This will start a mess and end up a mess. I’ve tried to write it many times. I’ve wanted to be clever and disguise it as a piece of fiction writing, and I am in awe of the people out there who could do that. I want to write it to help me try and understand and process at least for a few minutes. But mostly out from the inside and onto the page.
I’ve alluded to the fact before on this blog that my Dad and I have a tricky relationship. I know I’m not the only one out there and I reckon many of us walk with a bit of a limp when it comes to parent child relationships that never come to full, healthy fruition for whatever reason. In this sense the reasons don’t really matter and to be honest I’m not sure I fully understand them all either.
I have read somewhere about older men whose wives pre-decease them, as they carry on through life they often shrivel and die inside. He will ask me often what the weather has been like locally to me, not because he is interested, but because he wants to tell me what the weather is like where he lives. And most of the conversations go that way. I don’t know how to change them to make them like exchanges you have with other people, to make them more fun, more interactive so I give up trying mostly.
So last night as often happens something particular he said got under my skin and triggered a regular chain reaction of thoughts. Mostly this escalates into an intense irritation. Afterwards a primal scream, a debrief with the Scotsman or a slug of wine can help me vent/make a bit of sense afterwards.
Sometimes the feelings in my head continue on and mirror Dad’s outlook. They hurtle round with abandon like gleeful recalcitrant toddlers in their small circles. I know it’s out of control. Dad’s trying to control me in his way, I’m trying to make sense of things by trying to get inside his head and control him back.
Dad is one of those text book people that people advocate that you give a wide berth or de-friend on facebook because they are hard emotional work and you can choose to walk away. Toxic is a bit too strong, but elements of that are there. I don’t feel I can walk away completely because he is Dad, but I can try and maintain healthy boundaries by limiting visits.
I would love to be able to write and say there has been forgiveness and reconciliation. I love to read stories of when that happens, but it is usually with a heavy heart because I just don’t see it on the cards. And each time the mess wreaks its havoc (which is pretty much each time I see or speak to him) there is an abject sense of failure again on my part that I have not done what I can or cannot do what I can to show love and to fix things.
It is in this broken and messy state that God continuously invites me to share the pain, lean on Him. Or I can choose to medicate the pain in unhealthy ways and He will wait for me. It’s rare when I do share with others that there is a ‘me too’, but I have a hunch there are a lot of ‘me too’ people out there. It’s hard when the parent is still alive to acknowledge and voice to others without feeling disrespectful. (Heck, a friend of mine with professional knowledge after a long conversation even ended up recommending alcohol when I asked advice on how to deal with the situation.)
One of our leaders shared a photo of a stained glass window in church this morning. It depicts a child with unknown hands on their shoulders. One hand is in a protective position the other poised to gently push the child on their way. God will always be gently encouraging me to pick up and press on with regards to my Dad, but as I do so His protection will never, ever leave my side for a moment. Especially in those moments when it really doesn’t feel like it is there.
I am grateful for the safety of Selina & Ruth’s space to write.