Let me say to things before we get started: I think powerless and acceptance are siblings and powerless does not mean weakness. Okay, now we can get started.

Many of us, and I am no exception, grow up believing that we will (and must!) arrive at some level of maturity, of adulthood, wherein we will be able to control our fate. And while time, experience and circumstance teach us this isn’t so, sometimes we (I) drift from reality and think fall back into believing we control our own fate.

Recently I  had to make the emotionally wrenching decision (again) to emotionally protect myself from my daughter. No father loves his daughter more than I love mine and it is not her fault by any stretch of the imagination that she was raised by a mother and, ultimately, a step-father who pretty much blamed her and held her responsible for every conceivable thing in life that went wrong. What she went through was, in a word, brutal. While she and I were close when she was young her mother did all she could to drive a wedge between us and, as my closest friend Michael said to me years ago, “Peter, she (my daughter) lives under the influence and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Tragically true.

But my daughter, like the many (most) who grew up in terribly dysfunctional settings is responsible for her healing and she is also responsible for how she treats people, including, now that she is 33, the way she treats her father.

Again I have let her know that my door is always open to her as long as there is respect. Recently when I looked at her Facebook page I saw language that saddened me; use of the word nigga  left and right, meant, I suppose, as some kind of cool street slang (there is not one iota of racism in my daughter’s veins). When I wrote to her and cautioned her about her use of language, pointing out that perspective employers and business partners and more regularly look at people’s Facebook pages she lashed back accusing me of snooping  adding an additional flourish of nastiness.

There has been a plethora of barbs from her over the years, some built with a kind of cruelty that is foreign to me, foreign to me even before I got sober more than eight years ago.

I am not unique though; there are many parents grappling with the reality that their now grown children are no longer the beautiful child they knew early on.


2 thoughts on “Powerless

  1. For your daughter,I have known your father close to 10 years now. I met him during a presentation and asked him to present at my agency. He did and during the presentation,a woman asked him a question and he asked her what her name was.She said Jennifer. Your father responded saying that he is very fond of that name, as it is the same as his daughter, Jennifer, he said my Jennifer. He beamed with pride.Over the years I visited him in his home in Albany and he showed me many pictures of you,my favorite, which was when he came up behind you to give you a hug. He spoke of you with love and adoration and smile in his eyes.As for me, I grew up with parents who were extremely controlling, critical of my every move just about and people who did not show their emotions. To this day I cringe when I feel someone is telling me what to do as it brings back the pain of my youth. Your father knows this and uses words as suggestions as he understands my resonse to feeling told what to do in any circumstance. I have a son, Danny who is into the ghetto culture and still trying to define himself. When I look at his facebook page I get scared.I also think about how otherw will view his language, gestures and pictures which tell a different part of him that I do not understand. I have to acccept it though because I know it is part of who he is and is comfortable in this venue.The problem is that people will judge him in a negative way, which is not all of who he is. And I ask him ,do you want to be respected and successful.He shrugs but I know he does. No one wants to be disrespected or taken at face value. So I ask him to tone it down. To be himself but try to think outside his world. Of course he will say I don't care what other people think but we all do inside. We want to be loved and respected. Back to you and your father ; those pictures, the way he hugs, kisses and loves you. I have not experienced that kind of physical affection from my parents but I am in awe and wonder when I see it. It is too late for me.The time is long gone to receive or want that kind of relationship with them.I have made my peace with it. Your father by the way, can be a pain in the ass and annoying at times. So can I. He can also be warm,kind and thoughtful, just like us all. He has caused me pain, given me joy and I have done the same with him. We make mistakes, try to learn from them and move one. As you get older the one thing I think about which I wish I did when I was younger was how do I want to be remembered? I do hope you read this Jennifer it is just a few words to offer you.I also know how much you are loved by your father. You might fight, disagree, but when I think of how he looks when he talks about you with that light in his eyes, I willalways be in awe because to me who hasn't experienced that it is a wonder. My best to you and Peter.

  2. So sorry, Peter! It's not just children, it is also siblings who abandon their family member with a TBI. It hurts so very much. Jennifer is missing out on a wonderful dad!


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