I got a phone call yesterday morning saying, “I’m leaving today, and I’ll be there in a day or two.” That was all the notice I got to prepare for his arrival.
He’s talked of coming to visit this year, and how it probably won’t happen for reasons that are various and random, and I have truly thought I didn’t care. My exact words during our last conversation before that were “I don’t care, come or don’t come, our door is open. But just so you know mom is coming on the 14th and I know you don’t like being anywhere near her.”
Now he’s on his way. As I type he is making his way along the mammoth north south route that is the interstate 15, the Canadian snows have already passed beneath his tires and he is probably in the high desert somewhere near Nevada. I am freaking out.
If you read this blog at all you know that I have issues with my father, lots of them. I have for the most part made peace with him. I have chosen over and over to forgive him for the things that have passed between us, the things that have hurt me. I can see that he is also wounded, I can see that most of the damage that he inflicted was involuntary, that he does care about me, that he’s just also inept and broken. I can most of the time overlook the bad and appreciate the good in him, the way he tries to be helpful, the way he wants to be a good grandparent, the ways he has in the past few years lent his time and vehicle to help us out, I can usually tell myself “he’s trying” and that’s often enough for me.
Problem is I’m pretty raw right now. I don’t feel strong enough to deal with this. At the best of times I have to bite my tongue 100 times an hour just to keep from falling back into patterns that I want to avoid. His physical presence makes me tense; I walk around with my shoulders near my ears until he leaves. Random comments from him can make me come unhinged inside because of all the baggage that they attach to.
I hate that I feel this way. I hate all the ways that I feel. I still have a little girl running around inside of me who wants to impress him, wants to hear him praise her, wants him to love her, wants his blessing, wants to be able to feel safe with him. I have a teenager who hates him, who finds everything he does irritating, and who is full of bitterness and resentment still. She has not been able to forgive, or let go. Her armor is firmly in place and she's ready for a fight. Finally there is my adult self who hates these other two selves and is appalled by my lack of ability to control them. I hate that I still want and need from him what I have accepted that he will never be able to give. I hate the ugly words that sometimes vomit their way out of me when I finally snap from the stress of his presence and bite his head off because he asked me where my trash bags are. I hate that I can’t just treat him like any other person, that I overreact to everything, that I can’t let go. Essentially having him around makes me hate myself a little more than I already did, and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to take that right now. Most of all though I think I hate that I will never have a dad the way other people have a dad, that I will always feel more alone when he’s around than when he’s not.