As part of my personal work, I am called to amend
relationships in my life that are in need of clarity and repair.
As part of that work, I broke down my list of these people
into three categories: People I fall out of touch with; Men I intrigue with;
and My dad.
I’ve begun the work on those I’ve fallen out of touch with –
it’s usually out of a habitual belief that I’m not good enough to show up for
relationships and I self-prophesize that by allowing relationships that I value
fall away. These are relatively easy to repair, and by doing so, I get to
challenge these false and long-held beliefs by being consistent, responsible, and focused on the truth.
Amending my relationships with the second set of humans is
more … well, I was going to say more difficult, but it’s not more “difficult,”
it’s just harder because I have more invested in those. If you don’t know what
intriguing is, it’s those little flirtations, vaguely flirtatious texts or
conversations, or over-active “likings” of someone else’s Facebook page in a “winking” kinda way. It’s, for
me, engaging in flirtatious behavior with people I don’t want to go any further
with, and sometimes with people I have no interest in, but who I know I can reach out
to when my self-esteem meter is low for a little infusion of “See, I have value:
he wants me,” and a little hit of adrenaline from the oblique exchange.
This is a very old habit. And it’s excruciatingly unfair to
both the men and to myself, especially any of those who think there’s still a
shot. It’s unfair to me, because I continue to feed the delusion that my
self-esteem comes from others, and to crowd the field of actual potential
partners with distractions – albeit often very handsome, talented and
Since the time that I wrote down the half dozen or so names
of those with whom I was actively engaging in this behavior, about half have
simply fallen away through circumstance and lack of my engaging. They’re
intrigues, not relationships usually, so they don’t require some big
conversation like, “Hey, I’m trying to be more clear in my relationships, and I
just want to say that I really appreciate you as a friend, and that I see us just being friends in the future.”
The funny thing about saying this is that, when I’ve given that speech in the past, usually the response is, “Yeah, totally! I don’t even know what
you’re talking about.” Which is fine. I
love you and your egos, and I will help preserve them too; I’m not here to bust
your balls. I’m just here to offer us both some clarity and let us both off the
carousel of “Will we/Won’t we” so that we can get on with our lives.
But. For some of the people on my current list, that
conversation is necessary, and in a truncated, “light” version, I
had that talk with one of these men recently. And the backlash from it was … well,
people don’t like when you change the rules in the middle of the game. And I’m
having to show up for the fall-out of that, even though I just want to avoid
it. I participated in the game, I should participate in the dénouement.—Oh, but
how much easier to Cut & Run!! Oh, old M.O., how I love you! … and miss you.
Because I don’t really do or want to do that anymore. See:
first subset of humans: retracting from relationships because I don’t believe I
can show up.
It’s the same underlying belief in this second category.
More will be revealed, and I have some writing to do and a conversation to have
with some for whom I’ve changed the rules. It’s not comfortable, but neither
is predicating a relationship on false hope.
The final category, I see now, has its foundation in the
self-same belief that I can’t show up for relationships. In this case, with my
dad, I’m being asked to be honest with him in a way that frightens the shit out
I would LOVE to lie,
avoid, detach, retreat, and retract. But each and every day since the
invitation to his wedding came in over the phone, I’ve been called to take a
different course. Because, I have been using the above mechanisms for how to
manage this relationship. I’ve been
detached and retracted, and avoidant. And, much like with the men, I’ve created a
game that I don’t want to play. One in which my dad thinks I want or can have a
relationship with him.
This morning, I will get an ultrasound of my liver to confirm or disconfirm cirrhosis. About
two months ago, my liver enzymes came up elevated, and although I simply think
it’s my body’s reparation from 6 months of chemo a bit more than a year ago, I
am also very aware that in Chinese medicine, the liver is the seat of anger.
And two months ago, I was very angry. For a long time. And this dad stuff only
serves to aggravate it.
I was at my therapist’s last Wednesday, and I told her that
I would really love to be able to forgive him, but I am not able to do that.
I’m terrified that my lack of forgiveness for him is perpetuating the problems
in my life, and creating holes in the foundation of my life and relationships
and happiness — and my health.
I told her, it’s astonishing to me that I can have
forgiveness for my rapists, but not have any for him. Compassion, I have in
crateloads. I know how this person came to be, and it’s a sad state of affairs.
But, no matter what modes of self repair I try, I can’t find my way to
forgiving him, and I feel that I need to
in order to move on with my life.
She said something critically important: You can’t
If I’m not there, then I’m not there.
“But what about that he’s getting older, and what if he dies
and this is unresolved?”
You can’t manufacture forgiveness.
I can’t bully or force myself into a feeling that I don’t
have. She said that I have some word she couldn’t place that indicates deep disappointment. And betrayal. And this is true.
And I would love to “get over it.” But I’m not there yet,
and beating myself up for not being at a place where I’m not doesn’t help me
get there quicker.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll get to this place this
lifetime. The very last time I was vulnerable to him and depended on him, he
used it as a later opportunity to shame me for not being the daughter he wants. This
is a Catch-22 relationship.
But. It’s not.
The catch is that I have to be willing to show up with my
truth, which, like my friends and like those men, is that I don’t like who I’m
being in this relationship, and it’s harming me. I don’t like to show up in a
falsetto range “happy” conversation with him, when that’s not at all true for
me, and so I avoid the conversations. But, he’s pressing now, and there’s a
The truth will out, as Shakespeare wrote. The work on my part
will be to get ready to deliver it. To get ready by remembering I’m acting in
an esteemable way by showing up for my part of the relationship. I’m also
working on steadying myself for the fallout, of which I anticipate there will
Again, people don’t like when you change the rules in the
middle of the game.
But this was a game I started playing when I was a child.
The rules have changed. It’s time for me
to let the other players know.
To let them know I’ve stopped playing.