My dad was born in Santiago on Chilean Independence Day. His parents would tell him the parade was in honour of his birthday, a simple lie which solidified his feelings of high self-worth (and self-importance) at an early age. Winning the local Top Forty-Under-Forty contest, achieving longest standing CEO as a non-owner status, these accolades came easy, almost naturally. Within the family he is put on the highest pedestal which casts a long shadow for me and, as I’d later learn, a couple of others. I think the fact that I’m a woman also has something to do with my lesser status in the family. My dad doesn’t notice this special treatment though, he’s convinced he’s ordinary. I was oblivious to it too until recently. My mom says that at funerals or parties there’s always a crowd hovering in line to speak to my dad. Strange, since I find him incompetent at most things.
Like Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, my dad is a physicist with questionable social skills. Of course my dad doesn’t find The Big Bang Theory funny, being so similar to the character who is the bud of all the show’s jokes. My dad’s lack of social empathy, and need for control, put a strain on his and my mom’s relationship, on ours too. His success in business ensured people generally would over look his social ineptitude, a dichotomy which was very hard for me to reconcile when I was younger, especially since I am an only child and experienced this alone. It wasn’t until I publicly put some distance between us that my mom and some uncles came forward with their support. They didn’t want to say anything negative before but figured since I had figured it out on my own it was safe to speak.
After a year of basically no communication with my dad I can approach our relationship with less attachment, and as a consequence more clarity. I can take him for who he is and separate my identity from his, especially with those who still insist on introducing me by my connection to him; “ this is Jane, Jane is Dan’s daughter, Dan’s interests include…” Hahaha. Sometimes my dad will even laugh with me.
This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.