The Dreaded Parental Issues
We all have them…
I had a visit from my brother-in-law, Jeff, yesterday which brought up an interesting conversation. I shared with him that I was now working part-time and loving it. He asked how my dad had reacted (who is my boss) to which I shared, “I didn’t ask — I just told him I was cutting my hours.”
Jeff knows a lot about my relationship with my parents and it’s been pretty tense. I’m not sure if I’d use the word toxic…I don’t know — it might fit but it seems a bit harsh. However, I’ve worked for them my entire adult life (33 years) and I realize I need to make a swift change. In essence, my dad has never been a true parent…just a boss. Get the scene?
That’s hard when both you and your spouse work at the same place.
But I digress because that’s not what I want to write about.
Jeff had the same kind of relationship with his father who died a few years ago. I believe he never received what he needed from him, and it still haunts him to this day. So, he dives in with scenarios about how I should reach out to my dad. Ask him to lunch and start the process of making amends. I replied, “I don’t want to have lunch with my dad.” It’s true. I don’t.
Here’s the thing: I have forgiven him completely for all the ways in which he never saw me, treated me. How he withheld love, praise, or kindness. I’m not a special circumstance — I bet over half the people reading this can relate. I gave away my power years ago when I made the horrible decision to come work in the family business. That’s on me. It’s my job to correct that.
What Jeff fails to realize is that I don’t need my dad’s attentiveness anymore. I don’t. That ship has sailed. I have everything I need inside me. Self-worth. Self-love. I don’t need it validated by him. I sure could have used it as a confused kid but she is with me now, and she’s very much safe. My brother-in-law kept trying to talk me into that first step — show my dad what he’s missing out on. He asked how old he was (he’ll be seventy-eight in a week). “Man, he doesn’t have a lot of time left. Don’t you want to make things right?”
I just couldn’t get across to him that it isn’t my job to make things right for my dad. I’ve done my part — I’ve made things right with me and that’s all I can do. I can’t make my dad remember what he came to this earth to do. I can’t change my dad or heal my dad or do anything for him in that way. What Jeff fails to see is that the only way he can make things right with his deceased father is to go inside — deep inside. He possesses all the tools to move on but he doesn’t realize that. I’m hoping to help him with future conversations. He’s asking a lot of questions, and I can tell he’s on the path to discovering why he’s in a human body. Every time we see each other when no one else is around we have these conversations. I look forward to them.
It wasn’t until after he left that I had this thought: would I want to hang out with my dad if the title “dad” was stripped and he was simply a man? No. Plain and simple, I would not. I know I’m to love everyone, be kind to everyone. Obviously, I take that quite seriously because my parents are still in my life. Do I like being around them? Not particularly. They are racist, homophobic (I have a gay son), judgmental people — so, no. I’m not judging them — it’s simply how they were raised. I get it. We’re all in this cyclic pattern — many of which are meant to be broken — that was passed from generation to generation. My parents aren’t vile people (yes, they’ve softened with age). I’m sure their friends think they’re actually nice. But let me point out that they only allow people into their life who think, act, and vote like them. You get the picture. Closed-minded city — no detours allowed!!
There is one thing clear to me that’s tucked deep-down into my knowingness which may bring hope for healing: when the family business closes its door. When I no longer feel controlled (my paycheck, my hours, my vacation days) and the title employee is no longer pasted across my forehead. Until then, I don’t see anything changing.
I know miracles can happen but I’m not holding my breath…
Until that time arises, I will be seeking out the path and opportunities to start the next chapter of my life — the one that truly counts.
Wish me luck!!