Content warning: This post deals with suicide and could be triggering for some readers.
The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.
"You better reconcile. You don’t want to leave things unsaid and have regrets."
"You’ll feel horrible if he dies and you haven’t spoken."
"Don’t you think it’s time to forgive poor old Dad?"
When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, those who knew of our estranged relationship were quick to cajole me into making amends, to re-establish a relationship before it was too late. Whilst well meaning, my general feeling toward these attempts of reconciliation was a simple: Why?
For all intents and purposes - now aged 34, married and with a baby - my dad had been ‘dead to me’ (said with all the dramatic poise of a The Bold and the Beautiful season ending cliff-hanger) for the better part of a decade.
Growing up watching Father of The Bride and The Little Princess, I remember sobbing as a seven or eight-year-old, even then achingly aware that the bond on the big screen was not mine.
Years and years of neglect in every sense of the word: broken promises to come and watch me play hockey at school, decades of cheating on my mother, years of watching my little sister cry when he couldn’t be bothered getting off the couch to go play tennis with her as promised, countless forgotten milestones; even simple things like forgetting the names of boyfriends, or worse, meeting them, deciding he was bored and just getting up from a table mid conversation to go and find someone more interesting, had all added up.
At a certain point, isn’t the more mature and self-preserving option simply to say 'enough'?
Family is family, blood is thicker than water and all these similar phrases fail to capture that family is much, much more than those you share DNA with. In 2022, the definition of family is broader than ever. Why should you persevere with blood relationships if doing so causes more harm than good, all in the name of ‘family’?
If you have a snake in a bag, and you keep putting your hand in that bag and the snake keeps biting, is it your fault for continually putting your hand in the bag expecting a different response - or is it the snake's?
Sure, there were times - sometimes months at a time - where the relationship seemed to improve.
When my first marriage broke down, ironically, my father became a good sounding board, simply being there at the other end of the phone. But as always, something - sometimes as simple as a disagreement about where to eat for dinner - would open from just beneath the surface and his true feelings toward me would spill forth.