Tonight I apologized to my dad. A first for me. A first for both of us actually.
My dad has always ruled our house with an iron fist, or at least attempted to, ready to pounce on me or my older sisters for anything that didn't follow his rules, or for things that did not go his way. He had a rather passive aggressive approach to command his ship, notes written on the fridge in that heavy-handed, forced slant handwriting of his, that would always let us know that we done bad things. Of course, if he had to tell us twice about not leaving any dirty dishes in the sink before we went to bed, or if one of us forgot to lock the garage door, his little handwritten notes would morph into a very stern, accusatory tone of voice. And those eyes, those eyes of his could cut glass. A stare that looked straight through you, like some hidden rage was just itching to get out.
I'm not going to go into too much details, but as I was growing up, things got bad, and the shouting matches claimed casualties. I remember when I was younger, my two older sisters got the brunt of it, while I stood by watching or listening behind my close bedroom door. They, as two rebellious teenage girls, tried to deflect the words that were said, but words are not sticks or stones, they are invisible arrows shot straight into the heart. Times were worse then, because my family was ignorant to its effects, and my father didn't know either. We all just knew anger and rage were breaking us apart.
I'm not trying to make my dad sound like the ultimate bad guy, like he was the only one to blame. He tried his very best, I know he did. I think it was just very hard for him to relate to his kids. Raising children in America, while holding onto the values he grew up with back in the Philippines, was I'm sure, a very confusing and difficult thing for both my parents. I know he had a rough upbringing as a kid, but I'll not disclose anymore information here. I'll just say that he brought much of that with him into his own parenting skills. I will, commend him though, because for the last few years, he has gotten much better, more patient, less confrontational.
I, on the other hand, am in a place in my life I did not ever want. As a frustrated, job-seeking, (multiple) college dropout who still lives in his parents house (though I have lived on my own for a few years, so I have that going for me, right? right?), I do not feel the greatest about myself right now.
For the last couple of weeks I realized I have been taking it out on my parents, especially on my dad. I have been questioning every word he uses, second guessing his every decision, and just being an asshole about it. I'm not sure what I wanted to get out of him, what kind of reaction I was seeking, but it was just making things worse. After tonight's little fiasco, something about me leaving an unwashed glass out on the counter and him pretty much accusing me of leaving it out to spite him (at least that's how I took it), I forced to stop myself, and really question my own actions, instead of blaming him for being an angry old man. He had every right to be angry, his house his rules, and an I should respect that. Especially now. It's too late for me to expect him to change into the father I was always looking for, I should just be happy I am lucky enough to have a father still around.
I also have had a tendency to question authority, just ask any of my old bosses. I was fortunate to have some great bosses though, where we always came away respecting each other more after the fact. But unlike my father and I, we didn't have to worry about all the emotional baggage we both lugged around for 30 years getting in the way. I am sure my challenge of authority and my relationship with my father is related, it's just I can't quite pinpoint exactly how they are yet.
Apologizing to him felt good, like I was finally knocking down a few bricks from the walls we both had up. I do not expect us to be best friends overnight because of this, I hope it just makes it easier look each other in the eye next time we talk.