Monday, November 26, 2007

The first step

When my father answered the phone, I didn't know what to say. "Hello, dad, this is Viviane" seemed too personal. "Hello, father" sounded like something out of Star Wars. I didn't want to call him by his first name, that was too detached. So I said, "Hello, this is Viviane."

Of course I managed to mumble this and I had to repeat myself a few times. He didn't recognize my voice and I had to clearly explain who I was (his daughter). He was really, really surprised. It shocked me to not have my voice recognized (even though it's totally logical) and I fought really hard to control myself because I was going to start crying.

We had a nice talk. We both avoided diving into conversation about the past and talked about the weather (twice), where we lived, what I did for a living and other safe topics. He did mention that he was a different person, a calmer person. When I ended the conversation, I made a point of letting him know that he could call me, that this was just the beginning of us talking, and that we couldn't let habit keep us from moving forward. He was really happy I called and said that it meant a lot to him that I did. It was clear that this was true. When I ended the call, I looked at my phone; we talked for 51 minutes and 52 seconds.

I'm not 100% aware of all of my feelings about this. It's been a long time since I've even thought about my father. It's hard to even type this. The whole thing is sad and has left me thinking about the amount of time that has passed, the amount of time he has left, my upcoming birthday, getting older, relationships, children, parents, love, the meaning and purpose of my life, of his. I am overcome with the feeling of the fleetingness of life, of how time is always passing and that nineteen years has gone by where neither of us were capable of ending this thing. But why? Why did things work out this way? I know some of the answers, but I also want to look forward and have hope for the future, because nothing that has happened in the past can be changed.


Major Generalist said...

This is really incredible, and I hope so much it leads to healing for both of you.

Rational Answers said...
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Rational Answers said...

Thank you for sharing such an intimate aspect of your life, Vivane. Your posts on this subject took me back to my dysfunctional relationship with my own father. You have inspired me to consider the possibility that my father may not have been as completely indifferent as I thought to being on the outs with his sole offspring.

Over the years of our estrangement, I went from despising my father ("what a complete waste of organic matter") to isolating myself from him ("who and what he is does not determine who I am") to coming to terms with him ("he was largely a product of his environment"). But throughout, my father was no longer a person in my life; he was simply an inert factor that I was reacting to. Since he has been dead (to the rest of the world) for over 20 years my father will never be more than that to me.

Vivane, you have a unique opportunity to "re-personalize" your father. If you choose to pursue it, only you will be able to say whether or not resurrecting him in your life was worth the effort. Needless to say, I’ll be reading whatever else you choose to share about the process.

vivzan said...

Rational Answers, thank you for sharing your feelings about your father.

What you're saying about despising your father and isolating yourself was pretty much my strategy. He too was no longer a person. My uncle really gave me the gift of being able to see my father as a human being.

I am absolutely taking the opportunity to "re-personalize" my father.