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Ys
ysabel
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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]

So.

Tuesday night, Dad called. He started the conversation by basically saying, "I don't think I want to try to have any sort of relationship with you anymore. It's too frustrating."

Ironically, having just watched the whole psychodrama thing between Ferrett and Gini gave me a perspective on that statement that I wouldn't have otherwise had, and made it a lot more possible to react well to that statement instead of just get upset.

That led into a two hour long Hard Conversation, in which I did a lot of "You're right, and I'm sorry about that."

My feeling on the subject is that if I want a relationship with Dad, I've got to make an investment of sorts. We've been at a standoff where both of us feel like we're doing everything that's reasonable and thus unwilling to budge for a very long time. I've noticed that when I talk to him, a lot of the things I've learned about people in the last twenty years seem to go right out the window; this is one of the sources of some chunk of our trouble.

So. For the next unspecified time frame here, I'm going to a) try to fix the things that I'm doing to fuck things up and b) try to do the things Dad's asking of me. I am not going to expect anything in return for this, because that expectation has always bitten me in the past. If anything, I'm going to expect a lot of the button-pushing, hurtful behaviour from him, and assume that it's my job to find a way to not be hurt by it without writing him off (no small challenge). In fact, I expect that I will need to specifically make myself vulnerable, open myself up to him, and the first few times I do that expect that his reaction is likely to be hurtful.

My hope is twofold. First, it's quite possible that much of the hurtful behaviour is reactionary, and if I can stop getting into that cycle, it'll stop happening, and we'll be in a much better situation. Second, if this doesn't fix things, then nothing will, and I will know I can say "You're right, we should just stop trying," and while that will be a sad thing, I'll at least know it's the right thing.

So, an investment. An owning up to the things I'm doing to perpetuate the fucked-up-ness of our relationship, a unilateral attempt to fix those things with no immediate expectation of any reciprocation.

This is probabably really gonna suck. Here's hoping it's an investment that pays off.

Current Mood: pensivepensive
Comments

::hugs:: I hope it works out, hon. Dads are valuable things, and I'd much rather have mine around and be arguing with him than to have him not be here at all. :}

Good luck!

If it truly is a unilateral effort, it seems doomed from the start. It takes two to make a relationship work (even parent/child relationships).

But, if you really believed that he is not making any effort at all, you probably would not be going much out of your way either :)

Hang in there. Communicate. Use I Think, I Feel, and I Believe statements to talk about your thoughts/feelings/beliefs and try to avoid "You" statements, especially You Never or You Always.

Who knows, maybe a break is what's needed. If you decide not to pursue a relationship right now you still might come back to it after some distance has numbed the rawness a bit.

Be Well!

Obviously I wouldn't be willing to consider a unilateral effort if I thought there was no hope that it would at some point become bilateral.

It's just clear to me that I need to stop making that a condition, because he's also making that a condition, and we've been in that stalemate for about twenty years now.

I understand what you mean. Good luck! Hopefully it gets better from here. :)

Wow, Ysabel.. Good luck!!! If he is being disrespectful of your life choices I don't know how this can work.. especially if he has given up already. What he needs to give up is the idea that you are the person he thought you were when you were little - And to begin to accept you as you are now. Has he had a long time to get used to the idea of you as a female? What is he the most frustrated about? Do you know?

In any case.. he's still your family. I wish you the very best. I have had some major fall outs with family members that were never repaired. I hope it works out better for you.

He is asserting that he can and will be supportive, even when he disapproves and/or disagrees. This is no small thing, given that he disapproves of or disagrees with pretty much my entire life, not just the gender stuff.

And he's had about thirteen years to cope with the gender stuff.

Given that one of my major complaints about him is that I cannot disagree with him without him assuming that it means I disrespect him, it seems only fair to grant that it's possible for him to disagree with me and still respect and support me.

We've been at this for about twenty years now. This is not new. What's new is that I decided to stop putting any conditions on trying to fix my side of the fucked-up-ness. If I manage to fix my side and it doesn't help things, then I can walk away with a clear (if sad) conscience.

What's new is that I'm working to try to interact with Dad as the thirty-three year old woman I am now instead of as the really pissed off thirteen year old I was twenty years ago, and that while I'm hoping it'll eventually make things better between he and I, I'm doing it for me.

I'm one of those people who has a father who has done more to mess up and destroy any hope of a happy and healthy relationship between him and his kids. Not too long ago he and I had a huge fight, the first where I finally told him what I was really feeling, which was to fuck off. It was awful, but I thought about it for a long time and suddenly could see him through eyes that were not clouded by my child perspective and emotions. It's hard to deal rationally sometimes with parents I find, because those relationships literally can pull you back through time, and everything you've come to learn as an adult about people vanishes as you are suddenly 8 again. For the first time I was able to realize what was the stumbling block between us, and was able to 1) tell him what it was and 2) set definitive boundaries of what is and is not okay for interactions between us. I wasn't trying to make peace him honestly, I was trying to make peace for myself and offering him the chance to be a part of my life if he wanted to be. I didn't blame him for anything, and if anything I admited that while he was incapable of giving me what I needed from him, clearly we as children must have been a terrible disappointment, because the things that he wanted from us were not in us to begin with to give him.

I was quite surprised when I saw him again and he told me how impressed he was with the letter I sent him and how I had utterly pegged him and the problem exactly. It hadn't been my hope that he understood me or accepted what I had to say, but it was a wonderful surprise.

Big hugs to you for having the ability to listen to your father's needs. Please also honor your own needs and recognize where your boundaries are as well. It sounds like you are coming to a place where you can hear and talk to your father as an adult, and that is no small thing when there is strife in the relationship. I wish you all the best in your efforts to find a middle ground that you both can have a relationship with one another. :)

I'm one of those people who has a father who has done more to mess up and destroy any hope of a happy and healthy relationship between him and his kids. Not too long ago he and I had a huge fight, the first where I finally told him what I was really feeling, which was to fuck off. It was awful, but I thought about it for a long time and suddenly could see him through eyes that were not clouded by my child perspective and emotions. It's hard to deal rationally sometimes with parents I find, because those relationships literally can pull you back through time, and everything you've come to learn as an adult about people vanishes as you are suddenly 8 again. For the first time I was able to realize what was the stumbling block between us, and was able to 1) tell him what it was and 2) set definitive boundaries of what is and is not okay for interactions between us. I wasn't trying to make peace him honestly, I was trying to make peace for myself and offering him the chance to be a part of my life if he wanted to be. I didn't blame him for anything, and if anything I admited that while he was incapable of giving me what I needed from him, clearly we as children must have been a terrible disappointment, because the things that he wanted from us were not in us to begin with to give him.

I was quite surprised when I saw him again and he told me how impressed he was with the letter I sent him and how I had utterly pegged him and the problem exactly. It hadn't been my hope that he understood me or accepted what I had to say, but it was a wonderful surprise.

Big hugs to you for having the ability to listen to your father's needs. Please also honor your own needs and recognize where your boundaries are as well. It sounds like you are coming to a place where you can hear and talk to your father as an adult, and that is no small thing when there is strife in the relationship. I wish you all the best in your efforts to find a middle ground that you both can have a relationship with one another. :)