Sunday, June 20, 2010

father's day ruminations

For the first time in 49 years, I am not sending a father's day card, gift or making a father's day phone call, because my father died this past October. And my primary emotion is relief.

My feelings about my father have been very ambivalent for three decades, a complex push and pull of positive and negative emotions. Before that, from about age 8 to age 23 they weren't ambivalent at all: I hated my father, hated him with a passion that terrified me when I was a teenager, hated him with a passion that pushed me as far away from home for college (again for graduate school) as I could reasonably get. And before that, before the age of 8, I remember adoring my father.

What happened -- that is the huge mystery at the center of my life. How did I go from adoration to repulsion and hatred? I genuinely do not know. I have suspicions and circumstantial evidence, but no concrete memories that provide incontrovertible answers.

What I do know is that my father was a truly brilliant and talented man who suffered frustrations and obstacles in his education and work life, always having to work for other people who were less intelligent and knowledgeable, and as a consequence was bitter and extremely controlling in his family life.

2 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

The looking back, the circumstantial evidence--I know the experience, though not in the context of my dad, who is sound and solid as a rock. I know the feeling though and in facing it I face the damage done. It takes so much courage even to look.

Sue said...

Thanks, Sandy, that is actually very helpful. As result of facing things enough to write this short piece, I had a very helpful conversation with an old friend who is a physician and the father of two lovely grown daughters; he helped me see that I didn't have to wait to have incontrovertable proof of abuse to seek help -- that the things I can remember were clearly out of line and more important clearly disturbing to me, and that was all that was necessary.

By the way, I love your avatar photo -- like the short breezy hair cut!