So my sister Jeannette called me the day after I got home from my mini spontaneous vacation with my husband. She hasn’t spoken to me in over two years. To this day, I have no idea why. We tried for a short period of time to have some type of relationship, but for some reason for her it just wasn’t working. Which is fine by me, really. She has to do what’s best for her, whatever that looks like. Before that short period of time, it was years since we had spoken to each other. Also for years, I wondered what offense of mine was so great that this was the path she chose for us. She doesn’t know it, but when she called me, she answered that question. I don’t recall ever really being mad at her. I’ve only been really sad about it. But two years ago when she cut me off, I decided I was done trying to figure out what I did. I figured, if she won’t tell me, its her problem and not mine and I wasn’t going to spend any more mental energy trying to figure it out and torment myself over it.
In the summer of 2015, my mom had spinal surgery. She had two of them, actually – neither one of which I knew about as I was still in the middle of my first period of cutting off contact with my parents and nobody else told me about them. After the second surgery, her incision became infected and she was in the hospital again. A kind relative let me know about it because that relative didn’t think my mom was doing well and thought I should know. Not my dad, nor any of my siblings attempted to contact me in any way to inform me of the events. My mom eventually recovered and I was glad. I initiated contact with her, which lasted a little over a year as I recently decided to cut them off again – this time possibly for good. It really depends on them, honestly. If my parents have their awakening moment and decide to walk the path of self-healing, then great and I will be here for it. But if that doesn’t happen, then they are dead to me as I simply cannot allow them to abuse me or enable abuse in my life anymore.
Which brings me to my sister. She called me starting with “I am appalled (pause) at your accusations.”
First of all, they aren’t accusations. For those of you reading, especially family members, what happened to me can be read here. By the way, these two events described in my previous blog post are just two events out of MANY events. These two are the ones that touch on sexual misconduct. The rest of what my dad did to me was emotional abuse. I could write a novel about the emotional abuse I received from my dad. These things really happened to me. I’m not making them up. So for Jeannette and the rest of the family, please know that if you don’t believe me, you can go fuck yourself. Its really that simple. For YEARS I know you all talked about me behind my back at various times and probably wondered what was wrong with me. Behavior doesn’t come out of a vacuum. A child doesn’t rebel against the set standard for a particular family’s “normal” dynamic for no valid reason. I’m not a bad seed. I’m an abused human being who has gone through counseling, a fuckload of self healing, and finally put down boundaries I don’t feel guilty about. I have years upon years of shame to shatter. My counselor is surprised I didn’t become a drug addict. That’s how fucking serious this shit is. So, I really have no fucks to give for anyone who doesn’t believe me.
Secondly, you shouldn’t be appalled at what I said. You should be appalled that David James Hennig did those things to his own daughter. Jeannette asked me whether I cared if the rest of the family found out and the answer is no. I don’t give two fucks who finds out. That’s why I wrote a public blog. I have no time for people who only care about how they look to others. If you want to be seen as a decent human being, then BE a decent human being and don’t abuse people. Otherwise, fuck you and fuck your image. Again, if you only care about how you look to others and you’re more upset at me going public than about what happened to me, please feel free to go and fuck yourself.
I’ll tell you something else as well. David Hennig threw his first wife’s birth control pills away so he could have kids with her and that’s how my older half sister came to be here. I have a hard time believing that any woman would have consensual sex with a man, husband or not, if she couldn’t find her birth control pills and he ejaculated inside of her anyway. I didn’t get this from his first wife. I remember him telling me about this growing up. As a naive kid, I was believing in my dad’s story because I thought it was right for him to want to have kids. At the time, I was a kid and I didn’t view it through the grown up lens I untangled the misogyny from today. I don’t give a shit that this occurred in the 1970’s and laws back then didn’t consider it rape. IT WAS RAPE. So, he actually DOES have a history of sexual misconduct and I have no idea where he got the idea from that this behavior was ok in his upbringing, but its NOT ok.
Finally, nobody wants to talk to me about David Hennig’s biological father. There’s this huge family secret behind this person that nobody wants to talk to me about. NOT talking about these things is what guarantees that at least some people in the family will continue these “sins”. Not healing from this shit causes those who refuse to deal and heal will abuse in some way. My dad didn’t become an abusive father out of a vacuum – he was taught to be that way because he was likely emotionally abused himself. I only cut my parents off because neither one of them respect boundaries – my dad is much worse than my mom, but she has her own way of perpetuating bullshit. Like standing by her husband no matter what and deciding that my behavior is some kind of equally hurtful wrong to the both of them instead of seeing it as always a self-preservation reaction to being abused in the first place. My father knows no boundaries whatsoever and continually violated mine and made me feel like I was wrong for having boundaries ever. So cutting him off was the only solution. He has demonstrated repeatedly that boundaries mean nothing to him.
Finally, my sister called me a psychopath. Dear Jeannette: you shouldn’t use big words that you don’t understand. Impaired empathy is a trait YOU suffer from, which you demonstrated when you decided you didn’t believe me or didn’t care these things happened to me and helped shape who I am today. Having no remorse describes you and quite frankly both our brothers and our dad quite well. There is no other explanation for a total lack of taking responsibility for one’s own actions and somehow making sure I believed for years that I deserved the treatment I got.
I didn’t deserve this.
So, if anyone from the family is considering calling me, writing me, emailing me or whatever in an effort to silence me, chastise me, or anything other than offering the simple phrase “I believe you”, then please let me absolve you from doing so.
My husband and I have made several trips to West Virginia now. It’s probably our favorite getaway spot when we do get to get away for a while. This trip was completely spontaneous. He came home from his last day of work for his week and went on our weekly Sunday morning date together and decided while we were taking a walk that we would just do it. We went home – he changed the oil in his van, I made enough food for dinner for our two teenage kids, instructed them to care for the cats (you really do have to tell teenagers everything), and we’d check in when we could. So a few hours later we were off driving the three and a half hour trip to his dad’s camper on the land his dad owns where he grew up in Barbour County.
Trump signs in the Arden – Philippi area: 2
Clinton signs in the same area: 3
The peaceful roar of the Tygart River rushing over the rocks near the camper.
The acorns dropping on the metal roof of the buildings at the empty Audra State Park. They are loud and it takes a moment to realize what it is.
Camping was over for the season at Audra State Park, but you can still walk down there. So we parked in the public area that wasn’t closed off and took a walk down to the bathhouses. The water was not yet shut off, so we took our showers.
Autumn in full swing. I absolutely love the smell of autumn when the leaves are turning and they fall to the ground, become wet, and the mushrooms take over.
He slows down on our way back from our trip into town to look at an orange 50’s Chevy in somebody’s yard.
A mobile home has only the roof and metal frame standing as we pass by. It looks like somebody blew in the walls with all the debris laying inside.
The stars before the nearly full October moon rises…. my god…. the stars!
The labrador retriever that came to visit us every day.
When the sun creeps up slowly from the mountain behind you in the morning.
Peaceful night time fires and local West Virginia Mountain Spice Red Wine. The only noises besides our laughter are the night time insects and the river.
I could live here.
I’m fairly sure my dad is a narcissist. He has so many of the traits and behaves as if the world should revolve around him. I never asked my mother before I stopped speaking to her (again), but I would not doubt my parents (or at least my dad) are voting for Donald Trump. I’m sure they’re still watching John Hagee and Pat Robertson. I’m sure my mother is praying for my stone cold heart every night and crying in her alcohol asking herself how she went wrong as a mother without actually listening to my feelings. I have to email her for her to listen because on the phone or in person, she’ll cut you off and yell over top of you so she doesn’t have to hear what you have to say. The strange mix of alcoholic married to a narcissist blends a special type of dysfunctional family fuckery. This last time I decided I was done with her for a while wraps around her defense of my father’s behavior and a start to a lecture of how marriage is a special relationship as if I was 5 years old and not married for 15 1/2 years myself. And besides… “he’s your father.” No, he’s a sperm donor and she was literally standing by him no matter what. Choosing blind devotion over acknowledgement of abusive behavior.
I have flashbacks of my sperm donor using physical intimidating and yelling to force me into conformity and obedience. So imagine my anxiety as I watched Donald Trump on the stage of the 2nd debate using physical intimidation on Hillary Clinton and calmly, but firmly asserting she will be in jail if he’s elected. I was watching my father get into my face as a teenager all over again. The rebel oldest girl who wanted to mow lawns, listen to music that wasn’t country, learn about cars, and go to college.
And since women everywhere opened up about sexual assault, I have been reminded of two particular incidents with my sperm donor that I haven’t forgotten, nor ever spoken about except with my husband. Please know that saying this in public is hard. But its so necessary.
I consider myself lucky as I’ve been reading about sexual assault stories for now years, particularly in Christian churches. I haven’t been raped, nor have I been groped. The more stories I read, the more I feel like I’m in a small minority. I have been exposed to other violations and trauma though and I want to speak about those.
I want to clarify that I’m not joining my voice with others here to get people to say “that’s enough!” about Donald Trump. I was done with him when he first started his campaign. I rebuked an in law family member the summer of 2015 when she said he was right about Mexicans and decided I never wanted to go to their family get together ever again. I have been adamantly trying to bring attention to his racism and sexism for a while now and his fascist rhetoric that white people who support him or intend on voting for one of the 3rd party candidates want to downplay to justify their positions. No, none of what he said about “grabbing pussy” and “just start kissing them” shocks or surprises me in the least. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t ripped open wounds, however. Especially with people who defend him and try to normalize sexual violence.
My dad knows no boundaries.
When I was in 5th grade, I got the basic birds and the bees talk from him. It was the only sex talk I would have with either one of my parents. After he was done drawing a uterus and ovaries and having the lecture part of the basic sex talk, he sat on the couch – half laying, half sitting up. And he exposed his penis to me to show me what one looked like. It became hard and he asked me if I was curious and wanted to touch it. I felt weird and dirty. I politely declined. He was ok with this and slipped his underwear and pants back up and then told me if I ever was curious to just let him know. At the time, I didn’t think he was trying to be sexual with me. It didn’t feel that way. I’m still not sure, but I know it was wrong. But god damn was that inappropriate as fuck and demonstrated he knows nothing about boundaries whatsoever.
When I was about 17, I had a job and bought my own bras and underwear. I had a set that I loved. It was dark green with flowers on it. I put them on after my shower and wrapped a towel around myself before heading upstairs to my room to choose what outfit I wanted to wear that day. Before heading upstairs, though, my dad stopped me when I got out of the bathroom and wanted to see me in my bra and underwear. I protested and he got angry with me. He believed that since he changed my diaper as a baby, there was nothing for him to see he hasn’t already seen and totally violated my right to privacy as if he, as my sperm donor had automatic rights to my body. He didn’t comment on my body, but I’ll never forget feeling violated as he looked me over and I’ll never forget him being angry with me and his clear message that my body was not mine, but his.
Those are my earliest experiences of being sexually harassed and they came from my dad. Even those of us who aren’t groped or raped are told our bodies don’t belong to us. That we don’t have rights of body autonomy. That men can and will violate us whenever they want.
I believe electing a woman president is a huge “fuck you” to all the men who are angry we are rebelling against the places they want to keep us, where they can violate us whenever they please, however they want too, without consequences.