It has been a long time since I have written a blog post. However, considering I am not finding many other outlets helpful, except for a visit to my therapist for the first time in a couple of months, I am coming back here to air some of what has been going on in my head.
So here is what’s going on, in a short and sweet manner…One that, if there is someone reading this, will allow you to decide if you feel like reading further. In October of 2012, I officially broke off all contact with my father due to many years of abuse (in every sense of the word). It is now 3 years later. I have not had any contact with him, and I have not seen him. No birthday cards, no Christmas cards, no attempts from him to fix the relationship. Nothing. He didn’t even seem to care. The only clues that I had that maybe he cared were his sudden habit of drinking – when he never used to – and being even more belligerent to his staff at work.
3 years later. On Friday of this week, I will be flying down to visit him. At his request, his suggestion. I said OK.
How does this happen, you ask? That is a damned good question. It’s happened so quickly that even I have a hard time keeping up.
To make another long story short, I sent him an email a couple of weeks ago with some unsolicited advice about a business he was helping his brother start in the town where I live (he lives 1,000 miles away). His brother knows nothing about this town, but decided he likes it because his daughter, my cousin, is now in her first year of college year. I sent the email to my father with the advice more as an “I told you so” if the business failed, because I was intentionally shut out of all prior planning on it.
My father was apparently very impressed by my input, and suddenly all contact with him was restored. And part of me is pleased that he likes me again. That he is proud of me….That I am doing things that make him proud that I’m his daughter.
And a whole huge part of me is disgusted at that. HOW could I be proud that this man – who did all of those things – is proud of me? HOW could I possibly WANT to be in contact with him again? WHY do I want to please him? Or, more accurately, why do other parts of me want to please him?
And then there’s an even worse part. One that has tortured me for years, but has turned the heat up several hundred degrees. What if I am able to be pleased, because those parts know that nothing happened? What if nothing really happened at all…What have these last 6 years of therapy been about? What about the last 3 years of no contact with my father? Did he deserve it?
Rationality kicks in for a quick moment. How often I dissociate. The extreme fear I feel. But…what if the fear is only of being wrong, and not of him?
And then I question the question.
And I panic, because through it all, there is a small part of me – a young part – that is curled in a corner, terrified, asking me why we have to see him again. He didn’t change over the 23 years we had contact with him…What makes us think he would have changed over the last 3 when we didn’t?
Nothing. Logic and emotion tell me that there is absolutely no reason to believe he has changed. And so, despite all of the disagreement about who he is, what may have happened…Or what may not have happened…There is one thing we agree on:
When is the monster in him going to come out? When am I going to do the wrong thing or say something that will bruise his fragile ego? Am I – are we – strong enough to withstand the force of whatever (figurative) blow we may take?
My therapist – J – is not so sure. Neither am I. It has been many years, but the last time I visited him, I dissociated the entire time. I was in a dream state. the. entire. time. We talked about the possibility of just not going. I told her I already agreed to it, because I felt obligated since he is helping me get out of some financial trouble that I am in at the moment, and I do not want him to think I am using him for his money. Is that bad? J says it’s not. I’m not so sure. For years I’ve been so determined to get out of this hole on my own, but it would be so nice to not constantly be in the red.
So, I told J that I was afraid of offending him by not going. Or embarrassing him in front of his employees if I suddenly don’t go when I said I would. J pointed out that I was taking care of his feelings. That I had automatically – without even realizing it – fallen right back into the cycle of taking care of his needs. She called it icky. And it is. It makes my skin crawl.
I feel like a failure for letting that happen and not even noticing it. J warned me that it may happen again when I’m down there, and I may not realize it until I’m very far into it. Which begs the question. WHY AM I GOING?
I feel guilty. And he already purchased the airline tickets. And…not going is almost assuring that the monster will come out, while going may keep it at bay.
Then I asked J, how do I know the line between taking care of myself and being fair to him? To phrase it another way…If I have made all of this up and none of it actually happened (except the fact that he’s a raging narcissist…I know that is true), how do I give him a chance to be a father, within limits, while still taking care of myself?
I’m already numbing myself out completely. I have a constant compulsion to completely break down, but I can’t seem to let myself. Even though I’m still safe. I asked J if going would set myself back many months. She said she didn’t know, but that she once had a patient who visited his family of origin for a period of time and it was a major setback for him.
I don’t know what I’m doing. But I do know that I feel more alone that I have in quite a long time. Ironic considering all of the parts that are chiming in lately. Let the games begin.