Thursday, May 25, 2006

The silent treatment

My father's not speaking to me again. But I'm ok. He wrote me in March and in his letter there were some references to the past that were just too whatever. So I wrote him back a nice, long, newsy letter and included one paragraph of hey-there-might-be-another-way-of-looking-at-things. I couched it in non-judgement - it really was that, I just wanted him to know that his vision of our shared life is not a vision shared by all involved. He's usually a very conscientious correspondant, so I can only assume his silence is to let me know he didn't appreciate that paragraph. I'm working up the courage to call him, courage I need - not because I fear his reaction but because our phone conversations, even under the best of circumstances, are difficult. We just don't have a lot to say to each other. I give news of the boys and my life here, he gives news of his health and his golf game, and that's about it. We've tried talking about politics but his only news source is Fox News so I spend that part of the conversation feeling like I'm hitting my head against the wall. Talking about the world is worse, when I once asked about travel he replied that he had really no interest in ever leaving San Antonio. He moved to Texas after retirement but he's been a Texan in his heart forever, I suppose. (Diane and others in Texas, take no offense, none is meant.) He did say that the next time I made it back to Illinois, he would drive up. When I mentioned that a plane might be easier he said, "I flew once."

The good news is that I really am ok. Not hurt or disappointed or mad or anything. As I said in my previous post, he cannot give what he does not have, so I don't have any expectations. I'm sad for us a little bit, that our relationship is so fragile that a couple of let's-compare-visions sentences can lead to silence, but I'll persist because I want him to know I love him anyway, even if he didn't like that paragraph and even if he doesn't want to know what the past was like for us. That's what you do with family, right?

It's Ascension Day today, a national holiday, and the bells at the church down the street from my house are ringing right now. I'll take that as a yes.

10 comments:

kim said...

Families are complicated...But you're right, you love them anyway. You've obviously come to accept the relationship for what it is which I am sure is difficult sometimes. I know I don't always accept certain relationships for the way they are. I was wondering what happened to you over the weekend since you've been posting everyday. You really need to let us know when you're going to be unavailable to post! Hope you had a great weekend. We are hoping to have one of those weekends away soon.

beth said...

It is so true that we pick our friends not our families. Families and all relationships are so complex. I've know you since forever, and the truth is that he is the one missing out - but as you said - some people only have so much to give and just can't or won't see the other side of things. It's a shame, yet it's reality. It sounds like you are handling it in a very healthy way and knowing that you cannot change him is probably a great way of looking at it. I feel strongly that when we are children it is up to the parent, as the adult, to form and nurture the relationship for that point in time and for future bonding, and I feel it should not be left up to a child or a teenager to be the one reaching out and trying to form the relationship. If the parent fails, it is hard for the child, even as an adult to understand why he/she was never there and it is even harder to get past the hurt and resentment to forge ahead with trying for a relationship with the parent. It sounds like you have tried and are trying to forge ahead - so perhaps your disappearing therapist from Seattle did you much good indeed! (that is, before she disappeared)

Nicole said...

Kim - You always seemed to have a good family. Remember that letter your mom wrote to dear abby? In general, I won't be posting on saturday and sunday, husband likes a lot of computer time for war games and we try to do lots of family stuff so, no posts.

Beth - I had the same feeling. I was the maddest at my dad for letting me out of his life - it just seemed like parents shouldn't do that. I think St. Anthony and all those Hail Mary's have more to do with my current attitude than disappeared Mary.

(Disappeared Mary Kleyweg now called something else because you're in Witness Protection - Please don't be hurt by that last comment. It is no reflection on your abilities as a therapist. I just wasn't there yet when I knew you.)

beth said...

Your Hail Mary's and St. Anthony prayers must be making mama G very happy indeed!

zeb said...

Your hail mary's make Denise smile also.

see you soon

Lorraine said...

You do what you can as a grown-up kid and hope for the best (not unlike a Hail Mary pass in football, to keep with the theme).

You're a good girl.

Tanya said...

My therapist, a different Mary I am sure, taught me that love is subjective not objective - that a person can't love in a way I prescribe. This lesson came about when I complained to her how the man in my life wasn't fulfilling his role in the relationship that there were shoulds and ought to's in my expectation of his participation in the relationship and not doing what I expected (ie a close rendition to what I gave) meant somehow he didn't love me. I hate to admit it but this still happens - at least now I catch myself and work it out. I wonder if in your dissappointment with your father's communication you are subconciously wishing he'd change or hope he'll wake up. He is who he is and aren't you glad you are waaaay different and tons more wonderful?!! I don't know him but I do know he gave you life and I am very thankful to him for that.
And I thought the saying went "you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose"...

Edy said...

ah, sweetie, what to say... everyone has their own situation, so I will offer no advice or judgement. My parents divorced when I was quite young. I didn't see my father after I was the age of 8. I would wonder about him. If I took after him, looked like him, etc. I remember watching him brutally beat my mother one time. My mother tells me that she divorced him when the pediatrician told her that I had an infection "that a little girl shouldn't oughta have". Yet, when filling out Mayo Clinic questionaires and trying to answer whether anyone on my father's side had ever had cancer, I considered finding his number and calling him to ask. It was about a ten minute thought.

I look like my father. I write like my father. I don't drink like my father. And I am not a bunch of other things like my father that I don't want to talk about. I don't need to know who he is now. For me, my motto had been "protect your children. Protect yourself"

It is hard to hear you struggle with the relationship, regardless of the circumstances, and I feel for you.

Tom said...

maybe no parent ever completes their child expectations. reading some of the above, definately some less than others, by a big big mile. sheer gut wrenching sadness. but yea, i think tanya has a point. he gave you life, and life is for the living. i don't know if its ok to say this, but i do wonder what you mean when you say you love him. i don't believe you. i imagine you have an emotion for him, maybe even a tenderness for his sufferings that allowed him to pass them on to you... but love? i don't know, and i mean i really don't. your love for your children. i get that. your husband, i get. your friends, i get. i say call a spade a spade and set yourself free once and for all. if he's ever going to be anything close to what you long for, and i believe you long for something from him still, he will reach out to you in his way, in his time, sooner or later. and if he doesn't... well what else do you need to know. even that doesn't tell you much, in fact, in his own way, I would believe that he probably does love you.

Nicole said...

All - well, that post apparently came off much more negatively than it should have. I was actually very pleased that I didn't feel hurt or disappointed or abandoned all over again.

Edy - You are a very cool person. I see why Lorraine likes you so much.

Tanya - I know, I mean REALLY know, that he won't change and honestly, I don't need him to anymore. And I love him, in part, for the reason you cited, I'm here because of him.

Tom - First of all, it's ok to say anything. Second, and please take this the right way - it doesn't matter if you don't believe me. I love him in a viseral way, a deep down and simple way and you're right, I do feel something else for him - pity. I don't long for anything anymore - and I know that he loves me in his own limited way. And I won't even say that's enough because even less than that would be enough. PS - Projecting perhaps?