Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

“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.

5 Responses to ““My Dad Ruined My Narrative””

  1. Ashana M said

    Is she now experiencing more public success with her art? He may still be fairly uninterested in her as his daughter, but may be interested in the warm glow of reflected success. What may not have changed is her lack of relevance to his life.

    • Shelly said

      Ashana, if I may disagree with you….I think Jaymie’s dad, in this fictional account, is trying to make amends for his previous detachment as a father. Perhaps he gained some insight somewhere or realized how important Jaymie’s art was to her and therefore showed some interest. I am certain that it was difficult both for father and daughter since Jaymie will have to reframe her inner dialogue which may have framed her art and her father was taking an emotional chance in reaching out to Jaymie. But I commend her father for trying, at least. Why would you think that what he wanted was the warm glow of reflected success? He didn’t seem to care about it previously, why suddenly care?

      • Ashana, I believe, is postulating that the dad is working out of self-interest, rather than a new-found caring for his daughter. Jaymie, however, does not experience it this way. She, like you suggest, experiences a father who is changing the relationship, and as such, she is both happy for the change, but confused by the discontinuity in her experience. Thanks.

    • That is true, but Jaymie’s perception is that her dad has had a change in behavior, which to her feels, like a new kind of connection to her. Thanks.

  2. Orval said

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact was once a
    enjoyment account it. Look advanced to far delivered agreeable from
    you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?

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