I don’t remember much of my childhood, not the happy times anyway. I guess there were happy times but I only seem to remember the bad times. Does this happen to you?
When I was a little girl, say about three years old, I can remember sitting in deckchair that totally collapsed with my fingers caught between the canvas and the frame. The pain was the most pain a little girl could ever face. And my father scooped me up and sat me on the kitchen table and inspected the damage. I lost several nails and my fingers were swollen and black. He held my hand under the tap at the kitchen sink and wrapped my fingers in a bandage. He seemed to know exactly what to do and what to say then.
As I grew older, my father changed towards me. He was anxious and angry for much of the time and would shout loudly, mostly at my mother. My brother and I used to think it was our fault. I would try and be so good but it didn’t help.
My childhood was a time of psychological trauma. Some days my father would come home in a fairly good mood but most times he would be very wound up and angry. I would never really know what the evening would bring and so I was prepared for the onslaught, whether it occurred or not. I lived my life as ‘a clenched fist’.
So as you can imagine, things went from bad to worse. And as a teenager and a young woman I hated my father and feared him. But now I think that if I had told him that I had spent my whole childhood in fear, he would have been shocked and sorry. But I didn’t get the chance, because he died.
It wasn’t until after he died that I came to understand his life and why he was the way he was.That is not to excuse the way he behaved to a vulnerable little girl but now I could at least understand and have some compassion for him. All his angry moods and bad tempers were not about me after all. They were his mental health issues.
Are you having trouble communicating with your dad
Do you feel that your dad loves your sibling more than you? Do you feel that he never loved you at all? Sometimes we are so convinced that we are the victim, we do not see that maybe we played a part in what happened. Our childish perception of the ‘truth’ may not be how the reality was for him. Because we are aftraid of conflict we avoid dealing with our fathers, mostly because we are so bloody scared of them. But remember You are an adult now, even if you still feel like a child around him.
It is time to face him adult to adult and sort things out.
Do you want to connect with your dad once again?
Don’t make the mistake I made, DON’T LEAVE IT TOO LATE!
10 Tips to help you prepare for a difficult conversation with your Dad
1) Phone him and ask him if you can talk to him.
2) Make a list of all your grievances against him to jog your memory when you talk.
3) Talk to him with respect and an open mind.(This may be hard)
4) Confront him carefully about these grievances.
5) Listen carefully to his answer, do not interrupt him.
6) Tell him how you are feeling.
7) Ask him how he is feeling.
8) Try not to argue or fight.
9) Try to reconcile these grievances.
10) Agree to disagree.
If at any time during this conversation you are not respected i.e. verbally abused, be assertive and calmly say that you will resume this conversation with him when he is prepared to treat you with respect. And then leave immediately with dignity.
Does the thought of this conversation fill you with horror? Sometimes conflict is necessary to heal. Ok, so your relationship with your father is complicated. You haven’t spoken in years? Maybe it will be hard to summon up the courage to have this difficult conversation, but if you do want a relationship with your Dad again, give it one last shot. So what if he calls you a bum, at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that you tried and who knows, it may be the first step in finding a happier, more fulfilled, you.