Today is my Dad’s birthday. Its a complex situation as he died over 30 years ago and I haven’t really been all that aware of how I really experienced our relationship until the last year or so of therapy. My idea of him and how we really related were worlds apart. I know a part of me was really missing my Dad because he never took the time to connect with me emotionally. He was fairly pre-occupied. I was crying about it yesterday as I remembered how he would come home to find me alone in the afternoons (Mum was never there she worked until 6 pm every school day), he wouldn’t say much just come in say hello change his clothes and go into the garden. I felt so alone, even when he was there, he wasn’t. I can now relate that feeling to feelings of emptiness and longing I have had, especially around men. Now I know those feelings of emptiness grow when I don’t take care of me and what I need. That has taken lots and lots of work.
I didn’t know how to speak to my Dad. I didn’t have much of a relationship with him. And later in my teens I was acting out and getting home very, very, very late some nights and he wasn’t that happy about that.
I have had push pull relationships as a result of our non existent relationship, I now see. I am not sure if I want to connect. Part of me longs to connect, another part feels it cannot connect, but at times I do really connect. Another part fears if I do connect I won’t measure up. I doubt my self worth at times. Another part of me knows I am worthy. Gosh its complex
And in the midst of writing this I became aware – we cannot always know how relating to others will go for us, will we have anything in common? Do we need to feel bad if we don’t? For me I would in the past be making up a judgement of myself if I felt I could not relate rather than just understand it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, we are just different and didn’t connect. As I write this I am aware how much easier it goes for me when I don’t judge myself or the other person.
Back to my Dad. I am not really missing my Dad today. My Dad died 30 years ago. Sometimes I miss the fact I didn’t have a Dad after the age of 23. He wasn’t there to provide guidance and the fact is he did some really damaging things to me growing up which impacted on my life profoundly in very difficult ways. I have processed the feelings around those hurts over the past few years and I am surprised today that I don’t really feel anything. I don’t feel numb. I feel at peace. Wow. I think I have come a long way. I am finally feeling freer of the past.
Fact was, although I had a Dad he wasn’t that emotionally present for me. He was more tied up in his own life to notice what was important to me. That set me up for later relationships in which I learned to revolve my needs around others while feeling feelings of unconscious anger about it. I didn’t develop good b0undaries of self care or even take time to discriminate who or who was not good for me to be around.
After reading this back I do know however how much I deny it there are some feelings and loneliness in not having a Dad here now. But there are ways in which I can father myself. I can take joy in the things that my Dad enjoyed and perhaps passed on and I can live in the present moment, no longer so pulled on by painful feelings tied to a past that I couldn’t control and didn’t have much power to change.