DID Survivors — I have a question for you about fathers.
It’s not Father’s Day everywhere in the world, but this weekend has been Father’s Day for the Discussing Dissociation readers in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Peru, Netherlands, and Philippines. I’ve mentioned these countries specifically because it’s absolutely amazing to see these areas in the Top 10 Countries for DD readers. Wherever you are in the world, thank you for reading!
For the readers in the other Top 10 Countries — Australia, New Zealand, Germany — I know your local Father’s Day is a different time of year than June, but you might be hearing the influence of many of the other areas of the world who are focusing on fathers right now.
So yeah….. it’s Father’s Day.
That was the fun bit — listing out the current Top 10 Countries who have folks who read at this blog.
The harder bit — what on earth to say about fathers on Father’s Day.
I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile. What to write. What to present. What to say….
While I was thinking about it, I had a look back at the Discussing Dissociation Father’s Day posts from previous years, and I felt a little disheartened. Of course, so many of the father-related issues for dissociative trauma survivors are connected to father-trauma. Trauma, abuse, perpetrators, and violence. Yikes. They are a heavy load, those father related posts.
And yet — I’ll be honest — of the hundreds DID survivors I have spoken to on an individual basis, I can vaguely recall only 2 or 3 situations where the father was helpful, as in genuinely helpful for their child’s healing process.
That’s just the saddest thing. Maybe my memory is failing…. But I have been thinking about this for several days, and I’m just not remembering any further examples to pull from.
So that started my thinking……
Where are the helpful fathers?
I am most definitely open to hearing from anyone who has DID and who also experienced a genuinely kind, and helpful father. Please feel free to comment with your story — I would be glad to hear it.
I also understand that some really good men who were wonderful fathers may have passed away, or become overtaken by severe illness, and their absence left their children with less protection and in more danger. This loss would have been devastating, and while father-absence is heartbreaking anytime, it would be even more traumatic for the loss of a good father to create vulnerability for abuse from other less honorable father-figures stepping in afterwards.
I’ve known a few fathers to contribute to the financial costs of their dissociative child’s healing process…. And while that is “helpful”, this of course, came with many, many strings attached. So even in these situations, while the financial support provided a certain element of helping, it also added different layers of control, domination, intrusion of privacy, and emotional enmeshment. In these situations, the abuse still felt current and active, via the bank account. In my experience, there hasn’t been a financial gift that was genuinely “string-free”.
I’ve been trying to remember situations where the father wasn’t part of the abusive, traumatic history of the DID survivor. And while I know of situations where the dissociative survivor at first thought their father was innocent, I’m pretty sure that in all those situations, as the survivor had the strength and courage to listen to the whole of their system, the father ended up having a role — even if it was a behind-the-scenes role — but still a knowing and a complicit active role in the abuse that happened to their child.
This is just staying sad. Sad. Sad.
Very sad about dads.
Breaks my heart sad.
I wanted to write about the redeeming characters of fathers, and bring something positive into this day.
But I am honestly struggling to remember a situation where a dissociative trauma survivor had an innocent and helpful father.
This is a very very very very different statement than referencing dissociative men. I’m not talking about y’all — the dissociative men who are invested in their healing. Please don’t lump yourself into the group I wrote about above.
I know of some very sincere men, very dissociative men, men with DID who are very very invested in their healing, and are wonderful fathers. And I say “Good for you guys — really well done!” , because I bet’cha you had to learn those positive parenting skills all on your own, without much help from your own father’s role model. My hat goes off to you, and by all means, please keep up the good work you’re doing!
Let me go back to my original dilemma.
Do YOU know of any DID survivor whose father was genuinely not involved in their abuse in some way, shape, or form?
And let me qualify this question.
Because as I mentioned above, many dissociative survivors may START their healing process believing they were not hurt by their father. I’ve seen that a zillion times.
And remember this.
There will always be DID parts of every system who are not aware of the abuse, and those parts will adamantly insist they weren’t hurt. And likely — as a member of a system — THEY were not the ones who were hurt.
THEY are the ones who are not supposed to know about the abuse. They have strong dissociative walls between themselves and the trauma memories, and these parts were there to help keep the secret about whether any abuse was occurring or not. They are an important part of the system, even if they didn’t experience the abuse themselves.
They are the ones who are supposed to look happy, and be smiley, and be able to act as if everything and everyone was okay. It’s super hard to do that once you KNOW abuse is happening, so for those parts of the system to do their job, they really had to NOT know.
I get that — it makes perfect sense as a helpful way to survive the trauma — and to function okay the next day.
For these parts it can be a shocking surprise to learn that there was trauma. It usually takes a lot of effort for them to hear the rest of the story. They need to spent solid amounts of time connecting with their system, and listening to layers of the people in their system….. Their denial might be very very thick. They might not have experienced the abuse in first-person, but behind those dissociative walls, it still happened to the overall person-self.
All this leads back to my original question once again.
Do you know of dissociative system who hasn’t had some version of father trauma ?
I don’t exactly know where I’m going with this thought.
It just hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend, and really and truly saddens my heart.
It’s sad because fathers are actually really important people. They are someone who is supposed to be there to help you and guide you, and give you a solid step up in the world. They are supposed to be on your side, and not someone who took pleasure in or payment for your being hurt.
Fathers are supposed to protect you from the bad guys — not BE one of the bad guys, and not hand you over to the creepy guys either.
So for you who had a father who didn’t do his job as a father in providing safety and protection or you, I am very very sorry.
Please don’t internalise your father’s weaknesses, and inabilities, and poor choices, and angry violence, and mistake that for something you ever deserved. Please don’t think that he was ‘right’ to do this to you.
YOU DID NOT DESERVE TO BE ABUSED. NOT NOW. NOT THEN. NOT EVER.
Even someone as important as a father can be a person who makes bad mistakes.
And if YOUR father abused you, then HE made a mistake. A very very bad mistake. He made a horrific decision to be mean, and it’s not okay and not right that he did so. Most of the abuses that occur to children are actual crimes of violence or neglect so if your father hurt you, then his actions were not only wrong, but very likely criminal.
This is not okay.
You were young, innocent, powerless, trapped, with nowhere to go but to be subjected to this trauma. You had no choice but to comply, endure, and find ways to get through it as unscathed as possible. The trauma was seriously not your fault, and you are not bad or worthless or valueless for having survived such horrific violence.
In fact, you are the hero now.
Instead of the father getting to be the hero, you are the hero, the strong one, the pure one, the beautiful one.
YOU are the miracle person — the one who is amazing.
You may have been trashed, or abandoned, or hurt, or beaten, or maybe you experienced any horrific version of physical-spiritual-emotional-sexual assaults….
But no child EVER should be treated with such hatred, violence, disdain, and disrespect. No child EVER should wear the crimes of grown men. No child EVER should be made to feel shattered or destroyed by their very own father.
None of that was okay.
And shame, shame, shame piled upon the men who hurt little children. They were never ever ever supposed to hurt you or ANY child.
You don’t gotta stay there.
You can get far away from those terrible places and the traps, the blockages, the squish-downs, and the squash-aways that happen in those places.
Let’s move you out of that place of horror and trauma.
Let’s help you focus on your own healing, and your own strengths, and find some goodness that you can hold onto today.
I want you to also remember, or hear, and learn, that not all men are bad. I can promise you that, a million times over, because I’ve met some very good men who would never ever hurt a child.
So yes — absolutely, yes — there are respectful, kind, compassionate good men in this world.
And while you might not have anything much to celebrate about your father, maybe you can think of some man you know today who showed you kindness or respect. Maybe there is a man who helped you, or offered you a tissue if you needed one, or helped you not fall in the mud.
MAYBE you can think of something good and valued in your father, and just for a moment, focus only on that compartmented section of him.
What can you do to feel gratitude, and appreciation, and thankfulness for those moments of male kindness you experienced?
What can you remember that warmed your heart?
For me — today, one of my favorites memories is having homemade pancakes made by my father. My dad makes the best “pan crepes” in the whole world, and for many years, Sunday morning pancakes were my most favorite breakfast of the week.
So today — just to honour him — I had pancakes. They weren’t as good as the ‘cakes he makes, but they were as important. Because they warmed my heart, and reminded me of an unrelenting kindness that a very strong and busy man showed to a house full of kids every Sunday morning for years of time.
To remember something good, I re-lived that memory today, re-creating a positive experience that had a lifelong impression on me, for the positive.
And I had me some pretty good pancakes too!
What’s a beautiful memory that you have?
What kind of positive, helpful, or kind tradition can you create for you and your system based on the kindness shown to you by a compassionate man?
You might have to think for awhile, but I bet you can find one.
Bring that good experience from your past into your present. Let your heart be warmed by something that was meant for kindness and compassion. Let your heart, and your system people, remember some of the good that happened, no matter where it came from.
It’s okay to give yourself some of the everyday bit of beauty that we all need.
Three cheers for starting a Pancake Day at your house too!
I wish you the very best pancakes ever in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2023 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation