Continuing from the theme of my last post, what’s hardest for me to understand is, after all the long list of dirty, nasty things he did and said to me, how the hell did I succumb to the brainwashing?
I’m an intelligent person. I’m genuinely bright, but that man savaged my self-confidence and always managed to blame it on other people. Again, I’m not saying my mum was a perfect parent; she was far from it. Sometimes she was even cruel, but most of the time she did her best. He made me doubt my own mind. When I felt uncomfortable about him insisting on me going swimming during puberty or deliberately starting intimate and inappropriate conversations, I’d say so – but somehow, he was never wrong. I was. He was never wrong, never at fault, never to blame, and always had a million excuses as to why it’s your own fault that you feel uncomfortable because you misread him drawing pictures of your breasts/got embarrassed by him using the word “erection” during a game of scrabble with two teenagers/kept ornaments of men with large penises around the house.
When you’re consistently told something – in this case that I was imagining his bad behaviour – it sticks eventually. I feel so stupid for falling for this. I can forgive myself for believing in my dad as most kids do. I can forgive myself for not knowing he is a nutter when I was a teenager. What I can’t fathom is how I allowed myself to believe in him as an adult?! I’m currently on my second university degree so I’m not uneducated. My offspring fares excellently – thriving, in fact. No criminal convictions for anyone in my house. I’m a good person. I contribute. I have responsibilites and respect from my friends. And yet, I fell for brainwashing until I was 35. I feel utterly ridiculous.
Unless I’m wrong, I’ve answered my own question. Brainwashing overrides your confidence in your own opinions. When someone you (secretly fear and) look up to and think is your friend builds you a world view from six years old and no one challenges it, when that person insists that they are always right and know better because they are older and male and no one corrects him, it imprints on your mind, despite the evidence of your own eyes and ears, despite your own best judgement, despite your instincts.