My dad grew up in an unhappy, sometimes violent, certainly emotionally abusive family. His father essentially abandoned his family when my dad was 16. He left for another woman, with whom he’d had an affair and subsequently married. My dad swore he would never ever do that to his children, or to the mother of his children. Ever.
The promises we make ourselves to preserve our sense of honor, can come back and make things hell for those we love…and for ourselves. My father grew up, and like his father, also had an affair. My mother was apparently aware for years, but due to an unrelenting religious point of view regarding eternal marriage and a fundamental belief in unconditional love, she waited, and watched, and prayed that he would leave the girlfriend. I don’t know all the details of the heartache, the conversations, or the promises made. I do know that he maintained his extra-marital relationship for almost ten years before he and my mother eventually divorced.
My dad is the best example I know of someone who made bad decision, after bad decision, and then decided it was enough. He was a distant father, difficult to please and very critical. Looking back now, as a grown woman, I see it. I felt the criticism that came off of him in waves, and it was never really about me. It was him. It was always about him.
At some point, in my thirties, after he and my mother had ended their marriage, something shifted for my father. He apologized. To everyone. He was humble. He told his children he loved them, and he told them often. He hugged more, he criticized less. He made sure that he was always available to his grandchildren.
He showed up.
Tomorrow night, Special Man and I are going to dinner with my father, and his significant other, the same girlfriend he has had for fifteen or so years. The irony here, is so exquisite, it makes my teeth ache. This man, who I grew up afraid of, and intimidated by, who was never able talk to his children, or be true and honest with himself for years, and years, is who I’m choosing to come out to as poly.
It’s time. I don’t know how he will react. I suspect he will be sad, yet supportive of me as a person who makes her own choices. I don’t know how quickly I may choose to tell the rest of my family. My sister, the Beautician, is aware that SMF is married, and she and I have talked about what it means to be poly. She thinks the whole thing is weird. She feels I am being taken advantage of. As for the rest of my family…it’s only really my mother who scares me. She will be at once heartbroken and righteously indignant. She will wonder how she failed me. She will more than likely tell me that Jesus still loves me. She may not talk to me again for some time.
But that is a worry for another day. I have no fear of my father any more. He loves me, and will continue to love me, even if he does not understand or agree with my choices. I’m okay with that.
Because I believe he will continue to show up.