I’d like to make this next post about the ‘issues’ I have concerning my relationship with my father. It’s something that’s been on my mind recently and I cannot honestly remember a time where I have felt ‘comfortable’ in his presence. This is something I was intending to discuss recently with my counsellor but, we somehow bypassed it for now. I must admit that I’m quite afraid of talking about it. Nothing I’ve discussed in counselling so far (I started going just over one month ago) has come close to upsetting me and I fear as though there is something about this issue that is really going to hurt. I just don’t know what it is or why!
I’ve never had much of a ‘close’ relationship with my dad, even before my parents got divorced when I was eighteen. He was always too busy with his work and other things; mum was always the one I could rely on (though, I’ve never really felt comfortable ‘talking’ to either of my parents or, any family member, for that matter). These days, I feel ever more uncomfortable within his presence. I feel suppressed, as if my head is down and my shoulders are being forced together. My mood drops suddenly; I’m low. I suppress all emotion towards him, even suggestions of laughter. I know who he is but I feel no love for this man.
My counsellor asked me to think about ‘where it all went wrong’ with my father. I’ve talked about his emotional absence during my childhood and my mum has more recently told me of the of the terrible things he did from the day I was born and, throughout many of my earliest years. From the childhood photos I shared one week, we do look quite close. Or, at least, I don’t appeared to be as bothered by his presence as I am now, in my late-twenties.
Trying to focus on the positives first; I can remember that we would often go for bike rides together in the evenings (though, I now wonder whether this had more to do with the loss of driving license, after a drink-driving offence – this ‘quality time’ didn’t last forever). I can remember waking up one morning (I think it was even a school day?) to find a brand-new toy that I had wanted (still in its Toys’R’Us bag), sitting in the chair beside my bed (do you remember Fabuland? Did you ever find Billy Bear?!?). I mentioned in my first post that I didn’t look after my train set particularly well. I know I needed a new Gordon at least once, maybe even a second time and, I do know that dad spent £50 on getting me a new one. Tracking it down wasn’t easy though, as he couldn’t find one in any store in Bristol! He ended up buying one in London although, I suspect he tied that journey in with work or some other arrangement.
So, there are signs that he does care and, even to this day, I don’t doubt that.
Since my teenage years, I’ve found him to be far too controlling and seriously over-protective at times. I’m certain he has his own issues surrounding some form of anxiety (he became very needy and, quite frankly, ‘creepy’ around the time of the divorce, when he was also on anti-depressants). I’m finding it difficult to focus right now on examples of this as a lot of thoughts are running through my mind as I write this but, I know that my sister feels the same way.
I’m twenty-seven and yet, when we speak, he still refers to my mother as “mummy“; he worries and agonises over my sister’s every action (she’s only two-years younger than me) and only seems able to focus on the worst-case-scenario when something new comes to his attention.
Mum has recently revealed to me how he pretty much killed off her social life, while my sister and I were both young. If he wanted to go out, no-one could stop him. But, mum wasn’t allowed out even to a social event with her work colleagues, unless he could attend. Otherwise, he’d threaten to leave her! She always had stay in and look after us; that was never his responsibility. There’s being ‘old-fashioned’ and then, there’s being a paranoid control-freak! That sort of behaviour could be the result of a former drug addict (apparently, he was ‘involved’ with at least one substance during my early years).
Just after Christmas last year, I joined a couple of internet dating websites. In January, I met someone living a one-hour’s drive away. As soon as he found out, he wasn’t happy; trying to give me talks about women; questioning me (through my sister); “why does he have to stick to one girl?“… That, sadly, didn’t last too long but I’ve met two others since. One he never knew about and, another more recently, who I’ve fallen quite deeply in love with. We don’t see each other often and, after three-months, we’re still only friends for now (I’ll go in to this in a separate post) but, again, he isn’t satisfied but she (like the girl I met in January) also suffers from a mental illness (bipolar disorder).
I’m still finding it hard to focus and explain things fully but, can you get an idea of why I shut him out and keep him at a distance? Why I do not talk to him about personal and emotional things?
Somewhere down the line, I’m sure that his actions (or, maybe even, lack of) have caused some serious damage; possibly the kind that doesn’t always manifest itself until after puberty (like many forms of anxiety).
I have memories of being dragged around a swimming pool in Cornwall (he enjoyed it, as I took in a full mouthful of communal water!); another of being held underwater for a few seconds (another laugh…) and, on both occasions where we went abroad to Cyprus and, like my mum and sister, I just wanted to relax and sat by the pool; he would drag us off around the island, visiting his friends. We were stronger and more persistent in a following visit to Tenerife, which my mum has always referred to as the moment when she knew that her “marriage was over“.
If those memories don’t sound too bad then, you may not like to hear that I was smacked as a child. Never punched, beaten-up or thrown around; to me, it always seemed like discipline for having done something wrong.
I’m now aware that psychological studies now show that any form of physical discipline is bad. In some cases, it’s even punishable, as the effects it can have on such a young mind can be quite devastating. Trouble is, I can’t remember exactly why I was smacked; what did I do wrong?
Well, I do recall one occasion where I threw a stick at my sister and it left a brown mark, just to the left of her right-eye. Aside from that, I can only think of times where I would do something knowing what was to follow… Reading that sentence back, it sounds quite alarming! What did I do or say, I wonder?
I’m aiming to bring all of this up in a counselling session fairly soon (my next is on Friday). I am afraid of what I will eventually find and I’m also afraid that I’ll be encouraged toward talking to my dad and confronting him about all of this… Truth is, as I feel right now; I do not want a relationship with him. He’s useful to have around sometimes but, I don’t ‘need’ him, that’s for sure. I’ve become a stronger person than I used to be but feel weak again when he is near.
I’ve written this in the hope that it will help me to prepare for that session. Hopefully, other thoughts will come to my mind in time as well. I wonder whether a form of hypnotherapy could be required?
Thank you for reading.