Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Power of the Story

My father is a child rapist.

My father is a sociopath.

The thing about growing up with a sociopath in your home, is that you don't completely understand wrong and right because those concepts don't exist for them. What does is exist is a completely narcissistic world view that everybody else in the world is stupid and only the sociopath is right and should get what he wants.

I was lucky (I know it's strange to call this luck) but when I was very, very young I discovered that my father was twisted. A neighbor who knew my parents from years previous, someone who had lived in the apartment building where my father was arrested for molesting a child (and yes, back in the 1950s, he got away with it) moved into our current neighborhood and spread the word.

I was the one who told my parents that something was being said (I might have been about 6 or 7 at the time) and they told me to handle it. I wasn't the most astute at that age but I recognized shame and I thank God for that. Because in that one moment I realized that my father was wrong and he realized it.

I didn't really know what he was wrong about but it became very clear. I'd been raised by him to be a victim but the reaction from the shame and the "don't tell your mother" spelled it out quickly and succinctly. What my father was doing was very very wrong and I wasn't to blame.

Knowing from an early age that I wasn't to blame for what was done to me and for my parent's choices was a great boon to my sanity and my self-awareness. I remember clearly one day my brother and I talking to another brother and sister who very seriously told us that they were responsible to get along well with each other or else their parents would split up. God, I must have only been in second or third grade and I remember so clearly hearing that solemn little boy tell us that and knowing it was a lie. I knew the truth but I couldn't verbalize it to that child. I hope one day he learned the truth too.

It wasn't until 7th grade when I was put in a creative writing class that it all started to come out. I didn't write stories about abused children (ha! that would have rocked) but I wrote stories and poetry about girls who were alienated and hurt. And one day I overheard my father tell my mother that the scariest thing in his life was his daughter being a writer.

I learned at age 13 that words have power. I learned at age 13 that I have power.

I don't want to write a book about about being abused. The Stone Crow was the closest I came and that was enough. Sara's experiences with her father were mine and I don't need to write more. But I have one more story and one more statement.

The story: I was in community college and fell in love with a beautiful boy who fell in love with me also. He had a girlfriend however and he didn't cheat on her. Nor did I. I was friends with her and it was actually lovely to love them both.

The girl had a sad story about being sexually abused when growing up by the father of a friend. Obviously I related to her story and we shared experiences about it and appreciated that we could discuss the hurt and healing with another.

Through a variety of experiences I won't go into, the girl and I discovered that the man who hurt her was my father. It ended our friendship and I never saw the beautiful boy again either and for the longest time it felt like a stone lodged in my heart. I felt guilt that my father caused her pain. I felt guilt that my friendship was poisonous because of my father. I felt guilt.

One day I realized that I carried the guilt because my father never would. My father hurt that sweet woman. He hurt me. He hurt my sister, He hurt my cousin. He hurt my sister's best friend in Hawaii. He hurt the daughter of the woman he dated when he left my mother. He hurt my 7th grade friend. (He hurt her worse than anyone.) (At least that I know of.)

He never felt guilt because he was a sociopath. He left my mother and cut off contact with my siblings (I left him a long time earlier.) He never felt guilt about ceasing being their father. He married a friend of my mother's and moved to another place and has lived in nice houses and I'm sure, has hurt many others in his life.

This is a story and it's the truth. Nobody except a few people who visit this blog will ever know. But it's part of the story of my life and I want to tell it.

My father's name is Arnold Green. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina. He's still alive and married to Bernice Green. They belong to a country club, they give money to charity and my father is a child rapist and a sociopath.

(I'm going to tell another story about him this week so be ready to avoid that post if this subject bothers you.)


  1. I feel so inadequate, posting any kind of comment to your powerful and disturbing words. But I can't simply click away without acknowledging your courage and pain, so I'll say this: I hear you. I'm paying attention.

  2. It is a difficult post to reply to. No joking around with this one.

    I hear you too, Lori and good for you. Why should he be protected by silence for his crimes?

  3. I hear you too. Beyond that, I just don't know what to say.

  4. I saw something recently that said the power in sharing our stories brings us closer. And truthfully, my father has been out of my life more years now than he was in it.

    But I've been mulling over the story itself and thought that it's part of the story of who I am. Horrible though it might be, it's a part and I can control it and choose to share it. And in doing so it makes it something different, something created to bring women together rather than alienate them in their own pain.

  5. I've been waiting to try and figure out what to say, and I still don't know. Just that I hear you and -- to some extent -- feel you. (My father is similarly fucked up, but I was not one of his targets.)