Having a controlling father is nothing new. Lots of us experienced that growing up. But after losing my dad in mid-February, I started realizing the control and effect he had on my life, even at 41.
Every time I made a big purchase – I would do it on my own, but then call my dad to tell him what I did. Even if I knew he would not like it – I could come up with a list of rebuttals and if I had to, lies – so he would maybe see me halfway on things. I wanted him to agree with me, no matter what it was.
I had spent my childhood carefully walking around landmines in my house. I was extremely careful about what I did and said, for fear of setting off my father’s Irish temper. And there was never any telling what those triggers were. They were most often the most benign things – the newspaper not being in its place where he expected to find it. My mom went through a puddle in the car and got some mud on the side of it. Literally – anything and everything could set him off. No wonder people thought I was shy and quiet.
So, I subconsciously needed his approval when doing just about anything. I wanted and needed his approval; otherwise, where would I get a sense of accomplishment from? I needed that praise. Be it job, car, living arrangement, or as I suspect, my dating partner.
Yes, since his death, I have started becoming more vocal and active with my bisexuality. Until recently, I could not stand the thought of dating a man because subconsciously, I think my father would have disapproved. He could handle me being a lesbian trans woman. But to think part of me was “gay” at any point – meaning, I feel that part of him still saw me as a man – that would be his breaking point.
And when I say he could handle me being a “lesbian trans woman”, I mean, he got my name and pronouns correct – but not much else. He still talked to me and expected from me the things that the “man” in me “should” have done. It absolutely crushed me to hear him talk to my sister. Calling her things like “honey” and “sweetie”. I usually got “you”, “hey you” or even “what do you want now”. He never talked to me like I was a woman. He was disappointed that I did not know my tire size while we were having that great debacle.
So, while it is unfortunate that he has died and gone on, it is a relief to me. No longer am I having to settle or get something completely opposite of what I want to please him. He cannot belittle, criticize, or verbally abuse me for my choices now. Even if I stumble (again), those are lessons that I need to learn on my own. Sorry dad.
PS: Fuck Cancer!