Strong Woman

A Patchwork Of Memories and Emotions From An Overly Complicated Relationship

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So, I’m sitting here, alone, on the eve of the anniversary of my dad’s death. Hubby is deeply sleeping after a long day at work, the kids are in bed, and I wish I had someone I could just maybe watch a movie with– probably to avoid thinking. There’s no reason why anyone should think I’d need to talk or get my mind off of what seems to be an undercurrent of emotions I really just don’t want to deal with. (It’s going to turn into a flood of tears, and I don’t want to open that gate.)

I don’t think much about my dad anymore.

When I do, there aren’t many emotions involved. We didn’t have any kind of a relationship when he passed on, I hadn’t seen him in years. One of the last times I did see him– he humiliated me, in public and in front of my husband. I mean, horribly humiliated me.

I forgave him. My husband gently told him off, and forgave him. But, it sickened my heart to even see him again.

We had such a complicated relationship. He was mentally ill, before doctors knew what to do to help that. I have begrudged the VA for using him as a guinea pig, but some of that responsibility was his alone. He wouldn’t take the pills prescribed, he used his diagnosis as a crutch– and he was a jerk.

But he was also really funny. There were times he had us laughing until our sides ached.

He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I have met quite a few very smart people! He was a genius with electronics and rigging things.

He had times where he could be really mean. Thankfully those weren’t constant. But, he was unpredictable. And, of course, there was the abuse.

It’s always kind of felt like my dad was dead in some ways. When I think about him, I grieve for the father-daughter relationship I wish we could’ve had. I know there is not one thing I could have done to make things better, so I’m able to move on. There is a diminishing part inside of me that wonders “why?” Why did it have to be me that went through all of that?

Why did I have to have that dad?

And, after all these years, I think I finally know the answer– Because just like that scratchy violin I had as a kid that caused me to practice for hours and hours everyday to overcome that awful, scratchy tone– I had to want to make a better life. I had to actively seek God to make a better path for my future children. My first husband was not that path, he was not someone I would have trusted with children. After that (biblical) divorce (from a non-believer who wanted to leave), I desperately sought God to provide me with a man who would be.

And He did.

But, had I not experienced everything I did, I wouldn’t have known what to work towards.

I sometimes wonder if my life being so full of overwhelming things that I’ve had to push through, if that’s what triggered my body’s reaction with a disease that exhausts me. Physical things, nothing psychosomatic. Fatigue is a reality blood work has confirmed.

Ok, now it’s the actual anniversary of his death.

4 years ago, today.

Remembering is stirring up, I don’t know– I guess emotional dust? Cobwebs? Triggered reminders?

I’ve watched my husband over the years with our daughter, and it’s such a contrast to what I ever knew with my own dad. I grew up terrified, filled with hate and anger– though not anymore. My daughter and my husband laugh and joke, share music, and she has never had to build a protective guard against him for any reason.

I am so, so deeply thankful for that.

I’ve often said it’s been thoroughly healing to watch them interact, and see what I missed out on– yet gives me the opportunity to rejoice that my daughter has not.

Isaiah 61:3 has come to life in my life– “To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Doxology

An Honest Perspective, Christian Thoughts, God's Heart, Nuggets I Learned from my Childhood, Uncategorized, Walking With God, What life has taught me

Before and After: A Matter of Perspective

Here is my dad David was able to get a picture tod

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been 2 months since my dad’s passing, wow, to the day. My timing isn’t planned, just lucky coincidence.

This picture accurately represents something unexpected for me.

My dad is smiling here. He was happy because my husband was able to visit him.

When my dad was alive, it wasn’t his smile I remembered, or his comforting shoulder hug when he walked up next to me after not having seen me for a long time.  It wasn’t the twinkle of kindness and love in his eyes when he looked at me during my short visits so far and few between the passing time. It wasn’t his jokes, or the happy tone behind all he said.

The thought of my dad when he was still alive wasn’t anything warm and fuzzy.  It was sadness that he was in hospital or nursing home care. It was frustration that so much of a normal relationship with him had been stolen from me because of mental illness (also PTSD misdiagnosed and neglected) and his “guinea-pig” status with the VA. It was anger that he was so unpredictable, I never knew what to expect when I was able to visit him. My mom claims he had no “filter”, what I know as practicing self-control and taming the tongue. The last time I saw him when he wasn’t being kept alive by machines breathing for him, he told my husband some really awful things, stuff he said he was confessing to concerning me. There are so many holes in my childhood memory, some of what he said I  can’t even verify.

He was moved around so often by the VA that I rarely knew where he was, and he did not always have access to a phone for me to call him. My mom stopped remembering to tell me he had been moved, it became part of her normal life. And, the truth is, I often cringed at the thought of talking with him on the phone. What would I say? What would his frame of mind be?

The most surprising aspect of his passing is that all those fears and negative emotions have just sort of evaporated away. I am finally free to feel the good feelings when I think of him now. My guard can be let down, I don’t have to defend myself, or prepare for the worst. I don’t have to remind myself of the bad things.

I never once wished him dead- well, after I forgave him, that is. So, there is no guilt to deal with now. Life circumstances kept my family and I far away from him, so again, no guilt about any of that. It was out of my control.

I can let the little girl I once was think about my dad and remember what I loved most about him.  No more guard, no more self-defense, no more cringing as I think of him.

My heart is free to remember safely now.