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Jun 12

Can you go back?

Is it worth it? I wonder… my father recently got in touch with me. And I don’t know quite what to do with it. Him. The whole situation, I guess. My parents divorced so long ago, and he hasn’t been a part of my life in such a long time, I’m not sure where to put him now. I’m not sure if I have room, but how do I say no to someone who wants to love me? Someone who’s last name I shared for a long time, someone who’s skin tone I’ve inherited, someone who’s DNA I’ve inherited? Do I pretend the last twenty years didn’t exist, do I dredge up old memories and hurts that I’ve managed to push down far enough that I don’ t think of them anymore? Do I owe loyalty to the parent who was there, the one who loved me and supported me and did her best every day to make up for the fact that he wasn’t there? Is loyalty even required in this instance? How is it loyalty to turn away from a parent? Can you still call him a parent when he wasn’t there? But if he isn’t a parent, what is he? Because he’s not a stranger… I’m perplexed and on the edge of some serious emotional baggage that I really, probably, would have preferred not to be reviewing at this point in my life.

How do I explain this to my kids? Do I explain it? Do they need to know that there’s a grandfather out there that hasn’t met them? That – and this is the cold hard truth that I’m trying to avoid, didn’t care enough to know that they existed. That missed their babyhood and toddlerhood and early childhood. Because in the end, there’s no way to whitewash that – he wasn’t there. Not just for them, because you know when I’m talking about them, I’m really talking about me. Only he was there for the babyhood, etc for me – it was the tween years, the adolescence, the whole rest of my life that he missed.

But he’s here now. Vaguely. If by here, I mean, halfway across the country, asking to call once and a while to see how I am. And I’m … just confused. Confused and feeling like, really, I’m just on the edge of digging up some major emotional issues that I didn’t know how to handle when I was a kid and haven’t gotten any better at figuring them out. He loves me. Or the idea of me, because he doesn’t have a clue who I am now. But I think he’d like to – and he’s sorry and sad and regretting a lot of what happened. He wants to go back, or go forward with things being different. I just am not sure how I feel about it. I don’t know how to go forward with a father, I’ve done so much of it without him. I don’t NOT want to have him in my life, I just… I guess, in the end, I’ve got to acknowledge some anger and some hurt, and figure out if I want to move on beyond that. Or just say, sorry, you had your shot. I’m thirty six years old, I needed a dad when I was a kid, I needed a dad when I was in my early twenties, when I was trying to figure out my life. Now that I’ve got it pretty much arranged the way I like it, healthy marriage, three great kids – I don’t need a dad. But then I think, is that really what I want to say? Really? Do I want to shut him down the way I feel as though he did to me? Do I want to be the sort of person who can turn away from someone who honestly regrets the way he behaved in the past and wants to have some sort of relationship with me? Don’t I want to see what happens? I’m not sure – there’s a part of me that feels like I’ve been down this road before and it didn’t lead anywhere good.

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