Talking about fight club and breaking the silence in my family

(Photo taken 1985?)

I have an extraordinarily complicated relationship with my parents. With my dad, in particular, which is something I’ve struggled to come to terms with. And one I am struggling with in how to address. But avoidance helps no one. So, here we go.

I haven’t spoken to my dad in over three years.

I’ve told him why. I’ve told him what he will need to do for me to welcome him back. I’ve told him that I do still love him. That I’ll always love him. But that I can’t continue living with the lies. With being the only person seeing and facing the truth head-on, and not being afraid to speak it.

One of the biggest truths is that I’m not the only one in my family with a mental illness or developmental disability (depression, bipolar, addiction, being on the autism spectrum, anxiety… just some that have come through multiple generations of my family). I am the only one who openly acknowledges this as a real thing, though, as far as I’m aware. The only one who faces my mental health struggles head on. Who has struggled with mental illness – but who isn’t having to struggle with it on my own anymore because I learned how to ask for and receive help.

I learned how to see the truth in things, even when my brain kept telling me lies. I learned how to stop avoiding things if I wanted to be able to live my best life.

But, having our brains not being normal is something my dad (both parents, to be honest) has forever avoided facing when it comes to himself.

I love my dad. I miss him. But I hate what mental illness has and has always done to him and how it has affected the people around him.

Because of that, unless he does manage to finally acknowledge these truths… I think we will remain in this state of silence.

That makes me sad.

Lori,

You are my third daughter and once again I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I have so many hopes for your future I can’t write them all down. I hope you will always have the patience to accept other people as they are, the courage to change things that you find intolerable, and the self-confidence to have faith in your own abilities. You will grow up at a time of great uncertainty in this country, and while you are learning and growing you will have both good times and bad. One thing you can be certain of no matter what, is that I love you now and always. There will be times when we disagree. There will be times when our outlooks will be very different. And there will also be times of such laughter and joy that the bad times will be lost in insignificance. But there will never come a time when my love for you will lessen and I hope we will always be able to talk things out and understand each other.

Love always,
Dad

A message written to me in my baby book just after my birth.
Knowing how things have turned out between us, it makes me cry.

Published by loribarett

Coffee addicted charismatic geek with a penchant for tattoos, books, and listening to people tell their stories.

4 thoughts on “Talking about fight club and breaking the silence in my family

    1. Thank you. It has been a lot of work in therapy to not just understand and process these struggles, but to find the emotional strength necessary to move past it. Hard hard work. But, future me will thank me for it.

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