This winter holiday, my parents and my brother came to visit me in London, then we went skiing in St. Mortiz, Switzerland. I was really excited to finally have some time off from work, and spend time with family. I would say I am really close to my mum, my brother, the rest of my siblings, but my dad–definitely to a lesser extent.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad tries pretty hard to bond with us, he always wants to make me happy, fulfils any wishes I may have–from food cravings, to holiday destinations, new clothes or jewellery and more. He is so supportive of everything I do, including me choosing to do History and Politics in university (some parents, especially Asian parents can be quite adamant in wanting their children to do law, finance or medicine ) , starting Tiktok, YouTube and more.
But somehow, despite all this, I don’t feel that close to him, and more than that, I feel like we really do not get along. My dad just gets on my nerves. I think to some extent, it is a me-issue, I nitpick everything he does and says. I guess this is me trying to figure out why I do this.
Maybe it is because of his absence in my crucial teenage years because he was too occupied with “work”, or our misalignment in political views (he is more conservative and really pro-China, while I am more of a Centrist-Leftist), or our differences in preference for food (I like having healthier, simpler, mostly plant-based meals, while he loves spicy, oily, salty, flavourful, meaty meals), or his drinking habits. I also enjoy tuning in with myself, practicing spirituality, reading, but his business interests sometimes makes him appear quite worldly although he claims to embody “Buddhist values”.
Side note: although my dad is not exactly an alcoholic, he really enjoys his alcohol–especially wine, whiskey, sake, beer. He drinks almost everyday, usually 2 to 3 drinks a day, the frequency in which he drinks scares the shit out of me.
Maybe the issue is that we are just simply too different to get along. Or actually, the issue may be that I have all these expectations of him to be a certain type of person, to share the same values, views and interests as me that I reject his right to be his own individual being.
As a young kid growing up, my dad was my PERSON, I loved the crap out of him, he was MY person. As a baby, I would giggle when he enters the room (and only he got that reaction out of me), I was daddy’s girl and my siblings resented me for it. He would put me on his shoulders in shows and concerts so I get a better view, or even just for fun; he would sing me to sleep, I especially loved it when he sang Edelweiss; he would tell me bedtime stories about a dog Lassie which he usually made up on the spot with my siblings and I incorporated as characters in the story. Anyways, to me, he was PERFECT. The Perfect. Human. Being.
One day, it all changed. He became quite absent, shifted his focus to work and elsewhere, he became very short tempered, got angry easily, became very stubborn, impatient, especially towards my mum. His impatience and neglect, especially towards my mum, infuriated me and made me overprotective over my mum. Ever since he started behaving differently, I felt like I had to protect my mum at all cost–I was 8. I am not sure how things just changed overnight, but it did. As days pass, and the more absent he was in my crucial childhood years, the more I felt different to him. A part of me is still waiting for that perfect dad to return, but I don’t think he ever would.
People change over time, so has my dad. I am still trying my hardest to love him with all my heart, but at the same time, I find it so difficult to connect with him, feel close to him. I yearn to know him, know everything that goes on in his mind, but at the same time resent him so hard. Damn.
I think I nitpick everything my dad does because I still feel so hurt from all the past neglect. I feel different to him because in those years where he was absent, we grew apart, grew into completely different people. I feel frustrated when I feel misaligned with him because I still have certain expectations of him. If I don’t have expectations, maybe then I would not get upset, or angered by many of his actions and words–but isn’t it sadder for me to completely lose all my expectations of him? Or would that be a healthy thing?
Gosh, I cannot reach a conclusion, this remains a struggle I am trying to figure out myself. I decided to write this piece because during this most recent trip, I clashed with my dad and got into quite a few arguments. I felt unhappy being around him, and felt so much ick, frustration, anger and resentment towards him, but at the same time I wanted to make him feel really loved and cared for, I yearned to get close to him, to understand all his deepest thoughts and feelings–it was a constant struggle of battling myself and my emotions.
At the end of the day, I know my dad is just human who needs love and seeks happiness–I want to give that to him. The trip has now ended, my parents have gone home, but I still feel lost as hell as to what I should do about my dad, how to resolve all this feelings I have.
Anyways, I feel thankful to have this space as an outlet. If you are reading this, thank you–I would love to hear any thoughts.