I know the time to talk about this has come and gone. But it has taken me awhile to ponder this particular topic. So forgive me for being a bit behind. I didn’t write a Father’s Day post this year on purpose. Father’s Day has always been a bit difficult, having had an abusive father. The whole “honor your father and mother that your days may be long” thing has always caused me to choke a bit. Oh, I did as best I could while they were alive. But sometimes it was pretty painful. Considering how abusive they both were to me when I was growing up. Considering how they were always only focused on their own needs and wants. Considering how my father sexually abused me. Finding a card that didn’t make me want to throw up was always a challenge. I went for humor. It was the most palatable. Being around them was like having surgery without an anesthetic. And I always came out of it missing pieces that I needed. Pieces that weren’t supposed to be lost or removed. But I digress. Back to Father’s Day. My friends were all posting these great status updates on Facebook about how wonderful their fathers were and how many great lessons they taught them, either by example or a combination of words and living it out. It’s always a mixed bag, reading all these glowing, loving tributes to wonderful fathers. It causes the pain I always feel in the center of my chest to grow sharper and more defined. To pierce me just a bit more deeply. Because I never had that. Never will. But I learned lessons. From both of my parents. Lessons I’ve been trying to unlearn for most of my life, at least for the most part. There were a few lessons I didn’t learn from them too. Lessons I should have been taught, but the nurturing and guidance just weren’t available. Lessons you don’t get in an abusive and neglectful environment. For example, I didn’t learn to brush my teeth…not from my parents. I learned this lesson in 5th grade. When the people with the great tasting little red pills came to our classroom. Gave us a free toothbrush and a free mini-tube of toothpaste. I knew my brother was required to brush HIS teeth. But nothing was ever said to me about brushing mine. But in the classroom that day, I realized that I was also supposed to brush. Three times a day. Who knew? I didn’t learn to bathe. I took a bath when I felt kind of scratchy and dirty. But it wasn’t required. Wasn’t something I was told to do. In high school, in my home economics class, we learned that during the summer, a person should bathe 3 to 4 times a week (unless they do something that causes them to get sweaty or dirty) and 2 to 3 times a week in the winter. More frequent bathing, we were told, dries the skin, washing away essential oils. Some people bathe daily. Even twice daily. I pretty much go by what I was taught in home economics. But as a child, I didn’t receive that kind of instruction. I was left to figure it out on my own. I didn’t learn that I had value or worth. Just the opposite, in fact. I never mattered. Nor did I learn how to trust, to feel secure, or safe in the world. The world has always been a very frightening, terrifying place to me. Life has always been hard. And confusing. While I didn’t learn many of the more practical lessons of existence, I did learn to survive horror. I learned how to wear a fake smile and to act like nothing was wrong when pretty much everything was a nightmare. I learned how to endure physical blows, being screamed at for the slightest infraction (that smile slipped…oops!), to disappear within myself while being raped by my father. I learned that I was an object, created to be used. I discovered I had no value beyond my performance as said object. I learned to suppress my needs. To suspend my hopes. To kill my dreams. I learned to survive without love and with very little air to breathe. I learned to go on, even when I didn’t want to. Even when I didn’t have the strength or desire. That’s how I’ve lived my life. Considering the things I learned from my father, my Facebook posts have been silent when it comes to my past. No glowing reports of what I was taught or examples learned. There is yet a hole in my heart and a chasm in my soul because of my parents and how they treated me as a child. The abuse. The neglect. The rejection. The hatred that they called love. Now that they are both gone, I am no longer bound by duty to honor them and the relief is tangible. But so is the sadness…for what I will never have. For what I can never know. For what I will never learn from them. And even worse, for what I did learn…all those things from which I’m still, all these years later, trying to recover.