Friday, 27 January 2012

My Dad

It's an odd trajectory when you start writing a sex blog which becomes an open relationship angst-fest and then you find yourself writing about your dad. Where am I going with this? I had an embattled relationship with my dad. He died of cancer when I was 20. He was diagnosed when I was 13. My dad died nearly twenty years ago, which is half my lifetime. I suspect no one has exerted such a strong influence on me or shaped my character as much as he did.

He came up in conversation with my brother Ben at the weekend. We were walking through the park taking my nieces to see our mum. I hardly ever get to have private conversations with Ben. He's the sibling I relate to the most and it's a treat. 

Our dad cared about his family above all things but he was very gruff and grumpy. He was loving and could be playful and silly but he was always snapping and getting cross about things. This was even before getting ill. He was a child psychiatrist but treating other people's children's behavioural difficulties didn't mean he was equipped to deal with ours - especially as they related to him. I think he tried so hard that it became controlling. I remember screaming rows on this subject. 

The most perceptive thing my dad ever said to me was this: you're fiercely independent and hate anyone interfering with your freedom but at the same time you're angry that you're not being looked after well enough. 

That silenced me. I was 17. I knew he was right. He couldn't control me but he understood me. 

Things had never been great between my dad and me. I always bucked against him, both his love and his authority. So I was never daddy's little girl but it got much worse after he was diagnosed with myeloid leukaemia. I don't know whether it was my age - hitting puberty - or his illness, but my rejection of him went to a new level. I was so angry with him. When we were on speaking terms we argued about everything. 

Every interest he expressed in my life felt like a threat or stifled me. I knocked them all back and never asked him about his illness or how he was feeling. I wish I could tell him how much I regret that. I'm sad he died before we could get to know each other as grown-ups. 

My aunt Lily told me after his death that my dad had had a difficult relationship with his parents. I hadn't considered that. It's probably just as well that I'm unlikely to have kids. Who knows what I'd put them through. Even Ben, who is almost always cheerful and calm and a great dad, told his 7-year-old that she was being a fucking lazy little bitch the other day. (She was.)

No comments:

Post a Comment