What My Father Hid Behind His Rage
Sometimes expressing yourself isn't as easy as a Hallmark card. One YourTango writer shares her story of her relationship with her father, who always had a hard time expressing himself to the women in his life.
When we were kids, my sister and I always got in trouble on Father's Day.
The problem wasn't our gift (which was always the same: White Owl cigars), but rather, no matter what cards we bought, they were wrong. Either they didn't cost enough and so showed that we didn't really appreciate my father, or they cost too much and proved we were wasteful and didn't care about his and my mother's hard work. After all, they earned the allowance money that we used to buy the cards.
He never said anything to us, but then again he never talked about his feelings, he wasn't raised to. He grew up the ninth of 10 children; his mother was exhausted and his father wasn't around much.
He did not come from a generation when people aired their feelings. And even if he had been born later, I bet he wasn't the kind of man who would have expressed them anyway. I wouldn't call him the strong silent type because he had very loud rages. But he also was not a man who would have thought it important to articulate his needs — only his frustrations and his disappointments.
When I was older and no longer lived with him, if I called him on Father's Day, he asked why I hadn't sent a card (even if I had sent it and he hadn't gotten it yet). If I sent a card, he accused me of not wanting to talk to him.
There was no way of winning. My father, a WW II veteran, once said that when he was a young soldier, friends were killed as soon as he felt close to them so he stopped making friends. I suspect, though, that his rages predated the war.
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