I have been sitting here reading all of your stories and it is making me feel much better just knowing there are people who truly understand the damage that this experience yields. This morning I was going through some old boxes of stuff, getting ready to move across the country. Among all the random memorabilia I found lots of baby pictures of me with my dad, and even one with me, my mom and my dad. Naturally, they brought up a lot of feelings for me. After a while the feelings became overwhelming and unpleasant so I took the photos with me to the computer and I found this group.
It looks like my father loved me very much, which is strange, because I have grown to believe he is incapable of love. in 1987 he left me and my mom to marry a younger woman he met in law school. This event had several consequences. For one, my mother was devastated and sank into a near-catatonic depression for the next 15 years. Also, the woman my father married was mentally-ill and extremely abusive toward me, and at times, him. My stepmother hated me and wanted me dead. I suffered her cruelty and evil manipulation until I was eleven and I tried to hang myself in the living room of my mother's house to avoid having to go back. As a result, I met with a psychologist, who in turn, met with my father and step-mother. After only one meeting, he came out as pale as a ghost and announced that he didn't think I should go to visitation there anymore on the grounds of abuse. So after that I was liberated from that house of horror. But I still had to deal with the effects of the abuse for the rest of my life, and now my father could not see me at all except for sporadic meetings for lunch now and then. Very soon after the psychologist ended those visitations, my stepmother became pregnant. This was no accident. As crazy as this sounds, she later told my grandmother that she had the baby to make me "jealous". My father naively thought that I could be integrated into this new family. But that didn't jive with my step-mothers plans to "replace" me.
I will never forget the day of my sister's christening. My father pulled up in an SUV that was packed with relatives. My stepmother was in the back seat holding my infant sister. I was terrified as usual. My father took me by the hand and led me to the back door to show me my new baby sister. I could feel in my soul that something was not right. He started to open the door and my stepmother reached over and tried to yank it shut as hard as she could. Startled, but determined, my dad tugged harder on the door to get it open saying "No... no..." and finally succeeded in getting it open. There between her family members sat my stepmother bundled up in a large fur coat clutching the baby to her and scowling at me like I was a flea-ridden stray dog. After the ceremony we were sitting in their house and I was told not to touch any of the baby's things because I was "contaminated" with my mother's stench. I saw my sister two or three other times in my life when my father basically kidnapped her in secret and took her to meet me. As I grew older my father and I met only a handful of times in secret, because his wife wouldn't "let him" see me. I felt like his mistress. My mother and I starved a lot and went through hard times. Over the years I tried everything to get my dad to own up to his mistakes, to acknowledge what happened and to reconnect with me. But it never happened. He was under a spell.
I am now 25. I have not seen my dad in 4 years, even though he lives just a couple of hours away. The last time I saw him was for another secret lunch. I was attending a prestigious University on a merit scholarship at the time. I was very depressed and I tried to ask him for advice. He suggested I join the Army. I went home and later that night I swallowed all the pills in the house including an entire bottle of Tylenol PM and drank it all down with alcohol. I was unconscious for 3 days in my apartment until my mother came to look for me because I wasn't answering the phone. I didn't admit that I had tried to kill myself. My mouth had been hanging open for those 3 days and my tongue had swollen and hardened, I contracted a severe throat infection which caused me to go to the hospital a week later. It looked like my throat was rotting. When I was there they took my blood and my liver was so badly damaged they thought I had hepatitis and might need a liver transplant. I still would not tell anyone I had tried to commit suicide. I was afraid they would lock me up. For the next month I lay in bed in my mother's apartment in a haze of depression. Thankfully, after a month my liver was back to normal. I sold everything I could and left town. I traveled around the country for over a year just wandering around, lost. But that is another story....
My life is okay now and I am putting the pieces back together. I learned to love myself where he failed to. Even my mom is starting to recover. But when I look at this picture of my mom and dad together, holding me, and looking proud and happy, I wonder... what happened? Things could have been so different for me, for all of us. My father is approaching 70 now, and he is a shell of a man. i know he feels very guilty and sorry for what happened, even though he has strange ways of letting it show. I can tell when it is really getting to him because I will find a card full of money in my mailbox. It is always in cash so my stepmother can't trace it.
For some reason he thinks that someday my sister and I will be a family, and sometimes it seems he has begun to see me only as a peripheral part of his vision that I will be a good big sister to her. Maybe when she grows up. But its kind of hard to imagine, since her mother ruined my life and her very existence has to do with her mother's malicious intentions toward me.
Anyway, I don't know how the rest of my life will unfold but it didn't get off to a great start thanks to my Dad. I look at the baby in the pictures and think "How could he do that to her?" I still don't understand. And it hurts so much.