Sunday, July 28, 2013
I did something yesterday that I did previously in early 2012. I confronted my father on his inappropriate conduct. I brought up the subject of his past pattern of lying.
In early 2012 I had thought it would be fun to throw a surprise birthday party for my father who was turning 70 years old in May of 2012. I began discussing the idea with relatives including my stepmother. Some time later my father called me. In a very disrespectful tone of voice he told me to cease any and all efforts I was making to throw a party for him. Somehow he found out. I later ascertained it was my stepmother who had shared the information with him. This incident in combination with other unexpected developments at the time so infuriated me that I decided it was in my best interests to cut my father out of my life. I wrote him a lengthy letter and informed him the only way I would allow him into my life again would be in a secure room with an objective third party mediator that would allow us to work through our respective differences. I had forgiven him for his past lies that deeply damaged my capacity to trust.
In the autumn of last year I allowed myself to renege on the boundary I had established earlier that year. I let my father back into my life. I opened a birthday card he sent me in September. I began talking with him again. I allowed myself to trust him. I allowed myself to believe that he would not continue to lie to me or lie to others on my behalf. I now feel I was wrong to do so.
Yesterday I decided to disclose my PTSD diagnosis to my father. I had been weighing the merits of making such a disclosure since I myself learned of the diagnosis in late June. I was hoping for a positive and supportive response. Some might even interpret his response as being supportive. And it technically was supportive. And yet his terse two sentence reply was not, in my opinion, a reply commensurate with the nature of the information I had disclosed to him. Considering the detail with which I described what I was going through the last few months his reply was indeed very terse. And yet there is more to the story. There is so much more to this particular story of my relationship with my father.
Earlier this year my father had provided me some financial support at a time when I was between jobs. My father has been generous in this way before. And looking back I realize I had come to depend on him too often in this regard. I had long had mixed feelings about this aspect of our relationship. By taking money from him I felt I was perhaps obligating myself to him in some way now or in the future. For example, I sometimes felt accepting such help would indicate I was tacitly condoning aspects of his behavior I have never cared for and believe are truly unethical. The main pattern I can point out is his tendency to lie which I have already highlighted.
When my father provided me this help earlier this year he admitted to something that made me extremely uncomfortable. He admitted that he had thought about lying to my stepmother about how the money was to be used. When he told me this over the phone I could feel my own skin crawl just a bit. I needed help but I didn't want to accept money that was bound up in a lie. I did so anyway.
Between my father's terse reply yesterday and his past pattern of lying I finally came to a painful decision. I made the decision I made in early 2012. I decided to cut my father out of my life again. Only this time I must stand firm and maintain my boundaries with him. The price I pay for having him in my life in any way whatsoever is greater than the value of what I get by allowing him to be in my life. I see that so clearly now.
As I have continued to work to develop a longer term strategy for the treatment of my PTSD I have looked at the various aspects of my life and made an assessment of what is working for me and what is not working for me. If reducing unneeded stress is indeed one of many particular choices I need to make to effectively heal then I obviously need to look at the relationships in my life and determine which are serving me and which are not. Which relationships are worth the energy I put into them and which are not? And it is clear the time came (long ago actually) for me to say the emperor has no clothes. The time came for me to no longer accept my father's tendency to lie as an acceptable behavior. As I noted above the damage his behavior caused to my capacity to trust has been significant.
I would not be surprised if my father has a genuine (something that could be truly diagnosed) character disorder. What do you call someone who has a pathological tendency to lie? From what I have just read browsing around online I would say such a person is a compulsive liar. I do not understand the genesis of this trait within my father. Yet I do know what I must do for myself now. I must no longer expose myself to the possibility of becoming emotionally involved with him. I must cut him out of my life regardless of how painful it is. The short term pain of what I am going through now will be worth the long term freedom I will gain through excising him from my life. I just have to find a way to get through this time in my life.
I have often felt I have had to live the life of a hero at many times in my life. By that I mean I have often felt I have needed to live in a very fearless way each and every day. It has been so difficult so often because some of the earliest modeling I witnessed regarding mature adult behavior was not mature and not healthy. When you grow up with a father who acts like a compulsive liar would it can so easily distort your view of how the world functions and what you can expect to experience.
During my morning walk today I was reflecting on the events of yesterday. Looking within myself I noticed that one of the feelings I now have after making the choice I did yesterday is relief. If there was no feeling of relief in me I would feel concerned today that I had made a bad choice. Yet I do indeed feel immense relief. Removing someone from my life who is so comfortable with lying is necessary for me to restore my own health. By cutting my father out of my life I can reduce my anxiety level. I won't have the thought running through my mind all too often questioning whether he is being honest with me. I do not need that sort of anxiety. My present life is stressful enough. I often feel it is a miracle that I survived what I have gone through without feeling more hurt and betrayed than I did.
There is still a deeper reason for my choice to cut my father out of my life. It is my opinion that what we choose to allow in our lives can sow karma and lay down a course for our future years of life that can later prove even more difficult to break out of. By allowing people in my life who lie (or tacitly condone such lies by not challenging such behavior) I feel I am essentially saying to the Cosmos at large the following: I accept and agree that lying is a permissible and acceptable form of behavior. I welcome people to lie to me because I tolerate it in the people who already are in my life. And yet I do not want to make such an invitation. I want and ask the Cosmos to fill my life with trustworthy, kind and generous people who live lives of integrity each and every day.
Removing myself from the house of lies has been an immensely difficult task. Now that I have done so I can begin the necessary process of grieving and move on. It may prove to be a Herculean task but the alternative is simply not tenable. My life at this time is requiring me to become a warrior. The training of a warrior is not necessarily an easy task. But I will take it up with the faith that one day I will be a better man for it.
To those of you who have become my fans I am closing out my entry today by informing you that I will no longer write on Sundays. Writing in my blog six days a week is more than enough. Eventually I might change the settings of my blog to allow for comments. Until then I welcome you to continue to follow me and thank you for your attention and interest. The fact that people throughout the world are indeed reading from my blog is very consoling for me. And consolation is one thing I need a lot of right now!