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.