Then we talked one day and I said just what I have said here. I told her that if he had put her through one day of what I went through for years, I would want to wrap my hands around his neck. I told her that I didn't understand how she could hang out with him, let her girls around him, love him. Yes, she was young when all hell broke loose, but she is older now and capable of understanding. Yes, I refrained from talking for a long time because of how it was handled when I first came forward, but she knows now. So, how could she act like it was just my problem when I am her sister? I know she loves me, but how does she not want to make him responsible for being a monster? I asked her and she said something that seemed logical at the time, but didn't sink in until a few minutes later.
"Yeah, but he is still my dad"
At first, you would think this makes some sense. I know, because I justified it all the same way myself for so long. Bill is her dad and I shouldn't tell her how to feel about him. He isn't my dad, he is hers and that is hers do deal with. I told myself that her relationship with him only depended on the interactions she has had with him, and to my knowledge, he has not hurt her like he hurt me. But a few minutes later it hit me....
He was my dad then too. I have gotten myself to this point where I no longer look at him as my dad, and so has she... but she has forgotten that when he was hurting me he was MY dad too. And he was the only one I had. He wasn't some stranger or family friend. He wasn't the guy that married my mom. He was my dad. It is so easy to look at it now and see he is her dad and I have my biological dad as mine. It is so easy to compartmentalize how bad or disturbing it is based on what Bill's relation to me is... it is easier to look at a man as still your dad if you convince yourself that the little girl he touched and hurt and manipulated wasn't also his daughter. It makes it easier to see him as safe if you convince yourself he doesn't hurt his children, and that the child he hurt is not his child. I get it, because it is how I dealt with it as well. I escaped having to face the fact that my dad hurt me by making him not my dad. Then he becomes just some sick man. And he loses a little bit of the largeness of what he has done. A man who hurts a little girl is horrible, but one who hurts his daughter is just unspeakable.
And without realizing it, my sister and I both have excused a little part of how horrible he is by taking that dad part of it away, and letting him be just a man who hurt a kid. But he is not just a man who hurt a kid, he is a man who hurt his daughter. He adopted me, he raised me, I trusted him, and I had no one else. He made sure I had no one else. He was my dad and I was his daughter, and that did not stop him from giving me backrubs with my top off, touching me, sexualizing other women and me, exposing me to alcohol and drugs, and treating me a surrogate wife all before I was out of middle school. When Bill was hurting me, I was his daughter as much as my sister was his daughter. To say any different is to say that it is okay to hurt an adopted child because they are not your own.
So, now I realize that my sister doesn't see him as her sister's dad who hurt her, she sees him as just her dad. I see why she is able to put the two men in different boxes. And in a way, it makes me even more mad at him. Because it means that his actions has screwed up someone I love even more than I already knew they had. It means either my sister never comes to grips with the reality of it, or she does and she hurts all over again just like I did when I finally faced the fact that what he did WAS that bad. No one wants to lose their dad, so it makes sense that to cope and protect what she has, my sister has made the man standing before her someone different than the man who puts his hands on and in me when I was a child. But he is not different. He is the same man who hurt me.
He was OUR dad.