What a day, and what a predicament I’ve found myself in.
I found out the other day my dad was taken into hospital with a suspected heart attack. My dad and I have a very difficult relationship, one that changed drastically 20 years ago when him and my mum separated, and seemed to decline over the years to a point 7 years ago where I decided to walk away from the negativity once and for all.
Because of this, I found out he’d been taken into hospital via his neighbours son on Snapchat. I couldn’t expect anything else really, having not communicated with him or his side of the family for a good few years it was the only way.
I’ve written about this elsewhere in my blog, feel free to have a look around. Brief recap: I’ve always struggled with our relationship because from the age of 10, he hasn’t been the best father figure for me. He walked out on us when we were 10, put us through some pretty awful scenarios from ages 10-14 and from 15-23 I spent my time trying to get my head around why he would want to do these things to us. He made us homeless as children, neglected us and we became second best to his new family. Now this isn’t going to be a post where I bash him continuously, it’s more like my way of understanding these thoughts that are flying around my mind.
Cut to today, we had brief knowledge of what had happened but nothing set in stone so we would bide our time, and that time had come. I was in a meeting when my mobile started to ring – an unknown number. I knew exactly what it was though, and knew I had news to come. 2nd try, 3rd try and all the time I’m in a meeting trying to concentrate knowing that someone was trying to reach me.
The meeting finished and I waited. Sure enough my phone rang, only this time I answered. It was my auntie, the only person in my fathers side who I talk to. She was calling to inform me that my dad was in hospital, he’s had a slight heart attack and he’s not in a good way. I didn’t know how to process this information.
I already knew something was wrong, but now it was definite, set in stone – and I had a moral dilemma.
Do I contact him and reignite the rocky relationship I’ve spent the last 5 years in therapy for? Do I get back in touch with the man who instilled deep rooted issues in my head that made me the anxious mess I am today? I didn’t know what to do.
I called my mum, my sister and my girlfriend who all said the same thing: ‘do what feels right for you. You’re the one who has to live with it’. I’m a firm believer that you should regret the things you have done, not the things you haven’t. You’re better to have tried and live with the consequences of the outcome than to never know what the outcome could have been. I decided I would reach out and text him.
The text was simple, wishing him well, hoped he was OK and to let me know how he was getting on. What came after I wasn’t ready for. It had fired up a full blown conversation as if nothing had ever happened. I was civil and fair, offered well wishes and asked all the right questions, but a full blown conversation I wasn’t ready to deal with. My stomach was churning, my anxiety was high as I felt I was being led down a path I didn’t want to travel. I kept the conversation brief and at the first sign of awkward I began to end the conversation. It was only afterwards that it all played on my mind.
The conversation was as if nothing had happened, as if all was forgiven and we move on. Yet it’s not like that at all. Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish ill health on anyone, but his heart attack doesn’t take away the issues I’ve carried around for 20 years. It doesn’t take away the days he promised to fetch us, and left us sat in our coats and shoes waiting for him to pick us up only to never arrive. It doesn’t change he manipulation, the lies, the mistreatment and the hurt he caused. My anxiety doesn’t just disappear – as much as I want it to – after a few witty remarks and a ‘how have you been?’
I just can’t forgive or forget that easily. I feel so guilty for feeling that way, but so angry because I’m being made to feel this way. When it all kicked off last time, I got myself a new job, moved away, met my girlfriend and we live a very happy yet isolated life and I’m good with that.
I don’t know what’s to come over the next few days. I’m expecting some kind of drama from particular members of there family and that’s OK. I’m ready for all of them and won’t take any prisoners as I lay down the facts in front of them. I just don’t know if I’m prepared to let them put me in that position.
I’m seeing how it goes with my dad. He doesn’t change, and hasn’t done for as long as I can remember and whilever he won’t admit his mistakes there will be an elephant in the room, prodding away at me.
Sometimes illnesses can bring people together who haven’t spoke for years. And sometimes they can remind us of the exact reason why we moved on in the first place.