Part 4. No happy ending. Yet.

May 25, 2022

Having thought more about my relationship with my Dad in recent weeks after writing the blog series (you can access 1, 2 and 3 here) I decided that I wasn't putting in as much effort as I could.

I previously mentioned a relationship takes 2 people, and if 1 person withdraws the other can still put in their half (or more). So long as this isn't damaging to the individual, ties into their values and doesn't cross their boundaries then this may yield positive outcomes.

So I wrote my Dad a letter 2 weeks ago. Inspired by my sister, who did this several years ago and received a positive response. I feel I don't really "know" him and wanted to find a way to do this that he would be likely to respond to.

I asked him 9 simple questions. Who his favourite dog was (we've had 4), why he liked reading the newspaper, and other such generic questions.

I left this letter by his sofa with a stamped addressed envelope so it would be easy for him. And so he wouldn't have the awkwardness or feel the pressure face to face. I sent a letter so he could respond in time and so he wouldn't have to talk or be vulnerable in front of someone (which I believe he struggles with).

And still... No response.

This was also on the date of my birthday. On which he didn't come out for a meal with Chrissi and my Mum.

Angry? Disappointed? Upset?

Only the last 2 and not that much. This is because I am holding onto hope and expecting better things. But this is ME looking from my perspective. This is my ego being damaged and my needs not being met. I am making conscious choices that lead to me feeling this way.

If I make this about him and his actions then my happiness rests within someone else. And therefore I am more fragile.

I am choosing not to give up hope. I will continue to believe that in time this may improve.

My self worth is not defined by my Dad and his love (well, I'm working on that). I have to accept he is doing the best he can with the skills he has right now, and I truly believe that because the alternative is he is trying to be nasty to me.

I don't know which one is the truth but I have a choice. I can choose happiness. I can choose the story that serves me and makes me feel better.

I could always write him a nasty letter, call him up or go over and have a go at him in person. But why? I would be putting him down to make myself feel better. I would be putting him in control of my happiness. And that's not how I want to operate.

I want to learn from him and improve my actions. I want to deal with things without negatively impacting others. And if I have a go at him this won't make him feel good. I would only be making myself feel better by putting him down. I still love my Dad and wouldn't wish this upon him.

I can express my frustration with him in healthier ways. I can try to build bridges with him. I can accept and learn from this experience.

Victor Frankl, holocaust survivor and psychiatrist talks of finding meaning in suffering. You can choose to be negatively impacted by events or you can find meaning in them and take positives from them. And whilst this is a very unpalatable message for a lot of people, if you choose to get stuck in the negative then you are reliant on someone else getting you out. So finding meaning, taking control and responsibility for my happiness is what I'm going to do.