I mentioned before in a previous post that I felt a kind of painful tug towards C’s dad when I was in his home with him. I’ll just wander from the point for a minute to describe a few differences between C’s two parent’s houses. Her mother’s house functions, but there is an aura of decay. It is full of things–toys, furniture, blankets, a washing machine (C’s father is an accountant for something like the county and they are well-off).
C and her younger sister are in their mother’s village, so only two siblings are there–the girl entering tenth grade and the boy who is four and the only son. They do not like each other. There is a lot of hitting. Cs aunt, who had a baby a month ago, does not like the boy either. She hits him too, and then he cries. The daughter mostly watches recorded serials on her father’s laptop, and the son goes to play with his little friend.
The dishes aren’t washed after meals, no matter what meal it is. They are washed only after sitting a few hours or overnight. There are cockroaches living inside the appliances: cockroaches like warmth, I think. Or maybe it’s the electricity. Country Xers don’t believe in killing pests, so populations flourish once they are established. Because they believe in feeding the ghosts when they eat, people usually put a bit of rice or juice or tea or whatever on the floor or the table or whatever before eating themselves. This is picked up later, but the residue of sugar or oil that is left behind is not.
After I was there a few days, people began to sweep regularly. The clothes piled up on top of things were put away. I don’t know if it was my influence that made them tidy up a bit more, or whether they were returning to a more normal routine after a period of temporary overwhelm.
It makes me sad to write about. I don’t mean to criticize them, and yet I remember how ashamed C used to feel of her house before I came there: “It’s so muddy,” she said. And it is.
Her mother drinks every day. She isn’t ever drunk, but she goes out with her friends in the afternoons to drink and comes home and drinks more. Her husband or the aunt do most of the cooking, and her daughter or the uncle do most of the dishes. Her husband says he always has to scold her to do the things she needs to do, and even then she doesn’t listen.
In contrast, C’s father’s house is spotless. This may be because the house is new: it takes time for the grime of daily life to built up. The dishes are washed after meals–never left to pile up. The children put their things away without being asked. Because of this, the burden on the mother is much less. Her 9th grade daughter does the dishes and sweeps. Her 5th grade son has no real chores, but he doesn’t make a mess either. There is a baby brother, who is closing in on two, and he does make a mess. C’s father helps with the baby and with cooking when needed, but he is clearly not an equal partner at home. His is probably the more traditional home, and his air in talking with the children and his wife is one of clear authority. His wife smiles and laughs a lot, although I don’t know what she talks about, because she never went to school and my Regional Language is less developed than her baby’s.
Although the father is only a driver and makes probably a third of the step-father’s salary (neither mother works), they have all of the things a middle class family might be expected to have: a refrigerator, a washing machine, a sofa and chairs, two flat-screen TVs. They don’t have a lot of toys, but they have a few.
The mother’s house has an air of despair and loneliness, and the father’s is orderly and calm.
What I meant to say, before wandering onto my sense of their homes, was that I felt this tug toward her father–attachment pain–and I also had sexualized thoughts in that moment. Now, given my history, I know better than to simply assume what might otherwise be logical–that I felt a romantic attraction to him. I may have simply been thinking I want to be close to him, and the way to be close to men is sex. Which is not necessarily true.
I know he does have romantic feelings for me, because he has said that, but he didn’t express them. There was never anything inappropriate about his behaviour with me.
What it did make me think is that I need to deal with the abuse in my past. I need to address the abuse from my father and I need to address the trafficking.
So, since coming home, I’ve done that. On Sunday, I got the bare minimum done, and since then I haven’t. I am immersing myself in difficult material. I don’t know that it’s wise. I’ve run out of toilet paper and not gone out to buy any. I didn’t go for a run. I haven’t had a vegetable since Friday. I was asking myself about the things I could do which would make me feel better–why am I not doing them? And I had no satisfactory answer. I need to meet C in her village soon, before my next trip to visit Son in his far-away village. But I also know you don’t process abuse in three days.
I watched a lot of videos, sharing victim’s stories as well as some of the perpetrator’s, and one of the perpetrators explained his behaviour as being motivated by the thrill of doing something wrong and not getting caught and another described feeling empty at the time he groomed his daughter. Well, that’s something I remember.
I want to say again that my father seemed to some things out of anger and other times it felt more like what those two men described, which sounds to me like boredom. My father was closed off to the normal, everyday thrill of human interactions because he was so completely defended that he wasn’t processing emotional or social content to a large degree, and it left this void in him, which he filled with this thrill of getting away with something. When I think of him, I remember a sense of tremendous emptiness, as if he were filled completely by an emotional Sahara.
This “getting away with something” seems to me to have to do with an undeveloped Theory of Mind in which it still feels surprising that people can not know something which you know. On top of that, having “secret” or “special” information–even of your own creation–can bolster a sense of grandiosity. “I am better than everyone else, because I know” (for example) “that my landlord is really an alien.” Of course, it just means you have delusions.
I thought this and I wondered how I felt. I spend a lot of time processing what I witnessed and still often do not know what I experienced. My dad was seeking a thrill: what was I feeling?
And I think I was terrified, because there seemed to be no constraints, no limits to his behaviour. It wasn’t just that I was hurt or might die, but that I didn’t know what to expect or how bad it would be. A horror I had to learned to cope with could, at any time, be replaced by a new horror I didn’t know how to handle yet. I don’t know that the horrors were really always different: in reality, they repeated. But it was a sense about him.
I felt hopeless too. I couldn’t manage the horror, because (at least seemingly) because there was always a new horror, or even if the new horror had not materialized yet, it might at any moment.
I think it affected my view of what people are motivated by generally: getting away with things became significant, so if I lacked protection or social standing, if I was a “nobody,” then I became a target for the evil lurking inside of people. The take-away was that people will hurt you if they can, because narcissists typically hold negative emotions in until they run across someone unable to defend themselves. My father was no different.