My father the hoarder – Photo 2.

The garage: a place he kept all the things that could not fit in anywhere else. I hated it. It never had a purpose, it was just a dirty storage unit for my father. When I was growing up, the garage was filled with garden equipment, old suitcases, our childhood bikes, ladders and occasional cleaning products. It was kept just like a garage should be. When my mother left, it’s purpose became unclear and my father began using it as a dumping ground. Old chairs began to surface as did other furniture we had stopped using. He started collecting crates of wine and endless bottles of beer there. Several sets of garden furniture appeared over the years, just in case he ran out during his BBQs for his “friends”. His hoarding was growing out of control. Worst of all, this space one day became my father’s gym. He bought a rowing machine and exercise bike and placed them into the already cramped area. I kept well away. No one ever entered the garage except him. That was until he started using it as an airing room. The damp, mouldy garage became the place he hung his clothes to be aired. When my father decided that he wanted entire control over every aspect of my life and began washing my clothes,* the garage was the place to let them dry. As he had been tirelessly looking after me, it was then my “job” to make sure all the clothes were hanged up on the washing lines he had now attached to the garage ceiling. ALL the clothes. Including his underwear. I refused of course. I would not attach mine either, he hated my insolence but nothing was going to let me degrade myself any further. He just laughed at me reiterating how ridiculous I was being and to “grow up and take responsibility”. I stood my ground, I already felt belittled enough.
I dreaded Sundays.
The day of “rest”. Well, it wasn’t for me. It was the day my father would do the few chores he set for himself. It was the day of “inspection” where my father would check on my cleaning and tidying. It was the day where I would often find piles of my “mess” the abuser had discovered strewn and scattered all over the house. It was my day to hang up the laundry and enter the disgusting garage. Sunday was the day I hated, when my father would follow me in and watch to see if I was doing it correctly otherwise it would all be taken down and done again. This time as he waited.

*See post: The right to wash my own clothes –  Published 2nd April 2013

 

Emotional Incest.

I have dedicated an entire chapter of my book to this subject.

It was a term I discovered about two years ago at a counselling session. I had never heard of it before then. I researched it on the internet and was referred by an American columnist to read a book devoted to the subject*.

It was very revealing to say the least. I wished I had found out about it sooner. I realised my relationship with my father centred around emotional incest.

After my mother left, my father needed a replacement. In all honesty he had replaced his emotional connection much earlier as he regularly vented his problems to me. But when my mother was out of the picture, I was the source for his complaints about life.

He had no close friends or normal relationships with other adults. He felt he did not need that; he had me. I filled that void.

His controlling ways had just switched from my mother to me. He used emotion to play on my feelings. He was the “lonely betrayed man”, abandoned by his wife and daughter. Initially, I was the only one who made him happy. I gave him a reason to live. He would often repeat this to me during the divorce; it’s no wonder I felt swayed to live with him.

This is emotional incest. Using a child to fulfil adult, emotional needs.

He was needy and clingy with me. I was not allowed freedom away from him. I had to keep him happy and feeling good. If not, I was the reason he was upset or depressed. I hadn’t met his needs.

I was the “chosen child”. I was hand picked by him to have the privilege to be his confidante. He told me I gave him more than his wife ever did. I gave him “comfort”. He would tell me to never leave him; when I got married he would build a separate flat within the house I could live there with my husband; no mortgage, nothing.

I felt invaded by him. It was like an obsession.

It is incredibly hard to recognise when it is going on, but please, if you want to find out more, the book* I read was:

“The Emotional Incest Syndrome; What to Do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life” by Dr. Patricia Love.

It is absolutely worth looking into if only to feed your curiosity.

And of course – keep reading the blog.