Each time something big happens in my life, I have to record it in a paper bound journal with an actual pen. There’s something about the touch of ink to paper that transfers an event into a reality. The occasion is then locked in time and real. And it’s given a workout, re-lived from as many angles as you want during the writing and re-lived again each time you reread. I slipped out of the habit of journaling in a paper bound book since launching this blog, so this big event will be transcribed here.
So, this is what happened. Karl confronted my father over the phone during the most recent conversation I had with him that I wrote about in my last post. I listened in over speakerphone while Karl laid into that man, hitting him with exactly the right questions. The ones I hadn’t heard anyone dare to ask him before. It was amazing. Karl kept his voice calm and regulated, but he meant business. And he put my father right in his place.
This man has had it coming to him for a long time. I wish I could have video recorded the conversation, it was that good.
Here are the high points:
1. Karl asked my father straight out if he sexually abused me when I was little. My father said no. He said that it happened so long ago, and why hadn’t I ever mentioned it before. Ummmm, fear? He said that my 35 page letter detailing what happened was “suspect,” and that only demons could give a person so much information that it would fill up that many pages. He then said that I had no one on my side. He said that all my siblings and mother were in the house (not true) when the alleged events happened. Then he pouted, “Plus, I didn’t do
it.” Said in a cocky, peevish, teenager like voice.
Karl told my father that he didn’t care what my father said, that he knew my father was guilty. Point blank. That he believed me, and had my back.
2. Next, Karl told my father he knew something was wrong in the family the moment he stepped in the homestead door and met my family for the first time. Karl said he saw the lack of interaction between my father and his children. There was little to none. And there was none between him and I. The father figure tried to tell Karl that he didn’t interact with me because I was bitter and difficult. Karl cut in and told the father figure that no, that wasn’t the reason. It was because I was terrified of him.
3. Then Karl told my father that all he ever did was study the Scriptures, instead of paying attention to his own family. That he had no relationship with his family. That at each party or family event, the only thing my father did was sequester himself off in a corner and talk to the men about the meaning of the Scriptures. While the rest of the family was ignored. (That was how it always was growing up, not just at parties. There was no interaction with the father figure unless it was Biblical exhortation or Biblical reprimands.)
Karl asked the father figure who he would be without Christianity in his life. My father paused. Then he said. “I would be nothing. I would have no reason to live.”
This is the way this man speaks. All or nothing.
Karl said, “But [father figure], you are wrong. Without Christianity, you have many things to live for. You have your family, and you have your work shop where you know how to create many inventive things with your tools and machines. You have a very full life outside of God and the Bible.”
My father didn’t agree and said so. He began preaching at Karl. Karl listened very patiently, but told my father that he (Karl) wasn’t a Christian any longer, just as I wasn’t either.
4. Karl then told my father he was a horrible example of a Christian because he wouldn’t take in either of his daughters, me or Thalia when we were sick three years ago and had no where to go before Karl came to my rescue first, then Thalia’s. Karl told my father in no uncertain terms that he did my father’s job by taking in Thalia for the last year. The father figure didn’t have anything to say about Thalia. But he told Karl that he didn’t want me to live in his house three years ago because I was bitter towards him, and always had been. Bitter. That is code for “angry that he abused me, but bottling it up, unable to speak up about it due to fear of punishment from him and God.” Additionally, it wasn’t just his version of “bittnerness” that caused me to shy away from him. It was extreme fear, terror of that man. Based on the way he treated me, and because he clearly warned me as a child that I wasn’t safe around him. Although back then I didn’t know exactly why I wasn’t safe. I just lived with that mystery and chalked it up to just another one of the idiosyncrasies of living in that homestead with him.
Perhaps it was for the best my father refused to let me go home when I was sick a few years ago and had no where to go, before I met Karl. But my father wouldn’t have abused me, at least, not sexully. The sexual abuse happened only when I was a child.
But still, regardless of how uncomfortable either party would have been, I was slowly dying back then, and they knew it. I had no other place to go. I cried for hours on the phone begging them to let me come home, but they refused.
Karl brought up an example of his own grandfather. Despite having no religious faith, this man took in over the course of his long life two of his adult sons, one when he lost his job, and one when he got divorced, as well as his daughter and her baby boy born out of wedlock. Karl’s grandpa didn’t abuse his children. He provided for them and took care of them like a decent human being. All without a religion or God telling him what to do.
And what was my dad’s response? He brought up his own father, who didn’t know the Lord for most of his life. Apparently this man (my grandfather) was a decent fellow with a calm, phlegmatic personality, but he was still a sinner in the eyes of God. And what drove this man to Christ? Well, my father said that my grandpa hit the end of his rope and cried out to God to save him when he was at his lowest point, when his daughter (my Aunt Shandy) started dating black men in the inner city and word got back to him. That, my friends, is what drove my grandfather to Christ. That was his low point. My grandfather went crying to the racist white Lord to save his daughter from men of another race. That was his rock bottom in life.
Oh Lord, rescue us from this sick comedy hour, I beg of you.
How utterly ashamed I am of this man and his sick beliefs. That he blatently shared with Karl. It’s like, I know the man is sick and twisted, but hearing him so calmly share his perspective with Karl was like seeing it all with fresh eyes, and being horrified and embarrassed by it all over again.
This same Aunt Shandy is the aunt who is no longer with us. She was struggling with depression and some other mental health issues for a number of years. My father told her that depression and mental health issues are actually just signs that you have sin in your life and are the result of not taking responsibility in your life. He told her that depression and mental issues happen when you house demons in you. He warned us all to not go around her when she visited us, in case a demon jumped out and latched onto us. The night she came to our house and my father told her that her depression was simply a case of sin and demonic influence was the last night we saw her. My father was the last person she spoke to. They found her dead in the early hours of the morning the next day. She drove her car at high speed into a tree. She had left a note saying, “I’m glad this is my last day.”
Would that she had never spoken to my father. Such ill advice to give to someone who is depressed. The man is sick, but people around him don’t seem to see because he is adept at coating his words with Bible verses, as well as brainwashing the young and vulnerable.
5. My father then began to tattle-tale on me by telling Karl that earlier on in the conversation, I had started mouthing off and acting rebellious, raising my voice. This would have been the part of the conversation when I started calmly reminding my father in detail of the various lewd acts he performed to me and in front of me. My father quickly interrupted me and raised his voice, and in turn I raised my voice and interrupted him back, asking him why he always cut me off. He owns the privilege of being rude, but my echoing back his rudeness is rebellion. So my father told Karl that I had never been like that before, and he wondered what had happened to me. I’m sure he was about to pull out the old, “I’m sure she’s demon possessed, wouldn’t you think, Karl?” but Karl jumped right in and cut him off.
Karl told my father that compared to his (Karl’s) own sisters, I was quite the quiet and respectful person. He said that he was actually quite glad that I spoke up and raised my voice when I felt the need to, and that he trusted that if I was raising my voice, that I had every reason to do so.
Then Karl told my father that he (Karl) had several times been verbally abusive towards me, and that I had the balls to stand up and yell back. And that was what made him (Karl) finally wake up and realize just how awful he had been treating me for some time. Karl said that he was sorry he treated me that way, but was glad that I spoke up to him in a loud and forceful way and showed him exactly what he was doing, then and on other occasions. That he was proud of me for fearlessly standing up for myself when I felt I needed to.
And very proud of me for standing up to him, the father figure.
And that just about blew that man away. He didn’t have much to say after that. He wanted to wrap the conversation up.
Women standing up to men is a huge no-no in his patriarchal mind. And a man encouraging a woman to stand up to him is utterly earth shaking to the father figure.
My father knew he didn’t have a supporter in Karl anymore after that. And I was over on the other side of the room saying “Yes! YES! YES!” because Karl stood up for me.
6. Karl made my father promise to read the letter I sent to him, and to write and let us know he read it afterwards. My father promised. (Note: it was an empty promise; he never wrote back to say he read it, and he ignored my email asking if he did read it after all.)
The conversation ended with my father asking, “Now, may I say ‘God bless you’?” And Karl amiably said “sure.” I mean, why not, right? The man has no other language to end a conversation. And that was that.
I can not express in words what a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders after hearing that conversation between my father and Karl. For the first time in my life, someone has my back in regards to a situation where I most needed backup but never experienced it, until that moment. My mother, my siblings, other relatives, church members, neighbors… no one has stood up for me against him before. After that confrontation, I felt like I finally had an ally at my side, and a formidable one at that. Karl being male makes the conversation more valid than if it had been simply another female taking my side. I am not going at it alone anymore. It’s almost like Karl is retroactively protecting me against this monster, despite the protection being only verbal and occurring over 30 years after the harm was done.
No matter. Right then at that moment, I felt protected from that monster for the first time ever, and I actually was able to breath. And smile. And even laugh. The dynamic between Karl and I changed after that. Karl has my back, and he’s proud of me.
A fork in the tracks has been reached. Karl is generally such a friendly, easy going kind of person. He used to be in good with the family, and things were congenial and tight knit. It took him longer to want to exit the family dynamic than it took me. Karl used to not understand the depth of religious mire my family was lost in, and he never saw before the need to speak up or stand up for me. Now a point has been reached where he not only understands the gravity of the situation, but he backs me up. And my family sees now that Karl isn’t going to be their pawn any more. We are split from them, and it feels great.