.
It didn’t take much for me to drop back into self-trust and remember that my memories are real. I started to feel a though my dad’s response was crafted to frighten and confuse me. And I realized I felt deeply unafraid of him and very clear about my experiences. At that point, I decided to write one more message to my dad. Here it is:
If you’re reading this and are a survivor of any kind of abuse that has been denied, I see you. I believe you. You can trust yourself and your body to know what is true. I trust you to know what’s true.