Thursday, May 15, 2008

Strange Grey Landscape

I'm in a strange place, somewhere between smugness and sadness. The cloud cover roils between anger and guilt. There are lightening strikes of fury, flash floods of misery, and the occasional break in the clouds that lets through some truly radiant triumph.

I've been flip-flopping between rage and depression all morning.

It's infuriating.

I'm angry at myself for how I feel; I'm angry with him for making me feel this way. I know he's not responsible for how I feel. I know he's trying. I know, there's been remarkable improvement over the years. We're so much better than we were once. And there's the part of me that will never, ever forgive him. And the part of me that just wants it to be over.

I'm talking about my father, for those of you who might not have instantly realized it.

I don't think there's another human being on the planet that can throw me into such complete emotional turmoil.

For Christmas, my dad agreed to give Thomas and I three of the 10-week check in sheets for Weight Watchers. We ran out of slips this week, and he still owes us each a sheet of 10. (And Thomas's insurance offers a $300 rebate for "health initiatives" so that's how we're going to pay for the rest of the year... plus $100-$150 out of pocket, I expect...)

I called him three weeks ago and told him we only had 3 slips each left. He said "Ok, I should do something about that."

I called him again YESTERDAY to remind him.

"Oh, right."

We talked for a bit, about how we were doing on the Plan (~25-30 pounds lost for each of us) and my exercising and whatnot. He told me he was proud of me again.

It didn't inspire warmfuzzies this time.

He didn't think I could do it.

That's what this boils down to.

He has never believed in me. He sets expectations impossibly high and is then parsimonious with praise for a job well done.

There's the part of me that's obnoxiously smug about this: See what I did, and you didn't think I could. Showed YOU!

And then there's the part of me that wonders why the FUCK I had to prove ANYTHING to him. He's my FATHER. Shouldn't he love me, be proud of me, believe in me, NO MATTER WHAT? I mean, isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

Woe is me, I am so homesick
But it ain't that bad
'Cause I'm homesick for the home I never had
- Soul Asylum

Of course, there's the other part of me, the part that thinks he's right to not to believe in me. That he's right to dismiss my petty accomplishments and wonder why I can't do better, be better.

And if you don't expect too much from me
You might not be let down
- Gin Blossoms

My father and I agreed we'd rather be Happy than Right. But there's so much we don't talk about.

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid thats all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says its perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defense
- Mike and the Mechanics
I've tried really hard to let go of the old hurts, the things we can't change. The Right he thought he was. The stupid misunderstandings. The careless words. The active interference of my mother who wanted nothing more (and would accept nothing less) than to be the center of our attention. It's never been easy, and sometimes it's the hardest thing in the world.

And I can never forgive him for loving my daughter more than he loves me.

Sometimes, I don't know that it's worth it.

And yet, I can't seem to stop trying.


R.Shack said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this.

The only advice I can offer you is to let it go, and expect nothing from him because you don't need his approval. You are an amazing woman. Look at that little girl who will always learn unconditional love and who will always love you unconditionally as well. I know it's hard to do but you don't need to prove anything to him (or anyone else for that matter) because you're great no matter what.

Cammy@TippyToeDiet said...

Oh yeah, time for you to find a different street. :)

In the end, the ONLY thing that matters is that YOU believe in YOU. And I think you do.

Fwiw, I believe in you, too!

Hanlie said...

I believe in you too!

I think sometimes people feel that they get a second stab at getting it right with their grandchildren. He probably feels that he could have given you more, IF HE HAD KNOWN HOW TO, when you were young. But he doesn't know how to bridge that gap. Having a granddaughter gives him the opportunity to do better. He loves you. He's proud of you. And you know what, we don't make this expectation thing any easier for them than for ourselves. We've all let ourselves down in the past, in full view of our family. So by not jumping up and down in the beginning, they're hoping to spare us the embarassment if we do fail.

I'm not taking his side against you, I'm just looking at this from the outside...

Anonymous said...

I think it's very natural to long for acceptance and unconditional love...which is what we are supposed to get from our parents, really. I mean, as parents we have to help our kids improve and learn to be good people, but we are supposed to love them regardless. I don't think that the child in us ever stops yearning for that...that safe place where we can just be us, and be loved and celebrated for exactly that. A place where "us" is not only good enough, but good period, no matter what. Everyone needs that, and you don't stop needing it just because you're grown up. And it doesn't stop hurting when you don't get it...

I think it's very hard for some parents to express that love and give that doesn't seem to be instinctive for them. I wish there were a way to teach that...

As I told a friend not too long ago, all you can do is assume they did the best they could and move forward. It's hard in this situation because he's still letting you down, and I wish I had some words of wisdom to help that...I don't. But I do hope that it will improve, or at the very least that you will know that you really are an awesome person. You don't have to prove that because you're walking, talking evidence for it. :-) Many hugs.


Dottie said...

To this day, I have similar thoughts regarding my relationship with my father. Except, I'm actually happy that he is doing well at being a grandfather as compared to what he was at being a father. It would disappoint me greatly if he also sucked at being a grandfather. I used to long for the Charles Ingalls type of father. I still cry at sappy movies where there are scenes involving fathers and daughters (I think of the movie Armageddon with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler) I can't tell you how I cried during the one particular scene. I've learned that my dad had some rough emotional issues that he had to go through and was young and didn't know how to really be a good father. Got messed up with the wrong crowd, drugs, etc. So I am proud that he has learned and is being a good grandpa. I don't think I've healed from everything, but I am trying because I do believe that once I let go of that burden, I'll have an easier time of eating healthy and losing weight.

Take care.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

Girl! Im so sorry you are second guessing yourself based on your father's crap. And it is, you know, his crap. You should be so very proud of your weight loss. But I know, a daughter is always looking for her father's approval. We can't help it, they are our first male role models. Stay strong, try to love him for his positive traits, and ignore the rest, know that he does love you the only way he knows how.

If that doesn't work, when he really pisses you off, just smile and remind him that one day, when he's older,who does he think will be there to take care of him. Is that wrong to think that way? Maybe. But I use that thought sometimes to help me feel like less of a little girl when my father is showing his ass. :)

Thinking Thin said...

Your post tore at my heart. I was lucky enough to have an adoring father while he was alive. I lost him at a very young age, when I needed him most. I guess for that I will never forgive him.

The only words of wisdom or insight I have...maybe your father just doesn't have a good way of expressing himself with you. You said that he loves your daughter more than he does you. I have seen some of my friends in similar situations where it appeared that way. In fact, they just didn't know how to show them when they were growing up. As we age, we see our mistakes of the past and maybe he doesn't want to repeat them with your daughter.

I am sure he is proud of you even if you don't feel it. Why shouldn't he be proud? You are an incredible woman, don't ever doubt that.

Keep your chin up sweetie!