Whether you know it or not,
Learning is a two way street.
What you learn in life,
Depends on you, not me.
Whether absent or not,
Through their actions they teach.
What you learn, depends on what you discern,
And that determines how far you reach.
– Mr. Positively Inclined, Ervin Welsh
So last weekend I went to a funeral and I sat there and watched 3 girls say good bye to their father. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would feel if my father died… I thought about it for a long time and don’t think that I would be said, and would probably not be very keen about attending his funeral… I know that that may seem odd to a lot of you, but since I don’t have a relationship with my father (and I haven’t for nearly 25 years; and I know that this sounds cruel) but his passing wouldn’t really effect my life….
For as long as I can remember my father and by extension my relationship with him have been my secret shame. I never speak of him, there are no pictures of him, and I do my very best not to utter his name, most people who know me would assume that he’s dead; and for me in a lot of ways he is. If very difficult to remember a time when I loved him and actually considered him my father, I think at one point I used to call him daddy. He’s gone from daddy, to my father, to Del, to “that man” and after every change in status my emotional relationship with him has drifted further and further apart. I have tried several time to reach out to him, to have a conversation with him regarding our relationship, but it’s always been meet with angry (never at me but to my grandmother to my aunt, and my mother… I realize now I embody his guilt. His children are the one thing that he can’t face, we are the living representation of his failures of the second, third and twentieth times he let pass him by.
As I write this it seems off that as a child his short comings and failures where mine. That is such an awful burden for a child to carry; especially for a child to place it on themselves, for me it manifested in very destructive behavior, self-hatred and severe anger that I knew that I had but had a hard time putting a name on it… it wasn’t until I became a self analyzing adult that I realized what my problem was. My relationship with my father has never been normal, and I was always envious of my friends relationships with their fathers (hell I was even envious of the relationship that my mother had with my grandfather… and into my adulthood this continued to be my shame.
I guess like everything you realize enough is enough… My father was barley present for his own life ( constant cycles of drug and alcohol addiction) how could I possibly expect him to be present in the life of myself and my younger brothers., his absence taught be lessons that I consider cornerstones in my life:
- What Not To Be Although I never had children, I would like to think that if I had the opportunity to have them I would be the exact opposite parent that he is, loving, caring, nurturing, supportive and present. And Although my father was not any of those things, it is not as if I lacked them, my mother who ALWAYS took on the role as both mother and father for my brothers and I and more than made up the deficit and made sure that despite our hardships we knew what was important.
- Nurture Relationships There is no such thing as an easy relationship, but some are worthwhile and possibly life changing, nurturing relationships is key. When you make time for another, whether a friend or spouse, it shows that you value the relationship. You are placing time with another person as a priority over other activities. The quality of the time is also important.
- Responsibility The act of responsibility involves being trusted, making decisions, and answering for one’s behavior. Despite the fact that I don’t like it I will always tell someone when I am wrong and when I make a mistake, the need to be right will never trump my relationships
- Love Yourself You hear it all the time, “no one will love you, unless you learn to love yourself” I admit this is a lesson that I just recently learned. Never once in my life have I thought that my father didn’t love me, I know that he does. will he ever tell me that is entirely another question. But as much as I know that he loves me I know that he doesn’t love himself… and it’s a sad, painful thing to see. For some people it may take a lifetime to learn to love themselves, I’m just grateful that it didn’t take me that long
- Removing The Dysfunctional Aspects of Your Life: I have experienced trauma and pain from my father’s actions, words, and attitudes. I was innocent and my life was changed dramatically by forces in my family you had I had no control over. As an adult I recognize dysfunction and remove it from my life. I can not image continuing a dysfunctional trend with my family. I have taken control and moved the toxicity (people,. places and situations) from my life.
Now it is true that my mother and other family members could have taught be the same lessons, but the fact that I saw through him examples of what not to be only reinforced in my life that they lessons are some that I should practice and hold deer. In the end my relationship with my father remains non existent, it is something that I have come to understand is the way that , “what if things would have been different”. I never got the family that I wanted, but the family I have is better than anything I could have dreamed up. In the end I have learned that I am have taken traits, good and bad from both my mother and my father, and maybe one day when he’s ready he will finally be able to use someone of the lesson that I taught him
One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go, Whether it’s guilty, anger, love, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go – unknown
Until Next Time…