I love my dad. But what if I love him too much? What if we’re…too close?
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‘You love your daddy’s cock and balls; you love his cock and balls.’
I remember scrambling to type this down in my phone notes when I heard her say it. I knew that if I confronted my mum about it later, she would deny ever having said it — and I needed proof. Otherwise, I’d start to doubt myself, I knew that I did that, and often.
It was already years after my dad, and I had moved out, and she was always accusing me of having him wrapped around my little finger. She said that I was a daddy’s girl. She called up the social worker at my school and said that he was ‘pimping me out,’ she said that I wanted him all to myself.
OCD + Domestic Abuse = Something Scary
That was all pretty horrid —, but when you take that and whisk in some OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) it becomes all the more scary. I’ve had intrusive images since I was a kid. For example, walking downstairs, I’ve always pictured slipping and breaking my teeth. Crossing roads always involved flashing images of being mowed down. These were just minor annoyances, though, and I always figured they were normal. I had always had an active imagination.
The first time it became consistently distressing was when I was in high school. I started having recurring images of crows, or ravens — I don’t know, I’m not an ornithologist, whatever — pecking and picking at the nerves and veins in my forearms. These were accompanied by itchiness and the sense that I could feel the blood running from my elbows to my wrists and I ended up scratching my forearms with my nails a lot. It was a stressful time. My family was falling apart, and I had invested all my self-worth into being a good student, which meant that I was constantly anxious about homework. I cried a lot.
It was around that time that I remember being called into the social worker’s office with my dad— she asked me straight up if he was sexually abusing me. My mum had called her and ‘expressed some concern.’ I started laughing uncontrollably. The idea was utterly absurd! My mum was drinking heaps and just desperate to drive my dad and me apart. I was stunned she had stooped so low, but still — I found it almost funny.
The social worker was reassured, and asked if she could help us — my dad wasn’t used to being a single dad. He didn’t really know how to cook, or how to deal with a teenage girl and her usual teenage girl problems. But there aren’t really shelters or centers or support groups for fathers and kids subject to domestic violence. I understand why, I’m a feminist — but it meant that we were on our own.
My dad and I became close by necessity. We talked all about sex, about intimacy, and love. I understand lots of people may find that weird, but I didn’t feel like I had my mum anymore — otherwise, I swear I wouldn’t have been asking my dad to go buy me tampons and discussing my crushes with him. I mean, that shit was seriously above his pay grade. Still, I needed a role model — and there weren’t many strong female leads in the films I was watching at the time.
“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”
National Institute of Mental Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
OCD can be really dark and distressing
So that’s how we lived, I guess. How we survived, even. Without my mum. Fast-forward to my first year of university. That was when I started seeing the intrusive images again, except this time they were really sweet, and lovely, and pretty.
Just fucking with you, they were gory as hell. My mind was like a B-movie horror show, with films like ‘Fork, meet eyeball II’ and ‘nail clippers VS nipples’ or ‘Being suffocated by a hag in your sleep.’ I would lie awake at night just hugging my boobs in case someone was coming to snip them off. Then I’d start worrying about being choked, so I’d have to hunker down in my bed and cover my neck, like some kind of nightmare-prone burrito. Unfortunately, those intrusives are by far some of the least damaging, least disturbing things I have had come to mind.
‘Do you have sex with your daddy?! Does he screw you?! You love your daddy, don’t you?!’ — this is just one of the things my mum has said that suggests there’s this whole incest conspiracy thing going on. That I stole her husband from her, took him away with me. That I fuck my dad. That I love his cock and balls. Safe to say, I have never had sex with my dad — and I don’t want to. Or at least I don’t think I do.
Funny thing, OCD. It often latches on to the things you fear the most. For me, that’s physical pain — and the idea that my mum is right. That I am to blame for what happened to our family. That she’s right about me…wanting my dad, in that way. It’s fucking terrifying. I love my dad.
But what if I love him too much? What if we’re…too close?
OCD is not a quirk
OCD is a brilliant trickster, and can make the most rational people believe the wildest things. Plus, it doesn’t only deal in thoughts — but also images, feelings, and sensations. Yeah. I didn’t know that either. Not one medical professional had ever bothered to tell me that. So I had this secret.
It made me feel disgusting. It made me feel horrible. It made me feel as if I had to distance myself from my dad, who is my rock, one of my very best friends. This fucking secret. ‘You love your daddy’s cock and balls; you love his cock and balls.’
It’s hard to write down, even now… So, when I talked to my dad, or thought about him a lot, or hugged him, I would get this feeling, like…down there. You know the feeling. It was super distressing. I felt so gross. Being close to him was hard. My head was all ‘You little slut! Your mum was right all along. You’re so disgusting. You want to fuck your dad. AAaaaaAAaaAAAaaaaargh.’
Although I wasn’t fantasizing about it, there were these feelings, these physical sensations. I didn’t want to talk about intimacy or relationships with him like I had before. I felt dirty. And it just wouldn’t go away. I figured it had been somehow triggered by what my mum had said, but I still blamed myself, and thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I didn’t tell my friends, I didn’t tell my therapist, I didn’t tell anyone, and I felt further from my dad than I probably ever had.
I was so ashamed until I was browsing Facebook one day and saw a Tumblr re-post about ‘groinal responses.’ So, what is a groinal response?
A groinal response is that fucking feeling! The horn! The ‘nng’ you get in your vag, or the stirring of a boner rising (?) (can you tell that I don’t have a penis?) — and it’s a natural response to literally tons of shit. Including seeing babies, because babies come from sex. Look it up. In the OCD community, it’s typically used to describe the totally uncontrollable genital sensations that occur in those who suffer from intrusive sexual thoughts.
My only response to the discovery of this knowledge was ‘Why the fuck was I never given a leaflet about this?!’ — so many people have intrusive sexual thoughts, thoughts which make them feel ashamed, dirty, and disgusting, often causing them to isolate themselves. Even when I finally reached out to a therapist about this, I was told nothing about groinal responses. If I had known about it sooner, maybe I wouldn’t have had to deal with months of self-doubt, self-loathing and hurt. Maybe I wouldn’t have purposefully distanced myself from one of the most important people in my life. I just needed to hear about…groinal responses.
Now, this is a terrifying secret to share — and on the Internet, of all places! — but it’s what Uncomfortable Revolution is about. Sexual intrusive thoughts are surprisingly common, and it shouldn’t be this scary to seek guidance, reassurance, and help. I shouldn’t have to rely on Tumblr for medical advice this crucial to my mental health.
Groinal responses are nothing to be ashamed of. I would wager that most people have had an unwanted sexual response before, something that made them feel ashamed of themselves — like inappropriate physical feelings when witnessing pain, seeing something taboo or disgusting, or even while being violated themselves.
If anyone reading this feels the way I did when I found out about groinal responses — aka. ‘HOLY FUCK SO I’M NOT A BAD PERSON?’ — I just have one thing to say. Look, brains are weird. They can get mixed up sometimes. It doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, and it doesn’t dictate what you want. It’s just a meaningless groinal response. It’s uncomfortable as hell…but it will pass.