About five years ago, after over a decade of total estrangement, I began allowing my father in, just a tiny bit. Having a little boy gave me empathy about what it must have been like to be “little” him, in the volatile environment he was born into. As I’ve worked on healing myself, my anger toward him has receded. Our relationship was far from close, but he was sending gift cards for birthdays and Christmas, and maybe once a year or so we’d talk on the phone and maybe once a year or so, I’d see him at a family function and I was okay with it. During the time of our estrangement, I could not tolerate being in the same room with him, so this was improvement and I felt comfortable with it. I heard he’d been reading my blog, and though it made me a bit uneasy at first, I got used to it. After all, the blog is public. Anyone can read it.
Last week, my father made a request I did not feel comfortable honoring. My immediate reaction was NO. I sat with it overnight, and still felt like it would not be in my best interest, so instead of leaving it hanging there, I wrote him and told him why I was choosing not to honor it. I told him what was true for me, in as kind a way as I possibly could.
He responded, telling me there is something wrong with me, and I should just consider him dead to me, because he can’t take it anymore, and that obviously nothing has changed. He vowed not to visit my blog anymore and said I wouldn’t be hearing from him.
That night, I curled up in the arms of my husband and cried. Not for me, but for him. I have a photo of my father when he was tiny, maybe three or four years old. I pictured him that age, and cried because he was hurting. My denial of his request hurt him, and that little boy just wanted to be included, and I felt so sad I couldn’t honor it without forsaking myself. I’ve worked long and hard to cultivate my inner guidance, and I know not to ignore it, but I don’t enjoy hurting anyone. Ever. It pains me.
The whole thing brought up the notion of forgiveness. Did setting a boundary mean I had not forgiven? I had to look at that. I believe I have forgiven. Actually, I believe you can’t ever accurately judge someone and be in a position to “forgive” them, because you have not ever walked in their shoes. That doesn’t mean I forsake my own intuition to please someone with active and severe and never addressed addiction.
Anyway…it’s a sad situation. And as sad as it is, there is a sense of relief. And I know his little written explosion was a gift.
He said nothing had changed, and while that may be true on his end, I can look at that statement and know for certain, it isn’t true of me. On this Father’s Day, I feel no anger toward him. That is a big change. I wish him peace.
Todd and I were friends for about six months before we ever started dating and I liked him. I remember thinking, “I want someone like that for my kids.” Not him, of course. Why, that’d be crazy! We were both dating other people, though not seriously. He was just a pal.
What did I see? What was that fatherly quality? He had a certain steadiness about him. We worked together, and if he was the pharmacist on duty that night, I felt somehow protected. Like, it was going to be a good night, because Todd was working, and he could handle any situation the hospital threw at us. He was unflappable. Capable. Reliable. And funny!
Oh, the funny.
At first, when you meet him, he’s quiet. But once you get to know him, the one liners come sailing out. His comedic timing is spot on. He’d create catch phrases, and soon the whole department would be saying them, and people wouldn’t realize he was the one who initiated them, because he was so quiet. He didn’t need a whole bunch of glory.
He had this cute face, with a great smile, perfect teeth, dark expressive eyebrows that said so much with just a fraction of movement. After a while I started liking him, liking him. A lot.
Anyway….here we are 16 years later and man, was my intuition about him right. He has proven to be such a good daddy. Nothing has been off limits. Poop. Throw up. Wait…I take it back. Nail trimming is off limits. He refuses. Eleven years into parenting and he’s still afraid he’ll nick their little fingers and toes.
He loves our kids fiercely. He honors their mother. He’s held me up so many times over the years, and has taken good care of me, so I can take care of them. His passion is this family. He works for us. He lives for us. He always puts us first. He never lets us down.
All that comes naturally to him, but he’s also really worked to be a good dad. We had a kid who could not be parented the “typical” way…and it wasn’t easy to switch from traditional society’s “I say jump, you say how high” but he sure did it, because it was what his child needed.
I adore Todd. There is no one I’d rather spend time with. No one else can make me laugh like him. There is no one I trust more. There is no one else I’d ever want to be with on this parenting trip.
I love you so much Mister.
Happy Father’s Day.
I thank God for you.