Saturday, December 29, 2007

Healing the Father Wound

I had counseling this morning and I focused on the fact that I can't seem to let go of the "Rejection Trio". That while I understand certain things intellectually, I just can't seem to get those thoughts to travel the tenuous trail from head to heart.....from brain to soul.

I take a few minutes to meditate and breathe now before I go into an appointment. I focus on relaxation first and then opening myself up to emotional receptivity. It works so well. Today I went in and I just started pouring it all out and I was crying as I was talking. Just tears streaming down my face as I was actually comfortable. In the past when I've cried in front of my T, I've held it back so tightly that it causes pain in my neck and throat. I've hidden it by putting my hands up or turning around. I would neatly fold a tissue into a perfect square in a frighteningly OCD ritual and dab away any tears that dared to form before they ever spilled from my eyes. Now I just let them go as I look T in the face and continue talking and feeling. It's incredible! I asked her if this was my medication and she said sortof....if you go with the onion theory, the Effexor took off the skin so that I could get at the layers underneath!

Anyway, I told T that I wanted to stop feeling this desire to reach out to them, to hold onto them. She said indeed I'm very determined to drag my past around with me like a giant set of luggage everywhere I go. I said that I think I hold onto all of that because deep in the back of my mind I feel like there is some slim chance they will change and come back looking to make things right with me and I'm afraid to cut the cord "just in case". Of course I know that will never really happen. And, like I said.....if it really DID happen and one of them became convicted that they needed to make things right with me, they would seek me out. They all know where to find me. do I let them go?? I said to T that I was so scared to hear her answer because I was sure it would be basically to just wait it out.

Instead she suggested something a little more proactive.....something at least making me feel like I am doing something to work at my goal and dare I say to help me control the situation a bit. I hate being at the mercy of time. Time heals all wounds....BS. That's not enough for me. So she suggested I do some imagery work. Visualize a disconnect from each of them individually. Picture things like a cord between the two of us that shrivels up, turns to dust and blows away. Or maybe like a vacuum cleaner cord that I unplug from the other person and suck it back up into myself. Or picture my hopes of them each going into a moving box, then packing those boxes on a truck and watch it drive away. Write names, expectations, emotions on pieces of paper and crumple, throw away, burn or flush them all. T said this is an active method to engage my emotional and intellectual selves at the same time. ie: head/heart connection working together. I should allow any feelings to come through me as necessary and then perhaps visualize any associated tears that ensue as being washed down a drain. She said I should find the images that work for me and then replay them every night.

In addition, she gave me some tapes by John Bradshaw called "Healing the Father Wound" to help me in this process. FYI: I took a quick look at his website and he has SCORES of self help books, tapes, seminars on a variety of topics from addictions to family to codependency. Very interesting stuff.

So I mentioned to T how DD has been asking alot about her Daddy lately and how I'm struggling with how to explain things to her as she gets older because I'm wrestling with my own father issues. T asked me what is the first thing I would say to a little girl who questions why her father isn't the person she needed him to be. I answered "It's not your fault; it's not about you." T asked whose fault was it, then? I said "the man, the father." So she asked me to tell her what kind of a man my father was/is.

Here is what I know about my father:
His bio father was an alcoholic.
His bio-parents split when he was young and his mother kept him. She remarried to another man who I don't know all that much about but I do know that more than one young girl had accused him (the step-father) of making inappropriate remarks or touches.
My father has severe animosity toward his older sister. I suspect she may have possibly abused him or done something inappropriate with him.
He's a very angry man.
He was a workaholic.
He used to tell me he liked me fine til I started talking.
Money was very important to him.
His sister lived with their mother and took care of her through her illnesses, cooked, cleaned, took her to the Drs, gave her daily injections, etc. She (my aunt) was single and didn't have a whole lot. My father had a great job and plenty of money. When my grandparents died, they willed their estate at a 55/45% split in favor of my aunt, which makes sense. My father sued her for the 5% and didn't stop til he won it.
He only wanted to be a parent to me when there was something bad going on.
He was a completely different person when we had company.
He was paranoid...never wanted my mother to have friends or do things without him; was convinced that she was ashamed of him.
He had an affair when we moved to California (I was about 5)
He used to sit in the dark in silence for hours at a time.

After I shared the above with my T, she made the following observations:
He is emotionally immature. Something happened that shut him down at an early age.
He is intimacy avoidant (ding-ding.....there is the similarity to my XBF)
He threw himself into work because it was the only thing he could connect to that was safe.
Highly depressed
Acting out in anger was the only way he escaped his depression b/c he could not find peace and joy in life. In some subconscious way, we (the family) played into this and provoked his anger to get him out of the depression states.
He is closed off with no capacity for empathy (this reminded me of when I broke my collarbone and he grabbed me by the arm with the broken bone, flung me around by it, told me it wasn't broken and to buck up)
Seeing vulnerability in another person triggers him in rage and discomfort b/c it reminds him of a time he was vulnerable and hurt. This is probably the reason that the brunt of his anger was directed at me, since I was the most vulnerable of the family.

T asked me what he was like when he was young and how/when things started to change in him. I said I really had no idea. She suggested that since all of my father's family is now deceased, my mother may be the only possible source of information. I hesitated for we all know my mother's perception can be MILES away from reality. But I got home and decided to go for it. She was at my house babysitting and so I hit her up with some questions. "What was Dad like when you first met him?" Here's what she said:
Confident. Strong. Self assured.
People were drawn to him, he was very magnetic.
He was fun and popular, a star on the basketball team.
My mother moved to his area, his school, in their senior year. He was dating someone else at the time and she was the most popular girl in school. She was very smart and strong minded. But then they broke up and he went for my mother. She said she didn't understand why since she was the total opposite of his prior GF. (what came to mind for me is that he probably didn't particularly like a woman who was strong/smart and wanted to be an equal).
He was very social, had alot of friends, was the life of the party kind of person. I asked my mother if she felt this was his true personality or if it was a "show". I don't think she understood what I meant. I asked her what they were like alone or at home. She said they were very quiet.
I asked about his family life with his parents. She said his mother shaped his personality. She was a very spiteful person and, if he didn't do something the way she wanted, she would punish him, stop talking to him. He decided to play her game and do it better so he would out-spite her.
His bio-father actually literally just walked out the door and kept on walking when my father was 1 year old. He became kindof a town drunk/bum and my father was very ashamed of him. He never tried to pursue meeting him later.
He was extremely ambivalent about his step father. Nothing positive or negative. That struck me as a protective move on his my first father walked out on me so I'm not going to risk feeling anything for you so that you can't affect me no matter what you do.
At the time my parents met, my aunt (his sister) was living in an apartment and was "running around" father hated this, hated her and constantly called her a whore. (This reminded me of a time I came home very, very late one night when I was out with a boy. My father grabbed me by the wrists and twisted me down to the ground and kept asking me "What ELSE were you doing with him??" I think he acted out his feelings about his sister on me. Doesn't help that I look like her.)
He left CT to go to college with his friend in Chicago and he came back right away b/c he "missed my mother". He came back with no money at all and dodged tolls driving back b/c he had nothing. He took a clerical job at a small firm and they got married shortly thereafter.
He wanted kids. My mother says he was a very proud father. (I surmised in here that he thought he would change and his life would become happy if he married & had a family. I think the more that didn't happen, the more he withdrew into himself and became pissed off at us for not accomplishing what he expected.)
When I was born, he stopped talking to his mother b/c he told her she was not allowed to come over and wake up me or my brother. She got mad, he decided to get more mad and they didn't talk for 3 years.
Finishing college was a sore subject for him and he would become very angry/defensive when anyone said anything that remotely questioned his intelligence, authority or decisions. (This reminds me of a Christmas gift I asked for. It was a book called "An Incomplete Education" and when I opened it, he scoffed "You already have one of those, I don't know why you need another one." I think he projected his feelings about college onto me)
She said his personality changed dramatically when we moved to CA. I asked her what sparked that and she wasn't sure. She felt part of it was the job and the pressures of the promotion.
He got a mistress immediately.
She could feel him pulling away before the move happened. She kept trying to do things to bring them back together. He told her that every time she opened her mouth, it drove him farther away.
He changed even more for the worse when we came back to the east coast 5 years later.

I have not spoken to my father in about 7 or 8 years now and the last correspondence was by letters. I don't know what he's up to now so I asked her. Apparently, he is in failing health. He had a small stroke a few years back. Bad heart. Needed a hip replacement but had to wait on it b/c his heart was too weak. Finally had that last year. I had no idea but my mother told me today she went to visit him in the hospital and then stopped by his house to check on him afterwards. When she checked on him, he was in complete respiratory failure and ended up back in the hospital with permanent lung damage. He's diabetic and oxygen dependent. Yet he lives. How does he live through all this??

Apparently he still works for his same old employer doing consulting 5x a month and also does the books for a friend of his who is a Dr. He's got some friends, he's got a dog. His neighbors look in on him regularly. They don't even know the monster he has been. They think he's some sweet old man.

While I remembered the part about him sitting alone in the dark, I had forgotten that while there he would listen over and over and over to one song. I just looked up the lyrics and I'm going to post them here because I think it says ALOT about the kind of man he is:

A winter's day-
in a deep and dark December
I am alone-
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock, I am an island.
I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mity
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
friendship causes pain
It's laughter and loving I disdain
I am a rock, I am an island
Don't talk of love
but I've heard the word before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber of the feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock, I am an island
I have my books
and my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armour
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock, I am an island
And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.

WOW, that is disturbing. And that is my father.......doesn't it make you all warm and fuzzy inside??


Enola said...

YOU SAID - I said that I think I hold onto all of that because deep in the back of my mind I feel like there is some slim chance they will change and come back looking to make things right with me and I'm afraid to cut the cord "just in case".

OH YES - exactly. I wonder if there is a cure for this disease.

Rising Rainbow said...

That song was a huge and I mean HUGE hit back in its day. Your father was not the only one disturbed. Some of that was the times. Very sad.

I hope you find a way to let him go.

And the remark about the baggage or luggage reminded me of the exercise one of my group members was assigned. She was to bring a suitcase to group with all of her excess baggage inside. When she finally did it, it was really an emotional and cleansing experience. I felt priviledged to witness such work.

Holdem Poker said...

It is scandal!