A distressful thought crossed my mind earlier this week. My niece is planning her wedding, and I am happy for her, and looking forward to the event. Until something made me wonder if my father, her Grandpa, would be invited.
I was surprised by my own reaction to this thought. I’ve been feeling so strong and peaceful lately, which has been indescribably wonderful and different from most of my life. I know some of this peace has come from me finally knowing I am worth something, and that my feelings do matter. This past Christmas was the first one where I requested not to have to see my father. So I think I have not seen him now since the Christmas before. I have not spoken to him since even longer than that.
So I was surprised at the jump in my heart, the fear inside at just the thought of being in the same room with him. Why is it so scary now? Because my cloak of denial is gone. I know who I am. I know who he is.
I emailed my brother, this niece’s Dad, about my concerns. I said I am not trying to control anything, and the niece is allowed to invite anyone she wants (she does know about our past, she can make her own decision), but I asked to be warned if my father might be coming. I’m not sure I would decide not to go, but I wanted to have that choice.
My brother’s response was soothing to me, mostly because he understood. I was not alone in this. He said that he would be surprised if my father was still alive by the time the wedding comes around. He is in the final stages of emphysema, unable to stand. (his funeral is a topic for another day – will I go to that? How will his death affect me and my family?) And that he has been disrespectful to all of them lately, insulting and angry, and may come if not invited, and may not come if invited, and that I should not allow him the power to keep me in hiding from such a beautiful family event.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Then I examined my initial reactions further. What is the fear? I broke it down. I’m afraid I will be triggered into having a flashback or panic attack. So what if I do? I have them at home without my father here. I know what to do now. I know how to get through them. Am I afraid of being embarrassed? Maybe a little. Am I afraid to take attention away from the bride and groom? Maybe a little. Am I afraid I will have a complete breakdown and lose myself again? Yes, that is the one. I haven’t known Me very long, and I’m afraid I will resort to hiding and pretending and resume all my old bad habits again.
So what? If that is the worst case, well, I found my way out once, I can do it again. I will not let fear drive my decisions. So I attacked my initial reaction, reached out to my brother and my husband for support, and found that I am strong – outside of my castle. No need to hide. My father has no power over me.
My father has no power over me.