Over a year ago, I asked my father if he would be willing for me to interview and record him about his life. I felt emotionally prepared going into each interview, but I underestimated how much it would take out of me. Each time I interviewed him, I learned more disturbing details. As the words would come out of his mouth, they were nothing less than unnerving, yet I always had the urge to dig deeper. All throughout my childhood, I questioned and analyzed his behaviors, and as an adult, the questioning only grew. I knew first-hand his behaviors were frightening, but I could never find answers for why he did the things he did and how he rationalized his behaviors and thoughts.
Through the interviews, I discovered that there had been some inconsistencies in his stories. It was clear he was hiding things, so I tried to ask the same questions, multiple times, in different ways to see if I could get to the truth.
Many years ago, my father shared that as a young boy, while living in Germany during World War II, that he was raped by 12 men.
“Well, I just told you that because you kept on asking me questions for so many years and you have an empathetic heart. I needed to give you something to rest your hat on. You know, it worked and you felt better because you thought there was a reason for doing what I did.”
Today, while I interviewed him, I asked him again about this claim. To my horror, he said he had no history of sexual abuse in his childhood. After the interview was over, I thought that maybe it was an accident and he misspoke, so I asked, “Dad, didn’t you say you were raped by 12 soldiers, as a young boy, during the war?” He calmly said, “Well, I just told you that because you kept on asking me questions for so many years and you have an empathetic heart. I needed to give you something to rest your hat on. You know, it worked, and you felt better because you thought there was a reason for doing what I did.” I could barely speak, and at a loss of words, I blurted, “So you didn’t get raped?” He said with an unwavering voice, “No, again you have an empathetic heart. Will I see you later?”
I felt like I couldn’t leave fast enough. I was raging mad. By the time I reached my car, I was shaking, uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe that he had lied to me about this, but I was equally as mad that l believed him, that I needed to believe him. He told me a story to help me cope and I took it. If he was raped and traumatized as a boy, I had some answers as to why he did the things he did, but now, I had nothing. The feeling of betrayal was sickening, and I could feel it through every part of my body. My only consolation in the betrayal, was that it revealed to me how very ill he really was.