August 13, 2012

cat's in the cradle

i don't know if i should be writing this right now but i am. there is no should.

this weekend, without expecting any sort of revelatory healing, i got just that. in the most unexpected of ways. the process of going through such a range of emotions for the last two weeks (or arguably longer) seems so pointless but on this side of the experience, i know it was completely necessary.

i had asked my dad if he and i could meet the night he got into town. it would be the first time we could visit, just the two of us, in eight or nine years and the only time we could have the conversation we couldn't seem to have via telephone or handwritten letter, before i met his new daughter.

side note: i have tried to call her my sister and it doesn't work. she is his daughter, his new daughter, the other daughter; but not my sister. yesterday we were talking and i started a sentence with "my dad" and she corrected me and said, "he's my dad, too *chuckle*...our dad...," and though this is true, i wanted to punch her in the throat.

see also: i don't have any animosity towards her but sometimes innocent by-standers aren't so innocent.

anyhow, they were delayed for two hours, while on the road. i was running errands and didn't mind having extra time to myself, to collect my thoughts, so i went to my favorite bookstore. when they arrived at the hotel he texted me and asked if i knew of any good mexican restaurants. he invited me, of course. i declined, of course. he then called to ask what i had planned and how long i thought our conversation would take. i said i didn't know and that i'd wait at the bookstore. he then tried to make an issue of me waiting and asked me what my "ideal" looked like and i hesitantly told him. he apparently didn't notice when i said it would be nice if he and i could have dinner and his wife and daughter could get dinner, on their own, since they wanted the vehicle anyway.

long story short, it was two hours and forty minutes later that they finished their meal and he met me to talk. it was almost 9:00 pm and he was too tired and weary to care that his daughter had, like, really important shit to talk about.

to sum up, we agreed to disagree. if had a nickel for every time he tried to put his arms around me or say he loved me in order to placate me instead of listen to me, denied or "didn't remember" something, or transferred his own guilt to me in the form of blaming me or my mother for his actions, i'd be kind of rich right now. i am now pretty much convinced that everything out of his mouth, ever, has been bullshit.

it ended well enough that i could somewhat cope with the inevitable meeting of the new daughter and "reuniting" with a family i was never united with in the first place. yesterday morning he called me to "disclose" one more thing, he said. that's code for, i completely fucking lied to you last night but there's one tiny little detail you might accidentally find out if you talk to either my wife or my new daughter at any length.

he told me the night before that he was helping new daughter, financially, in some ways, "but it's not like i'm providing her room and board." those were his exact words. yesterday morning he called to admit she lives in a rental property he and his wife own. i didn't even know he had a rental property and perhaps the definition of "room and board" doesn't quite fit the scenario...he's probably not paying for her food, after all, but that is just but one small example of how he twists words and possibly, unintentionally, works himself into a big, stupid lie. he stumbled over words, assuring me she would eventually pay rent and that the house needed "some work" and would have otherwise been unoccupied while he paid the mortgage on it.

that detail probably wouldn't have come up because his daughter and i had very little time to talk amongst ourselves and i had no desire to get all nosy on her but i did learn that when he said she was planning on moving there, she already had.

the night i'd met with him, within five minutes of talking, he disputed my recollection and accused me of calling him a liar when i didn't just automatically accept his version as truth.

it was difficult to watch my dad, a man of almost sixty, stand there and throw a temper tantrum instead of own his shit and take some personal accountability for once in his life. it was hard to stand there and watch the protest when the only voice calling him a liar was his own.

yesterday afternoon it no longer mattered that he wanted to lie about the past. he still lies, about the here and now.

i'm not glad i went to the family reunion but it was just as necessary and further eye-opening. the family division and dysfunction was evident. my dad's mom disowned the grandkids belonging to half of her children; the ones from broken homes, the ones with brown hair. we exchanged our greetings with the others and then found our place, outside of the circle.

i'm not glad that afterward i asked, on behalf of my six year old, that my dad spend just a little bit more time with us while his daughter visited her brother.

i'm not glad that he scoffed at me and made apparent how little he thinks of me in front of his wife, his daughter, my husband, and my children.

i'm not glad that he said he'd rather meet his daughter's brother and that he'd only had a three-day weekend and this was "too much" and "he'd spent more time with [my] family than anyone else this visit" - um, compared to who? who the fuck else did he have to spend time with? his mom, his brothers? perhaps. because i'm that much of a priority that spending a couple of hours discussing hard shit and giving my 16 year old a ride to the reunion was sufficient. or "too much."
i'm not glad that i started crying and yelled and said fuck a lot.

however, i am glad that he walked out in a great display of immaturity, saying, "it's not even worth it. i just disappoint you every time i visit." that was the last time his displaced anger, guilt, and shame will ever fall upon my ears. considering this was the first and only visit i didn't put on a fake happy face, that was also the last lie of his i'll ever have to hear. and the last time he will invalidate me. i am worth it, just not to him.

i read an old post, one of the pivotal ones in this saga and i am kind of angry. hurt and sadness do eventually turn into rage so it's a healthy stage of progress.

i now fully understand that he never really wanted to spend time with me at all. he doesn't know how to be a father to a wounded little girl or the adult she turned into and it seems that he and his other adult daughter, the one with the vacancy where my absence is, will get along just fine.

coincidentally, at the reunion he started singing harry chapin's "cat's in the cradle" and she finished the line..."little boy blue and the man on the moon." i wanted to punch both of them in the throats. of course, he didn't know that while i had been waiting for him the night before, i'd written down a lot, including some thoughts on that very song. singing random lyrics is a thing he's always done and apparently finishing the lines is something she now does. they later did it to a george thorogood song.

through meeting this head on, i'll be okay, and so will he. he has the daughter he always wanted. her story plays on his heartstrings and he doesn't have to take responsibility for his presence messing her up in any way because he wasn't present until now. she doesn't cringe when he sings george thorogood because he's never done it to belittle her feelings (saying"everybody funny, now you funny, too" is perhaps not the best way to meet your daughter's emotional needs). she just sees it as a sweet way to relate because she knows the words, too.

really, though, it is okay. i am happy for her and i will not always be angry at him. i accept that i don't fit into his new li{f}e and that's okay. inauthentic people don't fit into my life, either.

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