Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fathers and Other Hit Men

A friend watched a movie on Lifetime last night that made her think of me: Queen Sized. "It was about an overweight high school girl and they portrayed her negative thoughts as her mother. When her mother would say something that sounded innocent enough, the thought-mother would reword it to be hurtful and when the girl was alone, the thought mother would come and express all these negative opinions and then the girl would go on a binge. Despite the depressing sound of it, it was a really cute teen movie and of course, in the end, she is elected Homecoming Queen and all the nobody kids look up to her while all the mean girls still hate her and she gets a boyfriend too. I think."

DANGIT!! I'd meant to tape that one. I'd seen it advertised. Well, shoot.

Anywho, BOY is that me. Only difference is that the things come from both my parents. My dad was more image-conscious than he was comfortable being. He was saddled with two daughters with weight issues twenty years apart. Kay* and I rarely talk about it, and she's FAR less heavy than I am, but I know from my mother that one time he introduced her to a colleague as, "This is my fat daughter Kay." W T F ? ! ? ! ? ! WHO DOES something like that?! I could really never reconcile that person with the father who was normally such an extremely sensitive, kind and tremendously well-reasoned and compassionate man.

He had one on me, too, once. Probably the single most painful moment of my life. Christmas - I'm in my 20s somewhere. We're opening presents and I get a really nice new pants and blouse set from my folks. My dad has a "haha" look on his face, and asks mischievously - "Does it come with a pole?" I am mystified. I really, really, really don't get it - and neither does my mom. My sister and BIL are not forthcoming, although I think Kay gets it.

Finally, at dinner, I tell them I give up - I have NO idea what it means. My father doesn't answer (I think, perhaps he's ashamed of himself by this time). Kay finally responds sheepishly - and I know she's sorry about it. She says, "A tent pole."

I have never so much in my life wished that the ground would open and swallow me whole as at that moment. I have also never wanted to physically harm or humiliate my father as I did then. I wanted to pick up my dinner plate and smash it straight in his face - just grind it in. I actually had to mentally restrain myself from it.

What do I do instead? I laugh. God help me, I laughed so no one would know the damage I felt inside. At that moment, and for the only time I can recall, I hated my father.

And I can't say that "It's all good," or anything because when I finally confronted him years later, the bastard didn't remember it at all. He had the NERVE to forget it.

I am still trying to forgive him for that.

*Not her real name.


gjd said...

It is amazing the pain that parents can cause their children without even thinking about it. My mom, though I love her, has damaged our relationship in such a way as that it will never be the same.

At about age 16, I realized that my father had no idea who I really was. He would say hurtful things as though he didn't even know it.

Ah well. I love them. They are my parents. I also hope and pray that I can keep from damaging my own children. Is it possible or is hurt inevitable?

DeskDiva said...

gjd, I understand. I love and adore both of my parents, but I cannot communicate with my mom about so many things. She just doesn't understand because the two of us have utterly different logic, and in some cases wildly different values. She tends to value more what she can see on the outside - I go for the inside.

My father died of prostate cancer in 2000, so I can no longer go back and talk to him about these things. But I know that in his perfect self in heaven, he knows that he did things wrong, and I believe that he would change them if he could. I'm working to get my mom to that place while she's still with me. :-)