I feel so conflicted. My dad went to visit my sister and now his plan is to come visit me. I’m mad that he didn’t make an effort when I needed him to and that keeps me from even accepting his efforts now. His wife always made an effort and I’m sorry if reading this offends her. I love talking to her and would love to see her. Him, not so much… and I hate feeling that way after wanting a relationship with him so badly for so long, but it’s how I feel.
Sometimes it sucks that I am so emotionally transparent. I am not capable of acting like I haven’t been standing around waiting on someone who has not been there for me to decide to come around. I’m not able to act like I’ve forgotten all those years of waiting to be a priority; years of feeling empty no matter how full my life is… Years of never talking unless I call. Years of leaving unreturned messages. Years of having a “relationship” that is only existent within the confines of his threshold of convenience. Years of just waiting and wanting.
I’m not that person who can smile and laugh and hide away all the hurt and resentment and all those feelings of inadequacy for the sake of making it through dinner. He finally wants to come visit me… finally reached out to me for a change. And instead of being excited, I’m angry. It’s still convenience. He’s still passing through on his way to another priority.
On one hand I feel like it’s at least something, but on the other hand I feel like the whole thing is a little too late. Every time I hear his voice, I feel like a child again. I can barely focus on his words because all I can think about is how much I just want to ask him why he couldn’t have been there for me. He thinks he did the best that he could. I wonder how many phone calls he made every day of his life and why just one of them throughout the week couldn’t have been to me. The best you can do means you’ve put forth some effort. Dedicated some time and energy. But I only cross his mind when it’s convenient… or at least that’s how it’s always seemed.
The one thing I can say is that the man is consistent. In 31 years, nothing about our lack of a relationship has ever changed. I don’t know how to feel any differently. A part of me has been miserable my whole life because of the void he was supposed to fill. How do I ignore that through idle chit chat and I love yous? It’s hard enough to do it a few times per decade over the phone…
If you’re a parent, be there for your kid. Not just in the way you know how, but in the way they need you. Don’t just do what you can. Do your best. Don’t just send money. Be involved. After a while, the damage is done and there may not be any going back. I’m a grown woman and I realize that there’s no way to go back and change the past, but the pain is still deep and it’s still there — and it’s making it damn near impossible for me to even want to care at this point. I mean, how is this time supposed to be any different than the time before? How am I supposed to be optimistic and think this could be the start of a great relationship? I went into dinner in 2006 thinking that same thing and nothing changed.
The only time he called me was to wish me happy birthday (and he mistakenly thought my birthday was the day BEFORE my actual birthday…) in 2007 and then two days after Christmas that year when he called to defend himself after I sent him a letter that was prompted by emotions after seeing him walk my sister down the aisle telling him everything that had been left unsaid. Not even an acknowledgement of my feelings. But he did mention how much he spent on my sister’s wedding… which was especially painful. Since then, the only time we’ve talked has been when I’ve called him, as usual.
At what point to I decide I’ve had enough disappointment for one lifetime from the same person? I don’t know if he even has any regrets or if he ever really thought about me. It’s a slap in the face when he acts like he just tried SO hard to be in my life, but my mom stopped him. I’ve been on my own for over 14 years. Even if she kept him away for the first 16 years, what happened to the second half of my life?
EDIT TO ADD: A friend left a comment saying that she had to learn how to love her Dad the way he is and stop being angry because he was not the way she needed him to be. I think that makes sense and I’m sure I will have to make strides if we ever have a normal relationship, but I don’t know if I can ever do that without him at least acknowledging my feelings, which hasn’t happened up to this point. Honestly, I don’t know what I want from him. I’m sure it’s frustrating for him when I don’t make it easy, but I don’t know how to make things right and honestly I don’t feel like it’s on me to make that happen.