So I left you last time wondering what was going on with me. I’d like to tell you about it. Actually, what I’m about to say is super important in understanding my grief. I’m going to be breaking up the collective story into different sections. It’s too much to talk about in one post. Plus, this will give me the time and space to work through things more slowly and deeply. Please understand that when I talk people in my posts, I love them dearly. I don’t want people to think I hate my family or that my family is horrible. I’m trying to process my emotions and experiences and for me to do that, I have to be honest about what’s happened. Anything I say here is me working through my life and its only ever from my prospective and sometimes my perspective is wrong. This is just the place I get to work through my end. I would like for you to understand that. I love my family so much and even though its those we love that hurt us the most, loving them is more important. So let’s talk about part 1…
It started about 3 months ago. My dad found a really wonderful gal and they started dating. Now that might not seem like such a big deal to some people, but when you’ve lost a loved one, its hard to imagine anything will ever be right again – much less you or a family member will find someone else to love. It’d been 14 months since my mom passed away. It was still pretty raw for me but at the time I thought I had a decent handle on how I was doing. (think again)
My dad is really happy with this gal. I hadn’t seen him so happy since before my mom got sick (7 very long years ago). He hadn’t laughed, smiled often, or had so much fun with another person in that span of time. Please don’t get the idea that he didn’t love and adore my mom. He did and still does… A little background on my dad: from the time my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer, my dad worked a full time job, lost his job and was jobless for a year, got another job, took my mom to her holistic treatments when she couldn’t drive anymore, cooked for us, cleaned for us, and when the dinner plate sized tumor got so bad that it erupted through her breast and she didn’t have the strength to leave her bed, he would wake up at 5 am – wake my mom up – change her bandages that covered the tumor – put on new bandages – go to work in downtown Dallas – work a full time job – come home – cook – care for mom – do her bandages again at 10 om – go to bed afterwards only to get up the next morning and do it all over again and again until the day she breathed her last breath…and I barely scratched the surface of how he was superman during those years.
So please believe me when I say I know very few people who deserve to be happy more than my dad.
I really wanted my dad to be happy. I worried about him being alone when my brother and I moved out. I even started praying that God would bring someone into his life, so when he told us that he’d met someone, I wanted to support him. He deserved the chance to be happy again and we could clearly see this lady made him that again. My brother and I welcomed her into our home and tried our best to make her part of our family because she was dating our dad. Only…I had no idea how this would effect me. I know this will make me sound like a shallow and selfish person, but I realized I wasn’t ready for him to be happy.
He had gone through a grief counseling class and two counselors over the year that my mom died. He was able to come to terms with her death and be able to move on. So when he met his girlfriend, he was ready to commit to their relationship. He spent a ton of time with her like you’d expect in any new relationship. She was coming over a lot and he was going to her place a lot. Lots of texts and calls and romantic outings…which left me and Samuel home alone most nights. Mostly me, as Samuel worked most nights.
I started to feel neglected. It made me miss my mom. I couldn’t help but think that if she just hadn’t died, dad wouldn’t be dating this lady and I wouldn’t feel neglected. If she hadn’t died, we could all be together and happy again. I was hurting because I would see this woman in my mom’s house, using my mom’s things, and it would hurt me because I knew I’d never get to see my mom do the very things she was doing. And just to clarify, it is not her fault for me feeling this way. She is a wonderful woman who really cares for us. She especially cares how Samuel and I are feeling. She tries so hard to be respectful of us; she doesn’t want to offend us or make us feel uncomfortable and I really, really respect her for that. So it’s definitely not her fault for bringing up these feelings in me.
She just happens to be the catalyst that brought the feelings to the surface. It would have happened with any other lady…I know that. It doesn’t make it easier though. I struggled for a while with feeling like our dad was neglecting us. The more I struggled with that, the more I began to realize that I wasn’t over my mom’s death. It made me realize that all that time when I thought I was getting over the grief, I really had been suppressing it. And not being able to talk to my dad about it because he was gone all the time with his girlfriend made it harder.
I don’t know if you’ve gathered this or not…but I’m not the warm and fuzzy type who can share their feelings easily. I’m more like a volcano; I push my emotions down and down and down until one day, they all come bubbling up to the surface. I know…its not healthy. That’s just how I’ve operated all my life. To give you an example…about a month ago, I kind of exploded. It had been a really hard week for me. I had been in a bad car accident, I was dealing with all the grief and still struggling with feeling neglected. Dad had been helping me deal with the insurance companies and whatnot, but one afternoon he snapped at me and I just broke down crying. Dad doesn’t usually get angry at me…so when he did, I felt like I was being a burden to him. We yelled at each other a bit and then didn’t really talk for the next day or so. When we finally sat down to talk about why we had shut each other out, I tried to explain to him that I was feeling neglected.
Unfortunately, the conversation did not turn out like I’d hoped. Dad told me I was being selfish for feeling neglected. He said that for the first 6 months after my mom died, Samuel and I left him home alone while we’d go do our own things. He was left home alone to cry and grieve by himself and now that he finally has someone to be with, I was being selfish for feeling neglected. Looking back now, I can understand where he was coming from. I would be the same way had our positions been reversed. But at the time, I was hurt because it wasn’t that I didn’t want him to be happy. It just felt to me like we were being replaced. I was used to my brothers going through this with their girlfriends but not my dad. The conclusion he came to was not what I had meant at all. I meant that I only felt neglected because we didn’t get to see him much anymore. I work a full time job and am a full time student so the only times I get to see my family are nights and he’d always be gone with her. I only meant I felt neglected because he no longer seemed to have time for us.
To wrap up Part 1, I learned through that circumstance that even though we both felt something completely different, its not ok to completely shut someone else’s feelings down. If you do that, you risk them every wanting to share their feelings with you again. I confronted my dad about this circumstance earlier this week and I explained why that hurt me. He listened to my feelings this go around and I’m so thankful that he took it well and apologized for shutting me down. This was super important to me because as I’m grieving, I need someone I am not afraid will criticize me for feeling neglected or hurt or angry or whatever it is I am feeling. I’m grateful he’s happy and further along the road to healing than I am because now he is able to reach back and pull me up when I fall down.
Ok…so I know that probably seems really random but I promise its only Part 1. There will be more but this section was only the beginning of what I imagine will be a long story. Thanks for hanging out here with me tonight.