Wednesday, April 7, 2010

(possibly) overthinking the significance of a dragon fruit

Dad bought me a dragon fruit.

I love fruit and would happily live off nothing but fruit. And when I say that, I mean it - it's not the calorie-conscious part of me saying it, it's the flavour-loving part of me saying it. Give me the choice between chocolate and a dragon fruit, and the fruit wins, hands down, every time.

Dad does not typically splurge on groceries. He buys no-name everything. If something is on sale, he packs our freezer with it. He has refused to get certain things simply because they cost more than something else we can buy in the same food group.

But he bought a dragon fruit - a sole dragon fruit - and gave it to me.

It confuses me when he does these things. Denies me a type of cracker one week, buys me a dragon fruit the next. Mom said, "maybe it's his way of saying he loves you."

Maybe it is. Dad comes from a family that doesn't express love easily. He doesn't express love easily. He's quick to criticize, slow to praise. Growing up, I always knew when I'd done something wrong, but I never knew when I'd done something right.

Growing up like that has its consequences. Never hearing "I love you" or "you've done well" has its consequences. An occasional dragon fruit or mango does not change that.

But maybe it's a sign that there's hope?

But maybe it's not?

I really don't know.

I've all but given up on having any sort of healthy relationship with Dad. He's terrified me with his temper. He does not take an interest in anything good I do or accomplish. The times I've tried to take an interest in one of his hobbies, to form a bond of some sort, it's always backfired, lowered my sense of self-worth and ultimately driven us further apart. It seems like anger or indifference are all I can get from him, and I really doubt that will ever change.

And that's what I told Mom when she brought up the idea of family counseling yesterday.

We've tried this once before, when I was 16 and hospitalized for being suicidal. When I was still an inpatient, we met a couple of times with a family counselor, who quickly recognized that Dad was not a healthy influence in my life. Most of those sessions focused on how his behaviour had negative impacts on me. He denied it at first, then said he felt picked on. I think he did manage to learn to be a little gentler with me, for awhile, but it did not last.

And so now, thinking about family counseling again, I really don't know. I don't know if Dad would agree to go, and even if he did, I don't know if he can change. I've only just gotten to a point where I can brush off his comments instead of letting them sink into me like shards of glass. I got to this point by giving up on the idea of ever having a good relationship with him. I feel safe, now, just believing that there is no chance of a good relationship, just biding my time until I move away from this house and its screaming and its memories.

And if I try to have a relationship with him again, if I let myself hope for that again, and if it backfires...I don't know if I want to take that risk. It's taken so, so long to get to a point where he can't hurt me so much emotionally. Giving him another chance of being a good father is also giving him another chance to hurt me.

I just don't know.

I need to think about this.

In the meantime, I will enjoy this dragon fruit.

And as a side-note, does anyone else think a dragon fruit is Mother Nature's idea of a joke? The ultimate drama queen of the fruit world? Just look at it. I remember the first time I had one. I studied it, this bright pink fruit with its green-tipped, floppy spikes. As if that wasn't unusual enough. Then I sliced into it and burst out laughing. Black and white on the inside? Really? What kind of a fruit is black and white and bright pink? What's the evolutionary reason behind that?


  1. The dragon fruit looks cool. How does it taste? I come from a family where love is not expressed easily. Your mom is probably right. It's his way of saying i love you.
    P.S--Thanks for your support.

  2. I've never had dragon fruit, and I've never been so intrigued!
    If it makes you feel any better, my father got kicked out of family therapy when I was in inpatient for suicide attempt when I was 15, because of his temper and his refusal to admit he had any fault in the problem.
    He has no idea how to express feelings, and doesn't understand how to relate to others' feelings. Sometimes I think hes trying, but it's so rare and so hard to accept that I have trouble.

    Love, Andy

  3. I've never had a dragon fruit, but you're making me want one :)

    Seems like a difficult thing to think about - family counseling or not. I can't offer any advice, but know that I'm reading and wishing you the best!