The Final Disappointment

Disclaimer: This post feels a little longer and a little less clear… which is part of the reason I had to write it.

It was three Christmases ago… maybe it was after Christmas… New Year? It’s foggy. It’s amazing to me how hard it is to remember certain landmark memories with our dad. I call this a landmark memory because it really solidified the path he chose in my eyes.

It was a disappointment for the books. I didn’t trust him at all, but I started to wonder… maybe even hope. What if he had changed? What if he could change? What if he could be an actual father that cared about us? About me? I guess wayyyyyy deep down that’s kind of what I wanted, but I didn’t ever let myself venture there. It was pointless to try. Pointless to hope. Pointless to dream about change. Life with our dad had taught me that.

Our dad had somehow managed to make his way over for a visit. I wasn’t even close to thrilled about it. I don’t feel comfortable with him. I don’t trust him. I feel like I hardly know him and what I do know about him doesn’t make me a fan.

As a side note, sometimes I think back and I wonder about the times when he would do things or even hug me and it’s confusing because I didn’t feel like he loved me. What I’ve realized recently is that it seems to come from a very selfish and controlling place. He didn’t and still doesn’t want to know me, he just wants what he wants when he wants it. To this day, I struggle internally when he tries to hug me because it’s a very forceful and demanding hug has he pulls me and it feels like he’s telling me that I don’t have a choice and… Man, I really hate that.

So here he was, this time in our apartment, seeming maybe a little more clear-headed and a little stronger. Maybe. But what was the use of hoping for more… for better? I mean, thirty years of knowing him and he had stayed pretty consistent with his inconsistent message, so he probably wasn’t going to suddenly change and be a different man, right? Against my better judgement, there was a tiny sliver of hope that he was becoming a better person. He was awake this time and open to doing things so we showed him around a bit. Doing things I wanted to do. Maybe it’s just because I was driving. I was nervously watching and waiting. Waiting for his true colors to show.

There were weird small things that might sound ridiculous to you, but they just didn’t sit right with me at all and they worried me.

One day, I came home from having coffee with a friend (something I had planned before he decided to come) and there was a cheap plug in water fountain on my kitchen counter. He told me he had gotten it from a Walgreens he had walked to while I was out. Part of me wrestled with thoughts like, That’s nice of him. He’s trying to do things for us and take care of us. And then the other side of it was, That was irresponsible to spend money on that. I don’t like clutter. This is MY home and he didn’t ask.

I’m sure a lot of you are going to read this and think, Geez, what’s the problem? Just put it away when he leaves. It’s not a big deal. But for some reason it was to me. It didn’t feel right. It felt like he was getting a little too comfortable. It felt controlling. And it felt familiar. His old ways were still there. He was doing what felt good in the moment and not thinking about the things he really needed to be doing… like making his way home.

He didn’t have a return trip planned nor did he have a way of getting back. He had ridden back with our sister during a quick holiday break, but he hadn’t said when or how he would be going home. I remember wondering what we would have to do if he didn’t leave. There was no way in any world that he was staying with us long term. I was going back to work soon, and I remember awkwardly trying to have that conversation with him. “Hey… uh, when are you leaving?” I feel like I even made it clear that my sister and I were getting back to work and needed to settle back into our normal life again. We didn’t live a fun, let’s-go-do-things life all the time. We had jobs, friends, and normal lives to get back to.

He was worming his way into the safe and healthy life we had made for ourselves and it felt like he was beginning to taint our clean slate with his muck again. No. No, sir. Nope.

Finally, he had picked a date… but he had decided to fly. My entire life he had told us that he had a severe phobia of flying and absolutely could not do it… So I was confused why he would choose the one method of travel he swore he couldn’t use. “Are you sure? I thought you couldn’t fly.” “Nah, it’s fine.”

I was anxious as the day approached, but I guessed he was growing. I needed to just believe something good about him and stop holding him to his past. Maybe he really had changed and I was just having a hard time believing it.

I remember the evening. My sister and I drove him to the airport. We dropped him off. “Ok, bye.” We drove away and my body relaxed, but only a little. I would rest better when his place was in the air. We were back to our normal lives. Free again. We were about 15 minutes away when we got a call from an unknown number. It was our dad using some poor strangers phone. He had left his in our car.

That was the first major red flag. All of my internal alarms were going off. Something wasn’t right. I could never know for sure, but deep down I feel like it was intentional. So we drove back and quickly stopped in the drop-off lane where he was waiting. “Ok, bye,” we said once again as we handed him his phone through a window. I don’t think we even put the car in park. But there was something weird and hesitant about our dad. No. He better get on that plane.

About an hour later, my sister and I had made a quick just-sisters, shop-around stop at a local retail store. We were counting down the time until his flight left, just to be sure. The flight had boarded. No calls. And now, the flight had taken off. Still nothing. I was still a little nervous to breathe a sigh of relief just yet. But it seemed like we we finally in the clear!

She was a few aisles over and I saw her face when she answered the phone. I KNEW it! I knew he really wasn’t going to do it! Confirmation. He had not changed. “He said he couldn’t do it,” she shared after she hung up. My younger sister was maybe more surprised or disappointed, but I assured her that this is what I knew of him all along. This was him. This was who he had always been to me.

There we were cleaning up after him. Again.

To make a long story a bit shorter, our other sister got involved from a few hours away. “I’ll pay for him to Uber. Can’t he just stay with y’all tonight?” she asked as if we were making a big deal out of nothing. I was raging internally. Pissed. Livid. Shaking. Angry. How could he be so selfish? I’m not knocking his phobia, but HE is the one who chose it in the first place against my suggestion of taking a bus instead. It was HIS choice to fly. It was HIS choice to watch his plane leave without getting on. It was HIS choice to come back to our apartment that night after saying he was leaving.

Once again, I was reminded that life with him was all about him. It was unpredictable in the worst way. It was irresponsible. It was unstable and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen because his words meant nothing. I couldn’t trust him. I couldn’t rely on his word. Ever. He couldn’t be responsible, not even for himself.

I guess our other sister got him an Uber back to our apartment that night. I was so angry. I remember texting him to tell him that the front door was unlocked and to lock it when he came in. My sister and I were both in our bedrooms when he got there. I couldn’t talk to him anymore. I was done. We left for work that day and I remember wondering what I was going to find when I got home. Would he still be there? Would he be drinking? Would I have to tell him that he couldn’t stay with us anymore? To my still uncertain relief, he was gone when I got back.

And that was, and will be if I have any say, the last time he stayed with me.

This might sound over dramatic or disrespectful to some people, but if you know, you know. You know the stress you live in when nothing is stable. You know the pain. You know the sick feelings… the heart pain. It’s been about three years, and the memories still make my body tense up. Still make me feel sick thinking about it.

I want to stay so very far away from his mess.

I grew up with it and I’m over it.

I’m tired and I just want to be for once.

His life is now his responsibility. And so I will… just be me.

One response to “The Final Disappointment”

  1. Proud of your awareness, your tenacity, and confidence in you being you. Your boundaries are well established and in place. Good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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