It’s done. I picked up my father at lunchtime yesterday and we chit-chatted a bit. He asked how each child was in turn, well he asked how they were enjoying school which is as close as he gets. He didn’t ask me how I was doing.
It was sunny so we went for a walk. Perhaps the fact that we weren’t face to face gave me courage. We’d only been together an hour or so and we’d run out of conversation. I spent five minutes with sentences running through my head before I finally thought that I was bored and frustrated with not having a civil conversation with my father that I spoke out.
I said that part of 2son’s issues was that he had no idea how to express what was going on inside his head, what his feelings were or what he was angry about. He expressed his frustration by doing things like urinating on the carpet. I talked about 1son’s inability to deal with confrontation or anger as he’d never learned it by arguing with his parents. I then said that I found it difficult to help 2son as I had similar difficulties because my parents blocked out their emotions, we’d never had verbal fights, we didn’t get emotional because it wasn’t allowed. I pointed that that my mother disagreed with him so rarely that he still talks about the three or four occasions when she did. Out of 25 years.
My father’s reaction was as expected. He recognised that I have a grievance about my childhood but he did the best he could and I should have got over it by now, whatever it is. I’m a grown up now and I should have moved on. Life is full of unpleasant things and we just have to get a grip and get on with it rather than try and change it. He also said there was nothing wrong with the way they’d brought us up. And then he asked what any of this had to do with 2son. Also he said that children choose what they learn from their parents.
That was it really. I said I disagreed with him at several points. He dismissed my feelings, as he’s always done, saying that it was a pity I felt this way. So in that sense nothing was gained.
He did however feel the need for a sudden nap and practically fled. When we reconvened later we went out for dinner and talked about other subjects. He will no doubt go back home and discuss this with my mother and they’ll sit there and sadly shake their head at me.
There were achievements. I said things that have been going round in my head all year that I’ve not been able to verbalise to him. I found it hard to say them but I did. I also said them without wanting to cry or even to get angry. I just felt frustration and disappointment. that he couldn’t even acknowledge or respect what I was saying, let alone understand it. That’s his problem. He refused to bear any responsibility and that’s the part that makes me angry.
I still need to work through how I act with my parents and how I can get to a point of feeling comfortable with them again, of not letting them get to me. I feel I’ve made a major step forward in how I didn’t fall to pieces while having this conversation and that is probably the best I could have hoped for.