Sunday, November 13, 2011

Letting go and moving on

Three and a half years ago I made a decision to cut my father out of my life. I had struggled since my teenage years with his emotional abuse and his complete inability to take responsibility for his anger. He phoned at Christmas for the first few years and I took his phone call but other than that, the only communication we have is when I send him his birthday card and Christmas present.

There are moments when I wish I could have made a different decision but for my own mental health I had no other choice. Having children has only made my decision stronger as I do not trust him around them. Big Love and I decided to state in our will that my father is not allowed to be with my children unsupervised, even if I am dead.

I know I have tried to post about this in the past but was never ready. I went back into my drafts to see what was there and this is what I found. I am ready now. By posting it, I hope to let go more.

September 4, 2009
If I've ever understood the idea of an albatross around my neck, it was him. Casting shadows of anger and sadness through everything I did. I hope that one day there will be so much sunlight and the shadow will be obliterated. Without being able to do this I will not be able to find my own path. Without being able to find it, how will I ever teach Sweet One to have the courage to find her own?

His anger may have defined my past but it does not have to define my present or my future. There is a little girl asleep in her crib and she will wake up with the biggest smile on her face for me. Me! Of all the people in the world, I am the lucky one who gets to be her mother. To help her have the best childhood she possibly can and to watch her grow into the woman she will one day be. This is the present and future that matters. 

I hate it that there are moments where I am sucked into the past where I did not feel free to be who I am. I was afraid that I would anger him and that would result in being screamed at, with hisspit accumulating on my face ... or worse. "Because it stung good" was the reason there was a foot long, plastic shoe horn hanging in the utility room. His inability to deal with anger or confrontation is why I still get sick each time of think of it - my stomach turns, I get dizzy and my chest tightens. At the age of 31 I no longer want his anger to have such power over my life.

The bookends to our visits were often a bottle of wine and huge amounts of anxiety. The person to blame was always me, or so he said. The last time I was voluntarily in a room with him he directed the conversation solely to my husband. When I tried to be involved his reaction was one of annoyance. After my sister and brother had joined us neither Big Love nor I were involved in the conversation. My husband is a man of few words but when I heard him say, "That was bad," I knew it wasn't all in my head. As I left the house it was final - I was done. Done being the one to blame and done putting myself in a position where I would leave feeling like shit.

Almost ten years ago I mentioned in passing how I got a lot more beatings than my sister or brother. His response was this : "When i0t's your first child and you're at your wits end, what do you do?" Me? If I ever feel like I am too angry to react in a respectful manner to my child I will leave the room. Take some responsibility for my own actions and then return to finish dealing with the situation. But a complete lack of responsibility in any relationship he has is MO. Three years before his second marriage failed he told me that if it were to end, it would be the fault of her daughter. Really? A stepdaughter can decide whether a marriage is a success or fails?

And so each day I do my best to let go of the hurt and the anger that is left. My father will never truly hear what I have to say. I have tried so many times to get him to hear me since I was just a wee child and it has never worked. But I refuse to let him blame me. I refuse to allow the kind of violence his anger can produce to be near my daughter. One day down the road it is possible that I will let him in our lives but not now.

Prior to becoming pregnant I spent months grieving for a little girl who was wounded from her father's violent outbursts. No matter what I did it was never good enough and if I pushed him far enough he would scream until his spit covered my face, or even worse, beat me until I screamed in agony and humiliation - unable to sit down because of my burning ass. Recalling them immediately makes me sick to my stomach as the little girl inside of me desperately tries to hide.

There are moments in my mothering where I feel overcome by anger but I am proud to say that I do leave the room. I have never hit my daughter, nor will I ever. I have yelled but never directly in her face and I always apologize. I still have a ways to heal my own wounds but I know I can get there. There are moments when I hold my children and I feel sad that he does not know them. But quickly after this thought, I try to figure out how anyone could ever harm a child and I know my decision is the one that I needed to make.

It was good for me to read this post this morning (and the link in the post). To help me understand that I am not alone in my struggles with this relationship. While we all get to a difficult place in different ways, it all sucks. But we don't have to let it continue ... we can do better for our own children.

Perhaps one day I will allow him into our lives, but not until I know he has taken some measures to deal with his issues and his anger. But he is a child and behaves as one in many situations. So I'm not expecting any miracles any time soon.

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