Monday, June 11, 2007

My Father Figured

*continuing what was a too-long comment from African-American's Dad's recent post about his father*

I think my Pops thinks I hold a grudge with him because of his role or lack of a role during my childhood. My problems with my him have more to do with who he is (and who I am), now, than the craziness (and absences) of the past.

It's kinda of sad to say out-loud (or electronically), but I've given up on us having a real relationship. I may send him a lower-tier card or something to acknowledge Father's Day and the fact that I'll always love him, but interaction is fueled by interlocking personality traits or simple compatibility. We lack that - almost completely.

Without it, we either 1) lie and tolerate each other through clenched teeth or 2) we avoid each other. I reject the former and so am left with the latter.

It's too bad, really, because his relationship with his father was $#!+, too. He says he wanted ours to be better. So did I.

I'll tell you, though: if my Dad ever cared enough to just look me in the eye, or even call, and tell me that he loved me, I'd be "a puddle of water," as my Mom says.


bruce said...
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Anonymous said...

I find myself addicted to the show, in syndication, "Judging Amy,' for the concerted and exponential degree of introspection, revelation and examination of personal relationships and the role one plays therein.

I am as easily drawn to your willingness to undergo the emotional autopsy.

I am without breath at this post. I will go.

West said...

I didn't realize Judging Amy was that deep. Maybe I'll have a chance to give it another shot, some time.

And thanks.

Anonymous said...

The only contact I have with my father, is when my mom calls to tell me that she's received another *random* back child support check. I prefer it to be that way.

Peace to you and your (semi) attempt at a relationship with your father.

Miz JJ said...

This makes me sad. It reminds me a lot of my brother and my father. My father was not an absentee father, but he was a hard man to please. Especially if you had a strong personality to conflict with his. I suppose something is better than nothing. A partial relationship is better than a bullshit relationship. Do you think you could ever sit down and talk about it?

West said...

b. good: I can't say I blame you for your preference. I guess mine is similar since, while I'd LOVE to have a positive relationship with my father, I'd prefer NO relationship to a toxic one.

miz jj: Ahh, yes. Strong personalities don't always do well in close proximity. That's part of our problem.

The thing is, though, that my Pops believes that my opinion will always been inferior to his, regardless of how old I get... and regardless of the fact that I am now older than he was the first time I remember him dismissing my opinion due to my age.

Do I think we could ever sit down and talk about it? We've talked, screamed, and cursed about it, but there have been very few times that we've simply talked.

That's largely because he doesn't see me and talk to me and respect me as a man. For me, that's a deal-breaker.

For him, "son" and "man" are mutually exclusive. Apparently, if I'm his son, then I will always remain and must be treated like a boy.

Anyway, I don't wanna chew your ear clean off, so I'll just answer your question. *chokes out the word*


Each of us demands treatment that the other is unwilling or unable to give.

I'd love for that to change, but after so many attempts, I'm all but convinced it never will.

Liz Dwyer said...

The thing that keeps resonating with me is that your dad had this same kind of relationship with his own father. Probably the most challenging thing is that you have to figure out how you break the cycle and eliminate whatever negative behaviors you may have learned from your dad or others. Otherwise, how do you foster a healthier relationship with your own future children? I think about this quite frequently because my mom had a sometimes negative relationship with her mom. For me, I know my mom at her age is probably not going to change. But I have to change things for my own kids and for myself.

The fact that you are willing to open up about this at all really says so much about who you already are as a man. In my opinion, that bodes well for your future fatherhood.

West said...

Thanks, liz.

It would crush me to have this kind of non-relationship with my own (future) child.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I feel for you. My father, although present (ubiquitous, actually) never cared for me because he was a chauvinist and I was not sufficiently passive for a girl.

My mother treated me like a retarded child until she died, at which point I was a single mother of three.

Such people for whatever reason can't or won't change. All we can do is protect ourselves from constant pain, and try to do better with our own kids. Finding substitute parents helps, too, when possible.

West said...

heart: Ouch. That sounds pretty tough.

You've got a point about people who are unlikely to change. It's a hard, HARD fact for me to fully and permanently accept, but I try to - for the sake of my sanity, if nothing else.

Justin Kownacki said...

Personal favorite line of the day: "I may send him a lower-tier card..." I'm fascinated that you'd actually send him a card but ensure that it wasn't of top quality. These are the kinds of details that make for classic literature...

West said...

You made me laugh out-loud.

It's kinda true, though. I mean, I didn't intend to get him a poorly-constructed, grammar-bombed piece of cardboard, but it's important to me not to pick out a card that's saying things I don't really mean.

That's why I'd rather pick out a card, if I got him one (which I didn't), that wasn't the mushiest of the mushy.