Several years ago, when I was kinda-sorta dating this guy in Argentina, he told me he’d chosen this shittier, more expensive apartment than a better one up the hill cuz the one up the hill would’ve been harder for his dad to walk up to during visits. I laughed at this story because it blew my mind. And because I couldn’t relate to it at all.
“Why you laugh at me?” he asked, all insulted. “Oh I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at myself. I totally would have chosen the other apartment BECAUSE it’d be harder for my dad to get to.” He looked at me like I’d just told him a puppy died. “That’s really sad you feel that way about your father.”
It was sad. And I couldn’t get that comment out of my head for months.
My dad and I had a rocky relationship for well over a decade. As much as I loved the man because he was my dad and biology yearns for that connection, I was constantly disappointed by him, or mad at him for hurting my feelings, or resentful at the things he’d done in the past. I used to stress out about visits home for weeks before and then I’d sleep for days after coming back. I even refused to go home for almost a year because it was just too much to deal with. This man, or rather, my resentment towards him, utterly exhausted me.
And then, during that trip to South America, and after a few key moments in my life, I realized my dad wasn’t really the problem at all. No, it was the story I was clinging to that caused me so much pain. So I stopped letting myself focus on the old story and instead set out to tell a new one. A story that would focus solely on what he’d done right instead of where he’d gone wrong. Hell, that story had been on loop too long already and I was sick of hearing that crap. I also forced myself to start seeing him through the eyes of my friends and all his fans on Facebook who’d come to adore him from my posts about all the crazy shit he says, instead of through my victim-y, shit-head-teenager-y lens of yesteryear.
And then there was me. I had to start seeing myself as an adult and an equal, not some scared little girl who needs daddy’s approval. Why walk on eggshells around him anymore, like he’s some scary monster? Cuz he’s not. And I’m a grown ass woman now. I had to start acting like one. I learned to bite my tongue and laugh more instead of pouting or being a passive-aggressive bitch. And I forced myself to stand up to him and call him on his shit (in a loving kind of way of course) when he was being an asshole. (“Remember when I told you I don’t like you talking about my weight? Yeah, that’s still the case! Please don’t.”)
Well, wouldn’t you know, we started to get along again. I learned to not only forgive him, and in doing so, realize what a good dad he actually was, but I focused entirely on how I could be a good daughter and, sure enough, became one.
So here we are, years later, hanging out. Instead of it being a source of stress and unnecessary pain, going to see him now is what makes me feel at home. It gives me joy and comfort even. I was really struggling last week with depression about my job stuff, but now, after sitting next to him for three days, having the same conversation again and again and again (yay Alzheimer’s!), I feel back to my old self and my spirits are high.
I guess I’m finally like Tuta. Instead of thinking of how I can avoid seeing my dad, I am worried about NOT seeing him. I even go out of my way to see him. Even though he doesn’t remember me being there and he literally talks on a loop about the same things- how great of a daughter I am and how much his ass hurts- I just love our visits. I never get tired of sitting next to him. And he’s always so sad when I have to go.
So, if any of you know a story that’s causing you a lot of pain, maybe do what I did, and try coming up with a new one.