Sometimes I go through old diaries and wish I could go back in time to hug myself. A lot of people have this bitter self-hatred of their teen and young adult selves, but I don’t. I wish I could give my past self a hug and tell her everything is going to be OK.
I found a snippet in there about my father and it was jarring to say the least. See, we don’t talk anymore. Why? Oh boy, where to start.
When I came to Japan in my first year, it was the “honeymoon” period. I was all about having the best time I could in Japan, and I did. I traveled every chance I got, went on these crazy adventures with JET Programme people in Ibaraki, which made for some great memories.
My mom and brother kept in contact with me via Skype and Facebook. We would call on the Skype phone or vid call. My brother actually helped me get miles so I could come home for Christmas!
But, well, complete radio silence from Dad.
I tried to call him once. I called, he picked up the phone, and I got maybe 5 minutes of conversation before he started complaining about how expensive the call was going to be. I don’t remember saying goodbye, just hearing the click of the line dropped. I cried my eyes out for the better part of an hour after.
I didn’t try that again.
I figured he’d call me, or maybe my step-mom would get in touch via Facebook for him. Right? Not so much. My brother actually worked as the go between for that year, helping to finalize plans and everything.
I wrote that diary entry above in 2012. I was beginning to hit a really important but kind of traumatizing realization that I couldn’t live with him as a shadow figure in my life anymore. He couldn’t care about me unless I was right in front of him, and even then, only if a football or basketball game wasn’t on.
As a child of divorce, he had weekends he could visit, but he often didn’t/couldn’t come. I remember waiting by my grandmother whenever the phone rang at her house. I remember one time I stood there and didn’t move, because I wanted to just pretend I was still waiting, or maybe he’d call back and change his mind.
Basically, I spent a very disproportionate amount of time in my life just waiting for him to show up, and he didn’t.
It’s a stereotypical story, I know, divorced kid with an abandonment complex, but the pain of it was still valid. He tried to make up for it with things, like a car on my sixteenth birthday- a Ford two-seater with a sliver of a backseat that I drove until the transmission got wonky- and a week long vacation on the Alabama coast in my senior year. Grand gestures, like he was trying, you know?
However, I knew he wasn’t paying child support for years, same for medical bills. Mom and student loans put me through college, although he would occasionally send grocery money here, emergency money there. He was inconsistent with how he wanted to care about his children, like my brother and I were two things that were on the list of things to cross off, but it depended on the season.
Christmas of 2012 was a roller-coaster ride. I was running around from city to city, trying to see as much of my family and friend groups as I could in a short time. I stayed with my dad for a bit and he got me on the plane to Japan. I thought it was all good.
Then 2013 rolled around.
I decided to just wait and see. Surely, I thought, surely he’ll send a message at some point. I left him with all my information, he can do it. Or maybe step-mom?
No birthday, no Thanksgiving, and no Christmas message.
Months into 2014, I don’t know when exactly, but my step-mother (bless her) tried to ask me about when I was coming back for a visit… And I went off.
I said some very awful things to her. Some of them I didn’t mean, and I was largely unfair to her. If I could regain contact, I think I’d apologize mostly to her. She didn’t deserve to get the emotional pent up frustration and rage I felt towards him.
And he messaged back through her account. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember reading through it and thinking to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” It addressed nothing, didn’t even attempt to form understanding about where the anger came from, it was just…uncaring.
So I blocked him.
Ever since then, I’ve felt oddly freed. I’m not waiting around for him to acknowledge I exist anymore, and I’m not wounding myself by expecting some kind of love that’s never coming. Instead, I’m learning to love myself with the family and friends that do love me.
Maybe one day we can talk again, but I’m not going to open that door. Past me didn’t deserve to have her heart broken like that for so long. Maybe when my heart is a little bit stronger and I’m a little wiser…until then, I guess.