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I don't know where to begin. In order, then, here's what happened:

Around age 12, my father began to slip his gears. He was on his third marriage, and had another daughter by wife #2. He was tired of pretending to be normal and began experimenting with other women, then men, and as time went on he went looking for the most extreme thrill he could get, sexually, and what thrilled him was whatever he thought people wouldn't approve of. Eventually, when I was about 14, he started coming on to me.

I was homeschooled at the time, and he worked from home. I did everything I could think of to keep distance between us. It mostly worked: no intercourse, a couple of "improper touching" incidents, and a whole lot of weird and scary moments that added up to emotional trauma, but not physical. By the time I was 16, my mother (who knew nothing about this because I didn't expect her to help) was thinking about divorcing him. She applied for a job transfer to another state. When she announced that she had an offer in hand, I saw my opportunity to make a clean getaway, and gave her evidence of my father's infidelity. He had pointed me to it the year before, in an attempt to persuade me to join him on the swinger's circuit. What I wrote about his internal life in the last paragraph, I read in his online profile.

Once I had my mother's attention with that, I also told her what I had been going through. As I predicted, that was not her primary concern. She used what I told her to maneuver for a larger share of the divorce settlement, thereby leaving both sides of my family with the impression that she had made it all up and forced me to go along with her. I told my half sister (same father) the whole truth, but she didn't believe me. After that, I found it too hard to speak to anyone else. One of my mother's sisters got a little out of me, but when my paternal uncle's wife asked, I choked. After a minute I said something vague, but I don't remember what because most of my attention was on trying not to cry.

My father's mother, my Grandma, lives with my uncle and his wife. I say "his wife" because they married pretty late in life. I'm happy to claim her as an aunt, she's a nice person, but I didn't grow up knowing her. I'll call her Aunt M. Grandma is almost 98, and she's decided that she doesn't want to hang around for long, once she reaches that birthday. It's this month. I got an email from my half-sister reminding me of how determined Grandma is, and I agree with her that if she says 98 is it, then that's it. My husband and I are making plans to visit as soon as we can.

Aunt M. lost both her parents within the past year. She's had difficulties with her son (from a previous marriage), and I know she's feeling the hurt of loss between parents and children from both sides of the table. My half-sister's mom died, completely unexpectedly, about six weeks ago. It's been hard on her. That whole side of the family has been dealing with the loss of a parent or parents for a whole year, and I feel like the next time I go, either for this visit or a funeral, they're all going to look at me and wonder why I'm being so hard on my poor ol' Dad.

Here's why: The last time we spoke, it was on the phone, at least five years ago. I hadn't spoken to or seen him in a long time, and he said he wanted some kind of relationship with me. He wasn't being creepy; Grandma, Aunt M. and my uncle were listening. I confronted him with the reasons we didn't have one. He said he "remembered things differently." I said he was either lying or having mental problems that required professional assistance. I said it about that politely, too. He asked for my forgiveness. I asked what he remembered doing that would require my forgiveness. Nothing, of course, but, "I'll say I'm sorry if you want me to." The empty apology didn't appeal to me, so I said again what he'd done, and told him that unless he sorted out either the lying or the problem with not remembering, whichever it was, we had nothing else to talk about. We haven't spoken since.

I know this situation hurts my family. I want it to end, but I don't want to write my father the blank check he asked for. It's hard to visit Grandma and the family, knowing that what they believe is whatever my father told them--not the truth. I must look pretty bad--almost as bad as my mother, but maybe more deluded than malicious.

I know I am going to see my father again soon, if not on this next visit, then at Grandma's funeral. What do I say if he, or someone, confronts me with something like, "He's the only father you have and you'll regret it if you don't reconcile"? I think I can handle talking to my family about what happened, now, but is this the right time? I have no intention of burdening Grandma with any of this, but I know she'd be happy if we patched things up before she goes. I don't want her to go out with her son and granddaughter estranged, but I don't want to go along with my father's "misremembered" version of events, even for her sake.

I would appreciate any advice or insight you can give me.

Thank you,
Mrs. B.
So here's what I've done so far:

After I posted on this forum, I scheduled a massage at the nearest place that had an open appointment. This cost me $74, blowing my budget for the week, and it was worth every penny. Before I left for the massage, I contacted two friends to make plans. One responded, and agreed to stop by the next day. After the massage, I roasted marshmallows over a candle and made s'mores. Then I ordered my favorite dish from my favorite Chinese take-out place. All of this made me feel a lot calmer.

The tickets are booked; I'll see Grandma at the end of the month. My husband is coming with me. I'm pretty sure Grandma will hold out for the visit, even if it is a couple weeks past her birthday. As soon as I work up the courage, I'll call her and find out what she thinks.

The one friend who came over turned into three friends, and we stayed up late making cupcakes, playing games, and drinking (in that order; I did not use an oven while intoxicated).

Nothing I wrote about a couple days ago looks as serious now. If Grandma asks me to forgive my father, I can honestly I say I'll try. And I will. Sometime when the family isn't being rocked by death on all sides, I'll broach the topic with my sister again, and this time with enough emotional resources to deal with her disbelief. I don't know why I want to start with her when the problem is our father. I guess she's more important to me. I think I might like to have her on my side, or at least tell her enough truth to back her off from actively supporting our child molesting dad. It hurts and it's demoralizing.

I never told the rest of that side of the family what happened. I have let my father's version of events stand, by default, unchallenged. I want that to change, but it doesn't have to change right this minute. I really don't expect my father to admit what he did, never mind go so far as to apologize and try to make amends. But I can tell my family the truth, and tell him that's what I want. That's my try. It'll probably be several months to a year before I do. I can wait.

-Mrs. B.
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