Have you experienced something that felt all wrong, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it so you dismissed it? It could be a small detail, but feels important, really important, and your mind is telling you that it just doesn’t add up or make sense so the best thing to do is let it go. Whatever the conflict, our common sense is not able to reconcile the problem or rationalize what it means. Often times, the reason is, what we are seeing is so frightening that we don’t want to know the truth.
This was my experience with my father and it happened a lot. His behavior was raising flags, big ones that I can see now, but at the time, I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing or feeling so I would re direct my attention to something else that would make that feeling go away.
My parents were divorced when I was just a kid (4 or 5, I think) and my father destroyed my Mom in court. This was 40+ years ago and he got custody of us kids (3), which at the time was unheard of. My Mom was an alcoholic and never fully recovered from the divorce. When I was 12 years old she called me one night drunk and was basically saying goodbye to me. It took me a while to figure out what she was doing, but I came to realize that she was trying to commit suicide.
I went to my father and begged him to take me to her, but he didn’t want to be bothered. I was crying hysterically and he finally agreed to take me to her apartment. Once we got there he refused to get out of the car. I banged on the door and she did not answer. After several attempts I took a small towel from my Father’s car, wrapped it around my fist and broke the jalacy windows in her door to enter her apartment. She was barely awake and heavily drugged from a combination of Valium and alcohol. I called 911 and they sent an ambulance.
Oddly enough, the most disturbing part of that night was my father’s behavior. He simply didn’t care. At the time I think I rationalized that it was because he didn’t love my mom and he was a tough guy, stuff like that. I actually looked up to my Dad because he was so “tough”. He always taught me that that was an important quality for successful men, but this was different and didn’t feel right, even understanding that philosophy. My Mom was trying to kill herself and he didn’t bother to get out of the car to help and showed little or no emotion when I asked him to help. It wasn’t his problem. As I write this, it just struck me for the first time that maybe the reason he didn’t want to help was that he wanted her to die that night.
That “something’s not right here” feeling or thought was not how he reacted to my Mom, but me. I can see it now, but then, I didn’t like the thought of my father being so cold that he could watch me deal with that and not care about what it was doing to me. I guess I tried to rationalize that thought and couldn’t make sense of it, so I went back to the tough guy explanation and dismissed it. I mean really, if I connected the dots the truth was not an explanation I was ready to accept at that time. The truth was my Dad didn’t feel anything and didn’t care. This was an inconvenience and he was pissed because he had to deal with the situation.
The question that I dismissed was “why didn’t dad help me and why didn’t he understand how difficult this was for me?” I was extremely scared and confused. Either he really didn’t care or he couldn’t relate to what I was feeling. I needed him badly at this time and he was completely disconnected. I didn’t like the answer so I dismissed the question and tried to believe that I misunderstood his behavior. I would go as far as to begin to remember events like this differently and blame myself for having these weird thoughts.
The truth was that my father didn’t care because he was not capable of relating to the feelings I was having. As a sociopath, he was incapable of feeling what I was feeling so he didn’t care. He did have the ability to mimic these behaviors when he felt necessary, but rarely when he was mad and that night he was mad.
Looking back that was a very lonely night for me. I was in the presence of both my parents, but deep down I think I knew how alone I really was. Nope, I wasn’t ready for the truth, it was easier to just believe that I misunderstood my Dad’s behavior and everything would be ok. Dad loved me, he was just angry and everything will be fine when we get back home I told myself.
Well, everything didn’t turn out fine. My dad was a con man that would turn to murder as a serial killer later in life and this was just a small glimpse of his soul. There were many others (glimpses) like this, but we tend to overlook them because they just don’t make sense. Or even worse, we sense the truth, but can’t or are not willing to deal with it.
Writing about these events has been a very good experience. It brings things to light that I might otherwise overlook. Someone once told me that it was like exposing undeveloped film to light. Once I do this it no longer holds power over me. Thanks for reading it.