“My Dad Ruined My Narrative”
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on November 14, 2013
“My dad wanted to come to my show, and that just ruins my narrative because he never wanted to come to anything,” Jaymie, thirty-three, female, says to me, with a touch of humor and a touch of angst. “My whole life I was mad at my dad and now he wants to be a part of my art. In the past, he just thought I was wasting my time. If he changes his perspective, I am going to have to think about him in a new way, and it took me years to see him as a detached dad.” Jaymie wants her dad to be uni-dimensional; the detached dad who did not care. In his adult life, he is coming to understand that not only does she change, but he does so, so that the field of vision must account for time and maturity. “Maybe he was in a different phase of his life when you were little, and now that he is older, he is coming around to appreciating your work,” I say, uncharacteristically, since most of the time I am reminding patients that they cannot expect people to change, only themselves. “Yes, that must be true, but now I have a more nuanced view of him and that is hard,” Jaymie says, as if it is more difficult to separate from him now that he seems to care more. “I guess I was glad he came, but he made me so nervous,” Jaymie says, like she is a small child. “You really wanted him to be proud of you,” I said, highlighting the never-ending need for parental approval. “Yea, but now that I am close to getting what I always wanted, I am realizing how complicated that is, as well.” Jaymie articulates the complexity of getting a long-held wish, and then feeling gratified by that. “This is a good problem,” I say, mirroring her humor.