A German father would like to contribute to the subject denial and asked me to write about how his denial has damaged his and other people’s lives and to publish it on the website.
After my wife left me, the 39-year-old German man began his story, I moved with my two children–a son six and my daughter, seven–in the upper floor of my parents’ two-storage house. At the time, I believed that this move was the only solution, since I had no one to watch my children after school. I had to sell at a loss the house we had bought seven year prior, and my income alone could not pay for all expenses.
After about eight months, my children’s lives seemed to get in a normal rhythm. However, I noticed my son became increasingly aggressive and my daughter completely withdrew from me emotionally. My mother, a very submissive woman, pacified me by saying that these were the after affects of the separation, and I should not worry.
One Sunday, while driving from the country with my children, my mind searched for an answer. Why did my children changed so much in the last months? Was it really the separation from their mother? My memory showed me pictures of my childhood, but I dismissed those thoughts immediately. My father changed when he went in to early retirement, I told myself.
As the truth unfold undeniable facts, revealed a trauma from past I had no other choice then accepting that similar is repeating right now.
A phone call at work from the school crashed the wall of my denial I have build since 30 years.
I was informed that my daughter had run hysterically screaming out of the classroom and locked herself into the utility room. My parents were there already, but were unable to resolve the situation. When I arrived at the school my daughter was still locked in the utility room. She was hysterically crying and yelling through the door that she do not want to go back to school or to my parent’s house. Only after I agreed to let her stay at her girlfriend’s house for a while did she open the door. She avoided eye contact with my parents.
The dean, a very empathetic woman, asked us to come to her office. She needed to make a report about the situation and wanted to know why my daughter had run out of the classroom. My child sat withdrawn and did not answer any questions. Meanwhile, my daughter’s teacher brought her school bag to the office and described what she had seen. She pointed out that my daughter ran out of the classroom after she received a note from another student. I insisted on seeing this note, which she had in her pants pocket. The paper had a penis drawn on it with the name of my father below and the words child-f****.
My past became the present. Reality was undeniable here and I had to face it. As the investigation progressed in the school, I faced a memory that had been suppressed for years.
My father was asked to retire early from his position as a math teacher because, as the paper said, improper contact with twelve students. A flashing picture of a memory, I was about 9 years old. My sister was crying in the night in her room next to mine. When I went to see why I saw my father on top of her. I recalled it was not the first and not the last time I heard my sister crying and me wondering why my mother did not heard the cry. My father threatened me never to reveal what I saw to anybody. After high school, my sister moved 600 miles away without keeping contact to my parents and rarely to me. Remembering now my question to her at the time why she moved so far away was answered by an intense nauseating feeling. Vigorously rejecting a vision that pups up in my mind, I left work early the next day to see my daughter, living since the incident in school, with the parents of her best friend who gladly took her in for a while. Twisting and winding myself between horrible feelings, an undeniable memory and a warning sign that controlled my mind. I decided to pick up first my son from school and after my daughter to spend a weekend with them in the Alps without telling my parents about it. I know I needed help if that what I think is true. I called my sister asked to join us after I told her briefly why.
On this weekend, I learned how my denial has harmed my children.
Being far away from home in the silence of the Alps, my children trusting their aunt, and seeing my willingness to accept the truth without blaming them for anything, they revealed what I feared most.
My daughter started telling us how she was telling mammy, my wife, that she don’t like to go to grandpa any more and mammy knew why. While the child continued saying how Mammy told her that we have to be nice to grandpa because he gave us half of the money for our house, I remembered a fight with wife. She told me on more than one occasion that their daughter does not like to go to his parents. Like in a trace, I listen how his little girl revealed something he knew was true. Seeing the trauma in her eyes when she looked at her aunt when she told her how long my father was molesting her. I know she was telling the truth when she said, grandpa is touching me ever since I remembers. I was reminded of something from a long time ago I have stuffed since in the darkest corner of my mind closet calling it a bad dream. Her tone got sharper when she talked about that the intercourse with my father started as soon as they moved into the house of my parents. She blamed me I sensed and felt the bust of hate being drown toward me by my girl I loved so much.
The bad dream, I tried to hide for year, came out of the dark corner and turned into reality when my son described how he witnessed the intercourse between his grandfather and his sister. Grandpa told me, he said, not to reveal anything to anybody. As a reward, my son continued, he showed me a videos downstairs in his study. What was on the video, my sister asked him. It showed grandpa was doing it with other girls. The now almost 7-year-old boy talked about these horrifying ongoing things in absents of emotions, while his little hands nervously pulling his pants above the knee. When my son told me and my sister, grandpa always said, it is good for me to know all this things, since I will become man soon, another memory came alive.
The two adults were devastated by what they heard and could not look each other. It does not help, my sister said, we have done enough damage by being silent for so long. The first word, about their childhood started an all night recollection filled with painful memory, right after the children were in bed. My sister started by saying Barbara knew it and try to tell you in many ways, but your emotional door was closed. It was enough for me to hear what was going on now and I told my sister not to mention Barbara. Wake up brother, she said in a sharp tone, come out of your denial. Barbara left you because you did not wont to hear and you pretentious happiness, playing happy family on weekends taking the children to their grandparents, pretending everything is fine. You surrendered to a status quo, and entered a codependency because of the money our parents gave you for the house. Barbara knew her children had to pay for and you looked away not seeing how everything and everybody fell apart. My sister did not raged, her voice was clear and every word was a thorn scratching to open old wounds.
For the first time I faced a past I believed we both have forget about. No, my sister told me, I faced it about ten years ago and I am healing since, but you remain the victim and victimized with your denial your wife and children for ten years.
Exactly this was what I didn’t won’t to do and I believed if I don’t touch my child it would be enough. I told my sister how much I hated our father when he disciplined us with the hazelnut stick, how my neck hair stud up when I heard him middle in the night in your room saying “you are daddies beautiful little girl” and then you cried saying no daddy, please don’t. I hated my childhood and swor, that I will leave Germany as soon as I am finished with collage.
“Why didn’t you,” my sister asked. Tears shocked my voice when I told her I couldn’t, I felt I had to protect mother. “You where gone and left her with this pervert, – she was so week and defenseless.”
“Don’t you think it was mother’s choice to stay, don’t you believe she had a duty to protect her children,” my sister asked? “It was mothers denial her silence that made all this possible and sealed the damage done in our life.” “Her and your silence and denial allowed the same perpetrator to continue the verbal, mental and physical abuse molestation and rape on your child.” “Is it not ironic that you wonted to protect mother but were not able to protect yourself and your children? Did you really didn’t found any other solution as moving in with our parents?”
“I did it for two reason” I confesed. “Mother became increasingly depressed and needed destruction.” “An after school care for the children would have put me in a deeper financial whole.”
“So,” my sister said, “in spite of what your remembered what father has done to me, you sacrificed your children to please mother and your financial needs. Did you really believe that this pervert, our father, would not repeat the same with your child?”
“I wished, I hoped he would not,” I replied. “I just could not face the fact that he would do something like this to his grandchild, because I believed he had chanced.”
“Why didn’t you listen to Barbara when she tried to tell you,” my sister wonted to know?
“You know she never liked father and I believed the children need grandparents” I answered.
Upset my sister asked, “Did it never occur to you why she did not like our father? Do you really believe children need grandparents like this? Did you ever believe the past would go away without leaving a stain?”
After the dirt day in the Alps I came to a painful conclusion. It was me, my silence, my denial that made possible what I feared most. I saw how the painful experience of the past tortures the present and misguided my action and controlled my life.
My sister agreed to take my children while I burned all bridges to the past find a new job and a new place to live with my children.
My real live finally begun when I faced the pain of past at age 40. With the help of a wonderful therapist I open my self up to feelings I had suppressed since childhood. I became me, a man who is able to face reality, mental pain and enjoy life. The support of my sister allowed me to grow into a father who is able to love and respect my children.