I am writing an email to my father.
The last time I saw him, we were at a park. I went there to have a conversation with him about my childhood. It was a hard conversation. Uncomfortable. Painful.
The conversation developed as I expected it would:
He denied the truth; I provided evidence.
He put up walls of flimsy excuses; I knocked them down.
He banged his hands down on the picnic table, stood up, and walked away.
Before he left, he yelled across the parking lot that he would always love me, but his actions that day yelled something different.
There were also things that I didn't expect (but probably should have), like the way he lied to everyone who would listen about why we no longer had a relationship, and the the way he said terrible, untrue things about my husband to those same people.
That conversation happened seven years ago. Almost eight. I did not get to say all the things I wanted, needed, to say before he walked away. But I grew to be okay with that. It was clear that my father did not want to take the steps necessary to have a relationship with me.
I mourned the loss of my father, and moved forward.
Then the phone calls started.
He called last year, and talked like nothing was wrong, like no time had passed. I spent weeks afterward jumping every time the phone rang; preparing myself to hear his voice again, and to tell him that we had to talk about that conversation in the park. It would be six months before he called again.
Last week the phone rang. It was a quick call, but in the few minutes we spoke, he mentioned making plans to drive down here for a visit. He has my address. I do not want to turn my father away at the door, but I will, because it is unacceptable for him to have contact with my daughter.
This is why I am writing an email.
I want to give him one last chance. I want to give myself one last chance, too. This time I will say all the things I wanted to say seven years ago, and not hold back. I will have time to choose my words very carefully. And he will be afforded the same.
I want to have a father again. I hate to admit that - it feels weak after so many years of standing firm in my boundaries, but I love him. I love him, and I want him to choose me over his pride, over his denial, over the carefully maintained public persona he maintains.
Accountability is not his forte, and accountability is exactly what I am going to require of him if he wants to have a relationship with me or my family. I do not have high expectations for a positive response.
Depending on how (or if) he answers, it may very well be the last contact I ever have with him. I thought I had mourned and moved forward, but suddenly I feel like the same person I was seven years ago. Once again I am sitting at the picnic table, staring into my father's eyes as he lies to me and makes excuses. I am watching him walk away, and wishing he would just choose me.
But that was seven years ago, and this is now.
Now I am stronger.8 Comments