Monday, November 17, 2008

almost real

almost real
There were so many times on this trip to London when, hurrying to the theatre or staring into a glass of wine, I thought about telling my father. I imagined all the ways I could say it, working through words and phrases in my head, experimenting with different shades of certainty, different registers of cheerfulness. My father's imagined response was always the same: that's just wonderful, followed by a hug and maybe a kiss and then a quick shift of topic.

In the end, unfairly, I said nothing at all and I realized that what I was swallowing was something far too close to fury. I resented my father for all the things he hadn't done and couldn't say back in the days and weeks after the twins had come and gone. I told myself, with an unpleasant tinge of self-righteousness, that since he hadn't been able to share my sorrow, he shouldn't be able to share my happiness.

I wanted to forgive him. I wanted to forgive myself. But I didn't seem to be able to manage either one and, after a while, I stopped trying.

34 comments:

wheelsonthebus said...

A friend once told me that some people are good at being there for your joy while others are better at being there for sorrow. I think that is true.

Magpie said...

Maybe you tell him, and you tell him why you've been holding back. Maybe you can teach the old dog a new trick.

debbie said...

Maybe all that time with him gave you a practice run, now you're ready to rip the bandaid off and just do it?
Perhaps it's better to tell him when you're not with him in person--I imagine that would be easier for you. Instead of worrying about his inappropriate response you can get in and get out without him having to dissapoint.
I would, however, recommend (or very gently suggest) trying to get some of the anger out if you can. You don't have to fully embrace someone after you've spoken your mind. I sometimes think of speaking my mind as just a different way to set boundaries.

painted maypole said...

well, I suppose you'll have to tell him eventually! Hey Dad! Meet your new grandkid! :)

niobe said...

Painted Maypole: You know, I have these complicated fantasies of saying nothing and waiting to see how long it would take him to find out. I know, I know. Bad, bad Niobe.

luna said...

I think that's really sad, niobe.

Tash said...

EXACTLY. I just had this SAME CONVERSATION, with literally (to quote Joe Biden) the same words with my husband regarding the holidays. If his Father's head was too far up his ass last year when we needed him, then screw him, he doesn't deserve to be included now. No way.

But I will say: part of my reasoning is that I have a suspicion he will once again let us down. Even if we let him in on the good news, he will find a way to crush it -- my expectations of him have sunk so much. And I'm wondering if there isn't a bit of this here with you, too: that you don't trust him now, even with the happy news, to respond in an appropriate manner.

Long/short, I feel you entirely.

Cara said...

Why does the act of becoming parents mess with our already existing parental relationships? Add loss into the mix, and well - it's just a big, fxing mess.

You'll know, eventually, what to do, how to do it and when.

(big sigh)

Lori said...

Time. Maybe you need just a little more time... (she says hopefully).

That said though, nothing strikes me silent as quickly as the fear of an unpleasant response. I have been known to say nothing in any number of seemingly inconceivable situations.

I wish for you the response you hope for. Someday soon.

cinnamon gurl said...

I'm all in favour of self-forgiveness, even when it's for not forgiving yourself, and especially when it's for not forgiving someone else. We all do things when we're ready to do them, and not before.

Furrow said...

I sincerely hope he pleasantly surprises you. Or that when the time comes, you're so engrossed in newborn care that you either don't notice or don't care if he disappoints.

CLC said...

I hope he surprised you and responds appropriately whenever he does find out. And don't be too hard on yourself. I think your feelings are pretty normal as far as the normal scale goes.

Monica H said...

When the timing is right....

Aurelia said...

Well, maybe you could just draft a quick terse email and think about it, and one day, just press send.

Just because, you have to say something sometime.

As for forgiving yourself, there is nothing to forgive. Truly.

Julia said...

I think I said something entirely similar, maybe even identical regarding sharing sorrow/happiness in Beruriah's comments last year. This is also why we told my ILs at exactly the last possible point-- after Monkey found out, and we knew she would absolutely tell. This is also why tomorrow is the very first time they will be left alone with this same baby (who is now 3 months old), and only because we really could find no other way to make the day work (damn last minute work thing I can't get out of).... So a long way of saying I get this.

And though I know that due to the nature of the beast my words likely won't help, I feel the need to say them anyway-- there is nothing to forgive yourself for.

Alex said...

Niobe, I still haven't forgiven your father for saying you "terminated" your pregnancy with your daughters; if I can't, I can't imagine you would.

And for the record, my dad's been rather a jerk in assorted ways in my life and the lives of others I love, and I haven't forgiven him, either (and don't plan to). But I don't feel bad about any of it, except about his being such a jerk in the first place.

In short, my opinion is (clearly shared, as this has already been said by others, above), really you have nothing for which you need to ask forgiveness, and you owe your father nothing.

charmedgirl said...

i find myself, many times over, imagining a scenario in which i get pregnant (HAHA!) and don't tell my mother (who is moving across the country to marry a man she met a few months ago online and only met IRL once). i imagine her coming out here when i am huge, or even after i have the baby (HAHA!). and she would totally deserve it.

it was good that you tried to tell your father; it was only then you realized what would serve you better.

Artblog said...

I did the same with friends who treated me that way too. I loved calling them up after he was born and hearing their surprise that i was pregnant in the first place and that an actual live baby was born.

It was bad of me too but I loved that I didn't share the pregnancy with them. I wanted them to understand it was like a punishment, because that's exactly what it was.

It was satisfyingly cruel and I felt no guilt in doing it, quite the contrary. There are some people you just cant tell in words exactly how shit they made you feel.

I think for me, it worked. These friends now call me all the time to see D. as if to make up for it.

You eventually forgive and forget but I don't regret doing it!

beagle said...

This hits very close to home for me in many ways, different circumstances, similar family dynamics (I'm assuming a lot here too.) But the part about not wanting to share the joy with those who had refused to share the pain . . . that really hit home with me.

And forgiving, yourself and them (whoever the them is). I struggle with that too.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

flutter said...

This is so familiar to my heart, Niobe

sweetsalty kate said...

That must have been your heart telling you it wasn't the right time. It will have to happen, obviously, but it has to be on terms that feel palatable for you, given his inability to share that sorrow.

Another day. For now just give yourself the space to ... give yourself space. xo

mattina di lunedi said...

I hear you, Niobe. I won't share the news that I am pregnant with anyone who wasn't there for me when my son died, and that includes my in-laws. I would love it if they could never find out, even if this one makes it - not even then. I have no guilt whatsoever about this intentional cruelty - they deserve this punishment.

Kami said...

I pretty much shared everything with everybody, but I resented it when my mom got excited when we were expecting for the same reasons.

christina(apronstrings) said...

you aren't spiteful, you're human. you'd only have to stick your hand in a fireplace once....

Which Box said...

My husband is sort of beating himself up for not telling his parents sooner, but he said he would think about it and realize he was absolutely incapable of picking up the phone and having the conversation with them. He was too mad/hurt/upset by all that had gone before. No matter what/when it wasn't ever going to go smoothly. I hope your father has a capacity that my inlaws so clearly lack.

Rosepetal said...

I haven't done this with a close relative, but I have done it with many other people. You were not able to share my happiness, so you will not be able to share my happiness. It's complex happiness anyway, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't get it.

But of course when it's your father it's much harder. Maybe you don't have to forgive him for his attitude towards the twins, but you can tell him anyway, just with low expectations?

Rosepetal said...

That should say "you were not able to share my sorrow so you will not get to share my happiness". Doh!

Dayna said...

Your feelings seem perfectly normal and appropriate to me. Give yourself time. Perhaps in person wasn't right for you, and that's fine. Perhaps a phone call or a letter will do instead. Perhaps, too, you'll let him know why you chose a phone call or a letter to impart such news.

Whatever you choose, it's normal and okay.

Hug.

Bon said...

i think i can see you staring into your wine and i think i understand. and i think it's good that the anger came out somewhere.

love to you.

K @ ourboxofrain said...

I find that I tend to put off conversations that make me uncomfortable, and the problem gets worse when I fear I have waited too long to have them. Sadly, I fear that I would say nothing at all, wait til he finds out on his own (like, say, he meets the child, or you mention something about being on leave from work, or just say something about going to an appointment with Kyrie), then act like of course you told him before -- no, you didn't find his lack of reaction surprising; he didn't share your sadness before, so you assumed he just didn't share your joy now. But I think that's just because I'm passive-aggressive.

B said...

Forgiving is a lesson I'm trying to learn too. Without a lot of success.

My question (to myself) is, what exactly is it that I want from that person? And I can never seem to answer it.

Ahuva Batya said...

Someone once said to me, years ago, that forgiveness isn't something you do once; it's something you have to do over and over again, a constant reaffirmation to yourself that you've chosen to forgive. That thought helped me finally forgive my own father for his particular failures in my life, and truly I do have to re-forgive him over and over even now, years later. The first step came about simply because I didn't want to dirty my own being by holding anger-- I felt that by keeping those negative feelings I was allowing him to hurt me a second time. But taking that first step has to happen only when you are ready, and some sins take a long, long time to get to that point.

Lisa b said...

Niobe I think your wanting to hold onto your own happiness, not risk your father letting you down again or any other reason are perfectly understandable.

hopefully with time you can trust him again.

Christa said...

Most times when I read your blog I have this sense of reading a novel. It makes me hungry for more of the narrative, possibly even because what is offered is brief and fleeting. I very much enjoy your writing and admine your ability to leave the story bare. Thank you for writing.