I had the best dream last night. It was girl’s weekend, and my friends and I were getting ready to go out to dinner. One girlfriend was drunk. (I don't know why that was part of the dream, but it made it funnier!) My bio dad came by wanting me to spend time with him. He tried to make me feel guilty about it, just like when I was in high school and had things to do on “his” weekends. I felt the old feelings again, and began to want to make him happy for about one second, and then I said to him, “No, I don’t want to spend time with you now. This is girl’s weekend. I have plans, and furthermore, I am an ADULT! I am not obligated to spend time with you. Nor do I have the power to fix you; If you are depressed, that is your problem to solve. I wish you well.”
Or something like that. I stood up to him! I told him how I felt! It was great. I awoke feeling very triumphant. This was entirely representative of my recent personal growth into a full human being; a woman with a strong identity, capable of standing up for herself against the old emotional tricks deleteriously used against her!
My parents divorced when I was four, and mom remarried. That was great, for I got step-sisters and a step-brother and a great step-father! Thank goodness for them. They are my best friends now. How many people can say that about their siblings?
Growing up, I spent every other weekend with my bio dad. He would very often say how depressed he was that he couldn’t see me more, and tell me how I was the only thing that made him happy. Also, I couldn't call my step-dad "dad" in front of my bio dad nor act as though I had a family at home at all, for this made him very sad. This made me feel incredibly guilty, and there was nothing I could do about it because, hello! I was just a kid. I believed what he told me. At the time, I didn’t possess the skills to deal with that kind of mind game, and so didn’t know what to say to him. I would instead shrink inside myself and feel terribly guilty and responsible, feelings which were manufactured by him for me to feel. I spent a lot of time doing this, and it colored all areas of my life so that I would feel guilty and responsible for everybody else's woes. I don’t know what would possess a person to put that kind of pressure on a 5-year old, and continue it year after year, but he took advantage of my trust in him for his own emotional gain.
There wasn’t anything that anyone could do about his depression (I now know). It was and is his problem. It’s wrong to put that kind of guilt and pressure on a little kid. How sad that he spent all that time looking outward for the solution, when it really comes from inside.
The therapy really kicked in last year, and after several months of getting it all out and talking it through, I overcame the guilt and now see the situation for what it is. It’s too bad he couldn’t cope better with the divorce, but it’s his problem and up to him as the adult to find help for himself. As for me wanting to participate in activities that were on “his” weekends, that was just me being a normal kid. It wasn’t malicious, and it didn’t make me a bad person because it wasn't my responsibility. He could’ve handled the conflict in schedules in a much better way as well, to be more flexible and look for a solution rather than whine like a helpless being. He chose to be needy and do the guilt thing, which didn’t make me want to be around him much. I wonder if he ever realized that?
Several months ago I saw my bio dad again out of necessity (to tell him to not come over after my address was published in the phone book and guess what? he came over uninvited and unannounced) and he said the same kinds of things: you don't talk to me, I miss you, you said this, you did that, fix me, blah! The difference is, now I know better, and I have a response.
I am not one to put much stock in dreams having pertinence. They can seem so bereft of meaning and are just plain kooky, as though the mind were taking the opportunity during sleep to defragment itself, causing random bits and pieces to fly around hither and yon. Dreams reflect reality most of the time about as much as a Jackson Pollock painting can be called a study of realism. However, the dream last night was very meaningful, and made me feel great when I woke up.
I've learned that I am just as important as anyone else. I am not on this earth to please others, I am here in my own capacity. What a freeing feeling it is to know that.