I ended today (today being July 30th) feeling rather crappy, and decided to take a nap–which turned into five hours of sleep. During the initial stages of sleep (though I couldn’t tell if it was my usual first-20 or not), I dreamed of them, yet again. A family I once had. Three people that I would never have even attempted to be closer with, if I knew it was at all possible to just…change your mind about having family members. …But I take that back, because every second I’ve ever spent with KJ was worth whatever pain his father and mother have decided to put me through out of convenience. And without question, I will find that child when he is able to make his own decisions, and I’ll let him do just that.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start with this: after “the incident,” which, ironically, started here, my father decided he would rather sit down and talk about what happened. I was utterly impressed, and not a little proud that for the first time in my life it looked like I was going to have a confrontational conversation with someone I had always wished had had more of them, be it with me, my mother, his mother, or anyone at all, really. (I didn’t learn to run away from my emotions/anything challenging by constantly talking things out, that’s for sure.) But that day, sure as shit, as soon as I saw his name in the “from” field, I knew it was a cancellation.
Weeks (or was it months? it feels like decades) later, I get an email telling me not to touch the cell phone account (family plans are only a good idea for real families, it turns out) and explaining that it was a courtesy and not mine to do anything with, etc. I wrote back explaining the death of the EnV2 and how I had paid the difference the data plan cost to offset the bill. And I added, for confrontational effect, that I would like to know what happened to the Meeting That Wasn’t.
What I got back was more mature (or is it less reactive?) than the last correspondence, but disheartening nonetheless. I’ll spare you every detail, but I cannot help but express my feelings on some things. And I do it here because I am okay with letting the people that read this (a/k/a my friends, for the most part) know how I’m feeling. I made a mistake by being overly judgmental before, but I will not deny myself expression of emotion. So here goes.
At one point, it is mentioned that KJ was “lacking confidence” and struggling somewhat with school. I, admittedly, laughed. Not at the struggling with school bit, obviously, as we all know how seriously I take school. Now I could be wrong, but my personal (and ultimately professional, when I have a doctorate that says “yes, I know this information”) opinion is that a lack of confidence in children is strongly influenced by parenting style. Dr. Kaplan drilled it into our heads; I remember it like it was yesterday, because it depressed the hell out of me, knowing I did not feel as though I had been met with the acceptance required for an ultimately self-confident life. No, world, I had to establish self-confidence on my own (okay, late-night talks with my mother and screaming “I rule!” at the top of my lungs on city streets with Mike helped), and it is now being confused with arrogance and–get this–insecurity.
But here. Don’t take my (and Dr. Kaplan’s) word for it. “Many factors affect the development of self-confidence. Parents’ attitudes are crucial to children’s feelings about themselves, particularly in children’s early years. When parents provide acceptance, children receive a solid foundation for good feelings about themselves. If one or both parents are excessively critical or demanding, or if they are overprotective and discourage moves toward independence, children may come to believe they are incapable, inadequate, or inferior. However, if parents encourage children’s moves toward self-reliance and accept and love their children when they make mistakes, children will learn to accept themselves and will be on their way to developing self-confidence.” Dr. Vincent Berger. I couldn’t imagine the encouragement (or, excuse me, the lack of discouragement from) competition could do much to help either. So I laughed, because it was all I could do not to cry.
“[Kellen’s teacher] spoke of how hard he tried and how he talked about you all the time. It wrung out my heart, I couldn’t allow Kellen to lose contact with you as a sibling, how he would miss you and not be able to look forward to you coming to the house…but, removing the emotion from it, the more I thought about it, about your thoughts and how you were analyzing us while you were hanging out made me realize that it wouldn’t work. … He’d just need to get over it.” No matter how many times I read that, I gape at it, dumbfound. So what this says, fundamentally, is that it’s a better idea to deprive a child of something he loves more than most things by removing emotion from the situation and realizing that I was thinking all the time, a conclusion reached by analysis. Here’s where I need some help from my friends (and hell, even people who aren’t my friend, to correct for bias) — am I flawed here? Should I not be thinking about things that go on in my life, peoples’ actions, reactions, emotions and their potential results? Should I not be concerned for the happiest possible life for the one person who means more to me than anyone in this world? Should I not want to figure out what would help or do what I can to provide what I can without stepping on parental toes? Because this is big. I am/have been building a career on compensatory strategies for when things are beyond an individual’s control. The past four and future five years might be all for naught if these are not things we, as a civilized society, should be striving for.
On top of that, isn’t life constant analysis? How do I know what art project to work on with KJ if I don’t know what he’s capable of. If I thought he wasn’t yet at a concrete operational stage, I would show him a cool “trick” about conservation. If he’s being screamed at for yelling (irony, my bff), I’d mention calmly the reason the person telling him not to yell was yelling. But how can we know to do any of these things, for the well-being of the child, if we don’t think about them? Chris, help me out here — you were always a huge advocate of thought. Should I not have listened to you and just kept my mental soundtrack instead?
This is getting long, and there’s so much more to say, so I will try to simplify.
My father adds that he was already slightly uncomfortable around me, due to a some comments I’ve made over the past decade or so. I can’t even begin to get into how this makes me feel. Let’s just say that with the comments I’d made that he listed as examples, I was only looking for acceptance, for a bonding-with-my-dad experience. Yes, my expectations were always too high, but I was also always met with resistance, so getting upset as a result was a product of the two, not any one person’s fault. Did those things bother me, and do I still think about them from time to time? Absolutely. But I don’t find them reasons to feel uncomfortable. Getting over it seems to be a mantra of his, so I don’t see how this would be any different. I guess it’s the ultimate “I could never speak honestly around you” thing. Maybe that’s just it — nobody does, except him. Mental filters, consciences, call them what you will, but people do not speak honestly, to anyone. There is always something being kept back, be it for the sake of avoiding a fight, or sparing someone’s feelings, or doing what’s right over what’s desired. I don’t know; I feel like I could be onto something there, but I just don’t know.
“I’m trying to simplify my existence, not complicate it.” I get that, all too well. How many times have I said I would avoid drama at all costs? I just never thought you could do that with your family members. I thought blood was thicker than water. I thought you had to do something really wrong to deserve a disowning. But I didn’t hit Kellen or even yell at him, I didn’t destroy property, I didn’t do drugs or smoke in their house, I didn’t even speak out against anyone. I expressed my opinions, my thoughts, my arrogance through a public medium and hurt some feelings. I wanted what was best for my brother, and my opinion differed. I analyzed, I thought, I critiqued. This is my punishment for that, in exchange for a “simplified existence.” I’m sorry I offended the people I did, and they’ve every right to have gotten mad about that, but to just cut your own daughter out of your life for it is baffling to me. My life doesn’t just get simplified with people out of it, because I care and have love and loyalty as underpinnings. But it doesn’t matter what happens to my life. In fact, “It took me way too long time to get to an OK place I hope it doesn’t take you as long,” a statement that followed, “perhaps at a later time when you find yourself a good place and accept the world for what it is and people for what they are not for what you think it should be or what they should be.” So, essentially, “change and maybe I’ll love you”? How accepting.
For the record, I am in a good place (go self-confidence, go!), and I accept the world for what it is and people for what they are. It saddens me, but I accept it. What I think it/they should be and what it/they are are not mutually exclusive. I will try, and I will, change the world every single day, because that’s who I am and I can.
He adds that he was a lousy father and perhaps that is why I don’t have respect for him. Whether it be out of fear or not, there will always be a level of respect there, because he is my father. I still don’t believe having differing opinions is a lack of respect. If I didn’t respect him (again, or is it fear? thanks, Machiavelli), he’d surely know the difference, I guarantee that. But ask anyone that knows me — I have respect for every living creature. (Stefan thinks this is funny.) Remember, though – this is only apparent to people that know me.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on the fact that he noted how accepting and trusting and sharing of KJ (wtf?) Lynn was of me, how she was nothing but a friend to me. Then I guess that makes us even, doesn’t it? How long are you supposed to hide your dad’s girlfriend from your mother before it’s cliché? (When you’re 16, every day is an eternity.)
“But you are just too smart for us, too all knowing.” I guess so. I guess my opinions are facts and cannot be reasoned with or changed or even acknowledged. I guess my education was a waste of time. I guess a future in psychology is moot. I guess my belief that life is a constant work-in-progress is ignorance at its finest. It’s certainly not “simplified,” that’s for damn sure.
So through my pain, I have said my piece. I’m hoping I can let it go, because if that’s what makes them happy, then so be it. But I know for certain that’s not what makes Kellen happy, and that makes me very angry. There is no need to “get over it” when it doesn’t have to be this way. Pride is not worth hurting two of your children, one of whom you love. But that’s just how I feel. I do what I think is right, and if someone disagrees with my opinion, they can discuss it with me. I am actually quite reasonable…when reasoned with.