At risk of sounding like a precious tissue paper like little flower who
gets totally overcome by Hallmark holidays, I always find Father's Day
I have no relationship with my father these days. We live in different
cities in different countries and never speak to each other. The only
link we have is my brother and even that is not enough to make sense of
the broken links between us. Our relationship is shattered beyond repair
and a total absence of contact, although constantly painful, is the
best of the bad options.
I haven't lived with him since I was 18 and every day since then has
faded the supposed unconditional bond between parent and child to the
point where I find it hard to remember I ever had a dad at all. So much
time has passed without him being there to turn to that the idea
wouldn't even enter my head these days. He hasn't reached out to me and
included me in his life for a very long time and I've learned to do the
same, partly out of practicality and partly out of self preservation.
His absence from my life is total. I have no photographs of him, no
items from him or that remind me of him. There's simply a void as if he
excused himself from my life and never came back.
For a long time, I expected he would. Now I know he won't. He's gone and
too much has happened to be able to start again. We have nothing that
connects us now beyond DNA and I can't imagine how we could have any
kind of conversation to recreate the intimacy and knowledge of the
minutiae of life that is the the glue of genuine relationships. He knows
nothing of my life, couldn't name a single friend of mine, find my
house on a map, tell you how I take my tea or how I spend my time. And I
don't know much more about him really. The fragments of what makes him a
person rather than just a father are cloudy and from another life
before I was an adult. They are disjointed and distorted and don't fit
in, just occasionally popping up as life goes on.
He's been absent for my entire adult life, essentially washing his hands
of me and my family just three months after my 18th birthday, and I've
never felt that he's regretted that or that it was difficult decision
to make. He just went with barely a backward glance and absolutely no
fight. From the first time he left, he's prioritised his choice in
partners and seemed as any continuation of our relationship was going
through the motions. Even around the time we got on best since then,
when I'd just moved to England, it felt fleeting and transitory and as
if he was waiting for something better than me to come along, and when
he met his now wife a few weeks later, I was put back on the shelf like a
toy he'd tired of and our relationship went back to being fraught.
Since the day just before Christmas 1996 that I discovered he'd been
having an affair and lying to everyone for months on end, there's been
no security in my relationship with him. I have never known that it will
be the same from day to day. It was always unpredictable and exhausting
in its uncertainty. I found it hard to reconcile the dad of my happy
childhood with a barefaced liar who had dropped his wife and children as
if an irritant to him and I gave him a hard time, pushing him and
wanting to needle an emotional response from a man who insisted on being
blank and impossible to read. I often got those emotional responses,
but never the ones I wanted, just ones that further corroded my sense of
self and the emotions that tied us together.
For a long time in my late teens and early twenties, I had ceased to
like my dad very much and he seemed to have ceased to like me at all. It
ran deeper than the exhaustion of parenting when your child has
demanded your attention for nearly two decades and worn your facade of
enthusiasm thin. It felt like he genuinely resented me and felt it was
inappropriate that I was furious for his behaviour toward everyone in
our family, but especialy me, my brother and my mum. He seemed to think
that as my father my acceptance of him and his actions should be
unconditional. I didn't. And this was compounded by the fact he couldn't
offer me the same unconditionality as I struggled to come to terms with
the serious ill health that had derailed my life at the same time.
There was little understanding, bugger all flexibility between us, but I
certainly still loved him all the same.
These days, I'm not sure I even feel that. The only emotions I have
round my dad are failure, frustration and disappointment. Thinking about
him and how much he dislikes me and how little effort he's made for 15
years, but especially the last 8, just casts a dark shadow over
everything that makes me feel I can't do anything because I can't even
get the man who created me to give the tiniest of two shits about me. I
no longer feel the pull that I want to sort things and know more about
him, just the sense that everything is ruined. I gave him an ultimatum
in our relationship and without so much as a peep, he walked away.
Knowing you should never give ultimatums you don't mean, I was prepared
to end the relationship, but not for him to go without a question or a
fight. I often wonder whether I made a sensible decision or sabotaged
the last shreds of our once close connection.
More than once I've sat down and written an email saying I shouldn't
have turned my back on him and to forgive me and start again and then
something reminds me of the deeper betrayals and fissures in our
relationship that I ultimately know I can't get past no matter how I
hard I try. There's the inappropriateness of him taking up a young woman
barely a year or two older than me. Or the time, he told me he wished
my mother hadn't bothered having me. Or the time he had cancer and
wouldn't let me tell a soul about it, telling me it would be my fault if
he died. Or the hours long fight the Christmas after my two rapes where
he informed me he could understand why men wanted to hurt me. Or the
fact that the whole time I was homeless he never once offered me a place
to stay even for a night. And that's even before he refused to
acknowledge any of my nervous breakdowns or mental health issues,
constantly (and unfavourably) comparing me to his new wife and informing
me directly and indirectly that I had no central role in his life and
that I didn't measure up. And I remember why I cut off all contact. It
was for my own good.
While things will never go back to being comfortable or easy with him,
I'd like to get to a stage where I can look back on childhood memories,
both those that involved him and that didn't, and not see them tainted
by his later rejection of that time as soon as he possibly could. I
might even be able to open my mind up to allowing myself to think of him
and the influence he had on me in so many ways without irrational
rejections and reactions. I feel like if I could start to look at him
more positively, I might be able to see myself more positively too. I
sense it's going to be a long path and I'll need the guide of a good
therapist, but I hope I'll be able to think about the word daddy in
future without immediately adding 'issues' afterwards. It'd be great not
to be such a cliche...
I started this blog as a way to talk to myself as I worked my way toward rebuilding my life after experiencing two rapes. Then other people started reading it too and I realised talking about myself wasn't enough and expanded it to having an opinion on everything, especially women and sexual violence. I want this to be a safe welcoming space so please assume all posts need a trigger warning for rape, PTSD, general trauma related crappiness and bad jokes. I'm thrilled anyone reads it and want everyone to feel welcome, including men who may have been victims. I talk about rape from a woman's perspective as that's my own experience, but don't want to exclude anyone who doesn't feel their experience is the same. Feel free to browse or make comments. These are moderated so any apologist crap hits the bin, but not to boost my ego. Anonymous comments or pseudonyms are fine by me since I only blog anonymously myself. Thanks for reading. I do reward you with the odd lighthearted post as well...