Some of the Fallout from choosing a radically different lifestyle than my parents did, is that very often I have nothing to share with them. They call… we chat… but the conversation remains shallow; conceptual. Always in the back of my head the censor is running, deleting things before they reach expression. I don’t think they really notice. Mom, in particular is entirely focused on herself… a trait I picked up, to my constant dismay. My Dad is not as much focused on himself, as he is oblivious to everything around him. So I don’t think they picked up on the fact that I never go into detail about how things go in my world. They judge.
A few weeks ago, I slipped. Goofed… messed up… Dear Husband and I were having issues. Issues based on our upbringings… on the way our families of origin had dealt with, or chosen not to deal with, the inequities of life, and the minutiae of living. I was hysterically upset. There is something about staring the truth in the face that makes me want to vomit sometimes, yk? If you ever want to make a really good decision about anything, you have to do a certain amount of honest analysis, often about the very things you wish could just go away. I was approaching a decision and I really wanted to be able to talk to my mom about it. Certain aspects of my Father’s personality my husband shares; and I thought maybe my mom could give me some perspective.
Usually when I share with my Mom, Daddy is either not there, or not aware enough of the world to notice. So I didn’t expect what happened next. My Mom must have called him over to the computer, and he’d been reading over Mom’s shoulder while we were I.M.ing or maybe she was sharing with him- HOW is irrelevant really. My Dad saw/heard just a part of the end of the conversation. And, he panicked. Needless to say, I was in no way prepared for my dad to call me via webcam and tell me to listen, and not talk, and he had some critically important things he needed me to hear. He proceeded to tell me all the ways I had to have screwed up in order for my husband to have been in such a ‘bad mood’, and ended by telling me that he was going to talk to DH that night, alone, and that he would call me at a later time.
Hearing that hurt. My Dad is one of the only people on the Planet who understands how I think… because he thinks the same way. I felt betrayed. I was very vulnerable in the first place because of all that I had been thinking through during that day, and I still needed to sit down with my husband and figure things out. Turns out M and I had time to talk before my Dad called him, and he saw how upset I was. So they talked. I had no desire to talk to my father. I knew from the little he had said, that he had no idea how things actually went in our house. He didn’t know what our challenges are from day to day, or our routines, or how we have fun together, or any of that, and I began to feel that He didn’t really KNOW me anymore. Being known is a precious thing to me, and I felt the loss of that quite keenly.
I emailed my dad, hoping to head off his telephone call. I tried to set some clear boundaries, saying that I wanted to be able to talk with him but that if he insulted me, or accused me of being the problem, the conversation would end. My dad being the person he is, thought I was saying that if he brought up certain subjects again- one of which was spanking- I would never speak to him again. He wrote me what he called a ‘dissertation’ – his way of saying, ‘I’m gonna make my case, and you can read and think about it without interrupting me’. (Truthfully, this is the way I would rather have important conversations… because everyone gets a chance to think before they speak.) I assured him I would read it and think about it, and I meant it.
It was terrible. It was a laundry list of everything I had done wrong as a Wife, and a Mother. It was four pages of every way I had failed to be a good parent; a good person. People like my Dad and I, and there aren’t very many of us, have a way with words. We think veryfast and feel passionately about EVERY opinion. We can be vicious. We can use our words to make a point so damningly well, that it can destroy someone. I know because I’ve done it. Human relationships don’t often survive naked truth. We thrive on courtesy, on kindness and gentleness, even in being truthful. You can alienate people very quickly; talking to people like my father spoke to me in his dissertation. I became incredibly angry. Strong emotion stops me in my tracks. I know it spurs many people into action, but for me, this is not so. I read the dissertation. I read it again. Once again, I dragged myself through it, just to be certain it said what I thought it did. I discussed it with a close friend. I gave it to my husband to read. Even though he had experienced that type of vitriol coming from me, it shocked him. I didn’t know what to do; and so it gnawed at me. A week went by, and a second…. Finally I started writing responses to specific portions, just to get it OUT of my head.
My words, when they finally began to appear, were hateful, sarcastic, ironic, and rude. A mirror for the tone my Father had set. I reminded myself that this was PRECISELY the reason I had NOT wanted to open these things for discussion- I felt any response I could possibly make would breach our relationship irreparably. No way could I send any of what I had written.
I had no idea what to do next…