Monday, May 15, 2006

Life with Father: hide and seek

I've had a rocky-at-best relationship with my father, who I've seen a lot of since I've been in Nashville with my grandfather who has cancer. My father is a dogmatic atheist and well...I'm not. He wants to impress. He wants me to love him and for everyone to think he's good enough and so he tells stories. Some of them are true, some of them are not. The good majority fall somewhere inbetween. Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron says "there's no such thing as a true story" only the story lines we tell ourselves and others. I'm inclined to believe it and who hasn't embellished a story, or made one out of wholecloth before?

But it's tiring. It's like talking with a teenager who thinks you're the cool kid and will make up anything just so long as you'll approve. "Like me! Like me! Be impressed by me!" it would be annoying if it wasn't so sad.

Why is he like that? I'm not sure. I used to be that way, probably worse. I made up stories not to be malicious, but to entertain, to make people interested in the fake me because either I didn't like or didn't know the real me. It's a false front.

Here's the problem with false fronts. It prevents any real intimacy. I don't think I'll ever have a genuine conversation with my father because all he'll let me see is that mannequin. It's a bit like that Tragedian in C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, who would rather keep his handsome false face, miserable in self-made rejection than be small, ugly and loved. It's a hard thing to give up, friends, that story line we tell ourselves, the stories we make up just so we can be the hero.

I can't say I love him, but I do have a tender spot where that love would go, if he ever was brave enough to leave the mask.


Blogger Rachel's Big Dunk said...

What is it about dads and their daughters? I have been wondering about that too. Prayers for your grandfather and family.

And welcome to the ring!

10:01 PM  

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