Monday, September 5, 2011

Father's Day was not terrible. But I didn't feel anything. I know that's a horrible confession but my relationship with my father may well be dead. I don't really know when this happened; sometime between my coming home and his offering to do my dishes the morning I got off the aeroplane so that I could run off and see my friend and Sunday when we sat across the breakfast table at a local cafe with nothing to say to each other. He's made a game of taking shots at my physical appearance of late (I'm fat, didn't you know?) and over the weekend he also criticised my "student" vocabulary. I never knew the thing my father has always revelled in most about me- my success at school- would also be the nail in the coffin of our ability to relate to each other. The day I got my tertiary entrance result, I think he told everyone he knew. Three years later, he's embarrassed to be with me in public because I use 'hyperbole' in a sentence without flinching. We haven't had an easy conversation this year, I think. Every time I speak directly and firmly to him; he retreats, hurt. He teases me or offers a compliment and I am wary of the bitterness that might be underneath his humour. He's not told me he loved me in months. Once upon a time, I heard those words from him every day, even if they were the only ones we exchanged before bed or as one of us made a hasty exit in pursuit of our morning train.

I used to hold him when I was cold inside and my head resting against his heart would feel less foggy. Now I hug him out of habit and all that is familiar is the contrasts of our height, the way the balls of my feet feel on the hard floor as I reach up to wrap my arms around him. I stopped laughing at his bigotry and started returning his disturbingly smug looks with blank stares over six months ago. So I suppose it's my fault he sees me, as he never has before, as his expendable child. He sensed me withdraw from him; I quit the job I'd had in the same industry, started avoiding home whenever I could and ignore his presence when I was there. Both he and I are strangely emotionally sensitive; we know how other people feel but we don't deal with it well. And I am painfully clear when I don't like somebody, though I never say so in anyway overtly. Between my coldness, my desire to break with the traditions of our Daddy-Daughter relationship, establish independence and my own identity, and his sense for discord; we were doomed, I guess. After all I've dealt with in regards to him; alcoholism, depression, loyalty, affection, gratitude, fear, anger... I never thought there would be a time when I cared so little about the dissolution of our relationship. But I can't muster up any upset over his rejection of me. I guess it was, after all, a reaction to my becoming disenchanted after all these years fighting for a positive image of 'Dad'.

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