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Strangely Un-selfaware

June 18, 2018

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I shouldn’t care. Well, I care, but I should be okay with it.

Normally I’m pretty self aware. By that I mean I understand why I do things. I understand why kids leaving my handtools out annoys me. I understand why I’m okay with cleaning the kitchen, but not the stove. I understand why I hate needles.

I never make a decision at work without having thought through the implications. If you try to play office politics with me, you’ll lose. Because, you can’t get me out of my head. I see everything.

It’s why I hate Father’s Day.

Sure, that’s a terrible thing to say. I have 13 children. THIRTEEN. And six grandkids. And Sunday they spoiled me. My daughter invited me to her house on Saturday for smoked BBQ ribs, and gave me a fantastic gift. It’s a new door handle for my front door. The “long” kind that has a lever you push down with your thumb. My old one broke and my door has had a round doorknob on it for the past few months.

Then, Sunday, I had a wonderful meal with my lovely wife’s homemade potato salad. My son came to hang out and we talked until 1:00AM. (So happy, he’s turned into a man I can be friends with.) The kids at home surprised me by landscaping the area around our trees. It was exactly what I wanted.

Perfect day, right?

No. And I’m not entirely sure why.

I have multiple fathers. I have a birth father and I have an adopted father. I actually chose my adopted father when I was 14. He was married to my mother and I decided I wanted to be adopted. I didn’t hate my birth dad. But, I was also a 14 year old kid. I didn’t know anything.

I’m happy I was adopted and for reasons that remain unclear to the 50+ year old version of myself, I kept my birth father from being a part of my life.

You might think that sounds cruel. And for you it would be. Some of you might think that sounds fantastic. For me it was. . .simpler.

My adopted father was never comfortable with Father’s day. I dreaded, we both dreaded the obligatory phone call on Father’s day. While I loved him, Father’s Day was a strain for us both. After he passed away nine years ago last week (yes, he died the week before Father’s Day) things got easier on Father’s Day.

A few months ago, my birth father had cancer. It was serious, and given his age, his odds of not making it were scary. I had to decide what to do?

I finally wrote him a letter. The first one in 40 years. He wrote back. We exchanged multiple letters. Finally last month, I was in Idaho and made the 6 hour round trip to visit him in Central Washington.

We had a great visit. We reconnected. Maybe I was selfish for asking him to stay out of my life for decades. He missed watching me grow up. He missed getting to know grandchildren.

Was I cruel? I don’t think so. I certainly wasn’t intentionally being cruel. Just as going to see him was not designed to be magnanimous. In fact, when it comes to him, I’m not sure why I do what I do. And for someone who prides himself on being self-aware, that scares me.

When I talke to him I feel like I’m 14 years old again. But, it’s not anything he does. It’s me and my psychosis. It’s not right. It’s probably not healthy. It confuses me.

And I even know that it’s not him, it’s me. But, just knowing you have an irrational fear of ladders doesn’t mean you don’t have a fear of ladders. It just means you know it’s irrational. That’s how I feel, or don’t feel about him.

So, Father’s Day was going great until I realized that there was a text to send. . .again.

I don’t even know what it is about the entire situation that throws me off my game. The one thing I do know is that it’s not him or anything he’s said or done. No, I know this is entirely in my head.

Knowing doesn’t help.

Hope your Father’s Day was better than mine.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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