Saturday, January 16, 2010

Perceptions of myself

This is going to be long winded, but oh well.  There is a point though, I promise...

So, I don't have a good relationship with my father.  My parents divorced before I was 1, so I grew up as an only child with just my mom.  I would talk to him on the phone on holidays and whenever I was in trouble and my mom was fed up with me.  And, I would spend a week each summer at his house.  If I had to describe my father in 3 words, they would be:  Philanderer, Republican, and Alcoholic.  I could throw misogynist into the mix, but that would be 4 words and perhaps it's already implied under Philanderer.  Many beliefs I hold tight to derive from trying not to be like him as much as possible. 

As I've grown into adulthood, I've had moments where I've felt like this relationship isn't working for me and I need/want more from him, but in all cases, trying for that kind of relationship just left me feeling even more disappointed.  We didn't invite him to our wedding and I haven't seen him since I graduated from college nearly 10 years ago. 

About two years ago, he called me up out of the blue (it wasn't a holiday or my birthday) and he was obviously drunk and slurring his words.  I was going through some yucky work stuff and had just quit my job, but before I got a chance to tell him about that, he started to pick a fight with me about politics and how I was going to vote in the upcoming election.  It pissed me off on many levels, but mostly I think because here's a man who never speaks to me, who really doesn't know me at all (our normal holiday conversations usually revolve around the weather), and he presumes to call me and berate me.   I didn't call him for Father's Day that year.  Or his birthday.  Or Thanksgiving.  Or Christmas.  I felt (and still do feel) that I deserved an apology.  A sober apology.  He offered none and all I've seen/heard from him since are cards for my birthday and christmas that only say, "Love, Dad."

But, aside from deserving an apology, I really think that this incident has given me the excuse I wanted for a long time - finally a reason to say, "Look, this relationship isn't working for me and I'm much happier when you aren't in my life."  But, I haven't said that to him because it's not easy to say and I hope that he'll just realize on his own what a jackass he is. 

Since then, J and I bought our house and moved away from the apartment.  We got rid of our landline and switched to cell phones, although my cell has the same old landline number.  I got a birthday card from him this year, but it was a week late because it was forwarded from our old address - a christmas card didn't come and I think it was returned to sender because the forwarding has expired. So, right after the new year, I started getting phone calls from Washington state (where he lives - although from a different city than he lived two years ago) - I can only guess that the xmas card was returned and he wants to know where I live now. 

I haven't answered any of his calls.  My voicemail is just the automated one, so he would have no way of knowing if the number still belongs to me, but he hasn't left any messages.  I feel like if he really cared (which I believe he is incapable of), he would have either called/written me a long time ago or swallowed his pride and left a message to the effect of, "Hi, I don't know if this is the right number, but I'm trying to get in touch with Laura".  Alternatively, he could google my name and find out where I work (it's on linkedin) or see that I'm on facebook and send me a message.  I feel like he could find me if he really cared to.  I think that he has no clue at all why I wouldn't want to talk to him and that he's angry that I haven't made an effort.  Maybe he doesn't even remember calling me that one day.  Maybe he's also glad to have the excuse not to keep in touch. 

So, anyway - I did warn you this was going to be long winded - my dad has 3 other kids from Wife #2 and all of this thinking about him recently has made me...curious about them.  I haven't seen them since the oldest was about 12 and the youngest was about 7, and that was approx 18 years ago.  So, putting my investigation skills to work, I found one of my half-brothers on myspace.  It's very strange seeing pictures of this man.  If I walked by him on the street, I'd have no idea who he was.  I could talk about how we don't look much alike, but maybe a little in the smile.  Or about what I can guess about him from looking at his pictures.  But, here's the sliver of info that I really thought was interesting: he's athletic.  Tall, medium build, strong arms with big biceps.

I've never ever thought of myself as athletic in any way, shape or form.  Even though my dad was a baseball player back in the day, I've always perceived myself as being cut from the same cloth as my mother...stocky, uncoordinated, slow.  But, all of a sudden, I see photographic proof that there is athleticism somewhere in my genes.  It has me thinking all kinds of stuff about how the people around you shape your perceptions - how would my view of myself have been different if I had ever considered myself as one of *them*?  If I had seen, day in and day out, people around me sharing half of the same genetic material, doing sporty things, would I have done, enjoyed, been good at those things? From a psycology perspective - have I favored my "nurture" too much over my "nature"? Maybe in trying to not be like my father as much as possible, I've overlooked some positive possibilities. 

So, that's the marble that's been rolling around the last week or so.  And, it has me feeling somewhat optimistic...that my body, my life, doesn't have to be what I've always assumed it would be...I just might have it in my genes to be something more.

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