So….. Long time no talkie huh?
Have you ever not talked to someone you wanted to talk to for so long that you start to feel slightly awkward and aren’t really sure what to say when you finally do start talking again?
Yeah that’s me.
I’m kind of in the middle of a personal struggle. I’m not really sure what the best way to handle this is. Okay- first let me catch you all up on the details of what’s been going on since my last post. My Grandmother passed away on September 5th. 5 weeks to the day of my Grandfather passing. It was very sad, but expected and in this case I truly do believe that it was the best thing for her (and my mother) despite the fact that we will miss her deeply.
The problem is my father. I ran into him while doing some grocery shopping for my mom after Pop’s death and then he called me when he read about my Grandmother passing in the paper. He wants to get together with me. To talk.
I don’t want to.
My father and I have been estranged for a very long time. Growing up my sisters and I were always thought of as his “other” children. He felt he was paying child support and that was all we needed him to give us as kids. My step brother and half sister would be doted upon and we got what was left over. I remember him offering to give me my step brother’s old computer because he bought him a new one. I remember my step brother getting his car when we turned 17. I remember him telling me that he would not pay for my college education because he had to pay for my step-brother. I remember him refusing to cosign for a car loan when I needed to get one for a really good job offer I received (I had the money, I just needed him to sign). I remember being stranded on Virginia and calling him to beg for help to get me home to New Jersey and him refusing to help me. I remember him telling us that he would not see us at Christmas because his wife was too tired. I remember that he never asked us to spend a weekend with him. I remember how he refused to take my youngest sister with us for visitation because he didn’t want to deal with a baby. I remember how she would cry and hold onto my leg because she didn’t want me to leave her alone. He never even showed up to my sister’s college graduation. He didn’t call her on her wedding day. He doesn’t know she’s expecting her first child and he’s never met my son.
My grandfather who just passed was more of a dad to me than my biological father was. It was my Grandfather who told me how proud he was of me when I graduated high school and then college. It was my Grandfather who bragged about me to all of his friends. It was my Grandfather who told me I was pretty when I got dressed up for my first date. It was my Grandfather who cried on my wedding day. It was my grandfather who held my son in his big hands and loved us both with his whole heart.
Not my father.
My father has seen me on purpose exactly twice in 13 years. And he lives in the same town as my mom.
He wasn’t abusive, at least not physically. But he did hurt me and my sisters deeply. And when he calls I feel a lump of bile form in the pit of my stomach and I want to run and hide under something. It’s not like this is the first time he’s tried to reconcile. We’ve done this dance at least a half dozen times. The most recent attempt was when he showed up unexpectedly at my wedding. I tried being gracious and accepted the olive branch he extended. But then it all blew up again and he was gone. Again.
Do I wish things were different? Yeah sure. Of course I do. What daughter doesn’t want a father to love her? But my father does not love me. It isn’t love that prompts these moments of sorrow and desire for reconciliation on his part. It is guilt, and fear, and regret, and shame.
I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to go through it all again. I don’t want to involve my son and husband in this mind game of his. I have already forgiven him and let go of any hate I used to feel for him. I just want it to be over. The man who was my dad all my life passed away 6 weeks ago. I don’t want or need a replacement.
I know that there will be readers who think I’m being terribly cruel, that I should give him a chance. Some might believe that I will regret it someday… These were all the reasons that I forced myself to give him a chance the last time this happened. I’m done now. I don’t have it in me. And maybe I will regret it someday. I’ve prayed on it and God has told me that he is okay with my decision.
Of all the signs I could have been given today as I struggled with this I came across a commentary that someone had written about the story of Lot’s wife. Now, I’m no bible thumper. I’ve read the good book but I don’t read it daily or weekly, or even monthly. I’ve never participated in a bible study group…I’m Catholic. We don’t do that. We go to church on Easter and Christmas and the occasional Sunday and pray when we feel like it and skip meat on Fridays during lent. Our God is a lenient God who understands that sometimes praying during the last 5 minutes of the Giant’s game on Sunday might be all the worship He’ll get that week and He’s okay with that. This blog I read though was about how Lot and his wife were brought out of sin and depravity by God’s grace but she looked back and became a pillar of salt. Her sin was longing for what might have been. For not taking the blessing that God had given her, but instead dwelling on the past. What she had before was not good, but she longed for the dream that it might have been good. And because she could not simply look ahead to all the good things that God had promised her for the future, she became salt. Where something is salted nothing will grow. Weird sign, and not exactly the bible story I would have come up with on my own to comfort myself… but it’s what God gave me and strangely enough, it’s allowed me to feel at peace with my decision to flee. I have decided not to look back, I want to look to the future now and allow the good things promised to me to grow.
"Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" Genesis 19:12