Warning: This is going to be a complete vent session.
I come from a split family. My parents got divorced when I was 5 years old. I grew up with parents that had so much resentment for eachother that co-parenting was out of the question. My childhood was a legit hot mess.
My Dad did some “dating” (or hooking up, whatever term you’re into) and after several women found my step mom. They’ve been together probably 20 years or so. My Mom ended ended up marrying the first guy she dated post divorce, and they’ve been together for 25 years.
My Step Dad had no children of his own. My Step Mom had 2 from a previous marriage. I spent my childhood living about half with my Dad and half with my Mom. I became close to my step siblings. When I was 14 I decided I wanted to live with my Mom permanently and that’s when my relationship with my Dad crumbled. Unfortunately that meant distance from my Step Mom and siblings as well.
Fast forward about 10 years and my Dad and I attempt a relationship again. Over those 10 years we spoke sporadically, usually when my Dad drank a few too many cocktails and grew what I like to call “beer balls” (yes I know his booze of choice isn’t beer, but Bacardi and you get the point). Needless to say those sporadic conversations didn’t end well (they were the reason I left to begin with).
My Dad and I eventually talked, I told him how I felt about everything I had been through as a child and how much pain I still carried with me. He told me how he felt and we decided to attempt to put that all behind us and start over despite the fact that we didn’t agree on anything. I gave this relationship an honest effort. Made sure I reached out from time to time, drove an hour to see him (he wouldn’t come to my house) and played nice even though almost everything that comes out of his mouth I don’t agree with. We are totally different people.
Fast forward to a few years ago when my husband and I were having marital issues and he threw some house renovations that he did for us in my face (we paid him, FYI). Although I was hurt and angry, I decided to make another attempt at a relationship with him. We pretty much repeated what I indicated in the last paragraph. I drove to see him on holidays and for cookouts. Actually, it was more to see my siblings. I really enjoy spending time with them and missed seeing them when my Dad and I were on the outs.
Time goes by and it’s time for the 2016 election. Dad and I have completely different political views. We exchanged a few Facebook messages about what was going on. He seemed to love talking to me about politics – I couldn’t figure out if it was the debate he enjoyed or just the fact that we always had awkward conversation until then when we spoke like 2 friends talking about politics. Needless to say, when Trump won the election I was devastated. For multiple reasons that I won’t get into now. Suddenly those disrespectful Hillary memes weren’t so funny anymore. We began talking less and less and finally he blocked me on Facebook. I unfriended him – no need for him to see what’s going on in my life if he doesn’t even want a relationship with me. And now we haven’t spoke in months.
A few days ago my sister told me that she is getting baptized in 2 weeks. She recently went on a spiritual journey if you will and although I found it odd I always support her as long as what she’s doing isn’t harming her in any way. My Dad on the other hand has not been very supportive of her. To my surprise, she told him about the baptism and he said he is going to go with my step mom. Great.
I’m happy that he is going to support my sister. He also knows that I always support her and I will be there. I wonder if he is dreading seeing me and much as I am dreading seeing him? I wonder if he feels the elephant in the room like I do. I wonder if he thinks this is a good opportunity to talk to me (it’s not). I wonder if he likes seeing me full of angst and uncomfortable. I know him being there will mean a lot to my sister and I guess that’s all that matters.
Since I haven’t seen my siblings in months, we thought it would be nice to get everyone together for a cook out. My sister and I talked about it and decided it would be “kids only”. Well today I’m told it’s going to be at my step brothers house right after my sisters baptism. Where my Dad will be. Great. I want to spend time with my siblings so bad but the anxiety that comes along with dealing with my Dad is too great of a burden to bare right now. I know my Dad will want to take my sibs out to eat after my sisters baptism and I know my step brother will invite him back to their house because he will feel guilty.
This all may sound really petty, but I just don’t have the energy anymore. I’ve tried to have a relationship with my Dad. I’ve put myself in so many uncomfortable positions to spend time with my family. I’ve cried so many tears thinking about the past. There is literally no more gas in my tank when it comes to dealing with this.
I would love to see my siblings but I can’t do it at the expense of my mental health anymore. Call me selfish but this is not ok with me. I am not ok.
I step out of my comfort zone all the time to live life like a somewhat normal person despite the fact I struggle with GAD. Having GAD is something that I can’t change. I’ve always had it. But I can control my environment and it’s time that I control the things that I CAN control.
That said, no, I do not want to come to your cookout if my Dad will be there. Yes, I miss my siblings. Yes, I wish I had a relationship with my Dad so it wasn’t awkward for all of us but this is just the way it is. I’ve tried. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my adult life trying. I’ve come to terms with what is.
I will go to my sister’s baptism. I will be polite and be the bigger person when I see my Dad for the first time in a year. I will not put myself in an uncomfortable position with him any longer than I have to. Been there, done that.