‘You’re a difficult person to love Sophie, but I do.’

These were the final words from my dad signing off an email in response to my explaining how I had felt in our relationship over the last twelve months. They were harsh words to read but didn’t sway me as they would have done so easily in the past. I had told him how challenging I had found it and that I no longer would accept being treated in the way in which he treats me. I knew he would come back low in his reply. I knew he wouldn’t hear me but he had pressed me about my silence over the last couple of months and I wanted to speak my honesty. I knew he would dismiss all that I said, which he did, and knew he would try to be overly authorative and fatherly but for the first time, it didn’t knee-cap me emotionally. I believe, in fact, it was I that lay the biggest blow. Not in an attempt to knock him down but because finally I felt stronger to say out-loud; ‘Enough is enough!’ And in the words that preceded his last line of attack about my worthiness, or seeming lack of, for his love, I could feel him quake at the upsurge in the balance of power as father and daughter. The only person who had stood up to him before was my mother and he beat her, physically, down. He’s been used to ‘ruling’ as a bully with his damaged version of love; the love that is predominately driven by his wallet and sold with games and conditions.

My mother’s manipulation had overshadowed his for years. He was the lesser of the two evils and would be the person, the ‘parent’, I felt safest with. He rarely had my best interests at heart but at least he wouldn’t scream and scream and scream at me. She filled me with fear. He filled me with hope. Hope that one day the daddy I loved would pick me up, up into his arms and all would be well with the world. It’s taken me 43 years to realise the trust I had invested in him was actually this hope. And it took me an intense and hellish year of receiving his nasty emotional swipes to feel safe enough within myself to say NO MORE! It’s taken me six months to wade through the trauma that I have kept locked inside my heart for a lifetime, to step through my fear and face the pain and deep, deep hurt within. Both parent’s, time and again, had disrespected and violated my boundaries and for the first time, a keen hand shot forth from my heart and said, resoundingly, STOP. With newfound strength, for the first time I have defended myself from my father’s power-plays. I see him for him. My fear has dissolved, my anger lessened. I no longer feel the need to ‘win’ his love and boy, does it feel good!

And the grace that came on reading his words intended to undermine, was with crystal clarity, as I saw the message both he and my mother had given ever since I was wee. You’re a difficult person to love Sophie, but we do. This was relayed to me over and over and, being a very ‘good’ girl, I held tightly the confusion, anger and fright inside, seeking for their approval and maybe one small morsel of their ‘love’. But now, this message, these words, mean something so different. I have detached myself from the emotional hooks. I have come into myself in a new way and with it, new form. And for the very first time, I have had the privilege to witness my selkie-self; she whom has stayed hidden, buried in the shadows for so long. Ugly and contorted, she has felt brave enough to reveal herself and with it, I see so instantaneously, her beauty. I am honoured ‘she’ feels safe to be seen, to emerge.

My love and deep gratitude goes to all those who have been there for me on this journey and helped me arrive at this place. We are only on Page 1.

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