On some level, I've always known I was badly spanked by my father as a little child, when I was too young to form clear memories. The only clear memory I have in relation to this was realizing I won't get spanked this time - or ever again - because I showed no fear to him. I think I was 3 and I remember the feeling of victory. And the realization that I've made him fear me, because he's actually the weak one.
It felt wrong to accuse where I had no proof in the form of clear memories, but this knowledge came out again and again. I remember telling a boy at school, at age 6, that I'd been horribly spanked when I was little. I told a friend about it when I was very drunk, in my twenties, a friend who knew and respected my father. I wrote a poem about it when I was 22, in which I debated with myself whether to confront him on the issue or not. If he confessed, the poem asserted, all civilization would somehow come crumbling down. If he denied, it would be even worse.
I did confront him, soon after writing the poem. He denied.
This wasn't just a simple, one-time denial. I might have believed it if it was that.
I think it was even before I asked him this, that he wrote in my birthday card how blah, blah, he loved me, as did my dear late mother, although she sometimes even spanked me. (And he didn't, the card implied clearly; or it might have even been explicitly stated, I don't remember.) The sheer inappropriateness of this, and the fact that he waited for her death to accuse her, were immediately huge red flags for me. Denying abuse and accusing your dead wife of it, in a sickeningly sweet, sugar-coated kind of way, ON A BIRTHDAY CARD?
When I asked him, he didn't just deny. No, he immediately talked in great, disturbingly, sickeningly clear detail about how my mother spanked me when she was annoyed or irritated (which I actually don't doubt per se, but this was not my question), and how he watched as she left red marks with her hands on my tiny, but fleshy and well-rounded bottom (what kind of sick father remembers this, and then retells it to his daughter, as relevant information)?!*
My mother didn't deny spanking me out of anger. She told me about one such occurrence herself and felt sorry about it. This was the "dress" incident: I refused to wear a dress to go outside because that meant no playing in the dirt, according to her rules; she spoke to her NMIL about this, and the evil woman said she needed to force me, because "If that child isn't obeying you now when she's just two years old, what will she be doing at age 18?" So she kept spanking me and I kept saying "No". She did win, in the end, and I wore the effing dress, but then, she recounted, a few days later I asked her "Why did I have to wear that dress?" and she replied "I don't know." There are other infuriatingly stupid instances of her spanking me, like once, because I climbed a tree and got dirt on my pants, and it was embarrassing for her to be walking outside with a girl with dirty pants. So we went straight home, she spanking me along the way. I was as old as maybe 8 or 9. This is all indeed maddening, ridiculous stuff. But it doesn't cover my vague memories of being cruelly and methodically beaten with a belt by my father when I was very little.
And, recently, he felt the need to bring it up yet again, at my recent birthday party. I told my aunt, somewhat proudly, how my younger daughter seems to exhibit signs of being a very strong-willed person, and my father chimed in, saying I was just like that, impossible to subdue, as my mother found out when she tried to spank me into submission during the notorious dress incident. But he himself never spanked me, he added.
So, these overenthusiastic denials coupled with the evidence in my previous posts are, I think, enough for me to decide to believe myself that I was indeed spanked by him, cruelly, when I was very, very little. All civilization didn't come crumbling down. Just his edifice of lies. Just the monument he erected for himself as the perfect father. Just my illusion of an idyllic childhood.