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.
He abused me in many ways but always talked himself out of it and blamed ME. When you're growing up, you're trying to make sense of the world. One of my parents barely spoke to me - my mum. The other one - the male - spoke all the time and even now freely admits he may have talked too much. He bragged that he treated us like grown ups when our mother treated us like kids - hence us watching "Salem's Lot" before we were in our teens (a film so frightening I won't watch it now) - and that this meant he had more love and respect for us. I believed this too. I trusted him and he knew it so he fed my brain with rubbish and adult rubbish at that. Once he knew I trusted him, he could say anything he liked.
I think that the moment he knew that was the day they abandoned me when I was maybe seven. They argued and my mum picked up my then baby sister. She ran from the house in such a panic that her shoes came off in the front garden. He ran after her, jumping over a fence to chase her. And there was I, left in the house by myself. THAT moment is when my mental outlook, my whole perception of life changed. At that moment, I realised I was not important to either of them for myself, or at least not to him, anyway. I don't know what was going through her head. Maybe she didn't think he would chase her and that he'd stay in the house with me? I don't know. I have, until I typed the preceding sentence, consistently believed that being left behind by both of them means that both of them did not love me. I don't know. I will have to think about this. Anyway, I think the moment he realised he could use me against her was shortly after they ran off. I ran up the road after them, wondering where the hell my parents had gone and why they had left me. I found them at a house futher down. My mother was sat in an armchair crying with my sister on her lap. I was so angry that she had left me - and taken my sister - that when she reached out to me for a cuddle, I backed away.
THAT was the moment for him. He knew then that he could (ab) use me against her. No thought of the two poor little girls involved in adult arguing. No thought for the seven year old they'd just ran off and left behind. Just: "I can turn her against her mother as revenge."