Sunday, April 18, 2010


Yesterday morning I got a call from my mom. We usually talk on Saturday mornings (or at least IM ) to fill each other in on any news that transpired that week, so I was not surprised to hear from her.

What did surprise me, however, was the trepidation I heard in her voice.

"I want to talk to you about something hard," she said. I steeled myself, not sure what to expect but not expecting whatever the upcoming conversation was to be good.

She went on to tell me that my dad (who has recently retired and been struggling from health problems) has not been doing great. When she came home from working an overnight shift at around 9:30, he was still sleeping. For someone who used to regularly wake up at 4:30 or 5:00, but would "sleep in" until 6:00 on the weekends, this struck me as unusual. He woke up briefly to say hi, and then relocated to the couch, where he slept most of the day away. Mom woke him up for dinner at 5:30ish, and then woke him up at 8:00 PM to tell him it was bedtime. He has an appointment with the cardiologist this week, and who knows what if anything they will find. Hopefully they can help him. He is sleeping more and more, and generally just not doing well. Although it could be a raging case of depression, it could mean that his health is going downhill fast.

This understandably scares and upsets my mom. I could hear the fear in her voice as she told me that she wakes up several times throughout the night to check if he is still breathing. Her brother died in his sleep of a heart attack when he was around 50; my dad is now 65. Her brother had yo yo dieted his whole life, but was training for the Ironman when he died. He was in good shape then. My dad is not.

"I know this is hard for you to hear, but I just wanted to let you know. If there is any last business you want to take care of with your dad, you might want to do it now. I didn't want you to be blindsided."

Well, damn. That's pretty heavy to hear.

Although I have not gone into the details here (and I probably won't), my dad and I have a relationship that is tenuous at best but probably is more accurately described as non-existant. I found out my senior year of college that he had been living a secret life that caught my entire family off guard. Although I had issues with my dad prior (particularly his emotional distance from our whole family), this really brought the issues to a head. I felt like my world was crumbling down around me. This was probably the first really dark bout of depression that I faced in my life. I could barely do anything when I found out.

Dad ended up going to jail for what he did. It really put a cloud over my first year of grad school. If you ever want to feel like white trash, spend Christmas eve in jail with your father and the rest of your family. You will feel like a huge loser. Unfortunately I can tell you this from firsthand experience.

I think the time that dad had in jail ironically ended up giving me -- and I think the rest of my family -- hope. Dad was able to be released every Friday to go to counseling and to go to an AA-like group to help him work through his issues. My dad has always been self conscious about writing and had never been in good control of his emotions. While he was in jail, though, he would write us letters and tell us about how he wanted to change. His letters actually had substance, not just the vague puffery and small talk like conversations I'd had with him my whole life.

I really tried to build a relationship with him during this time -- one that I had either not had in a very long time, or never. Eventually, though, I became convinced that he had not changed. After his release, his promises were still empty. His words were still shallow. And what stung the most, is that he still expected everything to revolve around him -- AS IF!!!!! Basically, I felt like everything was back to business as usual, with two major differences. First, we knew about this creepy stuff he dealt with that had led him to jail. Second, he was telling us how much he had changed while doing the same old stuff. Sorry, this girl doesn't buy it.

The whole experience left me -- and both of my brothers -- really wanting nothing to do with the jerk. While it is sad, I think it is ultimately better and definitely a coping mechanism for us to just cut ourselves off. Things at home are so bad that I have not been home for two Christmases and I really try to schedule time to go home only when I know he will not be there. And it's not like I'm doing anything great on Christmas either. I usually just stay here -- alone -- and am sad. Nonetheless, it is better than going home.

The hard part is that it puts my mom in the middle.

So that's a brief and cryptic history of the situation. So back to yesterday.

"...if you want to resolve anything, I think now might be a good time."


I was surprised to know that I felt...nothing. I didn't cry. And to be honest, I really didn't even care.

I feel badly for my mom. I want to support her, but as to my dad's failing health? I was surprisingly ambivalent.

When I called a friend to talk about it, she said "You sound upset not at the fact that your dad is sick, but because you feel like you should be upset and you're not."

Ding ding ding. She was right.

The more I thought about the situation, though, the angrier I got. I don't even know who I am angry with.

Unfinished business?! I mean seriously, what can I do?
I have forgiven him. I have let him know that.
I have tried to have a relationship with him, but after being burned on this several times I am over that.

I am not the one who caused the situation in the first place. I have tried to build bridges and mend fences, but after having them sabotaged several times why would I bother anymore? And more fundamentally, HOW IS THIS EVEN MY RESPONSIBILITY?! I AM NOT THE ONE WHO WRECKED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!! HOW CAN I ONCE AGAIN BE EXPECTED TO COVER FOR THIS LOSER?

Embarking on this journey to get healthy has really underscored to me the importance of not taking a day for granted and not letting life pass you by without really engaging in it. I am angry with myself that I spent so much time fat and a spectator in my own life, rather than grabbing the bull by the horns and steering the ship of my life myself. I am truly trying to live a life without regrets, and one that I can be proud of.

That is why, in this situation, I am sad that I am just numb to the whole thing. I really just want the situation to go away. I am sitting on the sidelines on this one, just like I used to do with my whole entire life.

I don't wish my dad a slow and painful death or anything, but I also don't really wish him a speedy recovery either. I really just don't care either way. And I am sad because of my indifference and because of the lack of a relationship with a father that I never really knew, not because my dad is dying. And that makes me feel like a huge bitch. I just feel numb to this.

I wonder how I will feel when he actually dies.

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