This is a post I shouldn’t write. My mother occasionally checks my blog, and I don’t want her reading this. I love my mother. I know it hurts her that my father and I don’t get a long. We haven’t since I turned 12, maybe before then.
My father was raised with a very bitchy mom and a more passive father. My grandfather was fantastic to me. Loved him. He was sweet and gentle, but he let his more aggressive and angry wife run the household. I’m pretty sure that’s how it was done in those days. They were born in 1909 and 1910. He earned the living, she managed the family. According to my dad’s stories, my grandmother openly favored the older brother. She also openly favored my sister over me. She admitted this to me months before she died. She explained it to me that my father and I didn’t need her, while my uncle and my sister did. I thought that was a bs reason, but I didn’t say that. I let her think it was okay.
My father is very hateful towards women. I can only guess it’s from his mother’s treatment of him. I grew up with pictures of naked women all over the garage. I heard his hateful speech about women who were not attractive. Oh, how he hated unattractive women, especially overweight women. So when I hit puberty and started gaining weight, he was visibly disgusted by me. I was a size 14 in high school and never happy with it. My dad put me and himself (he is significantly overweight) and diet after diet. Before I turned 18, I had been on just about every fad diet from the 1980’s—cabbage soup diet, the three-day diet, the military diet. Blech. Didn’t help. When my dad was angry, and he was frequently, he’d call me a pig. So much so, that my nephew, whom was adopted by my parents and raised by them from the age of 2 months, was talking about a pig at the fair and said “no offense” to me because he’d heard me called pig so often in his short life (he was 9 when he said it. I’ve never forgotten it). He hit us also. Not as much as yelling and insulting, but sometimes.
Part of me liked being overweight. It meant that no one would want to see me naked or treat me like an object. I hated the naked pictures in the garage. The “Haulin’ Ass” poster right next to the car that I got into every day. The woman marked up like a cow with “rump roast” on her bottom. It was embarrassing to have guy friends over. My dad would excitedly pull out his Playboy videos and show them to my teenage guy friends. I was disgusted. My weight was like a shield from being treated like cattle. No one would use me either.
I keep that shield up for years throughout college. I’d have some guys show an interest in me, and I might go out for coffee, but that was it. I never encouraged them. My friends would tell me that someone was interested in me, and I’d say they were wrong. Part of me was happy, but I didn’t want to be in a relationship. After all, my mother fell in love with my dad, and he couldn’t have always been cruel. So, in my mind, all men hid their cruelty.
My husband wanted to know why I stayed in my parents house so long. I was there until I was 26! Part of me was there for my nephew. I didn’t want him growing up in that house by himself. I was 17 when my parents got custody of him. I took him to see Santa for the first time. I took him to movies. I took him on the rides at Disneyland. I was like a mini-mama to him. The thought of him being unshielded hurt me. So I stayed. I was also in college and wanted to finish. I couldn’t afford rent, plus tuition, plus books, so I stayed.
My dad also drank. Functional alcoholic. But I liked him best when he’d had a couple of drinks. There was that golden period when hecwas happy, then a couple drinks later and he was an ass.
I let me dad control me a lot, though I frequently would blow up and fight back. Ours was a very volatile relationship. The same dynamic I saw between him and his mother. I was constantly struggling to be free and independent, then let myself get dragged back under his thumb. It was exhausting.
Eventually, I got married, and they moved out of state. I visited my parents in 2003 for nearly a month. My father was on anti-depressants, and we had a good time. The next time I saw my dad was in 2004, and he was not on them. It was not a good time, but tolerable with lots of compromises on our side. Joe didn’t like who I was around my dad. He was tired of me compromising our family and our children to make my dad happy. He was right. It’s my house, my children, my family, and I needed to let my children be first.
In 2006, we had a blow out. It started when we arrived at the hotel in Anaheim for a tandem trip to Disneyland. They were watching a horror movie, and when I asked that he turn it off because it was too scary for the kids, he told me no. They wouldn’t care, so I didn’t let the kids go into his hotel room. Then they stayed for too long, in my too small house. My kids are loud and rowdy, and my dad hates rowdy children. My mother tried to explain it to me and said my dad was always glad our friends didn’t come over because he didn’t like noisy children. My children are noisy. When I was a child, we would be required to sit quietly through grown up movies like “Patton,” “How the West was Won,” “Roots.” I was not allowed to read in front of him. We didn’t yell or scream. As a teen, I used to cut myself to keep myself from yelling and screaming. I also burned myself. It would make the screaming go away. I don’t want my kids doing the same thing.
My kids have asked why “Other Grandpa” doesn’t talk to them. I ignored the question for a long time, but finally figured I had to say something. I’ve explained that Other Grandpa and Mommy don’t get along. So far, that’s enough.
I also know that I can’t accept him the way he is. I get very, very upset about things, so not seeing him is easier for me, and maybe that makes me selfish, but I don’t think my kids are missing out on some great relationship. If I did, I would make an effort. I know that he will never apologize or change. He will never be on his death bed and say he was wrong. In his eyes, it’s always my fault. He is faultless. My mother once told me how happy they were after I moved out because there was no more conflict. There was no one left to challenge him, so why would he blow up?
The fact that he has not asked to see his grandkids, and his brand new grandson, means I am not going to beg him to see my children. It’s not a test, either. I’m not testing him. There’s no need. I’ve known him for 38 years. He’s not going to change, and I’m not asking him to. Just don’t ask me to change for him. Don’t ask me to forgive and forget. I’ve done enough forgiving.