My Father Moved Through Dooms of Love*

My therapist and I spend a lot of time dissecting my motivations and triggers in relationships. I have been trying to sort out my excessive attachment to having love proven to me. I’m not certain yet but I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the way I set up an obstacle course to my heart as a self-protection measure.

Of course, this brings me back to thoughts of my father. He was the type who, from what I remember of his later years, said one thing and did another. It’s confusing- having someone be so contradictory- especially when it comes to them expressing their love for you. To have someone say they love me with words and not put any actions behind it? It’s one of the worst feelings I know. And of course, because I’m trying to work out some old war wound, I continue to find situations that trigger it in me.

My father would say he loved me and he was sorry. Actually, I love you and I’m sorry were often synonymous for him. But what good are words when every time a promise is made it’s never followed through on? What does a child learn about love when her father has made a habit of saying one thing and doing another? How does she ever build trust with that kind of behavior? She starts to believe that this is what love feels like. She learns to doubt words, question sincerity, and be hyper-vigilant for the proof that all that talk means something is going to change. Every time her hopes are dashed she feels more angry for trusting and then trusting becomes the enemy. But still, she always secretly hopes.

I always over-identified emotionally with my father. In hindsight, I knew very little of what my father carried in his own heart but I took what I could as my own as a way to help lessen his burden. I still do this with men. Find the broken ones and try to mend them. Gather their hurts up into my heart, thinking maybe this one I can make right. If only the heart knew the brain’s logic!

I’ve been remembering the sound of my father’s hand dragging along the hallway wall late at night as he made his way from the living room back to the bedroom. Either from lack of balance from being drunk or from his diminishing eyesight, he’d need the wall to guide him.

I am ashamed to admit that most nights I laid in bed with an ear cocked, listening for the rustling sounds that meant he was heading to bed. I would quickly shut my book and turn my bedside lamp off because I did not want to have one of those painfully awkward confessional conversations that he was fond of having when the day had dragged on too long and the vodka had been keeping him company. I’d lay there in the dark, holding my breath, as I waited for him to walk past my room. His hand, dragging, dragging, along the wall cutting through the silent house. Some nights he’d stop short at my closed door, hovering there for what seemed like hours, like he knew I was on the other side keeping still to avoid him. I knew he wanted to speak to me. I always knew there was more he wanted to say than he ever uttered. I knew that and in knowing that my pain deepened.

Even in typing that I caught myself holding my breath.

Some things take a good long while to unlearn. But I am trying. I think sometimes my father was the last man to truly touch my heart- before everything went dark and he couldn’t find his way back to us. I’ve loved some really great men in my life and each one ran the obstacle course in their own way, getting as close as they could to winning. I’m beginning to wonder if this tiny, hollow feeling I’ve carried around with me for what feels like my whole life has just been me, alone at the finish line of my heart, waiting.

“I find myself repeating like a broken tune/And I’m forever excusing your intentions/And I give in to my pretendings/Which forgive you each time/Without me knowing/They melt my heart to stone/And I hear your words that I made up/You say my name like there could be an us/I best tidy up my head I’m the only one in love/I’m the only one in love…”Melt My Heart To Stone, Adele

*The title is an e.e. cummings poem.

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29 thoughts on “My Father Moved Through Dooms of Love*

  1. I can relate to this a lot. I am happy you are working through it all but sad you had to live it. In my experience, it is interesting (and sucky) that past things carry through to the future relationships and make things more difficult. It’s almost like the world is saying you need to deal with this before you can move on and find true happiness and love and it won’t let you skip the part you don’t want to deal with no matter what you do to try and avoid it.

    Hugs!

  2. your willingness to share your stories and vulnerability inch you closer and closer to healing…
    xo

  3. It always amazing me how much the people in our lives can change and mold us… even if we vow it will never happen. I wish I had been strong enough to seek help when I was your age instead of just bottling it all up and then having it spew all over my life when I was older. You are such a loving, sincere, beautiful young woman… you are getting there a day at a time. I’m so proud of you.

  4. I know it took a lot to put yourself in a place where you could write this down, but I don’t think many people can say that they know themselves that well. I think things are going to work out fine for you, sizzle.

    So giving you a mental hug right now.

  5. Wow Sizzle, this is pretty powerful. I hope you know that you are worth someone having to go through an obstacle course to get to your heart. Any man not willing to do that, is not worthy of you anyway!

  6. Amazingly naked and vulnerable! To put your words out there for all of us to read…for all of us to share in your pain is brave!! I have read your blog for a while now and it never ceases to amaze me the way you can weave your words together to create somethig poignant!!
    I wish I could write and share like that. I hope your heart will begin to feel itself transforming and ultimately…healing.

  7. I can’t even begin to know what you went through as a child and now through your adulthood. But I think it’s a good thing you are trying to work through this because by facing all this you can grow stronger and move past it.
    You have wonderfully eloquent words. As always my dear, lots of hugs to you, stay strong and you will get through this. And you are never alone.

  8. This words vs. action thing is so important. I find Torsten doing that sometimes. Like in his head his priorities are right and therefore it excuses it when his actions say otherwise. Like he knows so truly that I come first that if he puts work before me from time to time it doesn’t matter because we both know that that’s not how he FEELS. But it DOES matter and that’s what he’s slowly been learning. You’re right that those examples that parents set are so important.

  9. I still struggle with understanding the link between my father and the triggers that I have in current relationships. I have a feeling it will take a lot of intensive work to get it all sorted out…

    You’ve inspired me to be more open…I’ve kind of clammed up the past few months, don’t even know where to start sharing my own personal brand of crazy! ;o) Thanks for sharing.

  10. You are Deserving of Love. Just because Someone was Contrary towards you doesn’t mean you can’t Improvise, Adapt & Overcome it. Pet Love is a Great start because they give you their whole selves & it is Impossible for them to lie. But you also know that even under the Best of circumstances Humans are or can be Ambivelant, even yourself. Give yourself permission not to make any rash decisions but, at the same time, Live for Today, feel & be Patient. Open the door and only revisit when this decision really needs to be made. Love can be gently held but it really can’t be Grasped. Take My Advice, I’m not using it!

  11. Powerful indeed. I’m glad you are at a place where you can put your feelings into the written word. Who knows how many others you are helping by sharing your journey with us?

  12. I echo the thank you’s for sharing. πŸ™‚
    Ever thought about writing a memoir? I think you could do it beautifully…

  13. you do know that you can let go of guilt you feel about your father and his inability to deal with living. your place in life, as a daughter, was never meant to be the confessor’s place of absolution. unfortunately, you happened to be caught in the crossfire between love and hate – your father’s that is (of himself.) such a horrible place to put a child.

    my wish for you is no more pain, torment and guilt about a man that couldn’t help himself much less help anyone else in his life. you truly deserve to be loved for you and you only.

    **hugs**

  14. I can’t even get past the third paragraph. This is me: She learns to doubt words, question sincerity, and be hyper-vigilant for the proof that all that talk means something is going to change.

    Thank you for writing out what has been running through my head and for making me see it in black and white. You will make it through and be better for it, mainly b/c you have the courage to face it.

  15. I was raised in a similar state where “I love you” was never shown by my mother no many how much it was said. There was always more of a “If you do/be/say the right thing, then I will love you” person, which is why I tend to mold myself to fit someone else’s glove then end up unhappy later.

    So yes, I totally get this too. πŸ™‚

  16. I found you through another blog and have just started reading your posts and this one needing a *hug*.

    As a self professed Daddy’s Girl, I was fortunate enough to have a spectacular father. And am grateful for it everyday.

    I however, did not pick the man who would be a great daddy for my kids and I fear, my children will have these same memories when they are grown. I did make a serious life altering decision and removed him from the daily life, but I fear that the damage is done.

    I feel for you Sizzle, and am honored that you are now strong enough to share this deep held hurt with your “blog family.” You are very eloquent about your feelings. You brought tears to my eyes, and this protective mommy just kicked it up a notch! I need to go hug my kids!

    thank you for sharing!

  17. I’m so glad that therapy is helping you identify some of these triggers and how to possibly deal with them going forward. It was a huge help for me in how I approached relationships after that point.

  18. You were sent so many mixed messages as a child, no wonder you feel mixed up now. I don’t remember what movie it was, but a great line that stuck with me was “the opposite of unconditional love is indifference” and “When you are late or don’t show up, it tells people you don’t care about them.” You father sounds like he ingrained both of these into you unfortunately. Huge kudos to you for embracing the kind of work that this change requires, you are a strong lady and will get there. Just remember, you don’t have to be strong all the time.

  19. Without having any answers to this powerful imagery and insight you have shared with all of us, I truly hope that one day you can acknowledge and leave the past behind you so you can be free. I know it’s easier said than done, but I also know it is possible. You are such an amazing person and I hate to think of this holding you back from experiencing the love that you deserve.

  20. You are such a powerful writer. Wow. I feel like this could be published in a book.

    I am happy that you are diving into these deep and scary feelings and trying to figure them out.

  21. This is such a beautiful and sad post. It’s incredibly written.

    You will not be alone at that finish line forever. Someone will make it to you. And you won’t have to rescue or fix them on their way in, either.

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