I reestablished contact with my father 2 months ago for the first time in 3 years. It was sudden and unexpected, but uneventful. Or, as uneventful as something like this can be.
I visited my father, per his request, only a couple of weeks after we reestablished contact. It went fine. He was simply “showing me off” to his employees and colleagues and wanted to impress me. I’m not fooled by his attempts, but it’s typical for him.
Life just continued.
Christmas Eve. My father decided that he wanted to “hash out” some of what happened on the day that I told him I no longer wanted to have contact with him. I asked him why we needed to go over it, since all is said and done. He told me that he has a major problem with how I treated him. He said he couldn’t understand what he did that was so bad.
I didn’t, and don’t, have the courage to tell him.. or ask him… if he did what I think he did…or know he did? Do I know? Do I really?
“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.” – Oscar Wilde
I just tried to appease him enough by telling him I was sensitive and the things he would say were too much for me to handle growing up. It was enough to end the conversation. Apparently it wasn’t enough to satisfy him for good.
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” -Criss Jami
Today, I received a text message from him saying that he wanted to “talk.” I had a very bad feeling about it, but I called him anyway.
He said we had a lot more to “hash out.” I asked him, why do we still need to go over the past 3 years? He said it was because he has such a big problem with the way I treated him. I explained that I had to do what was right for me at the time, and while I understand it may have been hurtful for him, it also wasn’t easy for me, but it was still the best way for me to figure out who I was, take care of myself, etc.
“We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” -Malcom X
He didn’t like that answer. He just kept pestering me, asking me how I couldn’t feel the need to apologize. I told him that it was the right thing for me to do. He accused me of never telling him “why” I didn’t want to be in contact with him anymore. I did, partially, but he doesn’t remember. However I told him that I was terrified, because any time I say anything that he doesn’t agree with, it turns into an argument that ends in a screaming match.
He switched tactics. He said that it has become obvious to him that there is a major problem with how I was raised. A dig at my mother, but also telling me that he sees fault in who I am today. I told him, immediately, that if he is telling me that he sees a problem with who I am as a person today, I will end the conversation. He mentioned our old neighbor, who used to spank his children (quite often, quite hard), and how his children turned out so wonderful and that they must have been doing something right.
I told him that I will not continue to have someone in my life who keeps telling me that he finds something wrong with who I am today, because I feel more secure in who I am as a person than ever before, and that it was those 3 years apart that helped me define that. He told me how selfish that was and how selfish I was being. I said that I am not being selfish by taking care of myself when necessary, and he insisted I was. I “threatened” him that if the conversation continues the way it was going, I was going to go right back to not talking to him, because I don’t need a person like him in my life.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
He wanted to know why I didn’t “worship” him like my cousins worship their father, who is quite a mess. He wanted to know what he did that was so bad that he didn’t get the same treatment that they give their father. I asked him if he has any compassion for me, for the journey that I’ve gone through. He didn’t answer. He just said I’m unbelievable. He said I’m selfish. Several times.
I told him I can’t talk to him anymore.
“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” ― Shannon L. Alder
No matter how strong I may have gotten, this still rips me to pieces. It still makes me question everything. It still makes me question my self worth, my value as a person, my character… all of it. And even worse, everything that he said, all of his questions, make me question the very basis upon which I’ve built the stronger me.
I feel like my whole self is a game of Jenga, and almost all of the pieces had been put into place. But now, I’ve suddenly had several key pieces removed, causing the whole structure to wobble and sway and threaten to collapse. I’ll get over it, of course. I always do.
And that’s the end of that. Forever this time.
“As you become your own advocate and your own steward, your life will beautifully transform.” – Miranda Barrett