"Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

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"Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

Postby verne » December 31st, 2016, 7:07 am

Hi guys, hope everyone is managing to get thru the end of the year/holidays/etc.

Last night was filled with emotional dreams about my dad. He has many of his own neglected mental health issues: depression, fear of intimacy, and when I was 10 he left my mom, my infant sister and I, took off to the backwoods of Maine, leaving behind a suicide note that he was hoping to "die of natural causes" in the woods. When I was a kid, his love felt unconditional, but if I ever disappointed him by doing something clumsy (tripping and dropping a plate of spaghetti on the dog) or stupid (forgetting my house key - I was a boonies latchkey kid at 7, for crying out loud) the look on his face was of utter rejection. He harboured his own resentment and feelings of failure by not meeting his own father's expectations, and exhibited his own brand of eating disorder (much like what I used to do: restrict all day and then binge at night) and self-isolation/hermitism. I re-experienced his rejection over and over again when I made it known that I was going into theatre. He thought it was a foolhardy decision; and, sure, my financial instability can attest to that, but still...so for many years I chased his approval with other tactics, either masking over my own belief systems to align with his (I am a huge lefty, he has been a raging Rush Limbaugh devotee since the beginning) or seeking other "in's" with him, all to really no avail. When I would mention any good shows or well-known theatres I'd be working at, in hopes of the ever-elusive pat on the back, all I'd get was his patented under-breath "uh yah?" - the equivalent to "huh."

There would be spans of up to 6 months at a time where we wouldn't call each other - and it was always me to finally pick up the phone. On one such call, a woman picked up. My father has been a hermit since my parents were divorced, some 27 years ago now, who the hell was this chick? Turned out that in the span of time between contacts, he had inherited a whole new family. "Yeah, I was going to call you and update you..." No, he wasn't.

Anyway, there were a couple more instances of contact after that, but after still chasing my tail with him, I finally decided to fire him from pretending to be my father on New Year's Day, 2013.

The thing is, intellectually, I know this is the right path; emotionally, however, there isn't a day that goes by where I don't feel frustrated that it couldn't be another way, regret that we lost the connection that we seemed to have when I was under the age of "fucking up,"[read: having my own thoughts/opinions/personality], and now this real sadness is starting to bubble up when I remember the moments where he was genuinely tender - in my teen years, when I would go to his hovel in the country and we'd feed the family of raccoons that would visit at night, or look at the little black bear that started visiting for food, that he named "Binky." He had sweetness in him, and now I'm worried that I threw the baby out with the bathwater - was firing him an example of my own reluctance to accept the good with the bad? Or did I do the right thing for me, and now have to learn to accept this emotional reality?

And on that note, I'd love some advice on what "acceptance" feels like. My therapist says "acceptance isn't the same as liking something," which - so simple, but it blew my mind, and I am still unsure of the nuance/difference between the two perceptions. I'd appreciate anybody's input here...
"perfection is the emeny of good" :D
Depression|Anxiety|ED(NOS)
Self-employed in the Arts (read: "Broke")
Can't afford psych diagnosis/meds
So I donate to MIHH sometimes
verne
 
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Re: "Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

Postby Beany Boo » December 31st, 2016, 2:21 pm

The sadness bubbling up is grief; you're grieving. It sounds like you did the right thing and your body feels safe enough to have a true reaction about it now. In this situation, I guess acceptance is letting that acute feeling flow, when needed; trusting that the wound will heal eventually and you won't have to live with the emotional reality you've inherited, into the future. You could accept how much it hurts; but you don't have to like the pain, just to experience it, while you're moving through it.
Emotionally,

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Re: "Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

Postby verne » January 1st, 2017, 6:42 am

Thanks very much for the reply, Beany Boo. That's a really good breakdown of how to approach acceptance. I appreciate it!

Happy 2017,
Verne
"perfection is the emeny of good" :D
Depression|Anxiety|ED(NOS)
Self-employed in the Arts (read: "Broke")
Can't afford psych diagnosis/meds
So I donate to MIHH sometimes
verne
 
Posts: 12
Joined: January 15th, 2016, 7:36 pm
Gender: female
Issues: Depression, anxiety, eating disorders
preferred pronoun: she

Re: "Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

Postby brownblob » January 1st, 2017, 8:54 am

Hi verne,
I cutoff my father many years ago for different reasons. For me, acceptance was when I stopped feeling strong emotions about him and could say I wish him no harm but I have no interest in seeing him anymore.
I see the rest of my family just a few times a year. They are not fired, but I have allowed myself some distance. My relationship with them used to be where I'd have to call them and I'd have to to go see them. I realized that they just weren't that into me. It hurt a lot to realize. So I just stopped calling. I just wanted to see if there would be any attempts on there part to have a relationship with me or if this was all one sided. It turns out my feelings were pretty much right. Now I see them at Christmas and a couple other times a year. This has been going on for years and it hurts, but it feels better than when I was trying and not getting anywhere with them. This is what acceptance feels like in this case.
"I don't like people much and they don't much like me." John Nash A Beautiful Mind
"Self knowledge is a dangerous thing--The freedom of who you are" Lou Reed
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Re: "Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

Postby Not A Cylon » January 4th, 2017, 3:20 pm

I can understand why you're so conflicted, people are complicated and at times we can see only the best in them, share amazing moments and yet other times feel their stunting disapproval and neglect. The extremes are to me, what make it worse, theres no middle ground or a healthy baseline, you're always chasing that approval and acceptance. From what you provided to us here it seems like you made the best choice you could, it's not easy and the grief you feel is normal. In any relationship, both parties need to work at it for it to, well, work. You seem like you kept trying and wanted to include him in your life but for whatever reasons (which may have far more to do with him than you) he wasn't willing to put in the same type of effort.

I think your therapist nailed acceptance, it's not an easy thing to come to grips with when the end result is something you didn't want but know you need. I wish you continued personal success and growth in 2017 and all the years to come.
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Re: "Fired" my father 3 yrs ago/still sad and angry

Postby verne » January 5th, 2017, 1:53 pm

Thanks so much, Brownblob and Not A Cylon; I'm kind of relieved that "acceptance" isn't in fact some angels-on-high-type epiphany-type feeling of lightness that mystically overcomes you one day....the fact that acceptance is kind of low key, seeing the facts as they stand, with (at least in the early stages) constant reminders to ourselves that we can't change reality, and we can't get from someone something they don't want (or are unable) to give, this is all good to hear. Thanks so much for your advice and kind words. I likewise send you both good thoughts and comfort in any struggles you may be having, but also cheers for your good moments, too!

Onward!
"perfection is the emeny of good" :D
Depression|Anxiety|ED(NOS)
Self-employed in the Arts (read: "Broke")
Can't afford psych diagnosis/meds
So I donate to MIHH sometimes
verne
 
Posts: 12
Joined: January 15th, 2016, 7:36 pm
Gender: female
Issues: Depression, anxiety, eating disorders
preferred pronoun: she


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