Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In a broken nest there are few whole eggs

I'm sitting here looking at a DVD I need to watch. It has been sitting mutely on the coffee table next to the laptop reminding me that I need to watch it. If it had eyes, they would be big, brown puppy dog eyes.

It is very important to my father that I watch it. He hasn't said it in so many words, but he asked me for help to burn it, and I've been getting calls every couple of days from him, checking that I've burnt the DVD for myself OK. I'm not sure how to deal with him being this attentive. I don't think he has been this attentive toward me since I was 5.

He is in his fourth intensive week of PTSD counselling for Vietnam veterans. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week, he goes and works with a psychiatrist. From what he has said, I gather it is both group and individual sessions. He says he is enjoying it, and that he is getting a lot out of it. I'm very impressed that he is doing it, but I wonder how many of his issues can really be attributed to Vietnam.

I don't know who this man is. For the last 12 years or so, we have had a very distant relationship. We are very good at the family social events, we give the correct birthday, Christmas and Fathers Day presents. As one of my brothers so elegantly says, he is a great bloke to have a beer with, but you wouldn't want to be related to him. Before that, there was the mind numbing boredom of fortnightly access visits, with trips to the park, his work, or his friends homes, wherever he can find a way to have his access visit but not spend time with his children.

It wasn't always like this. Some of my most treasured photos are of the two of us sitting on top of a slide, of me leaning into my very hungover father next to the fishpond, of me toddling into the waves to pick up a ball and him hovering protectively near me. I remember sitting on a tram with him, going to kinder after we moved to our new house. It was so exciting. I guess the 70's really were a good decade. Somewhere along the line, I became less interesting. For a very long time, I've felt that I am only interesting or noteworthy when I'm involved with something that gets media coverage, or it fits into water cooler conversation. The worst thing is that I've let it continue. I think I've kept seeking out that approval, hoping that things I've done will make it into his "brag book".

I'm struggling to deal with these changes. I just found a way to manage my relationship with Dad, and he has changed the rules on me. I'm scared that if I open myself up to these changes, he will just hurt me again.

Thanks to Mike for the title to this post.


jellyhead said...

I'm not sure what to say....I guess I just want to let you know I read your post, and I hope you are OK.


Mike M said...

thisisme, you are the whole egg.

I wish that I could say something that would make this better.

I can tell you love him very much and you want to let him back in but your afraid to because of what MIGHT happen.

My advice is this: To keep those things that you remember dearest about him living in your heart, you should at least try to.

Go in with caution, but go in because you love him.

Mike M said...

Come get your award!!

Ann O'Dyne said...

Was he a Conscript?
Try to imagine if everybody you knew went into a ballot by birthday and when the marbles were drawn, whoever's birthday got picked

Whether they wanted to or not.

Your friends.
Artists musicians writers. at age 19.
off to heat blood guts army brutality and dead women and children.

Rent a DVD of a film called
'The Odd Angry Shot'.
It is excellent, and Australian. When you have seen it, you may understand your dad a bit better.

Vietnamese called it The AMERICAN War.

When our 20-year-old boys returned, they all thought that because there was
(then as now)
a strong anti-war movement,
that it was anti-THEM,
instead of realising that it was the war we were against.

They all got really really screwed up.

so did returned servicemen from the First and second world wars.
war screws people up.
It screws up their marriages.

Please give your dad a hug from me and tell him I cry every time I think about that war.

evalinn said...

I have had a very complicated relation to my dad too, except I never had any of the "good memories". He there physically, but never emotionally. Now that I´ve grown up I´ve learned to accept him the way he is and the ways he shows he loves me.

It´s not an easy subject. Good luck!