Monday, June 20, 2011

A Man In A Boy's Life Does Not A Father Make

***UPDATE: I did in fact end up sending this via snail mail. My father responded by asking me if I could send this to him in e-mail form becuase it would be easier for him to respond. I did not respond to him. What are you smoking indeed!***

Welp, I hadn’t expected it, but my father sent me a desperate pleading letter. I hadn’t heard from my dad after the tantrum he threw on the phone with his wife. He called me about three days ago saying “Hey LSV, just seeing how you’re doing. Just wanted to say that I miss you, I miss talking to you. Give me a call back, you know the number. I love you.”
I didn’t call him back.

Now here we are, I received an email with a letter attached. His writing is in black, my responses are italicized. I broke down the email into parts but I didn’t send this to him, it was just a way for me to accurately convey to him what I should be. I did not change his words or his spelling mistakes. This may or may not get sent:


Hi LSV,
            First off LSV I love you very much and I am sure that your mother and all your aunts and uncles and extended family do too. I started to write this letter by hand thinking it wasn’t going to be very long but as I started to write more and more feelings just kept coming out and it was going to be longer then I thought.

Dad, perhaps you do love me very much, but I don’t believe for a second that you respect me or the decisions I have made. It is not your place to discuss my relationships with my mother or her side of the family as they have nothing to do with you. I have explicitly expressed this and have told you that communicating with my mother as you have done makes me uncomfortable. I told you this and you continued to engage her in communication. I am sure that your behavior is disrespectful.

            LSV you were raised with a lot of love, kindness and happiness.  That’s not to say that there wasn’t any turmoil or unhappiness. It happens in everybody’s life at some point or other.  It’s just inevitable and you deal with it the best you can.

Some of the “bad stuff” was intentional. So no, it didn’t “just happen.”

It molds us, it realigns our character. But let me say LSV that you were raised with the practices of God in your life and you know about what God wants for us, for our families and for our friends.  What you do with that info is up to you.  God calls us to be peacemakers, to give Grace freely where it may not look like it’s warranted.

            Here’s the thing: I don’t believe I was raised with the “practices of God” because you only converted when you met [your wife] and I was ten years old already, or thereabouts. I don’t know what God calls us to be Dad, because I was never given the opportunity to choose what I believed for myself. You forced me to go to church with you. Religion was not for me, but no one bothered to ask me that. Why? Because I was just a kid and how could a kid know what he wants, right? Only God knows what every man, woman, and child wants, and that’s to be with Him. That’s what I understand you to believe. Well, I have the power to choose, and I’m going to hold fast to that, so if I choose not to give Grace where you would, then that’s my prerogative. It is my expectation that you would respect that I have a good reason for the way I feel. Whether or not you agree with it is irrelevant.

You and I LSV and all our friends and families and even yes, even our sons and daughters are born into sin whether we like it or not, BUT by the grace of God and with his mercy we are forgiven and are allowed to walk on this earth and someday be in His presence. 

            My children are not born with sin nor are they born evil. They are my perfect children. And I don’t think some people should be allowed to walk the earth but they do anyway – say, child molesters.

So LSV nobody has treated you badly, meanly, rejected you, or forced you into a life of demeaning slander or poverty. 

            This is inaccurate. I most certainly was mistreated.

You had all the best of what we could give you at the time.  You had love, a nice roof over your head at all times, you were in all types of sports, you went on many vacations, fishing, snowmobiling, amusement parks of all kinds, snow skiing, water skiing, you had lots of friends, you always had food to eat, and you had one of the best educations around. All of this was done because of the love for you.  You were always praised for your achievements, and you were always forgiven for the mistakes that you made and whether it was one time or several times, the forgiveness and grace was always there for you, given to you freely and unconditionally. 

Just because I had a roof over my head and some food to eat does not mean I had a great family. Having an inordinate amount of friends does not mean I had a great family. Taking many vacations does not mean I had a great family. These are material things that are not necessary for a good, happy, healthy family. Make no mistake, I do appreciate that I was able to take the vacations I did, and that I had plenty of food, etc. I too will give my children the best I possibly can but I do not expect anything in return.

A while back I apologized to you several times for not doing more as a dad and as a father.  But I was still there.  And it wasn’t as if you had no father figure because [your mom’s husband] was there too.  Between the two of us, you were covered.

            Between the two of you, I still didn’t get what I needed: a consistently present, engaged-in-my-life father. You did apologize, I remember that, but what didn’t change were your behaviors. You continued to give too freely to others, and therefore, I didn’t feel like I was a priority to you. You continued to be unreliable to me. Even when you said you wanted to change, wanted something better for us, you didn’t change. A man in a boy’s life does not a father make.

We are all like balls of clay on the potter’s wheel to be shaped into something that we hope will turn out to be worthy in the eyes of our family our piers and most of all God.  Everything we think, do, see, hear, read and say molds us into what we are today.   

At some point, we need to take control of ourselves and mold ourselves and not just be molded by this “potter.” Just because family and friends don’t believe me to be worthy, does not automatically make me unworthy. It is important for me to discover and develop my self-worth. I will not concern myself with whether or not I am worthy in the eyes of others.

As you got older, you took from all the things that happened in your past and used them to mold the beginnings of your life as a young adult.  YOU LSV made the decision on how and what your life was going to be like.  YOU are for the most part in control of your own life. YOU make the decision on who is going to be your family, your friends, and relationships and so on.  There are people in this world that can control people and manipulate them for their own personal satisfaction, and they normally prey upon people that have a spirit of controllability. Those people control their own lives as well as the lives of others.  As you were growing up that was not the case.  But as for right now, I’m not so sure.  Somewhere along the line I think that changed.  For as much grace and forgiveness you give to others it WILL be given back to you.

So this is what I hear: Before I met my [wife], I was not being controlled. Once I met her, she began to control me. In addition, no one likes her. I was controlled before [wife], make no mistake about that. And now, [my wife] is guiding me, not controlling me. Your last line there sounded like a threat, and I don’t take kindly to threats.

            So now you have a wife, a home, 2 beautiful children, a dog a cat and great job what more could you need?  Oh you need help on your house.  You call me and I say sure.  I thought to myself what better way to bond with my son then to work side by side hand in hand on a project of great meaning together.  Is that what it was LSV or was it just to get some work done cheaply that you needed and it didn’t really matter who it was that did it as long as it got done. Because right now, this moment. That’s what I’m feeling. 

            [My wife] and her parents can attest to my excitement at having you come and help me set up a few things around the house. I wanted to learn from you. Again, I communicated to you how appreciative I was and if you can’t see that now, then that is your problem, not mine. It is your behaviors that I am responding to.

Have you ever been there for anyone? Have you pushed yourself out of your envelope to be there for someone else?  You may have but I haven’t heard of any. What it means to be there for some one is to help when they can’t do it on there own, to give support, or to just be there.  After all the work I did for you and your family I call you and ask you, my only son, to come and help me and you say I’ll call you back.  You call back and say you can’t because it interferes with the work at your house, knowing that I can’t do it because I hurt my shoulder.  So I had to ask both of my sons’ in-law to help and without hesitation they were here. Do you know how bad it makes me feel that my own son won’t come help me when I’m in need?  Do you know what that makes you look like? 

I don’t care “what it makes me look like.” I have a brand new family and brand new home and they come first. Your sons-in-law do not have the same responsibilities that I have. Do not try to use guilt on me, it will not work anymore. Also, on the phone you told me that your sons-in-law would already be there, so you had already asked them to help and they agreed. What you said in your letter was that because I didn’t help you, you were forced to ask them. So which is the truth?
I don’t owe you or my mother for giving birth to me. Children owe their parents NOTHING and it is abhorrent that you think they do.

We have concert tickets right down front for [a concert] for the same day as [your daughter’s] birthday. The mistake was made, it happened. 

It didn’t have to happen: [my wife] informed [your wife] three months in advance that we’d be having [my daughter’s] birthday party on that day. It is not our fault that you and [your wife] did not care enough to remember.

The situation now was to try to come up with some type of satisfying comprise.  Two things were suggested One was that if you could move it up a little bit and that went over like a stuck pig, (and by the way that was very disrespectful of [your wife] to respond to [my wife] that way.) The second was that we would just come early and leave early, that also was unacceptable.

At that time, we already had plans for people to come over. They made their schedules around the birthday; there wasn’t any reason why you couldn’t do the same, especially since we’d given you and [your wife] three months’ notice. And yes, it was unacceptable to come early when no one was there, and then leave early. You could have done it, but you would have hurt the relationship that you and [your wife] should have been building with me and my family. [My wife] saying no to your “compromise” is not being disrespectful.

So what did we do we gave up our tickets to make you the priority.  We go over and inadvertently get there late because we got the time mixed up and unforeseen circumstances that took place at home before leaving. 

What you just said was that the concert was a higher priority than your granddaughter’s first birthday. And yes, things happen, washing machines break. You didn’t call, you just showed up late.

We get there about an hour late and notice that couple of immediate family is there.  We wonder why there it would have been so difficult to adjust the time. 

Our children are our priority. And just because “a couple” of immediate family members are there doesn’t give us the right to keep switching the times on them. That’s just inconsiderate.

Ok, then [son-in-law and step-daughter] show up after getting out of work and the whole place goes quiet.  You and [your wife] are so disrespectful to them by not talking to them that we all noticed. I even had to tell you to go to them and say hi.  

This is not accurate. I greeted them at the door and ask them about the big dog pillow they brought. Add to that, they didn’t even RSVP to the invitation so we had no idea they were going to be there. So if we did actually just stare for a moment, it was because we were surprised they had arrived at all. And no, I wasn’t going to spend the whole time chatting up everyone – it was my daughter’s birthday and planned to see to it that she was happy. Plus I had already set up everything before everyone got there.

We ended up for the concert having to buy more tickets at a higher rate and seats that were way up in the nose bleed section. This was all to make you a priority. 

Again, the guilt thing isn’t working. It could have been avoided if you remembered [my daughter’s] birthday in the first place.

People make mistakes LSV, it happens.  I’m going over to your house one night after work to do work for you and I call to let you know I’m almost there and no answer.  I go to the door and nobody’s home. Do you remember?  People make mistakes.

People do make mistakes but it’s not ok to continually forgive and forget. More appropriately the phrase should be forgive and remember, that way I won’t continually get walked all over. I am not obliged to forgive anyone.
  
  The saying “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is one of the biggest lie around.  The bible says the tongue is like a double edge sword it can either give life or take it away.  And “Actions speak louder then words”.  This is good.  Like you say you love me but you won’t come over and help me when I’m in need even after I just helped you.

What you just said there was that I don’t love you because I won’t do things for you. That is conditional love and that is not the type of love I have for you. Why you hold that version of love I do not know but that is unhealthy and unacceptable.

Forget I’m hurt and can’t do it.  I have given you forgiveness before you ask and my grace is sufficient for you.

So you’ve forgiven me for choosing to work on my house and putting my family first? How does that make sense?

            LSV in the end, I am not accountable to you, or [your wife] for my actions.  Nor is [my wife], your mom or anyone else.

            Yes you are. Your actions affect [my wife], me, and my family, so you are accountable for what you do. Just as I am accountable for what I do. Same goes for my mother, and anyone else I interact with.

I should not have to be placed on speaker phone for the entire world to here if I want to talk to you.  I should be able to talk to my son man to man, father to son without having a third party scrutinize my words and intentions. 

            Yes you should be able to talk to me face to face, as should any father and son, however if you have proven yourself to not have my best interests at heart, then that cannot happen. [My wife] is most certainly not a third party, she is my wife whether you like it or not. She and I share everything. That is what marriage is about, complete transparency. Also, I am certain my words and intentions are scrutinized, as they should be. It’s ok to analyze people’s actions and words. And that’s what should be done.

I believe at 51 I have earned the right to draw respect as an adult and as your father that this shouldn’t happen.  I should be able to take my son out for a bite by himself, not to say that I wouldn’t do it for the rest of your family.  You and [your wife] have no right to judge ANYONE lest you be judged. 

     And I believe that one has to earn the right for respect. Should a child respect an abusive adult? No. Should another adult respect an abusive adult? No. [My wife] and I have every right to assess anyone as we see fit. Every person has the right to assess those he or she comes in contact with, that’s the nature of being human and making decisions.

 How can you take the spec out of your neighbor’s eye when you have a rock in yours?  GOD is the only one we are accountable to and the only one that can judge. If people live by the sword then the will die by the sword.  Don’t be so hard; don’t be so quick to judge.

            I disagree. I am accountable to myself and to [my wife]. I am responsible for the actions I take, the decisions I make as they will both affect my family. You are accountable to [my wife] and I for your actions. [My wife] and I are accountable to you and [your wife] for our actions. [My wife] and I will assess based on our analysis of your behaviors as you and [your wife] will do the same. I am not being hard, I am being real. I am being truthful.

  Read the book of proverbs it has so much Godly wisdom in it which by the way is the best kind to have.  The bible says that in their own wisdom they were as fools.

I am not a fool. I don’t want Godly wisdom, I want my own.

Put God in your life.  Mature yourself in his wisdom.

I don’t have to put God in my life to be wise or to mature. To do so would put less emphasis on self development and more on “being like God.” I’d like to be more like me.

Show yourself to be worthy.

I am worthy and I don’t need to prove it to anyone.

Be a man amongst men. 

You are saying I am not a man. What would I have to do to “man up” in your opinion? Divorce my wife? Desert my children and my responsibilities that I choose to have? This sentiment is interesting coming from a man who divorced his first wife, only to confess many years later to his estranged son that he wished he’d stayed with said wife, to work things out with her and maybe have a better life with his son. I will not play your “be a man or else” game. 

Surround yourself with family and friends that love you and truly only want the best for you. 

I already have.
I haven’t seen these “friends and family that only want the best for you” of which you speak.

You will never die a poor man if you do these things because you will be blessed with the love family and many friends. 

I have a wife and children that adore me. I will never be poor.

Memories are all you take with you when your life is over.  The ball is in your court.  I hope and pray that you handle it with Gods wisdom.


I love you LSV. 


I have responded in italics to your thoughts. Now here are mine:

It is obvious that you were never happy with my life choices regarding [my wife] (marriage and kids) but instead of talking with me about it, you pretended like you were happy about it.

It’s too bad you feel the way you do but I’m not sorry I handled my life the way I did.

It’s too bad you convinced yourself that I used you for getting work done on my house because I chose to continue to work on my house in my limited free time rather than go to your landscaping party.

It’s too bad you believe in conditional love when it comes to parenting.

It’s too bad you chose to blame me for your behaviors.

It’s too bad you still try to guilt me into feeling the way you think I should feel.

It’s too bad you and [your wife] don’t care enough to spell my wife’s name correctly, to spell my daughter’s name correctly, or to even remember that you are grandparents at all just because you may not have been ready for that change.

It’s too bad you don’t respect me enough to comply with my requests even though you don’t necessarily agree with them but trust that they are in my best interests.

It’s too bad I can’t rely on you.

It’s too bad you chose your gardening work over me when I invited you to visit me in Boston.

It’s too bad we can’t have a better relationship because you think that I’m the one that needs to change.

It’s too bad you feel that children, and me in particular, owe their parents for something. For what, I’m not sure, being born and providing for them perhaps? I do not agree at all with this sentiment as it breeds destructive and corrosive relationships.

If you are more concerned with being "right" rather than taking responsibility for your actions and treating me and my family with respect then you can be "right" without us. 

Dad, I love you very much but I cannot have a relationship with you while you continue to disregard my needs, continue to disrespect me and my wife, and attempt to undermine my relationship with her. As long as you continue to think [my wife] is controlling me, as long as you think I am not acting on my own accord, then you are not respecting [my wife]. If you are not respecting [my wife] then you are not respecting me and I cannot have a relationship with you.

15 comments:

  1. Thank you, DH, for sticking up for us - your wife and your beautiful, perfect children.

    Thank you for demanding respect from your father. The fact that you won't get it is not your fault.

    Thank you for opening your eyes to the truth, even though it is ugly.

    Thank you for saying "no" even when you understand the anger that will be directed at you for saying it.

    Thank you for saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

    Thank you for listening to me.

    Thank you for being your childrens' voice, because they can not yet be their own.

    Thank you for realizing that these assholes don't get to define you.

    Thank you for rejecting their lies about your reality.

    Thank you for rejecting their criticisms, their abuse, their cruelties, and their ignorance.

    Thank you for loving me.

    Thank you for being you.

    This letter, whether it gets sent or not, represents such courage and grace under pressure. It is something I am proud of. I am proud to call you my husband.

    Thank you.

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  2. LSV, I admire your strength, courage and commitment to your beautiful family. Keep on building your OWN happily ever after.

    Hugs to all, mulderfan

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  3. I am Christian, but frankly, I don't want his God either. Whether or not you send it I would add one more line because I noticed that you defended Jonsi and your children (BLESS YOU) but you didn't defend you. He was incredibly disrespectful to you! I did notice that it was in the list... (sorry, the editor is coming out, just for a second... from my perspective, end it with you, because ultimately, it's what it comes down to: "If you cannot respect me, then we cannot have a relationship." By disrespecting Jonsi and your children, he disrespects you.) BRAVO!!!! Well thought out and well written.

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  4. You have given me a great deal to think about. Thank you for your courage and willingness to stand-up for yourself and your family of choice. I appreciate how you broke it down. Your thinking is clear, concise, and your own voice.

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  5. PS. May I share I link on my post to this post? Thanks, Ruth

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  6. Ruth, of course you pay post a link to this post. Thank you for asking!

    (Blogger won't let me sign in at work)

    -LSV

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  7. Quote from a Father's Day card DD gave my DH: "Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Dad."

    Congratulations on being a "Dad" LSV!

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  8. Many thanks for the support.

    Mulderfan- feels great to be a true Dad!

    Judy- I think what's most important to me now is expressing my disgust for his disrespect for my wife and my children. And by doing that, he's disrespected me. I tried to convey that they're one in the same: you mess my wife or my family, you mess with me; so any dig at my wife or my family, is a dig at me. Most of the time, I don't mind religion so long as it's not forced on me and it doesn't paint non-believers as evil heathens of death and destruction. You read how my father believes his God to be. Eesh.

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  9. Loved mulderfan's congrats on being a Dad, because that says it all.

    Yes, you're absolutely right that when he disrespects your wife and children he disrespects you.

    And his use of religion as a whip was incredibly hypocritical.

    Oh, and I meant to say I really appreciated your declaration: I am worthy.
    Yes, you are.

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  10. I feel like he was shoving his mistaken interpretations of religion down your throat the entire letter. Good grief. Here are the thinly veiled sentiments he expressed that bugged me the most:

    *No matter how you feel, we believe you were raised with love and kindness - who is he trying to convince?
    *No matter how you feel, you didn't have it that bad growing up - who is he trying to convince?
    *If a person isn't "forced into a life of demeaning slander or poverty" their life is just fine (really random selection, slander or poverty...)
    *After all we've done for you, you clearly lack grace and forgiveness (strings attached!)
    *You had two fathers, you were "covered" no matter how you feel (what the fuck? "covered"?)
    *I said I was sorry, what more do you fucking want (forgive and forget, or else!)
    *You are a weak feeble sinner being controlled, man up (thanks for the advice, dad!)
    *His Petty ass grudge about the helping with the house - I don't believe he's really "forgiven you" as he heralds himself so full of grace and whatnot (FULL OF GRACE, John Waters/Pecker reference!)
    *You have never been there for anyone??!?! What a fuckin asshole - seriously that one was downright cold.
    *You and your wife are very disrespectful (and he and his wife shine with the glory of God's grace....)
    *BOO FUCKING HOO about their stupid concert tickets - was this really worth bringing up? Petty and selfish, beside the point entirely
    *When he makes mistakes, they just happen - when you make them, you better be grateful for all the times we forgave you!
    *Your love for your father is called into question based on ONE single incident. FUCK THIS.
    *Being on speakerphone for "the entire world to hear" is such an exaggeration - is your wife the entire world?
    *You are not worthy, you are judgmental, you are not a man.

    He is the condescending Christian in my poem.

    And I've had it! I like your responses A LOT, how are you feeling about sending them?

    xo
    upsi

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  11. Upsi- every time I read this I want to send it more, and I think my wife and I have agreed that sending it would be the way to go. Throughout his letter, he blames me and my wife for all the wrongs he feels he's incurred over the last few years. Basically, he says I am worthless, everything I do is wrong becuase I don't believe what he believes and he's very what can you do for me.

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  12. Crikey,I was thinking of getting an actual speakerphone to deal with my dad's difficult calls, as he often said things that would later shock my family, but that at the time on the phone, I took as 'normal' due to the way I had been conditioned. Since laying down boundaries this has been less of a problem, but I'm not ruling it out! Your dad can't 'operate' properly because your inclusion of your wife in discussions brings in reality, and his adored narc. bubble pops for him!

    Furthermore, where you say,
    '
    I don’t have to put God in my life to be wise or to mature. To do so would put less emphasis on self development and more on “being like God.” I’d like to be more like me.'

    Wow this is spot on. This is how many people use Christianity-to throw their weight about like they ARE God! They pose problems for the true Christians who are real followers of Christ.

    11th commandment; THOU SHALT NOT BE A NARC.
    ;)

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  13. Nyssa- diggin' that 11th Commandment!

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  14. This line..really burns my ass..typical N!!

    "A while back I apologized to you several times for not doing more as a dad and as a father." and then follows it up with:

    "And it wasn’t as if you had no father figure because [your mom’s husband] was there too.
    Between the two of us, you were covered."

    Typical for Narc to defend themselves...and then pawn the responsibility off on someone else to further their point...HYPOCRITE! A Godly man? Nope...

    It was HIS job to see that you were taken care of, valued, protected...not ANYONE else's...He ran away from his marriage, his wife...his Son...WHY would he expect anything less from you?
    Because HE is a sickening, self absorbed NARCISSIST!

    The fact that you are writing this...and trying to deal with it? Makes you one of the strongest, most admirable persons I have ever read about...you are one of those "less than one percent" successes...a rare person...

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  15. LSV...
    something has been niggling at me today...I have perused several blogs and I believe I learned something today that is very, very important to watch for...words....they are the most powerful thing in the world and my comment to you was lacking...

    This sentence:

    "WHY would he expect anything less from you?"

    It was a callous and irresponsible thing to say...it implied that you have done the same thing as the narcissist in your life...and I am so sorry!

    You have done the exact opposite of the narcissist in your life and I sincerely hope you accept my apology...

    LSV...I am very sorry that in my haste I was irresponsible in my choice of words...

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