My father …
Well to say I’ve had an ahhhhhhaaaaa moment would be an understatement. And to say that this moment was positive would be a lie.
To say that this hasn’t dawned on me before would also be a lie. I just haven’t acknowledged it before, I have pushed it swiftly to one side and ignored it. It had no purpose in my life. It was negative.
Every thought about my father was quite negative, because those thoughts were surrounded by memories and experiences that I despised in him. The positive memories were discussed so that I didn’t sully the last years of his life. Which felt important and positive to me. I remember some years ago attending a mindfulness course and the task stirred up stuff about my father that made me feel very uncomfortable. Something I never explored.
Since then I rarely talk about him. Both my counsellor and my close friend have questioned this recently and I was unable to answer their queries. I gave them the facts. I accepted him and enjoyed those latter years, what more did I need to remember? But there was a block.
My memories were of a switched off, bad tempered man. Who I felt didn’t really like me as much as he did the others. I was (apparently) my mothers favourite; his words. But as I grew into adulthood and found things in common with him it changed. I grew fond of him and he of me.
We had to respect him, his time at the kitchen table, his time in the toilet, his chocolate, his cigar smoke, his personal washing at the kitchen sink, his fire when the rest of the house was freezing (he had always to be warm) .
Recently mum and I have discussed him in detail. This felt like synchronicity, something that needed to be shared, but that came from my mums frame of reference, not mine. I was a little freaked by the fact that this subject had arisen without my input whilst at the same time I was trying hard to work out what was blocking my therapy around him, with no obvious answers.
I have explored, because of these triggers, why I don’t have anything to discuss. Mum and I discussed his bad behaviour and why she reacted as she did. Her reason was to protect us from his bad moods, that my siblings wound him up, particularly the youngest. I think I was quite mute until my teenage years. I heard my mother speak badly of him, how she suffered because of the lack of homely comforts, whilst at the same time understanding why he didn’t make the house more comfortable for her (and us); he was either working or sleeping, they had little money.
He never hurt us, he worked hard. He was just bad tempered and ruled the household, in an “absent” sort of fashion. He was fussy about his food, slept a lot, mended engines and did his woodwork at the kitchen table. It was just the way he was. He rarely asked for help, didn’t pay anyone else to do the jobs he didn’t want to do, but everything he did do was to perfection. Which meant everything took an age to complete. Many things, as I recall, were left unfinished.
This brings me to now. Today I argued with my son, whose inability to manage his life frustrates me. Then I argued with my husband because he didn’t get it, or I just needed to voice my frustration? Then I argued with my daughter who was home for a weekend and really it was ALL ABOUT HER! And basically we were only here to pander to her stomach! Her friends were far more important ! I felt caged by her .. like I couldn’t get on with my own stuff.
So basically I was pissed off by everyone. And as I calmed I realised something. I hated myself when I was bad tempered. In fact I loathe myself, but I couldn’t snap out of it. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I couldn’t identify the anxiety and step away before I argued. I needed to voice what I had to say, I felt I would only be listened to if I shouted. Did I feel? No I just reacted !
Do you see where I’m going here?
I see my father in me.
I see the part of him that I loathed, in me. I behave like him. Perhaps not as often. But as I explore myself at these low times I think I can honestly say that all the things I dislike about him are the same things that I dislike in myself.
As I become more self aware I seem to know myself less … life is bloody hard work! I think I need to go under cover for a while. It’s time for recharge, my life feels over complicated …