Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sharing vs. Gloating: Where's the Line?

Over the past few years that I've been reconnecting with my father, I never truly opened up to him. I talked to him about inane things like work, boys, Mom, but never anything that matters. And so on his visit here last week, I took the opportunity that fate had provided me. I showed him everything. *

*Except for my cheerleading video and the 6th grade school picture. Those have been mysteriously misplaced.

It wasn't something that I wanted to do; it's something Mom wanted to do. (Dad and I were bored to tears one day and it turns out Mom was off work and I did what I always do... go to her house).

The three of us are sitting in her basement and then she just bolts up and away up the stairs. When she came back with three humongous photo albums and a box of miscellaneous items, I knew I was in trouble. She laid the first book on his lap and that's when the memories started pouring out.

It was weird having to tell my dad about my life.

I felt like he was supposed to know that my cheer squad went to Nationals, that I was such a bad volleyball player that I was the only Junior on the JV team, and that soccer was more of a chore than a hobby. I couldn't help myself from grabbing the 24" x 36" portrait of my Senior photo. That picture is my pride and joy. It's the prettiest I've ever felt and I wanted him to see me that way.

I couldn't stop rambling about my debate and speech trophies. Or showing him the trips I went on with the OFEA (Ohio Future Educators of America) and the Recycling Club (I'm such a dork!). Or how I was an editor of "The Matrix" a.k.a. The Coolest High School Literary Magazine This Side of the Mississippi, Sucka!

It wasn't until we got to the bottom of the box of trophies that I realized that he hadn't made a sound. Not one.

He didn't ask one question.

He didn't comment on one picture.

And even though Mom didn't say anything either, I knew she had picked up on it, too.

I was disheartened to say the least. I wanted him to be proud of me. I wanted him to fawn over my accomplishments. I wanted him to look into the face of a Salutatorian who was granted a Presidential Scholarship and tell her that he was proud. I wanted him to at least pretend like he gave a damn.

The realization that his approval was not forthcoming hurt me to the core.
I didn't do these things for him, I did them for me. But what would it hurt for him to notice, right?

This is where I have trouble drawing the line. Because even though I knew I wasn't getting a reaction from him, I didn't stop. I kept telling him about my adventures to other countries and my dreams for bigger places. The verbal diarrhea was overwhelming but I didn't care.

It stopped being about sharing my past with him and started being about every father-daughter dance, every boy who broke my heart, every argument I had with Mom, every game he didn't attend, every phone call he didn't make, and the day I finally called him. I had turned it into a contrived effort to force him in to wanting to stick around for my future. Even when I could see the sadness in his face I didn't stop. I didn't stop because I didn't care.

I love my dad. I really do. But there are some deep-seated issues that need to be resolved and until they are, I'm not sure I'll ever give a damn about how he feels because for so many years, he didn't give a damn about me.

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