Friday, 6 April 2012
A year ago, The Man and I committed to a holiday in Key West where, for the past 10 years, my father has been renting a bungalow for a month. My father has been badgering us for at least 8 of the past 10 years to plan our holidays so that we can fit a week in Key West into our March plans. Last year was the breaking point: we could no longer politely maintain the evasive tactics we'd been employing the last 8 years. We committed.
At the time that we committed, we didn't know that shortly thereafter we would be separated; thereby throwing a completely unexpected dynamic into the 2012 March holiday plan.
We were not immediately candid with all of the members of our families with regards to the fact that we are no longer living together. It was probably a full month that I avoided all calls from my mother because I knew that as soon as I spoke to her, the news would come flooding out.
"Wwwee we we we aren't li li li liv living to to together."
The Man was able to maintain a more artful bearing with his family. He kept them in the dark for four or five months before telling them. He wanted to tell them in person and waited for that chance.
The only reason I needed to tell my brothers is because I had told my mother, and I didn't think it fair to put her in a position to keep secrets. Suddenly, it was only my father who was in the dark. The impending trip to Key West filled the beginning of my March with anxiety. My Caterina Shrink offered to be available on Whatsapp or by email if I needed support ...
Does she charge for virtual sessions?
... Two probable reactions I anticipated caused me dread. First and foremost, I was scared my father was going to go all ballistic in a former marine way by cursing My Man to hell and pounding his fists and turning all red and angry in the face, to be quickly followed by going all Machiavellian in a former banker type way by advising me to start hoarding away whatever joint income I might be able to get my hands on. I had to eat a lot of granola to store up energy to be able to deal with this reaction should it have actualised.
The other possible response that filled me with dread was that of my father having a breakdown. I imagined him crying and holding me and wanting to comfort me and calling me his little princess and stroking my hair and telling me how he just wants me to be happy.
For as much as his heart might have been in the right place, I just didn't have the wherewithal to stomach either of these reactions.
My mother (who these days rarely has a good thing to say about my father) told me not to worry so much. "People have a way of surprising you."
The breaking the news to my father wasn't as bad as I had imagined. His reaction was squarely in the second category. I did have to roll my eyes behind his back as he hugged me - the irony that I was comforting him more than he was comforting me. "It's ok Dad. I know you can't make it better. You have to let your kids suffer and make their own way."
Once I got that out of the way, the Keys were mine to enjoy. (And The Man's who continues to be a great sport and wonderful support even with this strange, mixed-up relationship we're looking at through a kaleidoscope).
Posted by Ellie at 23:53