I have a lot of pent of emotions and opinions towards my dad. A lot of which I have shared with you, the reader to try and not only further identify and to possibly come up with alternative solutions other than scoffing in the distance but to see if any of the things I am going through resonate with others around the world. Some of these feelings may be good, some bad. For the past five years I have leaned towards giving the bad ones more attention than good feelings. Just the other day I finally made an effort to bridge the gap him and I have been having in recent months. How else would an introvert like myself do this you may ask; through an email. I should preface this next part with a short background on my dad and his background.
My dad is in his mid-forties, has no high school education, and has worked in retail all my life. He lives the typical americanized, materialistic kind of lifestyle with a palette to match his narrow views. He has a total of three children (myself included) from three different women. He likes to think he is the laid back, “you can tell me anything” parent who ends up spoiling his kids since he thinks jokes and lighter, less strict approaches are beneficial to a child’s upbringing. He enjoys outdoor events like camping and wrenching around fixing cars and any type of vehicle with wheels on it. He has a cloudy childhood of not knowing who his real father was, and doesn’t speak to his mom, or two other siblings due to deeper dramatic issues I don’t care to elaborate on. He is an extrovert, and likes to keep everyone laughing with his childish sense of humor and his large size.
My dad isn’t the most technologically savvy person. The main thing he uses computers for are for email (which he rarely checks) and craigslist. My dad surfs craigslist more than a teenager checks her newsfeed or timeline depending on their social media outlet of choice. So when I began writing this email I had lowered my expectations for a timely response. The email included most of my current feelings towards him, and how he made me feel uncomfortable by what he calls, “jokes” and what I would call, “teasing.” I might not have the thickest skin when it comes to accepting criticisms and jokes when it comes to things I care about, but he was unable to realize this at any point of my life. So in very clear detail I told him how I felt and shared with him most of the things that are going on in my life. I ended the email by saying that in order for me to take him seriously when he says he (in a non-intruding type of way) wants to know what is going on in my life, he needs to respond and acknowledge the things I mention.
He told me he had read it the next day, but would need to read it a few more times because what was mentioned was what he calls, “too intellectual for me.” That was an answer I was willing to accept.
Yesterday after work, I decided to take the long way home and rode through the muddy roads that were left of the rain in Griffith Park. The ground was still soft and my wheels sank and caused some quick maneuvering to prevent me tumbling with my bag filled with work clothes. This needless to say left my bike pretty messy and would require de and re-constructing to get in all the nooks and crannies.
This is where I shamelessly plug my ride to those who wish to see.
That same night I was wrenching in the garage when my dad asked when we were able to talk about what was written. With no time like the present, we finally got down to what I had hoped for.
I’m not going to specify our entire conversation because frankly I don’t remember, but we ended up getting a lot off our chests and we found out a lot about each other last night. He mentioned that he felt like he was unable to ask me for favors for things he may need help with while he will (and continues to) bend over backwards for me, helping me out with whatever I need. I want to note that he put a lot of emphasis on how he is willing to do whatever it takes, and help me at the drop of a dime. I had mentioned that I felt apprehensive about going out of my way for him and asking him for help with things because I felt like each task I would need help with, he would tally down on some imaginary sheet and hold against me later on down the line. This left me feeling the task of helping someone out who needs it to be disingenuine and not the selfless act helping is supposed to be.
One thing I brought up was the reason I chose not to share what was going on in my life with him was:
- I wasn’t convinced that he was actively listening to me
- I knew he would fail to see what I wanted from him by choosing to share something with him
The second thing might sound confusing but it goes back to whether you want someone to either give you advice and help out, or to just be a wall by listening and acknowledging what they say. We both had some trouble adjusting to each others wants at first, but he said it well when he assured me that he is going to sleep on the subject and try not to always give “dad-vise” when it is not wanted. The same goes with me in sharing my feelings and everyday tasks, and helping him out with little favors every now-and-then.
Not all topics were covered that night and it would be unrealistic to expect them to. We never talked about how I felt he wasn’t taking his own personal health seriously enough, but we have the rest of this time spent together for that. We may have become a little closer as father and son because of this, but part of me wants to still keep my distance in fear of getting hurt when a major health issue arrises.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be convinced that financially helping him out after all these years is morally right at such a young age. I agree when he says that this teaches responsibilities and promotes a strong financial ethic. The other points he tries to make hold a lot less weight in my opinion. This has scarred our relationship for me, and which is why I would like to move out by the end of the year. That along with the lack of volume control in the house, and the lifestyles the family lives.
Will my dad and I one day have the type of father-son relationship that is seen in most happy movies? No. I am fine with that. Hollywood lovey-dovey relationships always gave me the chills and made me feel dirty inside. No relationship is perfect and I realistically accept that. If I had to set a goal with the type of relationship I wished for my dad and I, I would want us to have a better understanding for one another and to be able to build on that to further prosper as individuals.
Until our next talk it’s back to bikes, books, and coffee (with a little bit of introverted, hermitus sadism for balance.)