Whoo-hoo! Today I put myself in a very stressful position. I decided to take my Dad, the person who stresses me out more than anyone else, to my first visit to the Zen center, a very important and very frightening move to make.
As I sat in the seats I realized I may have made a mistake there. I figured it was a nice way to bond us, to have SOME positive memories between the two of us, and perhaps to help him as well as me, but I forgot that when I am with him I regress a bit. The majority of the time I had spent in public with him involved me working VERY HARD to behave as if he was my parent and took care of me and that we were normal. In public I would behave as if I respected him and as if he invested anything but a paycheck to my upbringing, and in return he would behave that way too, (and get plenty of kudos for raising such a great daughter all by himself [nothing stings more to me than that])
We arrived at 9:45, 15 minutes early for the Dharma talk. Well I walked in the way you walk into most buildings, talking at a normal volume, laughing and joking, and someone was there to open the door for us. There was meditation immediately prior to the Dharma talk, it was right around the corner, and we had just stormed in. The very friendly man showed us to a place to sit where I was able to "meditate" a bit (I haven't begun much of a meditation practice yet, so mostly I just sat with my eyes closed and tried to calm down from my humiliation)
My dad wore tattered, stained jeans, has a long, out of control ponytail, and these rediculously long eyebrow hairs that he refuses to cut. His feet stunk, but fortunately only mildly today. A pretty lady sat next to him and treated him with kindness, I noticed him check her out twice.
As we sat and listened to the lecture I felt ready to leave when it was over. I felt just like I do with the museum, I know enough about art to have intelligent things to say, at least to say I understand some things, It is the same about Buddhism, yet while I was there I felt like an idiot, people were bowing when they entered and exited this one room. This feeling is residual social anxiety, that my father has this amazing skill of bringing out in me.
As we left I decided to come out of my selfish mode and at least feel good if he got something out of the experience (I did get SOMETHING out of it, it just wasn't what it could have been if I had chosen my first visit more carefully) he said yes and said something annoying, a really simplified version of the lecture. I felt the familiar feeling of me, feeling all of the stress, doing all of the thinking, with him just coasting along.
In the car I figured out something that pisses me off so royally about him. He has lived such a charmed fucking life. He was THERE during my tormented adolecence, he could have taken away some of my torment if he would have been awake and involved in raising me (that was my job apparently.) I realize he suffered (obviously- he was passed out drunk most of the time) but he so effectively put the stress of raising me on me, a little girl who had enough stress, a dead mom, a stepmom who left, the expectationto CONSOLE HER FUCKING DAD about her stepmom leaving, a passed out dad with an open front door that rapists could enter through, and the normal stresses of growing up (oh and school maybe [what is that again?]) At the end of all this he loves to say "I must have done something right because you turned out great"
Our old cycle seems alive and well. He hears a dharma talk and thinks it is congratulatory, I hear the same dharma talk and see it as instructional. He twists everything in the world into validations about the way he lives his life, I look at the world and sincerely evaluate the way I live my life. I work hard to challenge myself, so in my life I constantly improve. He works hard to avoid challenge, and surprise, he rarely improves. My annoyance with him was so high by the end of the morning that I said I wasn't hungry for lunch (I was) and I wanted to go home so I could process.
I got home and Tera and I watched, of all movies, Muriel's wedding (My dad, when sober, was EXACTLY like the mother in that film) I fell asleep towards the end of the movie and took a nap. I had nightmares and didn't wake up until 4:50 PM.
I overwhelmed myself today. Usually when I try to build anything more than a friendly formal relationship with my dad I end up in tremendous pain. I have experienced this enough times in my life to know it wont change, I need to accept that and stop trying (in order to protect myself)
mood: a little wiser (and if you don't count this- which I don't- I have gone about a week with out feeling depressed, crabby sure, but not depressed)