Self Preservation or Hardened Heart

I realized today that I used to gravitate towards people that I had to work at.  People that I felt I had to convince to like me.  It’s worked before.  My best friend in Alberta and I didn’t get along at first.  We didn’t like each other, we didn’t see eye to eye.  But I was determined that she was going to see that I was a good person and ultimately we had a great friendship.  I know what it’s about.  It’s hard to say, but I think I learned that I have to try and convince people to like me because I have had to do that with my dad for my whole life.  I have had to make him want to see me, make him want to spend time with me.  He and my mom split up when my twin sister and I were about 8, but even when we were all together, he was never there.  I have almost no memories of time spent with him before my teens, and those memories I do have were instances that I was proving that I was a good kid, that I was strong and capable and worthy of love and attention.  The majority of memories that I have of the time after we moved away from the little town we lived in, were of us waiting hours for him to show up.  Looking out the door every time a car passed to see if he had arrived.  I’ve always defended him and his actions (or inactions), wanting very much to believe that he had any desire to be in our lives.  I figured if I believed it, maybe he would too.   

The thing that I had to realize, as hard as it was, is that he was and always has been all about himself.  What he wants, what’s convenient for him, what he likes.  And any consideration for what we wanted either didn’t exist or was given begrudgingly.  Even as I type this I find myself making excuses for him.  He was young when he had us.  He had a shitty life growing up.  He didn’t have a good parental example of how to behave.  But that is all bullshit!  Young people have kids all the time.  People who grew up in less than perfect environments can be good parents.  And just because he didn’t have a good parental example doesn’t mean he had never seen one.  I find it really hard because the voice in the back of my head says “If one of your parents doesn’t even like you, what makes you think other people will?”  I know that he loves us, but I don’t think he ever did like us.  And now that we’re grown up and on our own, living our own lives, he keeps saying that he wants to ‘get to know us’ and yet when he comes here, he doesn’t want to meet our friends, he doesn’t want to do the things that we do, he isn’t interested in having any conversation that doesn’t revolve around only what is going on in his world.  

I’ve come to the realization that I have so much resentment towards him for what I missed out on in my childhood.  I see other dads with their kids and how devoted they are and it breaks my heart.  It breaks my heart because I deserved that.  It also makes me very wary about trusting people (see? there’s that trust thing again).  Because if you can’t trust your own parent to hold your best interests, your comfort, your happiness above, or at least equal to their own, who can you trust? 

I don’t want to become one of those people who doubts everything.  A person who looks at every gesture, comment and action with a cynical eye.  I realize that if I don’t have some skepticism though, that I get taken.  And I end up carrying the weight of both of our lives on my shoulders while the other person takes a walk in the park, unburdened.  So I guess some skepticism and some doubt is required.  I just have to find the balance between self preservation and a hardened heart.

I really didn’t mean to go on about this for so many paragraphs.  And I didn’t do it for sympathy or pity.  Like I’ve said before, this website is about discovery and my being honest with and about myself.  For me to make the changes in my life that I’m striving for, these posts are neccessary.  Let’s just call it blog-therapy….with an audience.  😉 

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” ~ Charles Dickens



  1. willamina said,

    October 6, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    We are conditioned all our lives that biological families are “supposed” to be a certain way . . . which makes it very hard when our family doesn’t fit that mold. Absentee parents (whether physically or emotionally), being adopted, not having anything to say to your siblings (because perhaps you just have nothing in common), “non-traditional” families . . . these can be hard to reconcile with this nuclear tight-knit everyone-around-the-fireplace ideal we have had hammered into our heads since we were very young.

    But the truth is, as we grow, we have the wonderful option of making our *own* families. These families may indeed include immediate family members. But they don’t have to. They can be made up of our friends, as well; a distantly related cousin; a mentor. I hope you are able to find comfort in the family you have the luxury of building yourself as an adult 🙂 It’s very hard to feel that love is missing or conditional as a child. But when you grow up, you finally get a chance to have what maybe you didn’t have as a kid.

    Oh, and I love this phrase, “heart that never hardens.”

  2. Lady Shanny said,

    October 6, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Miss W, I HEART you! How do you manage to find exactly the right thing to say? The thing that manages to make me feel better or clearer. I’m so glad that you found me (or I found you, I’m not sure) in this big blog-world.

    Bless you, sweetness!

  3. willamina said,

    October 6, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    🙂 it makes me really happy that i was able to help you.

  4. hueyea said,

    October 17, 2007 at 6:58 am

    Everytime I read your blog I find that we have a little more in common and I look towards you for help once again. The relationship with your dad is the same one my first two kids have with my ex. I have since remarried and my DH tries so hard to fill those shoes but sometimes for some reason they hold on to that strange ideal of my first husband caring about them in the typical fatherly way. My ex lives only 10 miles from us and he still has only visited us twice this year. He believes like your father that the world should revolve around him (that’s why he’s my ex). Any tips to help them avoid the hurt? Would you consider counseling? Do you think it would have been a help to you when you were going through the same thing?

  5. Lady Shanny said,

    October 17, 2007 at 7:18 am

    What would have made me deal with it better is if someone had said to me on a regular basis, “It has nothing to do with you, he is self-involved and he thinks that what he wants comes above everything else, even what you want”. No one ever said that to us and so I kept thinking that I should just keep trying harder, when it reality, no amount of trying would have or is going to change anything.

    That sucks! Why don’t these men realize that they have a child’s heart in the palm of their hand and then treat it with care? ERG!

  6. mao said,

    November 4, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    I am a dad whose children have pushed me away. I believe that their mom (my ex) has poisoned them against me. So, when Lady Shanny said, “Why don’t these men realize that they have a child’s heart in the palm of their hand and then treat it with care?”, I found myself thinking, “It’s not just men.”

    I bumped into this blog trying to find some understanding about how hearts get hardened and how to soften them again. I love my daughters, and I’ve tried to be the best dad possible. Their rejection of me hurts to the quick. How I wish that my daughters wanted a relationship with me as much as you want with your dad.

  7. Lady Shanny said,

    November 4, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    You’re right, Mao. It’s not just men. My experience was with my dad, but I know people who have had a similar experience with their mothers.

    It’s too bad that if you’re trying to connect with your kids that you’re having a really hard time. I’m not an expert in this area except for my own life, so I have no good suggestions for you. The only thing I can say is to keep trying. Keep putting yourself out there and showing those girls that you care. Because one day they will grow up and be more able to make their own decisions and their own choices. And they need to be able to see that you didn’t give up on a relationship with them.

    Thanks for commenting.

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