Tuesday, June 29, 2010


A good thing happened today.  I spent the day with my dad and his wife at the hospital and I learned something I needed to know.  For years now, I've had as little to do with my dad as possible.  There were a couple of years back in my mid-thirties when I literally wasn't speaking to him.  It wasn't because I was mad at him, although I was, it was because I needed a break.  He's so intense, and being around him was so difficult for me, that it would take days to recover my equilibrium after spending time with him.  I just wanted some time off.  I kept up with him through my mom and my sisters (this was before my parents divorced), but I didn't see him or speak to him for a couple of years.

But even once we were back in touch, I never spent more than a day or two around him.  We'd have dinner with him, or we'd be at some big family gathering. Once or twice we spent the night at his new house once he remarried.  I'd be around him just long enough to realize, "Yup, he's still the same old guy he's always been," and then I'd be glad I didn't have to be around him much anymore.  Times have changed now.  His wife needs our support, no matter how I feel about him.  So the visit I made here earlier this month, and now this one, are the first times in a dozen years I've been around him for any length of time.  And I'm discovering that I'm stronger than I think. I've grown up a lot.  Which is such a relief, because I'm frickin' 48 years old.  Thank GOD.

There was that moment yesterday, which was indeed painful.  It cut right through to the core of the little girl I once was, confused and hopeful and trying to please, but just never quite getting him to see me.  But today, I spent the entire day with him, and even though he's still the same guy, he still makes cracks about women that are borderline offensive, he still looks at me and sees someone who is not even remotely related to how I see myself-- even though all of that is still true, it was OK.  I sat there with them, and we chatted between the blood draws, or sat and read, or watched Wimbledon, and I was fine.  I could handle it.  I wasn't terrified that he would somehow be able to undermine who I am, which I think is what used to scare me to death about him.  He was such a strong person, and had such an influence over me, and the way he saw me and saw the world were not at all how I saw things. It seemed like the "real" me was erased whenever I spent time with him.  But he can't do that anymore, because there's too much of who I am for him to erase now.  Ha. I guess I have my own columnar self now.

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