It’s just the fundamental lack of respect they have for my values and my considered choices (post and pre-depression valley) and my intellect and my personality and how I dress and my manners and my civility and my entertainment choices and my politics and my writing choices and my diet and my agnosticism and my sense of humor and my cultural identity and how I parent my kid.
Hell, I used to be completely no fan of myself for decades. I still believe I’m 51% bad people. But I kinda like myself now! I’m good with my flaws. I’m going to try and not hurt people I care about and not do anything too immoral or unethical going forward but while I’m not on team light, I think I could get to team neutral.
But it has become crystal clear that while I will always love my father and I believe firmly that he has always loved me and will always love me, he does not like me. I’ve known I was a disappointment to him since I was 13 or so but I guess I always labored under the illusion that he liked me. Maybe he likes me a little. But I’m not the son he thought he would have. I’m definitely not the son he would have me be.
It hurts. Of course, it does. The being a disappointment thing doesn’t hurt so much anymore. Do I wish I wasn’t a disappointment? Sure. But it’s like an old chronic injury someone lives with. It’s still a cause of pain but it’s been there so long that while I still recognize it, it’s just a whatever part of life.
But this new “not liking me” deal is new. That’s a fresh wound. It’s like I’m in a metaphysical knife fight with my father. And even though I’m faster and smarter and younger and I even have sharper knives than he does, he still has the ability to gut me.
But I’m still processing this latest stab. The knife has entered my soul’s belly and I’m in the moment between my soul’s abdomen sending the pain signal to my soul’s brain. That indescribably small moment of time between seeing the cause of pain and really feeling the pain. (EDIT: I’m now feeling the pain. A lot.)
But even though it does make me really sad, I can’t say it feels all that new or different. To stray away from the knifing metaphor, it’s just another punch landed by my father. Sure the punch still hurts. But I can take his punches. I’ve always been able to take his punches. I stagger and almost fall but I’m still in the ring.
And after I escaped my own personal Mental Hell, his punches have even less effect on me than they used to.
I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I will have to rely on myself and the people who love me for who I am, my warts and all. If I’m ever grateful, it is for them. They make life worth living. I love them. More than they will ever know.
You grow up being told that your parents are this fountain of support and love that you can dip from whenever you need it. What they don’t tell you is that for some people, you have to throw a lot more than some spare change into the water to get what you need. And beyond that, when you realize your parents are human and have flaws like everyone else (well, no, that’s not entirely accurate for one of them), the Rockwellian lie that they are not is brutally exposed.
But even though the truth always hurts, I’m happy to know it. It turns out that I can see much more clearly in the light.
I’ll let my 3 friends close:
Acts 9:18 “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”
Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”:
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
From Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’:
Jules: Man, I just been sitting here thinking.
Vincent: About what?
Jules: About the miracle we just witnessed.
Vincent: The miracle you witnessed. I witnessed a freak occurrence.
Jules: What is a miracle, Vincent?
Vincent: An act of God.
Jules: And what’s an act of God?
Vincent: When, um … God makes the impossible possible … but this morning I don’t think qualifies.
Jules: Hey, Vincent, don’t you see? That shit don’t matter. You’re judging this shit the wrong way. I mean, it could be that God stopped the bullets, or He changed Coke to Pepsi, He found my ****ing car keys. You don’t judge shit like this based on merit. Now, whether or not what we experienced was an “according to Hoyle” miracle is insignificant. What is significant is that I felt the touch of God. God got involved.
Vincent: But why?
Jules: Well, that’s what’s ****ing with me. I don’t know why, but I can’t go back to sleep.