Saturday, August 16, 2014

Epiphany : I Don't Want To Hear His Story

I'm not used to being done with someone before they are done with me. Because of the crazy they usually leave before I would want that. And if or when they do want to come back later I'm usually fine with that too because I never wanted them to leave.

I also try really hard to see where other people are coming from and, when needed, forgive them. Some of it just comes from an overabundance of empathy. The combination of the writer in me, the fuck-up in me, and the crazy working as a mirror all make me work really hard to see what might have been behind someone doing something. Also one of the few things I learned from Oprah and still keep with me is the idea that a person needs to forgive not because the other person deserves it but because the forgiver doesn't deserve to hold on to things, to carry those things around with them all the time.

There was quite awhile where I thought that I needed to forgive my biological father for not being in my life before I could work on myself. And I tried but I just never could get past it all. I was too angry and hurt. And I still had too many questions. At one point early in my therapy, I told my therapist "Well, if I need to do that, then I think that I'm just going to have to stay broken, because I don't think I'll ever be able to do that." Thankfully, she assured me that I didn't necessarily need to do that for this kind of therapy.

It's not as if I I hadn't wanted to understand and forgive. During my teen and college years, I started countless stories where he would show up at some important event in my life, my graduation, my wedding, and have a good explanation for why he had not been around in my childhood. One that did not involve demonizing my mother. And one that included a book with the times I'd shown up in the newspaper and pictures of me getting awards. (Not that those happened often, but this is my fantasy.) A few years ago, I had a some realizations about his absence, including that there would never be a good enough explanation for why he was voluntarily absent from my life for over 20 years.

Of course, just a few months after that, he started to initialize contact. The first thing I got was a Facebook friend request from his wife. There was no message with it. My response was less than cordial. In between, there were messages from a woman that he works with on Facebook, though I didn't find those until later, as they ended up in my "Other Messages" box. A little over a month ago, I received a letter from him. I had to go to the post office and sign for it, so he'd know for sure that I got it, though it was sent with a return address that wasn't his home or his name. Yes, with all my insistence on honesty from people in my life, my biological father chooses to try to contact me through all manner of subterfuge.

At the time I received the letter, I was not in a good place. I did not have a job. I did not have a place to live lined up for when my parents started renting out the house we were living in. And I had just found out that my relationship was not going to work out how we had wanted it to. After a night of freaking out and crying and freaking out some more and vomiting up my dinner because I was freaking out, with the advice of my therapist and the Professor, who reconnected with his father when he was 18, I decided that what was best for me was not dealing with it right then. I sent him a message telling him that I needed time and not to contact me, especially not through third parties.

Now things are somewhat better. I have been working steadily. I like the mindless data entry job, through a temp service, that I'm working and can imagine working there for quite a while. As long as I keep doing well there, even if the data entry job no longer needs me, the temp service will probably find me something else pretty quickly. I have an apartment lined up and I move in two weekends. Hell, I even have most of my stuff already packed up. I still don't know what is going to happen to my relationship with the Professor and Ginger, but I know that I can work against my worst and craziest impulses during a breakup or transition, so maybe we can come out of this in a healthy way. So every few days I think "Well, now I have to decide what to do about that fucking letter." But I have as yet been pretty baffled as to what I want to do. Usually, when I start fantasy-writing it, I end up going on an endless diatribe about all the ways that he wronged me and fucked me up. That seems less than helpful.

Then Friday while I was working and letting my mind wander, it hit me that I didn't want to hear his story. All I wanted was for him to hear just a little bit of mine, to know how hard it had been growing up feeling like one of the two people who should have loved me unconditionally felt there was something so wrong with me that he had to be completely absent from my life. I also realized that I did not want to give him my forgiveness. It might sound extremely petty, but I wanted him to know until his dying day that he would never have my love or forgiveness.

In DBT, we learn how to validate ourselves, to just say "yes, this emotion is here and I am feeling it." That includes emotions that we might have been told growing up are destructive or not ever appropriate, like anger. We're also taught that anger can be both justified by the situation and a very powerful motivator. I don't want to not be angry at him. I don't want to hear his side of the story. I don't want to forgive him. I don't want this to ever be okay. I don't want a relationship with him. And I want HIM to have to carry that around for the rest of his life, just like I have to.

I still don't know exactly what I want to say or in what medium I want to say it. I do know that I want it to be short and sweet. I don't want it to be about comparing him and my mother or my step-father as parents or people in my life. I don't want to allow him room to argue or debate. And I don't want it to be about anything other than him not being there, because that is the only thing that I actually experientially know he did TO me. In DBT, we have a skill called FAST, which creates a guideline for keeping our self-respect when dealing with another person: Be Fair, No Apologies. Stick to your values. Be Truthful. I want to be all of those things. But I don't want to hear his side. I don't want to forgive him. And I want that to haunt him as much as him not being in my life haunted me.

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