(The above picture is the only one I have with my father and his family. Circa 1971)
My mind is full of thoughts surrounding my family. I can’t help but wonder, if my positive attitude about what I do have isn’t a crutch to avoid what I don’t. I love to live life avoiding regret as much as possible, and I try to stop myself when I go negative, and force a thankful behavior to emerge.
So, my current thoughts are leading me away from my favorite mantras, and causing me to question a decision I made when I was 19 years old.
Let’s go back 26 years, shall we?
I was waiting for some friends of mine to pick me up. I knew it was going to be a while, so I decided that I would check off the task I had on my list: find my oldest half-brother. The only number I had of that side of the family was one that my father had when I was 13. I did not want to call him. However, I took a deep breath, then a few more, and dialed. Yes, I really dialed. We still had a rotary phone then.
“Hi, Jim, er Dad, um, it’s your daughter, Kimmy.”
“Um, it’s your DAUGHTER, KIMMY!” (yes I spoke this loudly, thinking he couldn’t hear well)
“Your DAUGHTER!” (this was really loud)
I wanted to hang up.
“It’s Kim Bieber, not the one you’re married to (yes, my step-mother’s name is Kim). Your daughter.”
“Huh. ((Pause)) Oh. Oh, yeah! Kimmy! How are you?”
I rudely asked for my half-brother, Jimmy’s, information, and abruptly got off the phone. It was an awful moment. I can actually still hear his voice in that conversation.
Here is the deal. You might want to give him a pass. Perhaps he couldn’t hear, or the connection was bad. Perhaps he was sorting out why a Kim was calling when his wife was home. You can hand him a list of reasons, and they are all probably going to be valid. However, I believe my reason he was a jerk that day beats them all.
He had gone so long not speaking to me, or connecting with me in any way, that he struggled to know it was me.
And, that’s my Dad. It was the second time in my life I made the decision to not have him IN my life. The first was a nasty court case over support that included a letter from him, read by a judge who ended up comforting me because I was crying one of those soft/hard cries that represented a lot of hurt.
For the past 11 years, he’s been trying to come back in. He started out kind and remorseful. It only took 2 email exchanges for him to blame me, and the rest of our world, for his lack of fathering. He was responding to an email I sent him that said, and I’m paraphrasing because it was long, that I had forgiven him a long time ago. I knew during that phone call when I was 19, that he did not have the capacity to love me like I needed. I had moved on. I told him that I appreciated him reaching out, but that I didn’t see or feel a need to connect. I had closed so many doors during my childhood and I didn’t want to go back.
He was furious. He was a bit mean. He was completely condescending and egotistical. He proved my thoughts that he was not someone I wanted in my or my children’s lives.
So, here I am, many years later. I’m in a Bible study because of my insatiable appetite to learn everything. We just had a week on relationships, and our relationships with parents as a part of it. I had a few warning bells go off in my head.
Was I suppose to re-forgive him? Am I wrong to believe I really won’t have any regrets when he leaves this Earth? (assuming he goes first…we never know) Is building a new relationship something I’m supposed to do?
Then, at 2 this morning, during one of my insomnia moments, I watched a Netflix documentary on Tony Robbins. He was talking to a woman about this very thing. He believed it was critical for her to build a relationship with her drug-addicted, absent father. She did, and she is happier now about him than she has ever felt. He is still the same. She changed.
I’m all about the signs. I pay attention when I believe the universe is speaking to me.
I have a lot of thinking to do, but I do know I’m not alone. Watching that documentary last night proved that for me. It also proves that so many people are holding on to so many tragedies from childhood, and you would never guess it by looking at them.
So, I leave you with this. As I ponder if I should change my attitude toward my father, know that there may be someone next to you wondering how they can repair damage from their lives. This is something I hold on to when I have to dig deep for compassion with the ones that don’t seem to deserve it.
Or maybe it is you. Feel free to ponder. To question. It never means you are going to change your life, but it does give you a chance to find a new perspective.
Who couldn’t use a new perspective once in a while?
For now, I’m going to continue with the glass half full attitude, but maybe some contents are settling and I need to stir it up a bit.
Oh, and check out these pictures from when I was 12. It was the first, and only time, I saw my half-brothers, but we had an instant connection. In the first one, we were fake fighting so that “we could be real siblings”.