This has been on my mind lately so I thought I'd share it here and hope someone has some insight for me.
I have not spoken to my Dad since Sam died in August 2006- that was five and a half years ago. He lives over 9 hours away, though it's still in Texas and is self employed. I'm mentioning that now because it's crucial to the rest of the story. When Sam died, I called him and invited him to the funeral. Does one really need an invite to a funeral??? Anyway, I needed my Dad to be there for me. I had just lost my baby and was at the darkest moment in my life.
I've never had a close relationship to my Dad. My parents divorced when I was very young, not even sure how old I was. I never lived with him. My mom left us with my grandparents to live and while we lived in the same town as my Dad I just saw him on the weekends. My mom lived in another city. So basically my grandparents were our guardians and our parents. But my Dad paid child support, on occasion, when he felt like it.
Things were better between us as I got older because I didn't need him to take care of me. I didn't need him to pay for anything for me. I was independent and did things on my own. I moved away to a larger city in Texas to live with my mom. We spoke on the phone, we saw eachother when we returned to visit my grandparents. He and my mom both walked me down the aisle when Mr. H and I married 7 years ago. Heck he even came and spent Thanksgiving at our new house in 2005. We had a decent relationship, though we never really had that typical father-daughter type of relationship.
Okay back to when Sam died. I assumed he would be coming to the funeral. I never asked him to, but we spoke on the phone about it, and I gave him all the funeral arrangement information he would need. As soon as my aunt and grandparents found out that I had lost the baby, they drove all night to come be with us. They all live in the same town. I didn't necessarily expect him to do the same, but I thought with a few days notice he could arrange to be there to see his grandson before we buried him. Instead he called me and said they weren't coming because he had to work. Remember, I mentioned that he's self employed and my step mom works for a church. I'm pretty sure they could have arranged something if they wanted to. Money is not an issue so it wasn't because they couldn't have afforded the trip. He said they would come a few days later and we could "go shopping" to take my mind off of things. I was heartbroken, first by the lost of my son then because of my Dad.
After thinking about this for 5 1/2 years, I have come to see things a little differently. His words hurt me then, but I now understand (or I think I do) that he was probably just uncomfortable with the situation and he didn't know what to do, so coming for a social visit was easier. I now know that he didn't intend to hurt me by his actions and words. What I don't understand though is that my Dad is highly religious. They are a huge part of the church and attend 3 days a week, and both services on Sunday. My step mom works there during the week as a secretary and he is an usher. They preach the Bible, pray like it's going out of style and are quick to point fingers at people and other family members who "aren't good people". How hypocritical can one be? He claims to be a "man of God" but doesn't live by what the Bible says,.Though if you were to ask him he would say differently. My Grandma summed it up by saying "he has religion, not God".
Let me back up about 35 years. My mom and my Dad lost their first child together. It was a girl and she was born several weeks early and didn't survive. No one talks about her. I don't even know much about her other than her name, her birthday and that she was premature. So given this information, I expected him to be more sympathetic towards me and my situation. Perhaps my loss just brought back so many memories of his loss that he just couldn't deal with it??? Maybe so, but he had to have felt some kind of connection to what I was feeling. Was he not devastated or sad, or hurting, or disappointed like I was? It was almost as if he was completely disconnected.
I conveyed my disappointment towards my Dad to my mom. I was completely hurt. I needed my Dad more than ever and once again he was not there for me. If there was ever a time to step up, that was it. He didn't. My mom called him and left him a nasty voice mail, only I didn't know about it until after the fact. Well apparently he saved it and still has it and assumed that everything my mother said to him about me hating him and never wanting to see him again was exactly how I felt. He assumed because she said it, that it was directly from me. He, to this day, thinks that I was sitting right there next to my mom feeding her info so she could leave it on his answering machine. I did not. Am I mad at my mom for leaving that message? No because she was hurt because I was hurting and she spoke from her heart, even if it was out of anger. She did what she thought was best and was sticking up for me. Sure she said some not nice things to him but it's not her fault that we are on the situation we are in. He's been a disappointment all my life, this just sealed the deal.
In October of 2006, I sent my Dad a picture of baby Sam, a packet of Forget-Me-Not flower seeds, a blue remembrance ribbon and the funeral pamphlet with all the burial info on it. That was my way of making an effort to include him. At that point it had been two months without speaking to him and I never heard from him as to whether or not he even received the package. He said and did nothing to acknowledge me or his grandson. To this day, he still hasn't. I'm not even sure that he knew that I was pregnant Jack and lost him too. I wasn't even sure that he knew that I was pregnant with Hayden either.
My brother has a "relationship" with him. My brother says it works between them because my brother doesn't expect anything from him. "If you don't expect anything, you can't be disappointed" he says. Well if you ask me, that's bullshit. How can one call that a relationship? Especially when it's with a parent. I'm sorry, but I need more than that. I expect more than that from my friends and neighbors, much less my father! Isn't that what a relationship is? It's about give and take, it's about respect and courtesy towards eachother. Am I wrong? My Dad treats my brother like crap and my brother keeps going back and calling him and fixing things because he longs for that relationship too. Clearly my brother is the better man.
Anyway, about 3 years ago, my brother told me that my dad was asking about me and was wondering how I was doing. I told my brother that if he wanted to know about me all he had to do was ask. My brother then said that my dad was not going to call or reach out to me because I was "the one with the problem". That sent me over the top! Especially since he was the one inquiring about me, not the other way around.
Fast forward to now. My brother is in town visiting. He lives with my grandparents in the same town as my Dad. He and my Dad see and speak to eachother pretty regularly. My Dad told my brother that he had been having dreams about me and was concerned about me and was hoping that I was okay. He told my brother to really talk to me to and establish how I was doing. My brother told him to call me and ask and he replied that he was not going to call because I needed to do that. He told my brother that he just didn't know when I was going "to come around". I don't get it?! It's not as if he's ever reached out to me to make amends. EVER. Maybe he thinks he has because he's been trying to work things out between us using my brother as a middle man. That's not fair to my brother. And my brother has such a big heart and really wants us to work things out that he tries so hard to convince us both to be the better person and to make the first move. But here's where the problem lies. I'm not sure I care to have a relationship with him anymore and that's sad.
I think in a perfect world, we would have a relationship. We would spend holidays together and he would call me on my birthday. He hasn't done that in forever! But things are not perfect and I've spent way too much of my time hoping for him to change and become a father. Now I do believe people can change and he has definitely turned his life around from where he used to be, but still our relationship is not a priority. As I said earlier, my Dad broke my heart. I still love him and I think of him from time to time, but I am no longer holding my breath waiting for him to come around. I have found fatherly roles in other people around me because he wasn't there. After 5 1/2 years I have accepted that things are the way the are. I have accepted that we may not ever have a relationship and I'm finally okay with that. Thinking about him no longer makes me angry (until now!).
But since Hayden has been born, things have changed. He wants a picture of Hayden. He got his feelings hurt because I didn't send him a birth announcement or a Christmas card with Hayden's picture on it. Why would I? I haven't sent him one in the years past so it's not like I just decided to exclude him this year. But every year I send one to his mother (my fraternal grandmother) and he saw it. I'd be more than happy to send him a picture of Hayden if he called and asked for one, but I'm not sending one if he's asking through my brother. I'm not trying to be stubborn here, I just think I deserve more than that.
There was a point where I had so much to say to him and a wise friend of mine told me that he wasn't worth my time and energy. That being upset and holding a grudge only upset me, it only affected me, not him. And that's when I finally understood that she was right. It's like that whole forgiveness thing. You forgive people to set yourself free not to let the people who've wronged you off the hook. I can't say for sure that I have forgiven him, but I've accepted the way things are and I've moved on with my life.
I guess what upsets me now is that my Dad is bringing up the voice mail that my mom left. And saying that because she said I hated him, that I must. I don't hate him. I've told my brother that and he's told my Dad that but he doesn't believe him. He's even spoken to my mom on multiple occasions and he's never once brought it up to her. He wants me to call and tell him that I don't hate him. My Dad says I shouldn't hold on to the past because "the past will kill you" but that's exactly what he's doing. He's a hypocrite. I've moved on and he's dragging me back to that dark place that I don't want to be. I've asked my brother to stop relaying his messages to me and he's asked my Dad the same thing but they just keep on coming. I keep replaying these conversations in my head and it just angers and frustrates me. My brother thinks it's his fault and it's not.
I'm not sure what to do with all of this. I don't feel that it's necessary for me to call. I'm not the one that has anything to say to him. I've made my peace within myself. I've beaten myself up over this for far too long and I'm done. I have my own family that fulfills me and he's not part of it- that was his choice. I think he wants to be a part of Hayden's life though and I'm just not okay with that. He can't have a relationship with my son without having one with me. I'd rather Hayden not know about his grandfather than to ever be disappointed by him like I have been all my life. I don't ever want Hayden to feel unloved or hurt by that man. And I surely don't think it's my responsibility to introduce Hayden into his life just because they're related. If he wants to know Hayden, isn't that his responsibility to make an effort?
Please set me straight here. If I'm wrong, tell me. Is there something I'm not seeing here? Can some of you relate to his side of the story? I need enlightenment. I don't want to deprive Hayden of a relationship with my Dad, but he's just not a good father and I want to protect him from all the hurt he's caused me over my lifetime. Then I start second guessing myself and think that just because he was a crappy father to me doesn't mean he'll be that way with Hayden. But how do I know? It's just too risky.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
This has been on my mind lately so I thought I'd share it here and hope someone has some insight for me.