Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The love I want

I’ve said it before, and I know that I will say it again, (and again), but I have to be in love with the most wonderful man in the world.

I went to Ohio this weekend to see my father and his wife. This was an important trip for us (me and dad) because we’ve only been on speaking terms again for 2 years, after 10 years of no contact at all. (Long story, another post altogether).

I was kind of dreading the 8+ hour drive that it would take for me and the kids to get there. That’s a long time to be in a vehicle, alone with 3 kids. But I promised them and promised myself we would not push the issue, and stop whenever needed. No point in making the trip uncomfortable, even if it meant being on the road an hour or so longer. (It did)

It took less than 24 hours for me to discover and admit that this trip wasn’t going to be all that I hoped it would be and that I really didn’t want to be there any longer. My father and I have had a rough relationship, to say the very least, all my life. He just is incapable of giving me the love and affection and acceptance that I need and want from him. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he does the best he knows how to do, it’s just not what I need.

I tried to share my photography with him, he wasn’t interested (completely ignored it, walked away when I tried to show him some pics from a recent photo shoot, and showed absolutely ZERO interest in the pictures I did take this weekend). I tried to tell him about Batman, and how much he means to me, and dad just zoned out or changed the subject. There were more meals eaten together where he never said a single solitary word to anyone at the table, even when we spoke directly to him and tried to draw him into the conversations. The one night we actually were there for a while, we (his wife and I) played Chinese Checkers with my kids, while my father sat on the sofa beside us and watched football. Once again, he was in the same house with his family and had still managed to isolate himself from us.

At that point I realized nothing much had changed at all. He still was not the father I had hoped he could be. He still showed complete and total disinterest in me and my children. I knew that I didn’t want to be there any longer. And I called Batman, in tears.

From 3 states and a time zone away, Batman was there for me. Reaching across the miles, through the phone and held me while I cried, and comforted me. He listened while I talked without trying to solve a problem that had no solution, or trying to fix something that is irrevocably broken. He just listened. And then, said simply, “Come home. Leave early, come home, and stay here. You know that you’re wanted and welcome here and I won’t turn you away. Come home.”

Two simple words, “Come home” was enough. My mind was racing, trying to find a way to gracefully leave earlier than planned, and my heart was crying out to go home, to the man I love. Tears fell like rain. Once again I was the daughter who was going to disappoint my father. But as the adult that I am now, I realized I would never have his approval, everything would meet with disappointment, so what I needed to do was make sure I was happy and the kids were too. Staying there was not making me happy. Nothing would have changed if we had stayed longer.

Batman knew and understood why this trip was important to begin with. He knew and understood why the importance changed in the course of the visit. He knew that I needed to go and mend fences, bridge gaps, heal old wounds. He knew that once I was there I discovered that not all fences will be mended, some gaps are too big to be bridged and some wounds leave ugly scars that never go away and never heal the way they should or the way we want them to.

I know now that my father will never be the dad I want him to be. We will never have a warm and fuzzy relationship. We will never be close and he will probably never understand me or even really know me. I have learned that I can accept all of that and that trying to get anything else out of him or out of our relationship is pointless, because it’s just not there. I know now that my relationship with my father (strained and fleeting that it is) will not define me. I have to accept it for what it is, and for everything that it’s not. His feelings towards me or the way he chooses to express them (or not) does not define me as a person. I have found my own way now, my own definition. I know who and what I am regardless of his thoughts and feelings towards me.

Driving back from Ohio, my heart called out to be home. The joy and love that I felt at the thought of being with Batman and his family again was so overwhelming at times I couldn’t breathe. I left Ohio, empty and sad and gray, almost hollow. The closer I got to Home, the more alive and colorful and vibrant and full of love and laughter I felt.

Pulling into his driveway, his daughter, Princess ran to the van and was there when I opened my door, waiting with open arms and a smile that filled my heart with pure joy. Then I stepped out of the van and into the arms of my man and I knew I was home. I knew I was loved and accepted just the way I was. I knew I had found the man who would understand me, would love me, and could comfort me across miles and time differences.

I made important discoveries this weekend. I found out one man never will understand me or really know me, and the other already does.

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