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Reinterpreting the Past

A few months prior to my father’s infidelity, he reached out to me more than he had in the past few years. He started texting more. He offered help. He frequently invited me to spend time with him at the cabin. He asked me out for coffee. He would engage with me in conversations about things we disagreed with and remain in the conversation.

He invited me to do a book study with him. I was not very excited about the book, it just was not the type of book I usually enjoy. Still, with all his reaching out, this was one of the ways I was going to reach out to him. I thought that meeting weekly would be good for us and, even if I didn’t like the book, it provided us some spiritual material to talk about.

It was a good time. We had a lot of really good conversations and I felt he understood more about my view of God and how that shapes the say I see the world. He also shared a lot more of his frustrations with me about other people. From my perspective at the time, he was not sharing his frustrations in a gossipy way, but in a personalized manner about the way things that happened in his relationships with others affected him.*

I also reached out to him. I invited myself on a men’s retreat, even though I wasn’t a part of the church and deliberately engaged with not just him, but also his community. I was enjoying our time together. I think we were legitimately having more fun together than ever before. He was learning to interact with me more like the peer I have been treating him as since 15. I was reaching out to him and he was reaching out to me. I actually enjoyed being with him. I hoped that at some point we might connect at a substantive level.

We were spending more time together and being more deliberate with each other, something felt off. There were times when he was sharing things that were at least somewhat intimate and I was sharing intimate things, but it felt like we were absent from each other. All the appearances of the conversation were that we were connect, but it didn’t feel like we were connecting. It was as if we both reached out our hands to touch each other, and I could see our hands touching, but I could not feel the sensation of our hands touching. Something was not quite right.

The weekend I discovered what was going on I was actually hoping to find out what was going on. I did not think I would discover what I did. I had a few suspicions, but none of them were quite as substantial and heartbreaking as what was actually happening. I did not expect to find what I did. Of course, when I did find out, some of our inability to connect made sense.

But then, I had this problem. He had been reaching out to me. He had been asking me real questions about my life. He had been spending time with me and kind to me and affectionate with me. And then I find out he was trying to cheat on his. And then he abandons me. And later I find out he had been growing distant from most other intimate relationships in his life.

I’m having trouble figuring out how to explain the problem. It’s an emotionally confusing one. I felt good about the way he was reaching out to me and about our conversations and hopeful about our future relationship, but then… all of this. So, my problem is: how do I interpret his past reaching out to me?

Was it that, despite everything that was going on inside of him, he really wanted relationship with me? Did he really care about me? Did he really value me, my thoughts, my desires, my feelings? Was he reaching out to me because he loved me? Or was he putting on a show to hide his heart and behavior? Was he trying to do something good with his relationships so he didn’t feel so bad about his past actions? Was he feeling lonely because he was growing distant from his other relationships because of his sin and so he attached himself more to me as somewhat of an outsider to his daily existence? Did he use me so he didn’t feel so lonely? Was he telling me his frustrations with his life and with others because no one else would listen because they knew better? Did he see the breaking of relationship with others that was coming and was trying to get me on his side before everything came out?

I don’t know. I don’t know why he reached out to me. I don’t know how I should feel about his pursuing a relationship with me. Should I look back and remember fondly the time when he sought after me or should I look back and remember with sorrow the time when he used me? I don’t know. I don’t even think he knows why he did what he did. It’s probably a complex combination of many reasons and motivations.

Life is just like that sometimes. We are often left wondering what happened, what caused it, why it occurred, and how we should feel about it. We don’t always get the answers we seek. I’m sure I could look back at what happened and come up with a few different explanations as to what occurred and why in order to make sense of the whole situation to myself. But, even if I did that, I still wouldn’t know for sure. I might be able to make sense of the situation, but just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it’s true. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a real answer.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to have things remain unresolved. It’s okay to not know all the answers to the “why”s. I’m okay looking back and saying, “I just don’t know” because of where I am in the present. I’m okay. I’m good. Because I am not alone. I am not unloved. I am not undesired. I am not unwanted. I am as close to my true Father as I have ever been, and He will never leave me, never stop loving me, and never stop pursuing me.

*In case you are reading this and suspect you might be one of the people who he was expressing frustrations about, I want to make a few things clear. First, when people are expressing negative things about other people to me, I usually consider it to be people venting their frustration and putting words to what was frustrating to them about a situation. I don’t really trust their perspective on the circumstances or others. I do not then proceed to think poorly about the person they are talking about. If you were talked poorly about, I think no differently about you than I did before you were discussed.

Second, I very frequently make suggestions on how the person venting can see it from the perspective of those they have a problem with. I nearly always suggest they express their feelings and frustrations to that person directly in a loving manner. I regularly defend those who are being talked poorly about, but are not there to defend themselves, even if I have never met the person (ask my wife, sometimes it drives her crazy :). If you think you might have been talked poorly about, I probably defended you, I most likely provided a way of seeing things from your perspective, and I assuredly suggested he speak to you directly.

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Categories: Family Disruption Tags: , , ,
  1. Anonymous
    November 10, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Yuk.

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