It’s…complicated.

I got a permanent, KICK ASS Government job, guys. I’ll blog about that miracle another day.

For today, I wanted to write about grieving my Dad. My friends were saying “Your Dad would be so proud of you!” because of my new job…and yeah, I believe he would be.

But our relationship wasn’t perfect.

As much as I absolutely adore my Dad, we had a complex and complicated relationship. I put my Dad on a pedestal and he viewed me with a mix of love, judgement, wariness, anger, incredibly high expectations and humour.

We fought a lot because we think differently and are both emotional and take things to heart. My Dad and my brother seemed to speak an entirely different language, honestly. They spoke of politics, sales tactics and the psychology of sales (pfft), wealth, power and success.

I just wanted to be around my Dad.

I loved him so much, but because he didn’t understand me (to be fair, once puberty hit, EVERYTHING just made me cry or scream so Dad took 100 steps away, not knowing what to do with me)…Dad spent more of his free time with my brother and was rarely there for me…so the cycle of misunderstanding just got worse, really.

Truthfully – my Dad was Jekyl and Hyde.

He was a high-functioning alcoholic. That was the dark side of him. A drunk Dad was very difficult to manage. I had to carefully tiptoe around Dad and make sure to keep a wary eye on anything that could set him off. It could be as slight as a cupboard door being shut when a hungover Dad would respond with rage. I was always…careful and cautious around that version of Dad.

Drunk Dad would put me down, tell me I was worthless and “a huge bloody waste of time, my girl” EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But then sober Dad taught me how to swim, faithfully drove me and my friends around to concerts/parties, would surprise me with a new notebook because he noticed how happy writing made me, and was sometimes the only person to understand when I took bullying to heart and felt bruised from it.

So I lived on a wire.

Woven through the insults and the absence (Dad was either at work or taking Jay on a “boys trip”) are times of great love.

A sober Dad would listen for hours with a knowing smile and a patience that to this day floors me. He gave me wise, trustworthy advice on boys, school, clothes, books, art, my 1st job, my 1st car…I looked to Dad for everything that was important to me. His wisdom was faultless.

But then – at the flip of a coin, he’d suddenly be cursing and shaking his head: “You’re so bloody stupid, Janet”.

So at any given moment, I could either get hugged…or hit.

Dad told me “go ahead” the first time I told him I was seriously considering suicide. “Stop bleating about it and just fucking get on with it!!!” he roared at me…at my most vulnerable and most broken.

I woke up 3 days later in Hospital.

But 2 years later, Dad immediately paid for a direct flight home when moving to Darwin to be with Matt broke my heart. Dad didn’t ask any questions or cast any judgement…he swooped in and rescued me, being especially careful not to bring Matt up in conversation…which meant so much and enabled me to heal.

So now that Dad has suddenly ripped from our lives…I’m left…lost.

Am I angry with Dad for all the times he harshly treated me, abandoned me, whipped me with his belt, ignored me (I can’t cope with silent treatment, I’d honestly rather the beating because at least it’s over quickly) and discarded me – turning away when I reached out…

…or am I going to let all of that go…(and it’s A LOT)…and just hold on to the days Dad would talk (and constantly burst out laughing) with me for hours on dark mornings before Mom and Jay were up?

All the times Dad would say “Never give up, Babygirl – you CAN do this” whenever I tried something new…do I chose to remember with great affection that Dad held my hand at every Doctors visit, and told me at 13 when I genuinely felt like the ugliest girl in the world – that “You’ll see a line around the block of young men just waiting to take you on a date, Chook. You don’t realise how beautiful you are, but you will one day, trust me”???

Grief taints every memory of my Dad with a rosy hue when that wasn’t reality. We weren’t always best friends.

But sometimes we were. Sometimes…and these were the best days ever…my Dad was everything to me and we’d tell jokes and laugh until our tummies ached.

Grief – for me, anyway – doesn’t allow for the release of all the deep wounds I’ve carried and suffered from for so very, very long. I can’t scream about the dark days with Dad. I can’t shout “You bastard!!!” for all the times he knowingly abandoned me.

No.

Grief demands perfection; particularly when others ask about my Dad now that he’s gone.

I can only compliment.

“He was my hero” I say, wiping fresh tears away whenever someone asks me about my Dad. “Dad was everything to me”.

But he was also the reason I attempted suicide twice, so…

I just don’t know, guys.

I have so much anger and I feel like I’m not allowed to talk about that side of my Dad.

I hate this.

Dad and I in Singapore xx

12 responses to “It’s…complicated.”

  1. Oh my GOD! Congratulations! I read the first line and hopped here… let me go read the rest! So happy for you Jane! XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sooo much! I’m sooo excited to start my new job xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh…. XOXO! People are complex

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done on the job, must feel nice to know you can get a bit settled and into it πŸ™‚ – great write up for the rest of the piece, really good job. I’m sorry you are having a hard time dealing with the rose tinted grief, it’s hard work sometimes to know what to think, when it wasn’t always good, and in fact was so weird or hard that it formed part of you forver, but as you change with time, so does that bit too. I’m also sorry that you lost your dad, and to be honest, there is nothing wrong with remembering the good bits a little more than the bad bits, you know they were there and happened, but no need to dwell on them now unless they help to work through something x

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So, so happy for you!!! πŸ’œ And I totally get how feelings waver between the good, bad and in-between…but you are doing a great job dealing with it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Marquessa! Sending you lots of warm hugs πŸ«‚ xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

        Liked by 1 person

  5. People are complicated and it’s OK to have mixed feelings about that complexity.

    Grieving a death makes it especially hard to manage your feelings about a complicated relationship. The pain of loss means that we lean very hard on the positive memories – I think it’s an effort to both ease our pain and to justify it. If they weren’t a great person, we wouldn’t miss them, right? So they must be great! It also feels unfair to be critical someone who is no longer present. One of our friend group from the UK died in an arson attack last year, and someone called to tell us about it. He was, honestly, kind of a tosser but could also be very sweet and supportive, and she was in floods of tears at his death. “He was an arsehole”, she wept, “But he was MY arsehole!”

    I think honouring the memory of a person means remembering them as a whole person, and none of us are simple one-dimensional characters. Our complexity is born out of our own pain and struggles. I don’t think I’d like to be reduced to a handful of cheerful memories with the full weight of my fears, anger, and sadness just thrown aside – but I wouldn’t want to be remembered for only my worst self, either. So I think that even if you can’t speak about it, it’s OK give yourself the space to honour the whole person of your dad. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynelle. I’ve privately responded to this on your Facebook inbox. Sending you a big hug πŸ«‚ xoxo

      Like

  6. Congratulations, on the job, on never giving up, on becoming… Blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Warren πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

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