Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Fathers

Tell me if you can, if you dare–

I wrote the poem below early in my blogging days. Back in the 1940s and 50s, I was the oldest of four daughters. My father was an ordained clergyman, loved by many, feared by me. It seems life in these “United States” is becoming more and more like my childhood. Especially, but not only, for women of any age. 

I’m grateful for women and men who helped me become the human I am today. Today I don’t bear a grudge against my father. I do, however, see my experience as a window into unnumbered worlds of madness for too many women, children, teenagers, and men. The calling of politicians, church leaders, or pimps is NOT to force us into the mold of their making. 

When did it all begin?
When did I enter your supply chain?
When did I become a commodity, a disposable object
not for sale but for use on demand,
with or without pay?

When did I become your toy
to imagine as prey,
to stalk, hunt down,
toss around and torment
with or without warning?

When did I become candy for your eyes,
your imagination,
the desires of your heart?

When did it all begin?
Was it the moment I was born?
The moment you laid your eyes on me?
Then your rules, your hands, your cane,
your ruler, and wooden spoon paddle?

When did paddling become beating?
As though you could whip me into shape.

What did you see in me?
A human being created in God’s image?
Or just another rebellious, angry, willful little girl—
A challenge to your male authority.
A game, an object to be studied, touched, scolded,
played with, experimented with,
held close/held at bay, shamed, humiliated,
denied voice, dignity, will and privacy.

What were you thinking?

When did I become a projection of your stern will
and your lonely, terrified heart?
Not even a ghost of myself
No matter what I wore or didn’t wear
What I said or didn’t say
How I said it or didn’t say it
What I did or didn’t do

When did I become your enemy to be hunted down and subdued,
locked in the bar-less cage of your aching, demanding,
never-satisfied self?

Tell me if you can, if you dare—
When did it all begin?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 June 2014, reposted 5 July 2022
Image found at thewei.com

My Voice and My Dad


When I began blogging over three years ago I was terrified. I’d carried family secrets around with me for nearly 70 years. My Dad died in 2010. Over ten years before he died I confronted him about his harsh treatment of me as a child and teenager.

Yet I still had things I needed to say, in writing. Publicly. To him and to anyone else who cared to listen.

Here’s an excerpt from a post I published on 27 January 2015. That was one year after I began blogging, nearly 5 years after Dad died at age 96. I’d begun posting Dear Dad letters from time to time, even though it felt awkward.

I’m surprised at feelings I’ve had since I began writing Dear Dad letters. Sometimes I’m afraid I’m trying to get something from Dad that he can’t give me. I don’t think I am. I definitely feel I’m ‘out there,’ in the driver’s seat without a finished roadmap, uncertain where this will lead.

Most surprising, though, has been a sense of relief. Not because I know what I’m doing, but because I know I need something for myself. Something I can receive only by speaking to him about the very subject he wasn’t always interested in hearing about—me, his first-born child, female. . . .

These Dear Dad letters feel right because I’m my father’s daughter. I’m not asking for anything. I’m not expecting anything from him. Simply put, I need to be present to Dad in a way I’ve never been present to him before.

I’d describe it as barging right in and announcing my presence. Not rudely, but confidently. Interrupting Dad was a big no-no when I was a child. Knock before entering; enter only if permission is granted. Dad is very busy right now in his study. Don’t disturb unless absolutely necessary!

But he’s my Dad! I’m allowed! No explanations needed. No big crisis. No requests to make things better. No great accomplishments or failings to report. And no clear strategy or plan about why I’m here just now, why he’s the one with whom I need to speak, or what I’m going to say next. I just know I need to be here.

This strikes me now as it did then—the language of a mature, responsible adult woman. It didn’t matter then, and it doesn’t matter now what Dad would think of this.

After all, he’s my Dad and I’m entitled to be with him and say things to him at any time. Whether he’s living or not.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 June 2017
Image found at skitguys.com
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Relieved

Dear Dad, I’ve been thinking….

P1030592

Dear Dad,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot this week.  Wondering about things that happened and didn’t happen.  Wondering what it would be like if….

Actually, I got to the ‘what if’ stage just about an hour ago. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother, My Teacher | Part 2 of 2

I’ve never thought of Mother as my primary role model for relationships with men or with women.  Yet she was precisely that, in ways my father never was.

About gatekeepers and me
Gatekeepers:  The bosses. The men in charge.  In my lifetime they’ve all been men.

Their words and attitudes could make or break a woman’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother, My Teacher | Part 1 of 2

I’m still thinking about my confused and confusing relationships with men.  This story is about my Mother and me. It’s also about at least some of my troubling relationships with men. Read the rest of this entry »

God’s Beloved Daughter-Child | Part 1 of 4

It’s the 1990s.  I’m teaching a seminar on spirituality.  At the beginning of the class I hand out to each participant, including me, a blank piece of paper and crayons.  The assignment is simple:  draw and color your childhood image of God.  You have 5 minutes.

I drew and still have my image: Read the rest of this entry »

Female Bodies and Sex Ed | Part 3 of 3

It’s 1960.  I’m 16 years old and I just graduated from high school.  I thought you’d like to see how I filled in the gaps between Daddy’s Sex Ed 101 and my graduation.

My Sex Ed 102 Learning Resources with Annotations by Me
*My parents’ everyday relationship with each other.  Mother seems to have no voice and no vote. Read the rest of this entry »

Female Bodies and Sex Ed | Part 2 of 3

It’s 1954.  We just finished breakfast, and are sitting around the dinner table.  Sister #4 is about one year old.  Mother is holding her at one end of the table.  Daddy is sitting at the ‘head’ of the table.  Sisters #2 and #3 and I are present.  We don’t know it, but Sex Ed 101 for Daughters is about to begin.   Read the rest of this entry »

Female Bodies and Sex Ed | Part 1 of 3

Am I ready?  Never.  But I want to begin somewhere.  So here goes.

Jesus, Mary and all other daughters of Eve
Female bodies were not celebrated in my family.  Too bad.  When I was a child and young teenager my female body was regularly ignored, observed, commented upon, shamed, ridiculed, Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: