Since I started my “fake” email address for just my father to use, he has sent me a total of 1,019 emails…since December 2010. I have sent him 24.
In addition to the emails, my dad leaves me multiple voicemails every day. For example, he left me three today. Visual voicemail on the iPhone is so wonderful! And the best $.99 I ever spent on iTunes was for a silent ring tone (assigned only to him). The most peaceful time of my life was when a hurricane knocked out my parent’s electricity for a few days.
The strangest thing about my father (and there are just so many to choose from) is that he clearly does not need any encouragement to continue all of this correspondence. It is really a one-sided relationship. Regardless of whether I respond or not, he just doesn’t quit. If he wasn’t so crazy and belligerent, I would almost admire his tenacity. Most people would have given up by now!! I think in a weird way, his emails have become an online journal for him.
My sister said to me recently that we should start literally responding to every single email he sends, just to be spiteful. Besides being very time-consuming, it would be a fruitless endeavor. Here’s the thing: I think my dad subconsciously feeds off the fact that we do not respond to him. It makes him feel like a victim. “Oh! I have these two awful daughters, these “DO NOTHING TAKERS” who never respond.” Yet, on several occasions, my sister has spent hours writing him heartfelt emails expressing her concern about his health and begging him to stop drinking and to this day he has never acknowledged them at all.
So, I can run, but really I can’t hide. I can ignore the emails and erase the never-listened-to voicemails, but he doesn’t go away. Even if a day or two goes by with no communication from him (like when he has the stomach flu or something), I always know in the back of my mind that he is there. That sounds creepy…but what I mean is, I am always thinking about what is going on at my parent’s house. Is my mom ok? Is he going to fall again? Am I going to get a phone call in the middle of the night? Ironically, I developed terrible anxiety right AFTER I moved out of my parent’s house. I was 21, living with my best friend, dating, partying, etc….yet I worried constantly about my mother and sister. I felt such guilt that I abandoned them. My mother insisted my sister and I both live in dorms during our college years even though we both attended schools only an hour from home. She used the “college experience” excuse, but I realize now that she wanted to give us the chance to get away from him.
My dad left me a voicemail the other day where he very sarcastically said, “if you ever responded to one of my emails, I think I would just commit suicide.” I have to admit, it was a little tempting, but I can’t deal with that kind of guilt. So really, I am keeping him alive by not reading and responding to his emails. You would think he would be a little more appreciative instead of calling me names 😉