Missing my Father

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practical

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Missing my Father
« on: July 06, 2018, 01:13:52 PM »
I dont know why, the last couple of days I have been missing my father. Not the father I usually write about here, the one with bottomless needs, equal bottomless negativity, but the one I sometimes connected to, with whom I had brief moments of a relationship at times.

Yesterday I was trying to create some space on a bookshelf, and decided to throw away some really old novels from my grandparents that F had passed on to me. As I went through the books I came across a book that F was given by his father when he was 10 with a short inscription To my dear Ian, on this special occassion, love Dad.

These few words seemed to have such warmth of a father for his 10 year old son in them - and it seemed GF had chosen a perfect book for his son - they made my longing even worse. And then I realized the father Im missing is not the adult, it is this 10 year old.

F can have the most wonderful and sometimes mischievious boyish smile that spreads over his whole face and makes his eyes sparkle. He can present you with a gift he got from the garden like a huge bowl of freshly picked strawberries or something he made for you with his hands. In these moments he was like a boy coming in from the fields, or presenting you with what he had done in a day of doing craft projects. And like a child, he was proud, wanting to make you happy and also waiting for recognition, for being loved.

Those were times when his anxieties fell away, when he felt safe, his need to control everything took a backseat and this usually happened in two places: the garden of his childhood he had inherited and in his workroom (rarely in the latter). The garden was where he relived some of his own childhood I think, where we would eat things the same way his M had made them, felt a connection to her and the time they had spent there together, visited aunts of his, and he became a boy again. The workroom possibly connects him back to projects he did with his father, who died early. (A key in this was that my M/his wife wasnt around, she didnt share these interests of his.)

But those were not places devoid of his OCPD, because his adult self would assert itself at times, they were places you could see glimpses of F as a boy.

The irony is that this 10 year old that I miss at this moment and love, is also the cause of the non-relationship I have with F. There is no true adult F - assuming you dont think holding a job, paying bills, having kids and sending them to school makes you an adult . There is an overwhelmed 10 year old in an adult body, which leaves me with an emotionally immature F, who is not equipped to deal with real life or be a real father and takes it out on those surrounding him. Even the relationship I have had with this 10 year old boy is sideways. When I was little he seemed to be a father to me, not sure he was as in important things he was AWOL, it might have been more the connection of an older boy sharing his enjoyment with me the little girl, and then as I got older I slipped into the role of the mother, becoming parentified, as the boy F was unable to be a true parent to me.

And those are the feelings I have now when I really look at them, a daughter missing a father she never had, a child missing a childhood friend and also a mother missing her child and wanting to protect him from harm, wishing he could find this place again where he had moments of happiness, of being free of the anxieties that haunt him, run his life.

An important point is also that the relationship is only on his ground. It is where he has an emotional connection to his childhood, feels semi-safe, and I formed one with him in these areas because it was the only opening I had to him. It is about him not me when you look closely, which is further borne out by me having to follow the rules of his world, by him not teaching me as a father would have taught a child the things he cherishes. I entered his world, the world of a 10 year old, for brief moments that is or was our connection. - I think he has the lost the connection to the part of the 10 year old who could experience joy himself, however limited it was, and all that is left is the needy, overwhelmed, temper tantruming 10 year old.

Where does that leave me? Knowing I cannot fix this, that it isnt my job to fix it and in the end sad, lonely, melancholic, with a void I have to live with.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Malini

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 02:36:22 PM »
Oh Practical, how heartbreaking.

It's normal to miss our parents, because in spite of everything we did have a connection with them and the memories are there. My enND is the one who'd buy and write my Bday and Xmas cards. He showed me how to change a tyre, check engine oil. He chose and bought me my first drill, without rolling his eyes, like NM when I asked for it for my bday. I loved doing the crossword puzzle with him, everytime I see a pomegranate I remember picking the seeds with a pin with him.

It's also normal to miss the parents we never had, miss the ones we hoped for and finally miss the ones we believed would finally reveal themselves in our PD parents.

My tagline includes the quote 'realise that you can miss something without ever wanting it back'.
It really helped me understand that it isn't contradictory to miss them once you've gone NC. The reasons for NC are absolutely valid and random good memories are sadly not enough to even dream of reconnecting.

Sending you hugs of comfort and strength.
"How do you do it?" said night
"How do you wake and shine?"
"I keep it simple." said light
"One day at a time" - Lemn Sissay

'I think it's important to realise that you can miss something, but not want it back' Paul Coelho

'We accept the love we think we deserve' Stephen Chbosky

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Adria

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2018, 03:35:35 PM »
Wow Practical,

You wrote so beautifully how I"m sure many of us feel here on the forum about our parents and missing what could have been. It is especially haunting to think of them as a child who once might have been carefree for a moment. I always wonder what happened. What could have gone so terribly wrong? It is so sad.

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Amadahy

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2018, 05:24:40 PM »
I am so, so sorry. I remember first learning the word "melancholy" as a child and thinking -- "that's me!" -- the wistful longing for what could have been and the deep sorrow for what is.

My Nmother used to let me lay my head on her lap and she'd stroke my long hair when I was a child. That was the only closeness she could stand and it was the only physical warmth I ever received. I miss it.  She herself had been horribly abused by a Nmom and probably never got any good, affirming touch. I cherish and appreciate that she was able to give just a bit.

I'm sitting with you, trying to find consolation and peace.  :hug:
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 05:29:38 PM by Amadahy »
Ring the bells that still can ring;
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That's how the Light gets in!

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all4peace

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2018, 07:32:54 PM »
What a poignant post. It hits me at just the right (wrong) time. I've been thinking about what it would be like if my inner child could meet up at the inner children of our Pds. It sounds to me that that is kind of what you're describing here.

 I've been thinking about what it would be like if my inner child could meet up with the inner children of our wounded Pds. It sounds  to me that that is kind of what you're describing here.

There were things I loved doing with my fil, dad and mom. They could be good teachers and fun companions. Sometimes the longing will hit like a knife to my heart and bring tears to my eyes. Can hobby time make up for scapegoating and disrespecting/shunning my husband in his own family? Can enjoyable past times make it ok for the scars my parents left in the past and continue to inflict in the present? For the poor model all were showing to my children of how family interacted?

I grieve for them too. I love my FOC. I think we're an awesome group of people and it makes me sad for our parents that they no longer have our joy, warmth and light in their lives.

We've tried so hard to find middle ground but neither side will allow it so we're left to grieve. 

I don't have answers. I just know sometimes I sink into a couple days of grief and crying before the world starts to show its beauty and colors again.
 
Hugs to you, my friend. You tried so hard and I wish he'd been able to do better, consistently. :hugs:
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 07:35:12 PM by all4peace »

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practical

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2018, 08:46:05 PM »
Thank you! You are reassuring me and making me feel a lot less lonely. Even when I used to talk to F I would get these spells of melancholy, of wishful thinking, and then F would shake me rudely out of them with a comment or something he did. It worked like clockwork - sadly enough.

I used to write a lot of letters to F, trying to let him take part in my life, but it was only parts of my life I shared. Those parts describing things that would cheer him up, he could easily relate to like telling him about the animals and plants in our garden, some work around the house I had done, sending him lots of pictures. In a way I did what you do when writing to a child, where you restrict yourself to the child's horizon. So these were letters to the 10 year old boy. The other parts of the letters had to do with trying to help him, trying to fix his life, to rescue him, so in a way again these were to the 10 year old boy who couldn't deal, even if these parts were addressing adult problems like M's bipolar, their divorce etc.

There are moments where he was there for me as a father, usually very practical requests for help, and he would come through then, like rescuing me from an invasion of flour moth I found in my apartment after a vacation and who had nested in my books and book shelves (ugh!), patiently cleaning each and every one with me for three days. Packing before I moved away, and in such perfect fashion that everything arrived in one piece (there is a downside to this: insisting even the last packaging peanut be  hoovered away and the apartment be spotless before going to bed at 1 am and despite more packing the next day). Even trying to cheer me up after a very bad break up by going for day trips with me to distract me. I'm grateful to have those moments, none of them negate the abuse or him being AWOL more often than not. - Interestingly, in none of those moments of connection is M present.

I have to look at the whole picture, at the whole of him. For me this is somehow connected to how we here on the board struggle with wanting to be seen as whole people and not just functions, how I would like to be seen by him as Practical and not as an accumulation of dutiful daughter, therapist, replacement wife. When I do that, then there are the parts where we made connections, where he could be sweet, even funny, where I miss him, sadly there is a lot of other stuff too, the stuff I have written about here trying to come to grips with it, and no, the good parts are not worth even exposing myself to the risk of abuse. That whole picture also includes that he sees nothing wrong with his treatment of me or others, rather feels he has a cause and right to do so, and because of that there is no middle ground to be found.

Thanks for helping me. Realizing it is melancholy, defining what I'm missing versus what the reality would be like assures that I won't do something rash like call him or write to him, exposing myself to more abuse. There also is a solid FOG hanging around in my brain, me arguing with the FOG, then me arguing, pleading with F - it had been so wonderfully, peacefully quiet the last few weeks - I'll get back to it again. Being able to name what is going on, having your support, knowing you have are going through similar phases helps me.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 09:14:59 PM by practical »
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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illogical

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2018, 09:41:19 AM »
Before I went NC with NM I threw away all photos of her.  There was one in particular I remember.  She was about nine or ten years old-- it was a school photo, and her eyes were bright and shining.  I remember thinking how sad it was that somewhere between childhood and adulthood, she lost her way.  The light went out of her eyes and they frequently reflected a blank stare.

Unlike you, I have no "fond" memories of my mother.  Only brief periods of giddiness that might have been happiness-- very short lived and replaced by the morose and morbid thoughts that revealed themselves in bad behavior.   And the reality was that her disorder ran through her and was an integral part of her personality.  It could not be separated and it defined her.   As I sorted through the photos, I thought of what might have been.  But any romantic notions that she was somehow not accountable for her choices and "if only" I had done this or that I could have saved her quickly vanished, replaced by the stark truth that she was mentally ill.  And the 3 C's--  I didn't cause it, I can't cure it and I can't control it.

Going through NC really is like grieving the dead.  It's hard to emotionally detach, especially if you are a very emotional person.  I think it's okay to be sad-- and very necessary to be compassionate.  But in my case, I had to hold the wheel steady and steer myself out of the stormy waters and into a calm sea, not get caught up in a fantasy that I could make my mother whole again.  I really did have to focus on me and my life.

My two cents--- I think it's important that you are seeing your father as a person, not some two-dimensional cutout character.   And the sad feelings of what could have been are a natural part of the grieving process.  :hug:
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 09:42:55 AM by illogical »
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carrots

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2018, 07:08:02 PM »
Wow Practical,

You wrote so beautifully how I"m sure many of us feel here on the forum about our parents and missing what could have been. It is especially haunting to think of them as a child who once might have been carefree for a moment.   It is so sad.

 :yeahthat:

Sending comfort to you practical.

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MyLifeToo

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2018, 11:10:36 AM »
Oh Practical, it took me such a long time to read this, through the blur of my tears. It's truly beautiful and I can identify.

Thank you everyone for the wisdom of your replies. It had made me realise that melancholy is what I'm feeling today. I think I've needed the release of these tears as I find it hard to cry these days.

With love and peace to you all,
ML2


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Bloomie

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2018, 12:14:42 PM »
Quote from: practical
I have to look at the whole picture, at the whole of him. For me this is somehow connected to how we here on the board struggle with wanting to be seen as whole people and not just functions, how I would like to be seen by him as Practical and not as an accumulation of dutiful daughter, therapist, replacement wife. When I do that, then there are the parts where we made connections, where he could be sweet, even funny, where I miss him, sadly there is a lot of other stuff too, the stuff I have written about here trying to come to grips with it, and no, the good parts are not worth even exposing myself to the risk of abuse. That whole picture also includes that he sees nothing wrong with his treatment of me or others, rather feels he has a cause and right to do so, and because of that there is no middle ground to be found.

This is a beautiful way to grieve with generosity and grace practical. To see your father in the totality of who he is to you - all the moving parts - allows you to release and cope in a way that opens up those deep pockets of pain to the sunlight of understanding and compassion.

This is also a beautiful way to live. As I have been able to find a place of compassionate processing and grieving, having lost both my uPD parents several years ago both at a youngish age - the ultimate NC, I have slowly been able to show more compassion toward myself as well because it is reasonable to hope that those I love will see me in the totality of all that I am when all is said and done.

Maybe it is a kind of the essence or the sacred soul of our parents that we can see only in glimpses due to the veil of PD that draws us to a place of understanding and in seeing that we long for them? I know I still miss my parents and I know that I loved them well.

Linking arms with you sweet practical. :hug:
Bloomie 🌸

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practical

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2018, 09:21:45 PM »
Unlike you, I have no "fond" memories of my mother.  Only brief periods of giddiness that might have been happiness-- very short lived and replaced by the morose and morbid thoughts that revealed themselves in bad behavior.   And the reality was that her disorder ran through her and was an integral part of her personality.  It could not be separated and it defined her.   As I sorted through the photos, I thought of what might have been.  But any romantic notions that she was somehow not accountable for her choices and "if only" I had done this or that I could have saved her quickly vanished, replaced by the stark truth that she was mentally ill.  And the 3 C's--  I didn't cause it, I can't cure it and I can't control it.
This is what I realized a long time ago, even the better memories have a dark current running through them. F would do craft projects with us, and this sounds to any outsider wonderful and like I come from a loving family, only those crafts were expected to be perfect, we kids were expected to be as perfect as F, and there was no leeway for experimenting. His N/OCPD was always there, sometimes it was more in the background or we made connections despite of it.

Going through NC really is like grieving the dead.  It's hard to emotionally detach, especially if you are a very emotional person.  I think it's okay to be sad-- and very necessary to be compassionate.  But in my case, I had to hold the wheel steady and steer myself out of the stormy waters and into a calm sea, not get caught up in a fantasy that I could make my mother whole again.  I really did have to focus on me and my life.

My two cents--- I think it's important that you are seeing your father as a person, not some two-dimensional cutout character.   And the sad feelings of what could have been are a natural part of the grieving process.  :hug:
I have gone so many rounds with F, somehow him breaking off contact makes this feel like a death. So much so that at a doctors appointment I nearly checked "deceased" on the questionnaire when it asked "Parents alive or deceased?". And because I have gone so many rounds, have covered the ground of what caused this and the What-If's so many times, there is little to none of it left. There is just sadness and emptiness, and a sense of calm.

Maybe it is a kind of the essence or the sacred soul of our parents that we can see only in glimpses due to the veil of PD that draws us to a place of understanding and in seeing that we long for them? I know I still miss my parents and I know that I loved them well.
I like this thought. A friend suggested that now that I don't have to protect myself from F anymore I might feel safe enough to look more at the other sides of him, that they are not as much in the shadow of his PD. I won't rewrite history and turn him into an amazing father or start using euphemisms like "He was a complex character", but I'll also try to see the gray shades, or remember moments when he almost managed to step outside of his illness for a short period of time.

It is a process and I try to take it one day at a time.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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lightworld

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Re: Missing my Father
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2018, 06:56:33 AM »

Maybe it is a kind of the essence or the sacred soul of our parents that we can see only in glimpses due to the veil of PD that draws us to a place of understanding and in seeing that we long for them? I know I still miss my parents and I know that I loved them well.
I like this thought. A friend suggested that now that I don't have to protect myself from F anymore I might feel safe enough to look more at the other sides of him, that they are not as much in the shadow of his PD. I won't rewrite history and turn him into an amazing father or start using euphemisms like "He was a complex character", but I'll also try to see the gray shades, or remember moments when he almost managed to step outside of his illness for a short period of time.

It is a process and I try to take it one day at a time.

This is a truly compassionate way of looking at your relationship with your F practical. You remain realistic about the abuse but you can see further into the sadness and tragedy of it all.  I have been through something similar of late, understanding that my parents will never know the authentic me and will never share a life with me despite bringing me into this world.  There is no connection, it's so desperately sad.
"Hope springs eternal..."Alexander Pope