Unresolved and ongoing loss

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I went to visit my dad this weekend. I’ve only seen him once in the last 2 years. There’s been an underlying tension between my step mum and siblings in the 40 plus years they’ve been together but I’ve managed to be peripheral to that as I managed to get on with her and could see she makes my dad happy. I’m also close to my step sister so had stronger ties. I was my Dad’s favourite as a small child; a status that caused me issues with my sibs as they picked on me somewhat. I was the only one of the 5 of us who saw out my teen years there before leaving for university though my relationship with my dad then was terrible. Through my 20s I visited regularly but in the last 20 years or so it’s got less and less. My Dad rarely visits any of us – he’s come to my home two or three times in over 40 years which I’ve always explained away as him being a farmer, at sea out of his own world. My step sister recently moved away from where they live and they are visiting her for the 2nd or 3rd time soon so my mind had already started to doubt what it has told itself for years.
My dad did what he does and told stories about the past and people I don’t know or can’t remember. My step mum cooked us nice food; and we almost argued about politics. I noticed how threatened my step mum is by disagreement. She accused me of being miserable and unhappy when I talked about the state of the world. ‘I’m not’ I replied ‘but truth is important.’ Surprisingly my Dad agreed. They also talked a lot about their son’s baby, and my step mums grandchildren and great grandchildren; with only fleeting enquiry about my children and my life. I walked round the farm with C, looking at the old house that I grew up in that is no longer in the family, and reimagining it and the fields as they used to be. ‘It all feels so different now’ I said. All of this is normal for a visit there and I felt it had been a success.

When I got home I felt restless and bored. I really wanted a spliff but we don’t have any. I smoked a little last week when my daughter was home so I thought it was just the reawakened addiction rearing it’s hungry head. Then I thought about the wine in the fridge left over from her visit too. I realised I was wanting to block something out. I didn’t succumb and became tearful, angry and sad all at once. Angry that they seem to have a narrative that we don’t bother with them when it’s the other way round. When you make all the effort and do all the visiting in a relationship it’s not really sustainable in a meaningful way. My sibs blame his wife but he’s our father and he doesn’t know me anymore. Angry that my children’s father is exactly the same with my girls since our divorce and left wondering if my own unresolved and unacknowledged feelings had somehow contributed to that? Sad at the loss of a meaningful relationship with someone I love and feeling overlooked, unimportant and unvalued. The problem with the loss of a parent from divorce is the reminders as you go through life that the person has chosen to give you up. Death can’t be construed as a wilful abandonment. No wonder I berate C so much for ignoring me! I was also angry that at 56 I feel like this with a part of me saying ‘for fucks sake get over yourself!’ I thought about writing to my Dad and saying I don’t want to see him again, but after all this time I don’t think he will understand and his wife will get angry and dismissive which will impact other relationships too. I’m going to wait and see how I feel when I’m less raw. After all truth is important but then again it can’t always be heard.

I talked it over with C but got more miserable as the evening went on. J came home with the news that our horse isn’t right – more loss potentially. I couldn’t sleep so got up and watched the olympics until 2 in the morning. I thought about writing then but my mind wasn’t steady enough. Eventually I slept alone so as not to disturb C. I woke up not feeling any better so I’ve taken a mental health day and cancelled my clients today. Time and space to process and allow these feelings that I’ve kept at bay with drugs and alcohol for so long. I can’t help wonder if my life would have been different if I hadn’t blocked things out for so long? One of my daughters has given up on her Dad completely; the other says she prefers a fake superficial relationship than cutting him off. Is she doing what I’ve done and will she suffer later for it? Trauma is truly the gift that keeps on giving, through the years and the generations. Every time I think I’ve faced my demons another one surfaces. I’ve played whack- a-mole with them for years though, shoving them back into my unconscious so I can carry on being outwardly ok and keep up the pretence. I can’t do that anymore and now I need to find a way to make my peace with all the above, accept it and be truly free. Thanks for reading.

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11 Comments

  1. It’s good that you took a mental health day. I hope you can offer yourself compassion, and receive some from this community. You didn’t know what you didn’t know, and I hope you don’t blame yourself from running from trauma. Without the right supports and the conditions to heal, self medicating is an attempt to cope. I think few psychiatrists understand trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words – I feel a lot better this evening. I thought I was one of the psychiatrists who did get trauma but I think knowledge isn’t an antidote to personal pain – I’m grateful I’m dealing with it without running now 😘😘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ❤ In time, and even right now, you facing your personal pain with the right support would help all your patients, your family and perhaps some friends. Load up in the self compassion, and this community’s kindness. 🌿. If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, Nate Postlethwait is great.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I feel this. Those darn feelings, our maladaptive coping techniques, people not giving us what we want, what we need from them. Thank you for sharing, it helps me to know I’m not alone in this, that I wasn’t the only one to block out the hurt, the discomfort, the sadness with booze and weed – it worked! Until it didn’t, and now I see that it probably never really did. I wonder what I would be like if I hadn’t spent so long making the choices I did – but here I am – 42 years old, sober for 220 days, smoke free for 120. It’s better this way, but damn it’s hard sometimes. Again, thanks for sharing. Just what I needed to read today x

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  3. I’m so glad you took that mental health day! I can relate to this post, not from a divorce standpoint however an adopted child one. Me and my brother were adopted and had a good growing up. My adoptive mom couldn’t have kids. Well at 36 she got pregnant and again at 38. It was a crazy fluke. Her Fallopian tubes were still 99% blocked. Anyway when I was 18 and my adopted brother was 16 My parents moved about a little over an hour away. They claim it was to help my grandparents however it was 10 years later until they needed help. Anyway, I was left just graduating high school to find a place to live. My parents arranged housing at different peoples houses for my brother to stay and graduate in our home town. So long story short, I for a long time held a resentment to them. It’s like they took their own born children and moved. We didn’t see them a lot. I have over the years worked it out in my brain to just move on. I want a relationship with them, they are good people and they just don’t see it as I see it, I tried that conversation once with them. I e finally stopped numbing the pain and dealt with it. It’s quite a relief. I am sure thinking of you and I hope I didn’t ramble too much! 😆❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jacqui – not at all too much! that’s so similar but with step children in my family – I’m regretting not having raised the issue sooner with my dad as little chance he will change now but also thinking is it fair to not give him the chance whilst he’s still here? I think the same as you applies though – they just won’t see it that way 😘😘

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Sorry I only just read this DrGS. It sounds like a pretty rough experience all round and I think you were totally right to take the mental health day. You have a lot to contend with and I can only imagine how hurt you must feel when you think about it all. I hope you are doing ok. Much love 💕

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