Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Unlike the character played by Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film, Gaslight, I had nothing valuable to motivate my father to undermine me: no inherited money or jewels, no property or riches, nothing except my self-confidence and my precocious intelligence. He was a bully and a know-nothing, determined to dominate all the women in his family and who went unchallenged by all of them except me. No matter how futile my effort, no matter how many times I was plowed into and over, I defended myself, my right to speak and live as an individual, my perceptions of reality and of truth. I am glad I did it even though the result was severe damage to my mind and body, because no matter how hard I tried, I internalized his ideas of me as wrong, incompetent, and stupid. He was very effective at being a tyrant, even as he sat in his pajamas in his eternal easy chair, pontificating on all subjects as if he were a supreme authority. Nobody around seemed to recognize that he was a pompous fool, except me, or if they did, they kept their mouths shut. And when I ultimately turned to men who were professionals in psychology and psychiatry for help, they only confirmed that I was pathological, that to be suspicious of my decent and hardworking family was the manifestation of a mentally disordered mind.
I now move into the future by regaining confidence in myself, in my sense of reality, in my judgment and intelligence, in my varied experiences of the world, which have been more open and more vast than that of that of anyone in my family of origin. At least I have the rest of the world, and the rest of my time on Earth, I say to myself, as I walk purposefully away from a past of sorrow and horror.