I went through the emails exchanged between my father and me back in 2012 and 2013. I think I know why I forget certain things now. It was difficult to read what I wrote as well as some of the things he wrote. But more disturbing is what’s between the lines really.
Some emails were about getting his furniture and other belongings out of his apartment because he was moving in with a woman and wouldn’t have room for the stuff where he was going. We kept going back and forth about working out a time to do it. Our schedules conflicted. In fact I noticed some contradiction in a couple of his emails as well.
He kept saying he’d arrange to be there when I could get there. He’d even bring his girlfriend down to the apartment if necessary. But later insisted on the fact of being up there on the weekends and couldn’t meet me on any weekends.
But yet he was anxious to get the place cleaned out because he had a dead line and wasn’t renewing his lease. It disturbs me to not have seen this before. He wanted what he wanted but didn’t want to compromise.
I remember one weeknight going there to pick up some books and he mentioned a couple of things each sibling would be taking. When he saw the look of disappointment on my face, he offered something to me, as if it was a consolation prize. In fact the chair he pointed to was broken.
In later emails I could read how distressed and almost competitive I became. Greedy even. And I wanted to avoid conflict with my siblings that I thought for sure would ensue.
As I read I felt sick.
Reading between the lines, it wasn’t about the furniture or any of the stuff.
In the mix of the emails there was one from me to him pouring my heart out about how I felt. About the role in the family I played and how I could see it. How hurt I was that everyone was in denial and that the disbursement of these things should be discussed among ourselves with everyone there.
I had felt like it had been turned into a competition. And whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t know. (I didn’t say that part.)
I’ve thought more about it at different times and I wonder if my siblings felt ripped off because I got dibs at certain things when we were younger because I was the oldest.
He dismissed a lot of what I said in that email and professed his love. The important stuff went unacknowledged again.
I didn’t want furniture. What I wanted was for him to hear me. For him to understand me and for him to talk to me. I also wanted my siblings to take me into consideration as well. One thing that really bothered me was a queen size bed that my sister took for her ten year old son to have, when at the time, I was in desperate need of a bed. She hadn’t known that, but no one else was asked. It was just decided and I had no say.
I realized after I’d finished going through the emails that I spent my life, up until his last days trying to get him to hear me…to listen to me about what was wrong, toxic and dysfunctional. Not every single minute but there were times I remember now and can see how it was too hard for him to deal with.
I did the same with the rest of my family too. It was stressful and painful to be involved so closely with my family as my father was dying, knowing that anything I said meant nothing and wasn’t taken into consideration. My feelings were minimized, my sister took jabs at me, my father bitched about my siblings to me, my mother and sister triangulated against me.
I was their dumpster and punching bag.
I would come out of that situation with even deeper C-PTSD than I’d already been suffering from.
As I read those emails, it hurt to see that I was trying to force so much. Trying to force people into loving me. Into understanding. Into wanting to change and even heal our family and deal with the issues and face them so we could resolve them.
I’m sad that I didn’t just accept earlier that it’s not who they are or who they want to be, so that I didn’t waste so much time thinking that I could somehow get them to see, because even those in denial are aware somewhere, even deep inside, of the truth.