Today, I’m really putting myself there. I don’t mean in a fun, creative, or kooky way. I mean in a very personal and uncomfortable way. Of all the things I’ve published on the blog, or am thinking about publishing (possibly singing related), this makes me feel the most vulnerable. I’m doing it because I hope it helps me, and perhaps others experiencing this kind of hurt.
Today is father’s day. I’m not celebrating it. I haven’t spoken to my father since October of last year, when he forgot my birthday. It doesn’t seem like a big deal for a man that’s nearing 80 and has never had a particularly strong memory or recall. It was ultimately the straw that broke an extremely delicate camel’s back. Before I continue, I’d like to request that you watch this music video, Hurt by Christina Aguilera. It’s extremely triggering for me, and as a warning, if you have an estrangement to a family member, I can guarantee you won’t get through this easily.
Over the years, this song/music video has been something I’ve revisited periodically, it seems in a masochistic way. I’m not sure why I do it. I guess I can liken it to a mosquito bite that you ignore until the itch overcomes your impulse control and you scratch it until it’s bleeding and raw.
I am not going to focus on the specifics of the evolution and disintegration of my relationship with my father. My focus is rather on the choice to live in estrangement and what that means for me.
I live my daily life without my dad in it. I’m fortunate to have a mother who is so good that most of the time, she’s more than enough. I’ve become closer to my brother again as well, which brings me so much happiness and joy. My father’s two older children, my half brothers, are not in my life, nor are they in my dad’s. I did reconnect with my nephew this year, which is a wonderful gift stemming from my perseverance, and his open mindedness. My uncle, my dad’s only sibling, is also a steadfast presence in my life as well. He, too, is estranged from my father.
Some people will tell me, “well your dad is never going to change,”; “he’s getting on, it may be too late,”, “just accept him for who he is, or you’ll regret it.”
What I would like to tell those people is that, while they are not incorrect, they are also not correct. Relationships aren’t that black and white. Sometimes, having a relationship with someone is more harmful than it is benevolent and valuable. Being related by blood means everything, but it means nothing at the same time. With family, you are given so much more wiggle room for mistakes, laziness, and mishandling. It’s harder to break from that, even if you know that your family members may not be people you respect or befriend if they didn’t share your genes.
For that reason, the choice to be estranged is an intense one. Even though most days, most moments, I am engaged in my life, I still think about my dad. My tendency is to brush it off, make a joke, etc. It’s not funny. It’s not going to disappear. It lingers like a thick, suffocating smog that just descends over my life in moments of weakness. Only those quite close to me have seen how it tears me up. In those moments, I wonder if my choice is hurting me more than helping me. He’s part of my narrative and the pain, even in silence.
“And I’ve hurt myself, by hurting you.”
I’m not looking for a miracle or a clear answer, though I know time is not infinite. I’m not there yet, though. And for right now, it just is what it is. For anyone that doesn’t have a good relationship with their father, or one at all, I just want you to know you’re not alone. I don’t have answers for you, but I feel your hurt.
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