When I was about nine we owned a cute little hamster. Mel had bought some yummy hamster treats that looked like chocolate stars. She set me up and told me to try and feed my dad one as a joke. I did. He enjoyed it and asked for another. As he sat munching on the hamster snack, we all burst into laughter, assuming that he would take part in the prank and call it for what it was. This is not how the story unfolded. Dad’s stunted emotional growth left him at a stage of humiliation, unable to advance into a latter stage of seeing the humor in the situation. Soon the humiliation developed into anger and after throwing a huge tantrum, he decided to completely ignore me for about a week. I was devastated. I remember sitting at the breakfast table and crying on about the fifth consecutive day that my dad continued ignore my voice. I had apologized repeatedly but he wasn’t having it, and although Mel instigated the whole thing, she decided to stay out of it.
This has been a standard practice of my dad’s my entire life. He will ignore me if he is unhappy with me. Sometimes he ignores, not because he is unhappy with me but because he has someone else in his life and doesn’t need whatever it is that our relationship provides for him. He has ignored me for up to six years at a time. Today he is ignoring me because I am writing truth. The difference today is that I am no longer a child and I don’t care; I don’t have them time or energy.
It takes an enormous amount of strength to undo the damage and purposefully lead an emotionally healthy life. Many times I really suck at it. I still yell and curse and throw tantrums, but when I do, I know I am wrong. I get that I am limited and it is my responsibility to make it better. My apologies for my poor behavior are for those I have hurt, not for myself. If atonement is required, I try my best. My intent is always for what is best for my own kids. Removing those who function by emotional manipulation from my life has been a good thing.