This is a story of estrangement and my coming to the awareness of "emotional power", the concept that freed me from all the pain I have felt all my life. We've all heard of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) but people rarely talk about emotional power and emotional maturity which I've come to realize are at the root of many of our troubles, dysfunctional relationships as humanity.
I had told my father that I wanted some distance so we were NC for some years when I had a baby and lost her the very next day. NC is short for No Contact. It is a common shorthand frequently used by estranged children. The other is LC, which is Low Contact. That is the only ways these adult children can handle any relationship with their parents. If they cannot even do that, they go NC.
I don't think I need to even say this but losing a baby is a big thing! And every human being who has any humanity knows it. Child death is said to be the biggest pain in the world. And it is quite tremendous I can attest to that. I haven't had any other big event to compare but I know how deep a burning pain losing a child is. Anyway... My "father" did not call me after the event, not that I expected him to. Let alone calling, he did not even send a message, not a word of condolence. Again, not that I cared. He was non-existent in my life anyway and never contributed anything positive, just yelling, insults, belittling and despotism.
That, his not even sending a message, should have been the end of my any relation with this man. And it would have been. Yet, I reconnected with him after all the verbal and emotional abuse, after his "unforgivable" sin of not reaching out after I lost my baby. When I had another baby and this time managed to keep her alive, I called my father and asked if he wanted to see his grandchild ! Why, why on Earth did I do that I asked myself recently. It didn't take long for things to fall apart again. It was the second or third meeting. Now, after seven years of NC, I was considering if it would be worth giving another shot along with a therapist but then realized it was pointless. He is still the same man and it's impossible for us to have any connection whatsoever. As I said, I was asking myself why I even reconnected with him after all he had done. Then I realized... Because I was feeling blessed when I had a second healthy baby at age 42. I felt magnanimous. But that feeling doesn't last forever when you are emotionally abused. Every time this person hurts you, you ask yourself "What's the point? Why should I keep this relationship that is harming me?" Any feeling of filial obligation and going back to an abusive relationship is, generally, a recipe for disaster. It only means more hurt and unnecessary trouble for you. When I listen to Buddhist gurus or all those people advocating kindness whatsoever, I can say "Oh yes, that is how we should all be, I should be." But sorry... It is a nice, tempting theory, agreed, just doesn't work in real life :(
This man, who is supposed to be my "father" did not call or send a birthday message to my daughter, that is her granddaughter once in nine years. Neither did he once write and ask how she was, asked to talk to her. He, not once, asked to see a photo of her.
A couple of years back, I was just curious, simply curious if he really never cared or wondered about who his granddaughter was. I sent him a message. He replied in an angry manner: "Don't use the child to connect with me, come and solve your problem with me yourself."
I simply shrugged. There was no point in trying to communicate with this man; it was simply impossible.
Recently, I had to face my father after seven years of NC because of a joint property. The flat is rented. He gets the money and sends me some crumbles, as if giving charity. I asked him several times to send me the contract so that I would know exactly what I have to declare in the tax form instead of having to ask him every time, and for him to tell the tenant to pay my share directly to my account as I don't want to see my father's name in front of my face every month and for him to stop pretending as if he is giving me a handout. He simply doesn't do it. After years of this, I was so pissed off at his controlling, bullying and demeaning, disrespectful behavior. I was ready to ask the court to end the partnership even though it would mean a high loss for me. Just as long as this “torture” ended. I don't want to have anything in common with this man, not even property; nothing that binds him to me in some way, keeps him in my life somehow. I simply could not take his passive-aggressive bullying over me.
I was venting to a friend, when she said something that hit me!
I was saying “By controlling the money, he thinks he has power over me. But I have the power and I'll show it to him.”
My friend stared at me and said “Gülin... You say you have the power, but he still has all the emotional power over you. He can make you react like this.”
That was the lightbulb moment for me. Yes, I had legal power as 3/4 of the property is mine, but another big yes, what my friend said was so true, my father had EMOTIONAL POWER over me.
Then I thought... Seriously... Why am I still hurt when he insults me? Why am I so upset that he belittles me, or treats me as a child to be fooled? I suppose I still saw him as my “father”, someone who is important and “valuable” in my life. That is something ingrained, comes from my childhood. And I've carried that “feeling” all along. It no longer is valid. He is just not worth anything to me. So it was like I had made updates to my program, but forgotten to change the settings. When I realized this, the solution was just so simple. I turned the dial from “valuable” to “worthless” and voila!
I also removed all the buttons on my body. So that he can no longer push them and trigger me. (I could actually visualize myself with big lego-like buttons! I just wiped them aside with one magic stroke.)
I know who this guy is... He is someone who is always going to insult me, walk over me, will never care about me. That's who he is. Why do I expect any different? Why should I be upset when he does all these things which are to be expected from his character?
Anyway... I had blocked him but I unblocked so easily after this realization. The important thing is to get your emotional power back. If you can... If I can... I am now curious to see if I can... I feel confident but I of course have to test it. I'll be writing to him just as a business partner, and deal with him in those terms, not as “my father”. Because that gives him emotional power over me and I'm getting that power back from him. Realizing that emotional strength was what I had been missing all these years has been a turning point for me.
Wish you (and myself ;) all the emotional strength to deal with whatever life situation we face.