My dad and I are working on this relationship improving course from his church group. It’s been a challenge in a lot of ways and while we have had some improvements in our communication with each other, there are still things he just doesn’t want to hear. Today I brought up some of those things because I needed to say them.
As I have shared here, my mom was cold at times. She pushed me away when I wanted to hug her and she told me more than once she wished I was never born/that if she could do it all over again, she would not have had children. Either way, it hurt me very deeply.
When we were talking about generations and all that, I told him that I wanted to say some things that were hard for me to live with and equally hard to bring up. I told him those things and also added that as a parent myself now, I do understand that sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment and frustration overtakes being kind. IMMEDIATELY he jumped in and said, “I’m sure she didn’t actually say…”
I cut him off quickly and said, “Yes, she did say that. Multiple times. I am not trying to take cheap shots at her for past things, I am trying to tell you something that happened to me that HURT ME. I have already told you that I understand that she was likely frustrated and overwhelmed but I am telling you that her words HURT ME.”
At that point he said “I think that as a parent, you don’t understand that the things you say in anger will make such a huge and hurting impression on your children.” I told him that I agreed with that assessment and that my oldest and I have talked through much of the hurtful things I said to him when he was younger. I would rather work through that stuff now with him than when he’s much older and the resentment really piles up.
My dad still just can’t handle hearing certain things and no matter how nicely I try to say it, he wants to run from it. I am hoping that in the process of doing this course, I can get him to understand that the only chance we have of building a good relationship that lasts is for me to get these things out TO HIM. Telling a therapist is great, but in order for me to ever trust him, I have to be able to tell him things that I need to say. Otherwise we are just wasting our time.
Part of what we talked about today was generational trauma and how families will carry it forever until someone decides to stop it. We talked about a bunch of things with his parents and my mom’s parents. And then all of their grandparents. He told me a lot of stories that I already knew, but he did tell me others and he did answer the questions that I had about what I have found in my research. Generational trauma is a bitch and I hope to not pass any of it on. It’s way too soon to tell, but I am hopeful.
In other news, I am still trying to track down anything I can about my great-great grandmother who is lost (for now) in history. No obituary, no gravesite, no mention of her death in anything so far. But I will find her, even if I have to venture out to West Virginia to track her down with local historians. I will not rest until I figure out what happened to her and when it happened.