Monday, October 10, 2005

Sore spot

Achieving self-awareness may, to some, be an act of narcissism. I have to admit, I do feel self-conscious, if not lame, about that at times, but the truth is, self-awareness is the only way of freeing yourself from your patterns and semi-conscious self-destructive thinking long-term.
That became obvious the other night when I talked to my dad.
See, I love my dad. He is great. He is the most supportive person, he trusts me, he is proud of me and never fails to tell me, and I know he wants the best for me, and I never have the slightest grudge against him because I know that, even if we misunderstand each other sometimes. He has let go of me as a parent and allows me to live my own life, but never fails to offer advice or give me support when I need it. And he makes sure to tell me all the time that he is there when I need him, and that "it is his job as a dad" to back me up.
Dad has replaced mother a thousandfold. And not only that, he is, by quadrupling the parent role in himself, compensating and balancing out the bad things mother has done to me. And I need to give Sabine, his amazing girlfriend, a lot of credit, too, because she is more of a mother to me than my own mother ever was. She (and my Dallas mom Pat) fix the fucked up image of what a mother is in my head. They unintentionally help me see my own mother as what she is, and make me see that I don't have to blame myself for what mother did.
But it wasn't always like that with dad. The time before I was 18, before my breaking out made him realise I wasn't as weak as I looked, we weren't very close. It makes it difficult for me to write honestly about him and me, because the relationship we had throughout my whole life is very ambivalent. He is a different person now, he has grown so much, he is so much more loving and giving. Sometimes I seriously wonder how this came to be... because he changed when mother and him split up. He changed for the better.
In Christian belief, divorce is not exactly condoned, extremists even say that it should never happen, and you should stay with your spouse no matter what. But even though I am in my basic beliefs a Christian, I could never agree with that. In retrospect I realise what a poisonous influence mother has been on all of us, how her negativity and gall rubbed off on all of us and tainted our lives, and that it is good that she is gone. Dad became a better person when he lived with his former girlfriend, and after her death, with Sabine. He is emotionally available now, which is something I never had in my childhood. Even though he made mistakes when I was younger, and these days I am dealing with the after-effects of all this, I never hold a grudge against him in the slightest and only see him in the best light, because he is a good father to me now. About mother I haven't got much good stuff to say. She is the opposite of my father. Opposed to him, the badness of our last years together has weighed out the good things she has done before that. Mother has turned into a demon that haunts me, dad into an angel that saves and protects me. I sometimes wonder whether this binary has been created by me, or whether it is real. I am sure it is me to a large extent.
I don't want to see the good things in mother anymore, and I don't want to see anything negative in the past related to my dad. It took me years of extremely painful struggle to decide how to proceed in my relationship with mother, and to cut her out of my life. I felt because she was my mother and because she hadn't always been bad, I should not desert her, I shouldn't deny her. But the other alternative was staying in a relationship with her that was full of mixed signals at the least and full of abuse at the worst... that I had to tolerate the abuse just to get the occasional fleeting moment of acceptance from her and to keep my positive memories of her alive. In order to get out of that abuse, I had to stop seeing the little good from her. Maybe that is mean and horrible. But the problem with any abusive relationship is that people stay in it because of its ambivalence, because people are never entirely bad. But sometimes a little nice just isn't good enough - not when it is coupled with abuse.
Similarly, with dad, I have forced myself to overlook the low moments in order to not taint the relationship we have now. In the end, the relationship now is that counts. In the end, what counts is that he has changed, and that he has told me he is sorry for his mistakes through how he has loved me in the past decade. I feel almost guilty that I am dealing with stuff in therapy these days that are a result of the relationship I had with my parents when I was a kid, and the way I was raised. It makes me feel guilty because it feels like I am accusing him even though I am not. It's like he has made me bleed, we have made up and forgiven each other, but I still need to tend the wounds, if you get me.

About last night... we talked on the phone about that graduation present he promised me. The thing is, I don't really want him to give me anything, because he has already done so much, and he isn't exactly stinkin filthy rich, you know. But he insists. And one of his suggestions is that Sabine and I will go and get me a complete professional make-over, new clothes, new hair cut and all that stuff that externally signalises that "I am a professional grown-up business woman, not some student chick anymore". And I know dad means well with that and just wants my success and well-being... but boy did he hit the wrong spot there. I couldn't help but coming across upset, and he said "oops, I think I pressed the wrong button there. I take it all back". And I realised that was exactly what happened.
The thing is, this is exactly what gets me, what makes me so depressed: that the way I am now, the way I am comfortable with myself, the way I dress and look, the natural me, is not acceptable to a whole lot of people. And since my early teens, I have defied conformity because I was always aware that it would buy me nothing but false, unreal friendship, and that it would never be the true me that is loved. Conformity of the type my dad suggested is, to me, another way of acknowledging to myself that I am not good enough, not pretty enough, not acceptable enough, and it twists like a knife in my heart. It may be completely neurotic, but that's the way it makes me feel. Full stop. I crave kindness and true love and friendship, where I am accepted the way I am, good and bad. But I have noticed that by desperately being myself, I am testing people and their priorities. How can I ever trust someone's affection if I have to change first?

It's the reason why I got upset and somewhat distrusting when a friend once told me off for using foul language to express myself - I had called my cousin's boss a dick to express my anger at him being abusive to her, but all that seemed to matter to that friend in that instant was my manners than what I had to say.
It's the reason why I am so mad raving angry at the church - because I was never accepted the way I was, and that the things that made me unacceptable in so-called Christian terms were my idiosyncrasies, and my need to express what was inside me, because I needed someone to listen without reserve, and even my mental illness, which was at times, when I should have gotten professional help, rather ascribed to the devil. I get so unbelievably angry at people who pretend to love me but only under reserve. I feel betrayed. I feel rejected. I can't help feeling that way.
And I don't see why anything is wrong with that, either...

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