I admit it. One of my indulgences is watching reality TV. One of the shows that I used to watch was Celebrity Rehab. It wasn’t to participate in any schadenfraude, but having a family with a history of substance abuse, it’s something interesting for me to watch, safely removed.
One season, Jason Davis, the son of billionaire Marvin Davis was lamenting to Dr. Drew Pinsky and his counsellor Bob Forrest that he didn’t have a strong relationship with his father, something that he desperately wanted throughout his whole life.
To paraphrase, he said,
“I wish I had a father instead of security guards.”
“But you don’t,” Bob Forrest replied, “you don’t.”
I had a moment then, and that line has stuck with me and resonated with me time and time again.
This past June 7th was the 10th anniversary of my mum’s death. Every year, it’s a terribly melancholy day for me, and usually the weather cooperates. Gloomy, and overcast. My family allows me to be sad, my husband lets me brood and I fully embrace the depth of sadness that I feel that day. It’s trying, exhausting and as real as anything. The tears recur all day, brief and stinging.
This year, something stung a bit more.
About a month ago, my father remarried. He’s got a great woman in his life, who he’s been living with in LA for a few years now, and it’s been great to see him as happy as he is. I have no problem with the marriage or the relationship. I love my Dad, and I want to see him happy.
My lament, à la Jason Davis, is that my father’s happiness is still the only thing that he cares about too. My whole life, I’ve never been as important as his joints, his friends or his freedom. Growing up, he was way more my buddy, than a father figure.
I really wanted to be there as my Dad took new vows with this important woman in his life. I asked. No less than five times. When he called our house to tell us his wedding date, I got 10 days notice. Ten days to book vacation days, get a flight, bail on commitments and get myself down there. But that was the whole point, right? Ten days ensured that I wouldn’t be. So, I wasn’t.
Then, on the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing, he phoned to tell me that he wouldn’t be visiting with me and my family the next day, but he’d wait until the following weekend when his new wife was in town too, and they’d make the trip together. It worked out better for him that way.
He didn’t mention my mother. The woman whom he had spent 40 years with, produced two children and had two grandchildren with, and whom I was actively and immensely still grieving that day, didn’t even warrant mentioning.
To say that I was hurt, would be a gross understatement. I called my father back a couple of hours later, told him that I was still incredibly hurt about the wedding and through tears, told him that not only could I not bring myself to visit with him, I more importantly, didn’t want to.
Ironically, he said the same thing in response to me, as were the last words my mother ever spoke to me. “Okay, love.”
I tweeted out later that day
“Hard part is accepting what you don’t have, no matter how much you wish you did. Easy part is mindfully creating what you want instead.”
I don’t have a Dad that wants to see me and my children as soon as he crosses the border.
I don’t have a Dad that couldn’t dream of getting married again without any of his family there.
I don’t have a Dad that is mindful of others, and thoughtful of what his children’s and grandchildren’s needs are (because no matter how old one gets, I’m still my Dad’s girl).
I don’t have a Dad that will ever read this either, because no matter what I ever achieved or produced, it never got his attention anyway.
So, what do I have?
I do have is the ability to ensure that my children never feel this way.
I do have the option to not avail myself to recurring hurt.
I also have is the ability to say, “no” when relationships aren’t supportive and making me happy.
And I have the ability to see what I don’t have, accept it and let it go.
Working on that last part…