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Dad v father

What if Superman is really just Clark Kent?

By Lilly CooperPublished 9 months ago 10 min read
Is Superman just Clark Kent from a different perspective?

I'd have to say this is a tough story to tell. Not because of the emotions involved, it's the oddity of the reasoning. To be completely honest, it is only since being challenged to really examine my relationship with my dad that I even gave it any thought.

You see, for many people, their Dad and their Father are the same person. For me they are 2 very different people. The difference between the two men is like comparing chalk and cheese, you just have to know them a bit better.

My relationship with my father was very heavily influenced by the sort of person he was. I say was, not because he is deceased, but because I'm estranged from him. I have had nothing to do with him since I was about 19.

That is my decision, not his.

He would be back in my life in a heartbeat if I let him.

Never. Going. To. Happen.

My father was a violent alcoholic.

For anyone who has experience with that sort of person, I don't need to say much else. They have a a very good understanding of what those 6 little words mean. Little words on their own, but when put together, the meaning is so much bigger than just the definition of each individual word to people who understand. For them, there is no explanation needed.

For everyone else, I'll give you a snap shot of the first 19 years of my life. Not to be condescending or anything like that, just because it will be relevant later. And the human brain has a thing it does where if not supplied with information, it will attempt to fill in the gaps on it's own, making up information and drawing conclusions to help make sense of the whole. I'd rather people have the truth, but not in a way that is overly confronting.

Domestic Violence and alcoholism are such loaded topics, they are hard to describe accurately. I think the best way is to look at them like icebergs, if someone tells you about their experience of DV or living with an alcoholic, you can probably safely assume that you have heard only about 10 percent of the full story. There is a whole world of hurt they are holding back from sharing. There are a lot of reasons for someone not telling people everything, it just depends on the individual circumstances.

I did not grow up with privilege. We never had a lot of anything. And that's not in itself an issue. I don't need the best of everything to be happy.

The issue was when mum had to go without meals so she could keep us kids fed.

The problem was when mum couldn't even buy new shoes to replace her worn out work shoes.

Trouble started when rent was due and there was suddenly no money left in the account.

Neither of my parents worked poorly paid jobs. Both worked good government jobs with fairly good benefits for the time. Our household income was actually more than average.

So why didn't we have enough money for food, clothing and to keep a roof over our heads?

2 words. My father.

He gambled, drank and gave the money away.

Sadly, the value of my family to my father seems to have been based on how he looked to the people around him. He wanted people to believe he was a good family man. To be a good family man, you have to have a family. We were his trophies. Something to hold up to the public and say 'look what I've got, aren't I great!'. While in private he was p*ssing away the household budget every week.

He was always happy to help out a mate. Need your kids picked up because you were held up at work? Sure!! He would do it for you! While picking up his mate's kids, he left his own kids sitting at school waiting for their father who had forgotten them. Again.

And while if he needed a new pair of pants for work he would make sure he got them, if anyone else needed something uniforms, shoes, clothes (because kids grow like weeds!), Mum had to try and find the money somewhere, often it meant mum skipping meals so we could have what we needed.

If a mate had a bad week financially, couldn't afford or didn't have time to run their kids all over the country side for sporting comps, no worries!! Call my father! He would lend money, never chase up getting it back and use the limited fuel in our car to take their kids to events. If you were down on your luck, he was your generous hero. To the detriment of the people he was supposed to care for the most.

However horrible that may sound, financial harm was just one aspect of his narcissistic behaviour and abuse.

Sadly, one of my earliest memories of my mum is she couldn't get out of bed. It sounds like a bit of a strange thing to remember for a child. Everyone gets sick and need a bit if bed rest now and again, even mums. But my mum wasn't actually sick. At the time we were living in a very isolated community. I remember mum was unable to get out of bed because everyone's generous hero had beaten her so badly the night before she struggled to get up. And because of the isolation there was no one around to call the police or intervene.

I have to admit I don't really know how I feel that this is my first memory of my mum. I don't have a lot of clear memories from before that time period in my life. That time when most kids are forming fond memories of things like climbing trees with other kids and getting into mischief. I learned a long time ago not to let my father rob me of more of life by being envious of people with those happy memories or wasting energy wishing something was different that I simply can't change. do I feel sad? No, I don't think I'm sad. Maybe angry? That would be understandable. Numb? That is a distinct possibility.

It doesn't really get better from there. I have memories of my father picking my mum up and throwing her against the wall because she took the car keys and hid them to stop him driving. He was so drunk he had fallen over just trying to walk down the hallway. Mum would never have forgiven herself if he had killed someone else while behind the wheel and she knew she could have prevented it.

My siblings and I did not escape physical abuse either. No kid should have to know what it feels like to nurse a black eye or fat lip thanks to a parent.

I know there are people who will be thinking Why didn't she just leave?

Why didn't Mum leave? Because she had no where to go. There was no one to help her. My father had isolated us, he had control of the money, contact with Mum's family was limited and he made threats I don't doubt he would have followed through with if Mum had tried to leave. It is so wrong that we have a need for women's shelters and organisations that can help a family run on a moments notice.

But I'm glad they have them available now.

It's horrible that we have to have things like DV leave and special government support payments for people so they can get to safety.

I wish Mum had had access to these things.

30 years ago we didn't have these options available. The support wasn't there. If family and friends couldn't help a victim, the situation was dire.

Some people still can't access these life saving services due to overwhelming demand.

Some places don't have any services in place at all.

I'm doing what I can as an individual to change that. I support charities who help people in those hopeless situations, I fundraise for them. And most importantly, I talk about it. I talk about how asking that all too common why question is so hurtful for someone who has suffered. I know, some people ask the question not from a place of malice or victim-blaming culture, but because they don't have all the information. They genuinely don't know that leaving a hellish situation is not always an option. I talk about how we can help as individuals. I'm doing my best to bring the conversation out of the dark so it doesn't fall back into being ridiculously taboo.

It might seem strange that an article that is supposed to describe how my Dad is so awesome has to this point only dealt with how much of a let down my father was, how much damage he did. The reason is, when challenged to put into words why my Dad was so great, I took the time for the first time ever to examine what made him amazing. And the only conclusion I could come to was:

Dad was average. Dad was normal. He was what a dad SHOULD be.

He wasn't Super Man, he wasn't someone who you would read about in the paper, he wasn't well known or in a job that meant he was saving lives. He was an average person who worked hard at a career that meant when he was older a decent income allowed him to do the things important to him.

Like spend more time with family. Take his wife out for a nice breakfast or dinner, a movie now and then, even coffee. Spoil her with flowers or jewellery just because (and NOT because he had done something reprehensible), go away for the weekend and do things she always wanted to do. Before she and Dad started dating, Mum didn't even know going out for coffee was a thing people did or that breakfast was available at cafes other than McDonalds. Dad helped Mum learn about the world post-abuse, something I am forever thankful for.

When Mum had a serious accident early in their relationship that meant she spent time in hospital after operations and even more time at home unable to return to work. Dad could have decided not to stay around. But he stayed and he took care of her physically and financially.

And it wasn't just mum he took care of, it was my siblings, my self and our kids too. We may only have been step kids, but he treated us as his own. If we need help, he was there, we didn't even have to ask. This was all new to me.

What made Dad so awesome? He loved Mum and treated her like the Queen she deserved to be treated as. He loved us when he didn't have to and he let us know how much he loved us.

He was the average everyday Dad we deserved.

Dad passed away nearly 11 years ago after thinking he had beaten lung cancer.

I know some people would say this is an incredibly sad story. I know because I've had people say it to me before.

I disagree. A sad story would have been we never knew Dad at all. That we never got to know what it was like to have a Dad, to have him love and take care of us.

I'm happy we knew him. After the wedding ceremony, I stopped using Dad's first name and called him Dad for the first time. He told me not to be silly, using his first name was fine. I told him there was no way in hell. 'You are Dad and you always will be'.

A day long gone we will remember forever

We didn't get a life time with him, Mum doesn't get to retire with him, grow old with him and he never got to meet my son who is named after him.

But we are lucky we had the time we had and I have stories to tell my son of how amazing my Dad was.


About the Creator

Lilly Cooper

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

I may be an amateur Author, but I love what I do!

Subscribe to join me on my journey!

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