My dad is 94 years old. He has minor dementia. Whenever we speak, it is 90% about him. Which is normal for him. We did not speak for about 2 years until recently, when my brother gave him my phone number (thanks oh so much). We have had major disagreements in our relationship and my world spins much smoother when he is not poking his head into it. He has a habit of disrupting my life. I have now had three conversations with him since our non-speaking timeframe and I realized today I have not missed it much. That is so horrible to say, I know. But my father is an old narcissist and he uses it well. He loves to say little things to ensure he has put me in my place. He will always follow it up with, “But you know I love you.” Ha. Typical gaslighting. His sort of love can destroy a person. And he almost succeeded with me. I have since learned that although we have loved ones who are a major part of our lives, like parents, we do not have to grant them real estate in our heads or let them take up too much of our time. Both are precious and we only get one try at this thing called life.
My dad doesn’t just talk, he basically lectures. He thinks he’s being kind to people, but he is pretty condescending. He thinks he’s being so witty when he tears someone to pieces with cruel words, and follows it up with kind words. Today his focus was on why I don’t publish or write professionally. I have had this blog since 2012; I’ve sent him links in the past, but he has never bothered to read them. I think technology has passed him by. His days are now filled with jigsaw puzzles and Bingo. To me, this is enough. I get joy out of making new friends through this medium and by sharing thoughts with people. I don’t need to be paid. He thinks I am wasting my intellect being at home. But he has no idea what I have accomplished or the places I have been, nor the people I have interacted with, because he was too busy doing his thing and not inquiring about my life. Today he had no idea I had 3 grown sons. No idea. That is the dementia talking; I know. But it is also how he has treated those of us in his life in the past. Today, I did not allow him the space in my head, nor the words to worm their way into my heart to hurt me. I listened to his words, and let them flow…sort of like water off a duck’s back.
The one issue that did make me think was his comments about why I was not writing at all. And I realized that I had nothing of import to share. Nothing to add to the conversation in this crazy world. If we all opine in the public square, it becomes a cacophony of sound. It adds to the chaos. It becomes nothing more than noise. And although I have strong opinions about what is going on in our country and world ( for example: no vax for me; no mask for me; it’s the flu; the news lies 24/7; open up the marketplace and get people back to work; pretty much everything I was taught was part of a greater narrative that did not have my best interest in mind; God wins. Period.) I don’t think that long diatribes add to the cure. The cure? In my opinion? Turn off the TV. Return to quiet family times. Insulate yourself from the greater world. Pray – a lot. Read your Bible. Do penance on behalf of this world. Celebrate this 40-day opportunity to re-align yourself with God. It’s Lent. Live it. And stop believing all you hear is truth. Because it is not. Associate with good people. The people you hang out with have a far greater affect on you than you realize. Attend more services at Church. Stations of the Cross, the Rosary. Read religious works. Start a prayer notebook to track who you pray for and look back and see God in action! Start a 40-day gratitude journal. Be positive. About all of this.
My youngest son has been an only child since our middle son left for college. Since he was about 9 years old, he has been blessed to be home with just me and his dad. There are choices he makes that I disagree with, and I know if I try to discuss it with him, it is just noise. Blah-blah-blah. Good old mom, blathering on again about this or that. And I know my opinion gets lost in the words and it just does no good. He has always been one of those kids who has the ability to just turn off. He did it as an infant, toddler, and during his school years. He goes somewhere inside himself and stays there until he feels it is appropriate to re-engage. It’s a protective mechanism he was born with. And so I have learned that lectures get me nowhere with him. And I was thinking how much the rest of the world needs to be able to just turn off all these externals. So much information, but so little intelligent thought. And I know my little blog is just going to add to the noise. My protective mechanism is to just hide. I left the public square in so many ways, because I learned it was like beating my head against the wall. Very little satisfaction; a lot of pain.
And so my conclusion for this post is that I did say a lot here, to tell you I did not have a lot to say. Oh the irony!! LOL! But more importantly, I am trying to share why too many words, too much information, too much falsity in the public square only makes all these things assailing us all, much much worse. Practice detachment from things and people and situations. Practice silence. Practice prayer. And remember, regardless of the pain of this journey we are all on, in the end, God wins. Always. Forever. Period.