A sad dad!
In Sweden, we have a saying like; “What is hidden in snow arrives in thaw”! So with a metaphor I could say that my bad bet as a father for my first two children, which was repressed by pain and neurotic behavior, is now being reality for me when my élan vital, my capability to feel has improved and taken me out of my snowbound state. Since my first divorce in 1974, when my wife got the custody, I have tried to imagine, that I had a good relationship with them even if there were plenty of signals telling me that I was cheating both myself and them. The signals have escalated over the years, and lately the children have sharpened their criticism of what they consider my very selfish and egocentric behavior.
The reasons for the escalation are plenty and include me not being there for them when they needed me, my blog / memoirs (in English) published on the Internet, the fact that I during 1994 became father to a girl, who I decided to give my full attention and finally, the fact that I prefer to live in Spain, 2500 kms away from them. There could be other reasons, but I think I have covered the most important.
Being a primal patient for decades I’m used to the fact that nobody wants, dares or is capable of discussing feelings and therapeutic matters. That was the main reason that I wrote my story about my life in order to demystify my epilepsy and its consequences. That way I thought of creating a lot of valuable information of what had caused my, often, subtle neurotic behavior. However, my family did not interpret things the way I had expected. Especially my two grown kids saw it as an extension of Dad’s egocentric behavior and another way to suppress their need to feel important. This is hard to debate. It is a Catch-22 according to Josph Heller, a non win situation.
The bulk of the criticism is about me being selfish, egocentric in general. They cannot stand my life story. My son says that he heard thousands of times about my smartness and important contacts although we only talked to each other 30-40 times over the last 20 years. However, he has at least spoken up and a few weeks ago he decided to avoid having something direct with me to do. He is fortunately seeing my youngest daughter, who adores him.
My oldest daughter has been easier for me to relate to, but she has apparently told me one thing and her family a different version when she commented upon our conversations, my decisions and thinking. It was a letter from her husband, which confirmed my suspicions that my daughter was not as straight as I had expected. However, she preceded by quickly and followed up by a letter in which she makes it clear that her earlier attitude has been propelled by a feeling of must for family purposes and not as a personal choice and desire.
As a consequence I sent the following letter to my grown-up children, with a copy to their mother. My ambition and desire are to give them a regret that I was not there when they needed me, and hence I was not able to avoid creating the same pain in them that has plagued me for a large part of my life:
A letter “To my oldest two children
It is a fact that my life has changed over the past 40 years. Through various therapies and interventions, I have gradually felt and relived the pain from a horrendous birth, which led to epilepsy. Feelings of inferiority with subtle neurotic behavior gave me alternating success and failure. A general anxiety, however, was my constant companion. During these 40 years, I have lived in a complex relationship with you. At first I felt a lot for both of you and you meant very much to me, without me being able to show those feelings for you because of my permanent changes of relationships, changes in my career and because of my involvement in Primal Therapy, including two years in L.A.
Your mom, took on your upbringing in a very responsible way, and you were marked gradually, naturally, of her, reinforced by my inability and negligence. This I repressed and only slowly it dawned on me that I certainly was your genetic father, but hardly a safe dad. The signals of frustration and hatred, they were many from both of you. Especially, I remember your mother's anxiety and fear, when she and I took up a temporary contact 1984. She was afraid for our daughter's negative reactions, if you were to know that we met, and that I spent the night in your apartment. Your mother's fear created permanent scars and sat for several years as a thorn in me. Our contact in recent years has mostly been about your career, in which I have recognized myself and felt involved. My daughter, you have apparently interpreted my interests as egocentricity on my part and there is obviously an element of this.
As a grandfather, I have fallen short. Isabel's birth, living abroad and my illness called me weak excuses. The underlying real reason, however, is the left-over feeling from the above sprained relationship to you my daughter, who has done that I have not been able to get deeply involved with your sons. A serious effort and an attempt to involve myself in order to get help and knowledge of issues related to the boys' respective handicaps were cut good of you, which gave me the impression that you neither believed in my proposals, or nor were interested in them. They probably reinforced your impression of my desire to make myself interesting.
You, my son, have for more than 15 years, above all, stressed your ruinous gambling addiction and your alcoholism. Your various addictions have fueled my bad conscience. The few times we met and ate together in recent years, so have a few large glasses of beer removed all prerequisites for the development of a meaningful conversation. The meetings have for the sake not been unpleasant because I feel deep sympathy for you. Sadness and disappointment have bubbled up. Gradually, as my own mental recovery slowly progressed, and I felt your hate and your disappointment that I left you when you most needed me, so have my bad conscience dissolved.
It is apparently one of life's contradictions that when more and more of my retarded life begins to straighten out, and I feel relief and confidence in myself, so it is part of the development, that I become aware of the fact, that I lost my two oldest children. However, this happened already back in 1974 when your mom and I divorced so I have had the considerable period of 37 years to feel through the pain. The importance of that pain has probably, like Archimedes' principle, a density ratio which is related to my resolution of the neurosis and epilepsy and pain that became the aftermath of my own childhood.
The pain, which I am sure you can feel, and that drives your actions in many respects, I suppose has much in common with what I felt. My inability to help you both before and now does not mean that I am indifferent towards the emotions that control you, and it does occasionally hurt me that it should be that way, since I got relative peace with myself.
Even if you both emphasize that our relations (at least since 1974) have not been of a "close nature", I'm still your biological father. For better or worse! Should you need me, you know where to find me and I will do whatever I can. In the case of Isabel, so I hope that she will not suffer for my sins! You, her brother, revealed this week a shining example of it, which pleased Issa a lot! She is fond of you all! You are a part of her family!