I got the phone call that a dad of two close friends from high school had passed away. The shock and sadness shook me. He was the kind of man that always had a smile on his face, always had a kind word, always there for his family. I went to the visitation and the funeral services and saw a family that was grieving and terribly missing their leader, their go-to man, their dad, husband, and grandpa. It broke my heart. I was sad for my friends, sad for their children and sad for the man that was going to miss out on years of fun with this amazing family.
That night I got home and realized I was sad for me too. Those kids would give anything to have their dad back and he, in return, would have done anything to be with his children and grandchildren. Then there is my dad who lives just three miles away and doesn’t want anything to do with his own children or grandchildren, and I realized I’ve been grieving for a father as well.
My narcissistic dad was emotionally and verbally abuse to my mom and us kids for decades, and finally after over 30 years of marriage my mom shocked all of us with her courage and strength and left him on a cold Tuesday night in January. He had been using suicide as a controlling weapon my entire life and, let me tell you, it was effective. She finally realized his constant threats of suicide were just that, threats.
But after years and years of hearing things like, “If you loved me more I wouldn’t feel like this” or “You would all be happy if I was dead, wouldn’t you?” every time a conflict or disagreement occurred, it does something to you. After a few months of living on her own, my mom called me and said, “Guess what? I think I’m actually a good person!” Without his voice in her head telling her how horrible of a person she was, she could finally see clearly. She was so happy, but it was heartbreaking to realize that for all those years she truly believed it was her fault and that if she could have only been a “good” person he could have changed.
Despite being supportive for my mom, my siblings and I were not looking to cut off the relationship with my dad. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and that we were never going to be close to him but because of my three small kids, I was at least hoping to salvage a grandpa/grandchild relationship. I had great relationships with both of my grandpas and want that for my kids. I don’t ever speak ill about my dad in front of them and have spent their entire lives making excuses for him and the way he is.
But, after 18 months of me trying to encourage a relationship — a relationship with boundaries — he cut off me and my siblings with a text message: “Do not ever contact me ever again. Done.”
And as much as I hate feeling, well, “feelings”, it hurts. I still feel like that little girl who saw her dad with a gun to his head because she was “bad.” Why doesn’t my dad want me? Why doesn’t he want a relationship with my three kids who worship the ground he walks on? If he could see the way my son’s big blue eyes light up at the mention of memories of time spent with Grandpa, maybe then he would realize that if it’s love he is looking for, he already has it.
Although I am sad for myself, I’m mostly sad for my kids. Now that I’m a mom it is even harder for me to understand how my dad can cut off his three kids. I want to protect my kids from feeling unloved, but how can I when it is coming from within the family? Maybe no contact is for the best and will save them years of feeling like they aren’t good enough. But won’t knowing he doesn’t want them in in their lives make them feel that way, too?
I am so sad for my friends who are terribly missing their dad, but I’m also jealous of them. They had a great dad in their lives and although it wasn’t for nearly long enough, they had it.
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