As soon as I learned to speak as a toddler, I'd ask every man if he was my father.

 Photo taken by my father in Paris, 1982

Photo taken by my father in Paris, 1982

As soon as I learned to speak as a toddler, I'd ask every man if he was my father. When I was three my mother married my stepfather, we moved to a village near Antwerp, and I lost my true mother, the French speaking caregiver who had loved me. My mother got pregnant right away, and I remember my stepfather being excited about the baby on the way. Even though he was new in my life, I was told he was my father, and of course I believed it, and yet kept searching for 'my father,' because my stepfather was so obvious in his strong preference for my brother, and remained distant from me.

Around the time my mother started taking me to orgies, I developed a strong and lively fantasy of my real father. He was an artist who lived in Paris named Pierre, with dark wavy hair, and brown eyes like mine. He loved me, and thought of me all the time, but circumstances kept him from coming to my rescue. If he could, he would have come down like a superhero, destroyed my abusers, and taken me with him. During my regular life during the week, when I went to school, this fantasy was very strong, and kept me going, even though I also worried that I was crazy.

In the network, some of my abusers became father figures. The few who did have an emotional attachment to me saw things in me that my mother or stepfather didn't. Beauty. Intelligence. My sense of humor. Strength. I soaked up their reflections like the emotionally starved child I was, while parental nurturing became hopelessly entangled with sexual abuse.

After being rescued from the network, I carefully followed instructions given by the insider who brokered a deal for my release. At the age of seventeen, after I'd left my parents' home, I once more asked my stepfather if he was my real father, and he finally told the truth. I was told who my biological father was. My fantasy had not been that crazy. He was an artist - a composer of classical music. I ran into a musician who said he was taking a course from him, and handed him a note with my first name and phone number to pass along. Incredibly, my father actually called, and we made an appointment at my apartment. The next day he showed up, brown wavy hair, and brown eyes. He was so shaken, that I took his hands in mine to guide him to calmness - as I was used to doing to make abusers feel at ease.

After being shown pictures of the extended family, and finding out that we both had a unique physical trait in common, he told me his side of the story of why he had not been present in my life. We had a lovely day. He showed me parts of Antwerp I had not known before, that were interesting and fun. I thought this was a new beginning for me. I pictured him guiding me to study music, maybe get me a tutor, and I would certainly learn to play an instrument. He'd care for me in ways fathers do. I pictured us meeting every other week or so, for check ins. But he was waiting at my door the next day when I returned home from work, and I sensed - based on my experience in the network - that he wanted sex and that there would be no relationship without it. I was just eighteen, and not ready to let go of my father fantasy, now that it had finally manifested. I was going to try to do what he wanted, and hang on to my fantasy in the hope that he would become a father, eventually.

Needless to say, my father further damaged my self esteem. He harbored a profound derision for all women whom he sexualized, and treated me as though I were cheap and vulgar when we were alone. I craved his culture and sophistication, and in public got to live out my fantasy as he took me to concerts and premieres, introducing me as his new-found daughter. After three months of this, I left the country, fulfilling a directive from another father figure, and escaped the impossible situation with my father.

I pined for a father figure my entire life, and spent much time grieving this profound lack of love. A sweet moment between a dad and his little girl still makes me cry. This very strong desire has driven me to work hard to change my consciousness, and follow a spiritual path, seeking absolute truth and love. A subtle, gentle, benign force had always been present in my darkest days, and I sought to reconnect with that force. My dream is finding fulfillment in ways I never imagined: I feel so much love. I feel so incredibly loved. I feel deeply cared for. The subtle inner loving guidance that helped me survive as a child, is just as active today in everything I do. Meditation strengthens intuition, and intuition is the voice of the divine. When we think about meditation, we often forget about the love, but the whole journey is about nothing else. There is so much sweetness in it. When people comment on my posts feeling sorry for me, I wish they could feel what I feel. I am full. I am doing very, very well, and am not lacking anything.

A great saint once said: "Suffering is the greatest teacher if you can learn from it. If you can't, it is the greatest curse."

Photo taken in Versailles, by my biological father, in 1981.

M Becker