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Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004 - 11:47 pm

Until today I hadn't spoken with my dad since I told him I couldn't be christian. He didn't sound happy with me when I called to ask him his opinion on a gift idea I have for my mom for xmas. He hasked me how the kids and Larry were, and I told him everyone's okay and Larry's going to Boston on business tomorrow, which prompted him to mumble something about Boston being Kerry territory.

"Really? I wasn't aware of that."
"You should be. Isn't he your boy?"

I remember thinking, 'what the...?'. Then it hit me. He was in the mood to toss some barbs about the election.

"No, dad. Not being republican doesn't automatically make me a democrat. I voted green. I like the green party. Larry voted libertarian."
"Well you both wasted your votes."

I was beginning to feel a little pain in my forehead, but I can't be completely sure whether it was an anxiety reaction or a jab from the sinus infection I was just diagnosed with this evening.

(Trying to be patient): "Dad, we don't see it that way. We supported the parties that we felt were actually interested in representing us. We voted our consciences. Besides, the greens didn't win but we did accomplish part of our goal in getting the word out and several greens were elected into office."

(sounding somewhat snotty) "Well I didn't hear of any."

"Most of them were local offices within their communities. You have to start somewhere."

After another minute or two of the old back-and-forth, I ended that part of the conversation. He was in a cruddy mood, and I wasn't feeling as patient as I know I have to be to avoid being stung and/or pissed off when he gets like that.

The last two conversations we've had really hammered in the knowledge (as if I were unaware of it before), that he neither respects me as an adult nor cares what I think or how I feel. Instead of asking me questions like I encouraged him to do and making an effort to learn about my religious beliefs he attacked them. Now he wants to get ugly over the issue of who I chose to vote for. And he's back to talking to me in that nasty tone he uses when he's trying to shame and intimidate me, which still works but I'll walk on my tongue before I let him know it. I'm 35 years old and he can still reduce me to the approximate emotional age of four using only his voice. I hate myself for feeling all trembly inside when he gets nasty and even though I do love him, part of me hates him for making me feel that way.

After all of this time he's learned nothing. He acts as if he wants a relationship with me but the second I do anything he disagrees with he comes at me, fangs bared and gnashing. Apparently in order to be close to him I have to be republican, christian and married to the man of his choosing. Well, thanks but no thanks. I have this nutty thing I like to do called thinking for myself, and I am beyond tired of trying to do what he wants in an effort to please him. It doesn't work. If I do give in on some things he still finds reasons to talk to me like shit and let me know I disappoint him, so why I even bother at this point...I do not know. Being optimistic, I suppose. Or really, really stupid. Or perhaps I'm insane. The definition of insanity is supposed to 'be doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result'. I know my actions are the emotional equivalent of trying to extract blood from a stone and yet I keep trying. I compromise. I do all the work and he still acts like I'm nothing.

Yet he says he loves me.

Um...I'm confused...

Our conversation today wasn't that major a deal. We've had much worse, times whe he's insinuated terrible things about me but came just a hair shy of actually saying them, just so he could have a clean conscience later (What? I never said that!). Times when he's screamed at me, threatened me, called me a liar. I should be past that but there have been so many of them over the years that even the tiniest of incidents brings them all back. The scabs have been ripped off so many times I know many of the old wounds that will never completely heal.

I'm an adult. I've birthed and am successfully raising three kids, one of whom is a teenager who is polite, smart, considerate, gentle natured and doesn't stay out partying with his friends all night when he needs to be getting rested up for school. A rare kid, to be sure. So it would seem I'm doing something right.

So why won't my father respect me? Why does he have to take any and every little opportunity to say things that he knows will make me upset? Why does he like to see me squirm? Why can he not accept that my having separate values from his doesn't make either of us wrong - just different? Why are my religion and my politics so important to him?

I've been thinking about all of this since I hung up with him this morning. I wish I understood it and I wish he'd at least have the decency to acknowledge it, but he never does. He hurts people and either he doesn't realize it or thinks it's justified. I am so fed up with it though. He doesn't talk to Patrick that way and I don't think it's too much to ask that he at least interact with me on the same level as he does with my brother.

I'm tired of feeling like a voodoo doll around my father, though I'm sure he enjoys it because he's so good at sticking the pins in and twisting them. I think he likes my reactions to the things he does. I remind him of his mother so this is the closest he can get to getting even with her for screwing up his childhood. She messed with his life, now he messes with mine. In ways both large and small.

I'm so tired of this.

I'm tired. Period.

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