Friday, June 13, 2008

A Card for My Abusive Father

Today, I once again had to address the annual problem of how to deal with my father in relation to Father's Day. What makes it a difficult issue is that he spent my formative years terrorizing, beating, and abusing me.

Not to mention that he did the same thing to my seven younger brothers and sisters.

Or that he brutalized my mother.

Ultimately, my sense of being abused was strong enough that I decided to change my name rather than have my children grow up with my father's name.

Thus was born the Caric family.

Likewise, even though I''ve spent a lot of time in therapy dealing with the consequences of my abusive childhood, I still have symptoms that are best described as PTS--Post-Traumatic Stress.

Yet, the majority of the abuse was also long ago and I haven't received any abusive letters in more than fifteen years. True, I still have psychological symptoms, but I feel a lot less psychological pressure than I used to.

Plus, it's been a long time since I had nightmares of him torturing me.

The abuse of the rest of my family is also long past. My parents have been divorced for twenty years and have almost nothing to do with each other now. Only one of my other brothers and sisters has any contact with him. So there's nothing on that front either.

And now that I'm in my fifties, I find that I have some affection for him and have bought him Father's Day cards and Christmas cards for the last three years or so.

But what kind of card to get?

Most Father's Day cards have a lot of gooey sentimentality about how the son or daughter loves their father, everything their father taught them, all the wisdom their father has, and how much they owe their father.

I'm not going to send anything like that. I know the extent to which most of these kinds of sentiments are fake or rooted in wishful thinking. But I'm a million miles from even being able to fake such a huge lie.

What's more, looking through the sentimental cards was annoying because it was beginning to remind me of the atmosphere of lovelessness that my father actually enforced while I was growing up.

What I was looking for was something that said "Hi Dad--Happy Father's Day. I'm thinking of you" without saying anything about exactly what kind of father he'd been.

And I found it--the perfect card for someone who I want to acknowledge as my father without getting into too much reality about what his being my father means. I think the card even said "Thinking of You."

Now I'm thinking of giving him a call too.

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