18 July 2013

a letter to explain (Sat Dad)

A letter to try to explain what I seem to have been unable to explain to others for years. Not for want of trying. Maybe I have given up too easily when someone else fidgets uncomfortably while I try to talk and let the distraction of that dictate how much I say. Just possibly perhaps someone has understood but I have not registered because of reactions exploding in my head in their own little firework display.

I love my Dad. He has been through alot during the last five years, losing his wife (my mum to cancer), having treatment and life changing surgery for cancer himself and now watching his only son receive treatment, also for cancer. A lot of change and grieving to journey through, and all that pressing into the process of the natural degeneration of synapses that goes with ageing, the body slowing down and the loss of confidence. 

And this is all true, yet somehow once I go down this road of separating out his trials, giving them the greater weight, because they are somehow worse on a scale of 1-10 suffering, my side of things starts to diminish. Shoving my stuff back down because it seems less important in comparison. 

Lately things have been beginning to leak back out into the overflow car park, because the main one is full again.

Co-dependancy is a huge factor in how both my parents operated. Mum was the one who tended to everyone’s needs, leaving her own unhealthily at the bottom of the pile. And I guess too she acted as a bit of a dam stopper for Dad and a fair amount of that now rushes out in uncontrolled bursts towards me and my brother in conversations. And he seems to have absolutely no idea what he is doing. Sigh.

Melody Beattie in The New Codependency articulates the situation so well, and I am using some of her words in quote/paraphrase here:

Communication that drains energy or power from someone under the guise of “talking”  
Dad has always taken great pride in being able to navigate himself to places by looking ahead at the map and driving himself without using anyone else to direct him en route (he was a Geography teacher and it is a natural passion.) So because he feels secure in such knowledge, a common conversation thread is for him to ask what route we take when we go places and then proceed to tell us which way he would have gone and why it is better. When our daughter took a train journey over Christmas the unsolicited advice regarding her planned route came thick and fast. To each one of us, separately. I try not to engage knowingly with these types of topics to prevent the predictable direction these things take, and often I end up saying very little in phone conversations. He is firmly installed in the driving seat and in the thick of it I have little idea of how to take the steering wheel back off of him.

People may act like they want to have a conversation with us, but many people with codependency issues use conversation as a way to get us to take care of them. People segue from asking how the other person is into begging the person to tell them what to do, listen to them complain, or take care of them emotionally. If someone is “taking power” in communication, it can be detected by how the person who is robbed of power feels when the conversation ends— exhausted, drained, or depleted. 
All this keeps on happening during ‘talking’ and it feels like a never ending circle going nowhere ever. I can’t see it changing and really some days the sad thing is that I wish Dad was gone too so I didn’t have to do it. Any more.

Normally at this point in writing I would say but-God, and try to tie it with a neater bow. But the ribbon is frayed at the moment and the paper torn.

It feels like the one prayer that is just out of reach, where God is not saying much. Not to say that there are not shards of grace in there sometimes, but most of the time it is just hard going.

I am happy for this post to stay linked to Ruth's blog as it feels that this is a safe place for it to be. I would prefer it not to be posted out further, thanks people!


Linking up with Ruth & Sabrina at #LettersTo (at Ruth's place this week)

1 comment:

  1. Jo, I am so glad you linked up with us, thank you. This explanation of your relationship with your dad is so honest and this must be so exhausting for you.

    I found it really interesting to read the way you described these conversations that leave us drained and powerless. I have felt like this often in certain relationships, but had never thought about the psychology behind it. It also make me think about situations where I may be the 'drainer'!

    I admire the way you have understood your dad's behaviour and rationalised it. It sounds as if you have a lot of patience. It's a shame that your own feelings seem to have had to take a backseat to all else that your family has been through. You are important and your problems and experiences and feelings are valid too!

    Thank you for your honesty, thank you for showing the frayed bits for what they are. It makes it easier for us to be honest about our frayed bits too. Lots of love x