Sunday, November 14, 2010

Father's Touch, Part 2

This is part 2 of a series in reviewing the impact of the book, Father's Touch, by Donald D'haene. Please see PART 1 for the beginning of the review.

Here are the links to all three parts of this book review.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

In this part of the book review, I'm going to pull out various passages that stood out to me and connected deeply within me. I'll try to share how they impacted my mind at the time I read them.

1) Blew them to smithereens
“Mother told us to tell her if it happened again, but she couldn’t stop the game from happening. Father kept a shotgun in the pantry. On several occasions, he blew our favorite pets to smithereens. We knew enough not to get papa angry.” (page 99)

Wow, this hit me like a ton of bricks dropped from the world's tallest building. If you know anything about my own story, you know that I witnessed my cats being killed. I am haunted by their screams to this day and if anyone dares to hurt an animal, you have no place in this world in my eyes. Even my dog that I had was shot at and to the day she died, the Veternarian that spent the final hours with her could still see the buckshot lodged in her legs. There were other stories that involved one of our sheep, my brother's little dog, a cat I had while I was gone to college and probably too many more that I cannot even keep track of. In all cases, my father either got mad at the animals or thought they were getting too much of our affection or just wanted to teach us a lesson. You see, animals to me were always sacred and seeing something I truly loved and that loved me in return be hurt or killed made me into a believer that if I did something to upset my father, it may be me that was hurt or killed. As a child, I dreamed of a day when the pets would rise up against the humans and go kick some serious butt! In those moments, I knew my father would be one of the first to get his butt kicked.

2) Block them out of my mind
"Fellow Christians believed in placing negative experiences behind them through the practice of prayer and positive thinking. Putting my path behind me seemed far easier than dealing with the dysfunction within my family. We certainly had troubles and I wanted to make them disappear. I did have bad memories, but they only showed up in the reels that played in my mind. New experiences were added to that memory bank daily. The only way I could feel better was to make believe each situation was non-existent. Each would be assigned a fresh reel." (page 140)

This part gets me on a couple different sides. In church we were just supposed to forgive and forget and be happy people in Jesus. While I know many people find solace in that, it is hard to be happy in Jesus when your father is abusing you and telling you that this is what God wants him to do. It seemed like those that wanted to abuse me could do whatever they wanted and then go pray and ask forgiveness for it. In addition to the church and the people who just turned their heads and closed their eyes, my dad was into the Norman Vincent Peale books that basically you were just supposed to think happy. I'll tell you, it is hard to be truly happy when your life is being ripped apart fiber by fiber. The only thing I could do during this time was escape into a world that I would hardly remember and act as if nothing was going on. I became a good actor in life. For if I didn't hide all that was going on, you can sure as bet, father's rage would be waiting for you.

3) Am I really going to charge him?
"In my bed this night, the peace of sleep eludes me. Am I really going to charge my father with something that isn't real to me? Life with Daniel seemed to last an eternity, but I can't remember my father's face, how he felt, or the sound of his voice. I wanted to force him out of my mind, and I did. However, why are the home-movie reels so vivid? How do I conjure up such images and yet feel nothing? It happened to my other self. I know it did." (page 156)

Even though I know what happened and even though I have indisputable evidence of these events, my mind loves to play tricks with me. My mind likes to minimize all that I went through and say, this really wasn't that bad. Being raped isn't such a bad thing after all. And yet, most people would cringe at hearing these words and in reality for most of my life, this was normal. I have had to stand on my own in what I remember and in the failings of my mind to piece my life back together. I remember one attorney that really wanted to me to take my father to court but at the time, I did not want to endure the torture that it would put me through. Now, I'm at a different point and the thought of taking him to court has crossed my mind more than once. I'm not the weak little boy that he once knew and he is no longer the big mean monster that I always hid from in fear.

4) Touch makes my skin crawl
"I can't stand being touched by men or women. Especially if someone comes from behind and touches me before I know who it is. Oooh! It makes my skin crawl - I don't know why. Is that stupid or what? The fact that I don't like being touched is kind of sad to me. But just talking about it helps." (page 195)
For a long time, if anyone got close to me, let alone tried to touch me my skin would crawl like ants running up and down my body. That may sound gross but for a long time in life, I would constantly check my skin to see if there were bugs on it. It took a great deal of courage and strength for me to go to massage school and learn to be touched. It was agonizing at first but now after the deep healing work I have done on my body, touch is something I welcome. Of course, my body is very sensitive to touch and so what some may consider extremely light body work is indeed very deep work to me. It does not take much for me to get a tremendous amount from just a light touch. My body was taught to fear and avoid touch but since I have been reclaiming that part of me, I'm finding there is a world that is so healing and so beautiful and full of compassion.

5) Healing has no graduation class
"The truth is that the path I chose is one of the reasons that I am alive today. I found my way of surviving. I want to continue my journey of self discovery, but there is no graduation class, no point where the past means nothing. My experiences and choices have molded and shaped a character that is truly unique. I believe that if every victim were to experience the awakening I have, he would find the world is not such a bad place to inhabit. I have an awareness, a sixth sense that cannont be bought, taught, or taken away from me." (page 288)

I so love this part of Donald's book because I find it so true. To many times I have been told by others that they hope I get to the point where I have moved on. I've heard this in so many ways from so many and while it is a nice thought, my life is about going further into discovery and awareness. I want to reclaim all parts of myself no matter how difficult it is. I want to become more aware and more conscious of who I am. In my view, healing from trauma or child sexual abuse does not have an end point or as Donald says, "graduation class." It is a journey and while the journey may put time and space between the events and where an individual is at in their life, future consciousness is what matters. The more we become aware of all parts of ourself, the more we are human. Often these journeys of recovery occur over many years and they come and go as tides crashing on to a short. There may be periods of rest and then there may be periods of hard work but all of it is connected to each other. The more I journey into the land of the unknown and fear, the more I discover parts of myself that I never knew existed. That to me is the greatest single joy which can never be taken away from me.

Please come back tomorrow for part 3 of the book review of "Father's Touch" by Donald D'haene.

Click here to Purchase the book on Amazon, Father's Touch.

(c) 11/9/10 by Don Shetterly - use by permission only

1 comment:

  1. Not sure I'm at the point yet where i would be able to read this, as my perp was my father as well. Maybe one day.

    In your responses though, I've been finding myself thinking about others' touch also, and how sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn't, and it never seems to have any rhyme or reason. Very maddening.






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