Okay, so I know I said I was gonna talk about my little epiphany on my last post, but something has come up that requires attention to it.
My schedule has been so full lately that I haven’t had a chance to post here, and at times I wonder if I’m doing extra things out of trying to not deal with my stuff or if it’s that there are more opportunities for growth happening because I’m more open to it. It’s probably both. I am a woman of extremes though, so I need to keep tabs on such things.
Anyhow, these last few days I have been keeping my feelings of inadequacy and loss/grief at bay. I let it out in small increments throughout the day so as not to fall apart, but that doesn’t seem to help much. At least not today.
These feelings of inadequacy and loss are all around the end or my career, but today it exploded into a much larger loss. The loss of people who are still alive, and yet, were never here to begin with.
Me and my father had a big (to me) argument today regarding my dog. He was no longer able to care for her so he gave her to my sister without telling me. I only found out because I asked. During this argument I kept asking him to try to see where I was coming from. That I wished he would have told me he was unable to care for her so I could consider any other arrangements. But he just couldn’t own up. He kept pushing his decision on me and blaming me for not telling him to keep me in the loop if things needed to change (really dad?). It’s like he wasn’t listening to me at all. I became overwhelmed as he went on and on justifying his actions, and all I could think about was how fucked up my life is. That if I was well I could take care of my dog like I used to. If I had my shit together I could just bring her back with me.
After we hung up I began to realize just how much my father cannot hear me. Everytime I “show up” he gets defensive and, with his words, tries to put me in my place. For the first time in a long time I fully felt like that 5-year-old girl who feared her father’s anger and so badly wanted his acceptance.
Thankfully I had a counseling appointment today and as I spoke with my therapist about the situation, I began to cry, and then bawl. We talked about how my father’s lack of regard for my feelings was an explicit example of everything I experienced in childhood. I trusted him with someone very important to me (my dog), and he betrayed that trust. I had a need and he did not meet it. Since I have been doing so much work on dealing with myself and my family, I am now more hyper-aware of when this negating happens and it’s hurts something fierce.
As me and my therapist talked I began to realise that my pain is deeply rooted in that fact that I am accepting the loss of a father I never had and will never get. I cannot be in relation to him as long as he is unwilling to address his own pain. When it comes to me and my father (and most of my family) it’s like we are speaking two different languages. What’s worse is that I know that if I would just allow myself to be a doormat, we would all get along, but because I can’t do that, because I try to “show up”, my reward is isolation and lack of connection.
This whole situation is not only painful for me, it scares the shit out of me. My father is 79 and my fear is that he will pass away and we will never move past this wall between us. I understand that this dis-connect is not all my fault and that I am not to blame for his not being able to communicate with me in a healthy way. I own that I am not ready to use the skills to communicate with my father in a way that I will not react so much.
I also understand that my father is an extremely loving man who is passionate about his family and would do anything in his capacity for us. But he is human and as humans we have our short comings. My father is not a flawless God. I know, to some extent, the suffering he endured from physically and emotionally abusive parents. So I get that having to live in survival mode due to poverty on so many levels does not allow for much introspection. I understand that my father has his limits despite his best intentions. We love each other but don’t know how to be in relation to one another and I can’t be the only one to “fix” that.
In addition, I also began to realize that, not only am I grieving the loss of my father, I am also grieving the loss of belonging to my culture.
In Mexican (Chicano/a) culture (as in many others), family is everything. To be connected to family means survival and anyone who strays, dies. I see it everywhere in my community. We all sacrifice pieces of ourselves to belong to family. I see people who are so close with their sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, and they celebrate this closeness ad-nauseam. I don’t have that closeness and I feel like such an outsider to my family and my culture. I feel like an orphan.
I talked to a fellow ACA after my therapy session and processed some more. I remembered how the ACA book mentions that out Higher Power is our true parent and that out physical parents are only a vessel through which we are born. That is a major shift in thought when you come from a culture that says family is everything and without it you’re nothing.
I also was reminded on how I need to work on my inner parent because my inner child will not show up fully as long as my inner parent is cruel. It finally sank in that the way my inner child feels about me is the way I feel about my dad. “I know you love me, but I can’t trust you with my feelings. Therefore, I cannot show myself to you.”
No wonder I have no idea what I want or who I am.
In the end my ACA sister suggested that I write down a list of what I was feeling (angry, sad, scared, etc.) and in each category write out what I am feeling about that emotion. She suggested this since I told her I couldn’t get in contact with my inner child due to having a flood of emotions. She also suggested that I do something my inner child likes (something I liked as a kid). SO when we hung up I printed out a couple of coloring sheets and found some crayons and colored for a while. I’m glad she suggested this because, although I couldn’t “connect” with her, I could soothe her.
All in all it was an overwhelming day and I am so thankful for the supportive people in my life.