So this post is in two parts. I wanted to write about the experience “before” and “after” to see how I might govern my emotions, how the experience may influence my thoughts or memories, and to take a look at how I truly feel (vs. how I think I feel.)
It’s 5:00am on a cold Tuesday morning. Why the hell then, am I awake before Big Shot’s alarm? I’ll tell you why. I’m so flippin’ nervous that I, the narcoleptic, the lover of bed, am unable to sleep. And why am I this nervous? Well, today I’m having lunch with my father.
Why is this a matter to lose precious sleep over? Well, it’ll be the first time I’ve properly seen him in about five years, so I’d say it’s pretty significant. I have only spoken to him over the phone a maximum of five times since. And within those five years you could say a lot has changed. The biggest of those changes being Little Shot – his own grandson, who he has yet to meet.
In the next room I just heard Little Shot giggle in his sleep and I wonder how it’s taken so long for my father to meet someone who makes my heart feel this fuzzy and warm.
The relationship between my father and I hasn’t always been the best. When my parents split up I was made to live with my father while the other two siblings I grew up with stayed home with our mum. I only lasted about a year or two living with Dad. He made such an effort in making sure I went to a good school, had private tutoring and plenty of food to eat, (a chef by trade,) but while I was dealing with the stresses of puberty, being torn between two parents and dealing with some other pretty heavy stuff I’ll save for later, my father was battling his own demons, and something tells me his were bigger and scarier than my own. As a kid, that can be a huge burden to carry. It was like coming home every day to someone who was falling from the twelfth – floor balcony; I desperately wanted to save him, but I was just a kid. I couldn’t reach him, and I didn’t have the strength to do anything, even if I could. And every day his grip weakened and he’d slip a little more, ’til eventually I’d come home and ignore the falling man completely, coz if I pretended he wasn’t there it was easier than facing the guilt of not being able to help him.
And when I was sent to the psychiatrists as a kid, then put on medication and suicide watch and sent every day to the counselor, both at school and at the hospital, I became too much for my dad. I left him a suicide note on one occasion, and I had expressed my feelings of being hurt that he had said during one argument that I was just like my mother, as if to insult me. Truth is, I loved my mother. I always had and I always will, no matter what. And if there’s any woman on this planet I’d want to be like, it’s her. Obviously the suicide attempt was unsuccessful, but we didn’t speak much at all after that. After that I disappeared, physically and mentally.
It was partially the drilling that did it. The hours, and hours of constantly drilling his opinions into my own head. All sorts of things, from focusing on my studying instead of on boyfriends and girlfriends, focusing on trying my best to be anything but like my mum, understanding that I should never get tattoos or piercings, understanding that I should never take drugs… the list goes on. I know he was doing what he thought was his role as a father, by teaching me what he thought was wrong from right, but in the end, the hours of daily lecture served no purpose in my life. I still got tattoos and a bunch of facial piercings. I still got high. I still took my clothes off for money. I still had sex and a kid out of wedlock. But in the end, when did I ever think back on the words of my father? Never. Because I didn’t want to deal with the memory.
It’s been two weeks now since I saw my dad and I feel like I can breathe again.
I had nothing to be worried about. He was more nervous than me, I’m sure of it. He handed me a bunch of excuses as to why he hadn’t been in touch. Terrible excuses, though I deciphered a genuine apology in among all that nonsense. I wish the man’s feelings weren’t so cryptic. I’ve grown into a pretty honest, black and white sort of woman. If he had just been straight up with me and told me he was sorry for not being there for the last five or so years, that would have been enough. I would have believed it. I would have accepted his simple apology and we could move on into possibly building what could be a good relationship again. But whatever.
It was like meeting a stranger for the first time. It was such a surreal feeling. It was never meant to be like that at all. He referred to Little Shot as “the baby” which I found a bit offensive. He may only be one, and maybe unable to understand exactly what you’re saying, but for God’s sake! Treat your grandson with a bit of respect! He has a name and is not an inanimate object. I suppose I’m being super fussy now, and he was probably just getting used to not only me, but an addition of me too. This was new for all of us.
He took us to lunch – probably one of the most awkward meals of my life. He was caring and compassionate towards both of us, and showed a true interest in meeting Big Shot, who was working about ten minutes away. Overall, the lunch was nice. He never ended up meeting him as he ran out of time, and eventually he broke it to me that he most likely wouldn’t be attending our wedding, (more excuses,) and afterwards I left feeling kind of emptier than I had before.
The stranger gave me some pocket money and drove away and I felt like the little girl inside me cry as she watched her beloved daddy leave. On the outside though, I didn’t shed a single tear. I knew that would be the last time I’d see him for another five years, at least, despite his empty promises to “try” to make it over for our wedding day. I knew I’d have to walk myself up the aisle on one of the most important days of my life and I knew I wouldn’t ever have the father/ daughter dance I’ve dreamed of all my life. I knew I should’ve listened to my sister when she told me “Don’t get your hopes up.” I knew Little Shot would grow up not knowing his Datuk, despite him telling me that he would try to download Skpe, and I knew that no matter how hard I tried not to disappoint that man, to be a better person and to build a good life for myself and my family, I would never make him proud.
Yeah, I suppose it fucking hurt.
I’ll never understand why there is this barrier. Over lunch at an Italian restaurant by the beach the barrier is harder to see, but it most certainly is there. I can feel it when we hug and his arms feel different to what I remember. I can feel it when I look at him and don’t recognize the man looking back. I feel it when people ask me about who my father is and I’m left without much to say.. and I can most definitely feel that barrier when he’s an ocean away and all I want to do is bang my fists against the stupid barrier til he picks up the phone and calls me, just to ask how my day is going.
Wow… I guess I miss him more than I thought?
If I could say anything to my dad right now, it’s that I get it. I get what being an adult means now. I get what being hurt feels like and what it feels like to wake up to the demons you fell asleep battling just the night before. I get that we’re in an awkward place right now, but I want that closeness we used to have when I was young and he’d cook for me and tell me lame dad jokes. I want my son to know who his grandfather is, and to have the best – friend sort of relationship I had with my own Grandad. I get that we’re living so far apart and that life moves quickly and things change so fast – but that is exactly the reason why I think it’s so important we stay in touch. He means more to me than he will ever know. It isn’t til now that I realized just how much that is.