16 April 2010

Next Chapter: In Which Rob Hears From His Dad And Wonders How To Reply

E-mail from my dad today:

My son: I love you very much and have missed your calls and updates on how you and the twins are doing.

Much love
Your Father


OK, friends and readers who've been following my wrestles with the family's reactions, you know what my dad has said before. You know what my siblings have said. You've read here what I would like to say back.

I do love my dad and have told him so many times. I understand his reaching out. I know he won't be around forever. Tomorrow morning while I'm sleeping off tonight's party he could be nibbled to death by ducks in a park. Whatever.

But honestly I don't know if I'm ready to resume the conversation yet. The one we had last time was like a one-two sucker punch not in the gut but a bit lower down. Then followed the next week by an hour of the most intense tongue-lashing I have ever endured in my life from another family member. It was probably the single most brutal week I've ever endured at the hands of my own family.

I'm still recovering from all that. Having lived overseas for a while, I'm accustomed to long periods of little contact with family members, and right now, frankly, I'm glad to be there again. It's restful. It's peaceful. I need some time away to heal.

I don't wish to throw a hissy fit or a tantrum like a 5 year old and stomp my feet and say I'm not gonna talk to you no more if you don't let me get my way. That's not it at all. But I know what they all think, and I have no more patience for facades. So if I talk to them again and they're honest, it's going to be unpleasant. At least for as long as they hold to current attitudes, which so far they seem unwilling to even examine or talk about, let alone think of changing.

In such circumstances, I think the best thing I can do for everyone is to simply stay away for a while until somebody says OK, we are willing to listen to you and give good faith consideration to what you say. I don't see the point in talking before they're willing to do that.

Meantime, my dad misses and loves me. I understand. And I don't want to be cold or harsh or ungrateful. But I am feeling so beat up by all of them that I just don't know if I'm ready to re-engage yet, even in response to a message like that.

I know some of you will say man up, put your feelings aside, respect your dad and his olive branch, etc. Don't think I haven't already thought at great length about all the reasons and arguments for doing just that. No need to browbeat me further about it. But that's exactly what I've already done several times over the past few months as his objections to my "lifestyle" became more and more strident, till it got to the point of . . . well, of our last conversation. Frankly, there's been a serious breach of trust there, and while I sympathize with his missing me and the kids, it's going to take me a while before I'm ready to risk it happening again. It's like the story of the puppy who approaches its master and is greeted at first with nice strokes and scratches behind the ears but is then suddenly whacked on the nose with a newspaper. After that happens a few times, eventually the puppy learns not to trust the strokes and scratches, and it takes longer and longer for the puppy to be willing to risk getting whacked again if it keeps approaching the master.

Is that fair to my dad? I'm sure that was never his intent. It's not his nature to be like that. As I've said before, he is a good-hearted, well-intentioned, kind and honorable man who wants only the best for his family as he sees it. And, for all that, this puppy has gotten whacked on the nose once too many times now. It's gonna take me a while before I'm ready to go back.

OK, have at it, everyone.

9 comments:

LDS Brother said...

I've been mostly isolated from my family for most of the last 6 months. It's not gonna kill ya to take some time off.

MoHoHawaii said...

Talk to your dad, even though you don't want to. Talk about the twins and anything else that's going on. Get him to talk about things in his life. You have to be the grown up here; he's the kid. I doubt he'll throw another tantrum. It's okay if you're slightly more reserved and formal than previously.

I know I'm just a voice out there in the ether, but trust me on this one. It's really important to keep the lines of communication open right now.

Tim Trent said...

A valid approach is to say in reply that you love him very much, that you miss talking to him, that you appreciate the contact he has just made, and that you are not yet ready to speak.

Abelard Enigma said...

Were I in your position, I'd be tempted to tell him pretty much what you put in this blog post - that the way your family has reacted to your 'coming out' has been very hurtful and that you just need time.

Of course, I'm too big of a coward to even tell my family; so, what do I know?

ControllerOne said...

If you are not ready to talk, you are not. So many of us have spent our lives doing things because the people we love expect us to. Go with your heart on this one because I think too early an attempt at rapprochement might lead to another blow up. From what I've read, your family relationship might not survive it. And that would be a real shame.

So, my advice, write Dad to thank him for contacting you, tell him you love him too and let him know that you need some time and space right now.

Good luck my friend.

Ned said...

I'm pretty much with MoHoHawaii on this one. I would reflect what he says to you along these lines. He left you a short loving message, and you could respond in kind:

Dad, I also love you very much and miss you. Love, Rob

(word count: 12)

Because after, you do still love your dad, you understand his reaching out, you know he won't be around forever, and you don't want to act like a five year old, be cold or harsh or ungrateful. He is offering you an olive branch and even though you may not be wiling to fully re-engage, those twelve words (or whatever short message you choose) would let him know that you love him, even if you disagree.

So that's my two cents. You're in my prayers Rob.

Troy said...

I know it's always easier said than done, but always take the high road :)

Max Power said...

Unconventional: Just have the twins call him to say hello.

Personally, I think it's nice and all to be the adult here, or take the high road, or whatever you want to call it. BUT, if you do that will he ever truly get the message about how much he hurt you? Only you know your relationship with him well enough to know what the best route is to get him to understand.

If it were my parents, the best thing to do would be to ignore them until they came crawling back. Otherwise they would just think that they had not done anything to hurt me and they were right for what they had done. But that's my parents.

boskers said...

Hey, I'd just talk to him about your kids and not bring up anything about being gay. And if he tries to, then just let him know that nothing's changed since the last time you both talked about it.