avoidance · compassion · connection · family · father · forgiveness · isolation · love · relationships · resentment · self-preservation

Well, Shoot.

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There has been all this heartache in me about wanting my
father to change. To be loving, available, vulnerable and open. I have wanted
this to happen for as long as I can remember, and I’ve held out a resentment
toward him for his inability to do this for that long, too.
I have tried many ways around and through this resentment:
loving kindness, acceptance, letters to god, letters to him I didn’t send,
letters to him I did. Individuation meditations, praying daily for his peace
and happiness, envisioning him as a child… But nothing has moved this boulder of a need.
And I finally realized what the need really is. It is not
that I need my father to change. At this point, it’s that I need him not to.
Because if he did, then I would have to look at being loving, available,
vulnerable and open to him. And this causes trouble, because this is not safe.
So, keeping my resentment toward him has been a circuitous
way to protect myself from my being
vulnerable to
him.
It’s all well and good to want someone to change – but when
faced with the actuality of their transformation, how do we deal with that?
I wish I could tell you that I have overblown the situation,
and he’s kinder than he appears, and being vulnerable to him could maybe, possibly, just-give-it-one-more-try, be a good idea.
But it’s not. Unfortunately, I have enough evidence to support this. Not ancient, you yelled I was a liar during a game of Clue when I was 5. Like,
recent, appallingly turning my vulnerability against me evidence.
So, here’s the thing. I can forgive all of that. I can be willing to forgive it all, anyway. But do I want to change my behavior? Not really.
I’ve spent all this time trying to find my way around the
rock of resentment to get toward connection, but when I look instead at what
the rock is doing for me, not to me, I get to see that maybe it’s been doing the
right thing all along. And this realization is
hard for a person like me.
I have fear that keeping myself separate from him will cause
bile in my soul and in my body, and corrode other relationships. I have fear that by not being vulnerable to
him, I’m going to call down some cosmic retribution and be serially alone. I have fear that I’m not “spiritual”
enough, or evolved enough or recovered enough, or else I’d be able to have him
in my life as a loving and caring adult, both ways ’round.
I have shame that I can’t allow this relationship to flourish.
That I refuse to be the asshole who riles on the ground before him and begs him
to love me. I have been doing that for as long as I can remember, too.
But the thing I always thought I wanted was for him to do
that too. To acknowledge his faults, to claim ownership of his behavior, and to
beg my forgiveness.
What I see now, is that if he actually did, I don’t want to give it – that
forgiveness is a door to love. And with him, love is a door to hurt.
The boulder has been there doing this job all along.
Until I learn a “healthier” way of screening those doors,
they’ll just have to remain shut. 

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