My father recently celebrated his birthday. Well, “celebrated” might not be the correct word, but it sure happened.
He’s had a tough few years, for various reasons I don’t feel like getting into now, but let it suffice to say that a few people who were very important and influential in his life have passed away in the last couple of years, under less than ideal circumstances, and he has been stuck holding too much grief. He’s a sensitive sort and can be violently emotional and defensive. He and I don’t have an easy relationship, but we love each other fiercely. He has remained the only truly important person in my life with whom I have remained purposefully “closeted” for the last couple of years.
So, he had a birthday. It occasioned his speaking to me about things like end of life wishes, wills and trusts and other family matters. He asked me, formally, in writing, if I would consent to take over management of certain family affairs, should he and my mother no longer be able to do so. He asked if he could give me power of attorney in various cases.
My sole reason for not discussing polyamory with him since college (when he did not react very well) has been that I feared rejection, being disowned, something like that. My mother has urged me to “give him a little more credit” – give him a chance to accept me. But, I have been, honestly, afraid. I have not wanted to discuss it with him simply because I have not been ready to face the consequences, should he decide that I am no longer part of the family.
Maybe it’s silly, but plenty of parents have rejected their children this way. It was too painful for me to think about.
Yet, it seemed like a wrong and harmful deception, to allow him to assign such responsibilities to me if he did not fully know and acknowledge who I am, and choose to assign those responsibilities anyway. Which means, logically, that in order to accept that power of attorney, I needed to come out, clearly, and with no more hesitation.
The outcome would be either that he chose to keep me in his life, as his daughter with all that entails, or not.
I thought, better to disown a daughter before spending all that money and time on lawyers and paperwork.
So I sent the email. It said essentially, Dad, I will of course accept these responsibilities and do my best when and if the time ever comes. But, first, I want to make sure you know who I am, and still want me to.
The following day, he cc’d me on some correspondence with his lawyer, indicating how we were moving forward with various paperwork. So, I thought, I guess I’m not disowned.
It was extremely anticlimactic. Which is wonderful.
I wish there were something more profound for me to say but that’s what it was: anticlimactic. Yet, completely in line with how my family usually is with difficult things.
The other day, I was saying hello to my mother on the phone, and my dad broke in (he’d clearly had a drink or two) to say, emphatically, that he loved me, about six times.
He said something else, too:
I am always here, I will always be there for you, so don’t be afraid. Take every risk.