Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Emotional baggage

Good Lord.  I'm not sure I'm even going to publish this.  If I do, feel free to skip it.

My dad is supposed to come and visit mid-October.

My dad and I have a VERY interesting past - and by "interesting" I mean hard and chalk full of crap that I'm STILL trying to work through with my therapist.

It's another fat girl with daddy issues.  Surprised?  Me neither.

He made it clear growing up that he didn't ever want to have kids.  He dislikes them immensely and we were kept away from him at almost all costs.  When we were around him, we were taught to listen to him and not talk about ourselves.  Healthy, no?

So while, yes, he did pay for us to go to college and yes, he was technically around, he showed unlove to us kids all the time.  He didn't want to be around us ever and other than my older sister's varsity soccer games, couldn't be counted on to come to any of our functions.  All of those were left to my mom. He didn't remember birthdays, didn't want to meet any of our boyfriends, and didn't wish us well on prom nights.  I never went to a father-daughter dance and I can't imagine what would happen if I asked him for a hug, even now. 

He is completely introverted.  An awkward guy who says things that are hurtful on a regular basis - mostly because he doesn't possess what normal people call "people skills."  He's full of himself, terribly insecure, and recently retired.

The thing is, he watched a movie I haven't seen yet called Everybody's Fine (I think that's the name of it), starring Robert DeNiro.  Apparently, it's about a dad who visits his kids all around the country.  All I know is my dad thought it was sad and has started to book trips to visit us girls (there are three of us, I'm the middle one) around the country.

As tempted as I am to pull this whole "Cat's in the Cradle" thing on him, I realize that he's trying.  I realize that even though I've never heard him say that he's proud of me or that he thinks I'm beautiful that he's trying to be a better dad.  Or maybe he's just lonely.

So, my dad was supposed to visit me mid-October.

Only when I thought I was going to get that job that I interviewed for, I called him up and said that that weekend may not work.  I asked him to hold off on his plans.

This past week, I'm proceeding with my life as if I did not get that job.  Which is actually okay...I think if they offered me the job (they still haven't made an official decision yet), I would have to think long and hard before accepting it - it doesn't feel like the right fit.  So I called him up and asked him if that weekend would still work.

He said that he was sick but that he would look into it.

And rather than checking back, he just booked the flights.

Only now we can't get the guest suite where we live.  Which means that to have him somewhat close by, I will be spending $200-$300 each night on hotels.  Hello downtown hotel rates!

Know what I don't have these days?  An extra $750-$1000 to spend on my dad coming to visit.

So I called him up - I explained the situation.  I offered to pay for the guest suite (which is only $80 for all three nights combined) and the $100 to change his flight.  He interrupted me and said "It's actually $150 to change."

Have I mentioned that my dad is a retired doctor?  Who has three luxury cars?  And any gadget/TV item they make?  Okay then.

And he said that he didn't want to re-book, that he wanted to stay in a place that had breakfast available, that he wanted to have his own space (i.e. not stay with us) and that he wanted to be able to walk to "shops." 

I looked AGAIN last night and can't find anything much cheaper.

So I cried.  I cried because I'm sad.  I'm sad because I don't want to believe that my dad is still so selfish.  I'm angry that it's still all about him and what works for him.  I'm sad that my dad can't just go with the flow, can't just realize that I'm doing the best that I can.

I cried because I still feel like *I* must be flawed.  If I wasn't so flawed, he might forgive me for not reserving the guest suite earlier (which is actually quite an ordeal and the lady in charge of booking things gets CRANKY when you change stuff around).  If I wasn't so flawed, he might say the words that I've always wanted him to say.  If I wasn't so flawed, I might be loved.

I know.  I'm messed up.

So I stopped.  I asked myself what was REAL and what was some of the same crap that I've been believing for years.  AND I asked myself to behave in a way that was healthy.

That's when I realized that I was exhausted.  I haven't been sleeping well and I have some health issues that are concerning to me.  I decided to sleep on it.

This morning, I emailed him.  I explained that spending that much money on a hotel is just not an option right now.  I explained what I was willing to pay for and three viable options.  I asked him to choose the option he felt most comfortable with.  And (as my mom would say) SO HELP ME HANNAH* if he complains one bit, I'll remind him that HE chose whatever option he chose.

The truth is, he does love me - he must, right?  Or else he wouldn't travel to come see us.  The truth is, I am lovable.  Sure, I'm flawed, but I am doing the best I can.  I'm a loving daughter, a loving person.  And he may never change - no matter what movie he sees.  So I need to stand up for myself, to be a healthy advocate.

I feel better after having hit the "send" button.

Two things I'll be telling myself all day:
1) I will NOT eat my emotions regarding this.  Even if he responds in a crappy way.  My desire to be healthy is valid. What I wrote was fair.  Actually, it was more than fair.
2) I will go for a run at lunch.  The temperature is in the low 70s today.  Getting out, smelling fresh air, and feeling sunshine always grounds me.  I can't wait around for my dad to treat me with love and respect.  I've got to treat myself with love and respect first and foremost.  And taking time away from my desk, doing something that makes me feel better, is a fabulous way to accomplish that.

*Seriously, who is Hannah anyway?


Janell said...

This is one of the best you've written, dearest.

He's a big boy. He can decide what to do and pay for it.

Gina said...

I have a crappy dad too; they're all around. I think almost anyone that wants to come visit YOU should pay their own way. It was nice that you wanted to accomodate him, but it's his choice to come & especially if he's better off financially than you he should foot that part of the bill (airline, hotel, etc.). If you treat him to dinner or something he would be so lucky. You're LETTING him come see the awesomeness that you are & that he's missed for so long. How come we as children get screwed over by our parents our whole lives & then continue to forgive & try & make it easier on them? Why don't we put conditions on the love we freely give? Obviousely some of my own emotions easily flood back...good for you for analyzing the truth & making some choices for how you're going to emotionally cope in ways other than food. Rock on sister!

Jams said...

I agree with Janell. I think it's odd that your dad would expect you to foot the bill for him coming to visit you. I don't feel like that's your responsibility. It's not my place to say though.

That being said, I hope it all works out and I really hope you enjoy your run. You deserve to enjoy the run. And you don't need to eat your emotions now that you've expressed them! :)

Lesia said...

I agree with Gina!

Rebecka said...

Why are you paying for his accommodations? Isn't he the one who wants the visit so that he can feel better about himself?
It's still all about him.

There's nothing wrong with you. You are lovable and worthy of love from others and from yourself.
Don't dive headfirst into his big pile of messed up.

Okay... now I have to go and give my dad a hug. So many of my friends had such terrible fathers. My dad is the one all my friends claimed as their own. I'm very fortunate.

Just Me said...

I'm glad you posted this...blog it out. Yes, you are lovable and loving and don't you forget it. His issues are not your issues.

I think you were quite reasonable with him and I don't see why he cannot change his plans, after all he is retired. And making you pay for it, especially when there's not a lot of $$$ to throw around (who has that), is very selfish. As they say, you can't change a person, just your reaction to them. I commend you for planning healthy ways to deal with your stress. Outstanding accomplishment!

Katy said...

I agree with so much of what was already said. He's a man, he can pay for himself. Who visits someone and expects them to pay for it? Crazy! You're beautiful and strong and healthy. Set those boundries girl! Yes, who is hannah? lol

balancingval said...

I'm so sorry to hear this girl.

I'm really not sure why YOU have to pay for anything though? It just doesn't seem right.

I'm glad you decided not to eat your emotions. Instead, you should sit down in silence and actually just let yourself feel that pain. Cry, scream, be sad . . Do what you gotta do and after a short while you will realize how strong you are and you will feel SO much better.

Karen said...


Lily Fluffbottom said...

Not understanding my father was basically the hardest hurdle him and I ever faced. I could never understand why he wasn't there, and I could never make him understand that all I wanted was for him to be around.

And then he died suddenly, and all of that was never resolved.

You can't make him show that he loves you. But you can let him know that you love him.

I'm so tired.

totallytheturtle said...

Thank you so much for posting this. And yes, Daddy issues are all around. I finally came to the point where I realized I had to stop expecting so much from him, and take what he was willing to give. Which is not always what I need or hope for.
Just remember that you are lovable and worth so much more than that. His attitude is not any reflection of your worth.

Mandy said...

OMG! I knew I had a sister! I swear my dad is the same way! Have I said OMG! Yeah, I don't have enough space to tell you the similarities. This trip is obviously about him and not you, so whatever you do will not be what he wants, or what he accepts as the correct choice. My diagnosis of him is that he has Asperger's syndrome.

christina said...

Oh my - I couldnt imagine the baggage the is between the two of you. I dont think I would be nearly as willing to let him into my life.

And I also dont think you should be responsible for his hotel room - he is a grown man. He can afford it when you cant and it his his trip, not yours.

I hope everything works out. Fingers crossed you come out of this ok emotionally.

Abbie said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I have dad issues too (Dad got re-married, his real kids got replaced w/stepkids, now that we're older, he wants back in our life).

I have to remind myself too that I will not allow him to distract me from my healthy eating/exercising/just plain living.

He hasn't had that power over me for a long time.

Be strong, girl. We're pulling for you.

Lanie Painie said...

Dammit, Mandy! She always takes my words of wisdom. I'd bet my life savings ($134.56) that your dad is an Aspie. My husband is and although he's really trying very hard to be an involved and "connected" daddy, I worry that our little girl is going through the same things you did, although to a lesser extent.

One of the many reasons that I must outlive him - um, I mean, improve my health and live a long happy life.

Leah said...

Hugs. And I agree whole heatedly with Janell. "He's a big boy. He can decide what to do and pay for it"

Margie M. said...

Blogging your emotions rather than eating your emotions is always helpful. YOU ARE LOVEABLE. You are worth everything in this world that other people are worth.

There is no reason for you to pay for anything, IMHO. He decided to come visit you in the first place. He should pay for whatever makes him comfortable. 5 star hotel: He pays Motel 6: He pays. Don't let the guilts get to you.

I think Hannah is a friend of Katie. You probably haven't heard of: "Katie, bar the door". I have.

Margie M. writes at:

TinaM said...

I agree with what everyone else already said. Including: He is the one that wanted to visit and can pay for his own hotel.

Maybe you should see the movie? Maybe that will help you understand exactly what he is doing and what he thinks is sad... I haven't seen it either, but I'm interested now!

I'm just glad you know it's not YOU, obviously these are his issues and not yours. I guess I'm lucky, because I can honestly say that I have accepted how my Dad is, and I know he won't change. I don't need his approval...
and you don't need your Dads either. All you need is yours!

I hope he responds in a good way, but if not? Please don't worry about it, you did your best and that's all you can do! If it's not good enough, that's HIS problem.

julie said...

Hmm, I think you did the right thing. My dad is cold and says painful things, however, he tried to do much better than his dad, who wanted nothing to do with his kids, other than force religion on them. You don't owe your dad a hotel room, he's not living in poverty, and he's being a brat.

Lala said...

I think Janell summed it up perfectly. I'm not sure why he would expect you to pay for him, but I think what you offered is perfectly reasonable. My parents are relatively well off, and they do the same stuff. My brother and I have had to fend for ourselves since we were teenagers while my parents traveled all over Europe. My brother even had to eat at the soup kitchen while between jobs. The only way I can make sense of it (and this may be true of your dad, too) is that they actually believe they are poor. They are constantly fearful about money, even though they have everything they could possibly want. I realize that even though it's totally illogical, they believe they are poor and they have to get what they can out of other people. Your dad sounds a bit similar. But, I think you handled it beautifully. You did a great job of delineating boundaries and giving him some very reasonable options.

Lala said...

Also, I love what "Just me" said... blog it out, baby!!!